On our long walk this morning my wife and I were talking (again) about the nature of human existance, the folly and faliability of humankind even when it comes to the simplest, or at least, the most concrete, interactions. How blind we each are to our own hearts, how we stumble through our lives and marriages and parenting, all thumbs, overreacting to this, ignoring that, refusing to see ourselves, refusing to really change. How we’d all much prefer that the world around us change to our liking instead. One of our friends is either engaged in or contemplating an affair with a coworker, and she seems to be in that headspace where her husband is the cause of all of her unhappiness, and this guy she’s obsessed with is the key to all her future happiness, and it seems so clear from our vantage point that the guy is just an excuse, a lightning-rod that draws all of her hope…sucks away any energy that she might use to actually do some of the hard work that is necessary for real change in her relationship with her husband. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Which I believe is exactly how the whole contraption works.
Peer into the future and see what you want, what you really want, and by the time you make it to the future, it can be a lot like you imagined. I look at some of the objective realities of my life- married, picket fenced house, job as a detective and on the SWAT team, poet, artist, father, etc. and each one of them is something I could have told you that I wanted as a five-year old. If I decide, say, to start a publishing company, or become a teacher when I retire, or move into a buddhist retreat, how much of what happens next is due to my effort, and how much due to the simple ‘intention’? Can’t we decide to be happier in the same way we decide to get a different job, or move, or buy a house, or sell our house and buy a boat and sail around the world?
Isn’t it all, truly, up to us?
Is there some disapproving parent in the sky shaking his or her head and mumbling “I don’t know about that….seems awfully risky….”
Who is responsible for our happiness? Who gives a shit if you die broke, sad, bitter, and alone? Or happy, blissed out, realized, etc. Life is brutal, hard, and short. We die alone. We can’t take it with us. Why do so few of us have a good time while we’re here? It’s like we are all born in a cattle chute, ambling toward the gate where a guy waits to slam us in the forehead with a sledgehammer. Goddamn, we ought to have a party on the way.
But we low and moo about how dark it is, how crowded the chute is, how smelly and dank. How much of our reality is due to our way of seeing? Our own self-deception? If it is self-deception, doesn’t it make sense to delude ourselves into a state of happiness?
My experiment continues. I have made good progress to date, and I look around me and see the world IS a changed place. I am happier. I am more centered, more alive, more present. I have space inside me for failure, for evil, for sadness, compassion…
I’ll keep you posted.