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The Quest of Living
The Quest of Living
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
What are we but lone soldiers on a quest, a battle to survive the experience of life: to uphold sanity, a sense of humour, try not to hurt people and in the end find peace. Seems a simple task, but is it? Perhaps our prelife training was insufficient; perhaps our fitness inadequate, perhaps there has been some awful mistake and our name has found a list to the wrong life. Anyway this whole life experience is not easy, and the more I delve into the nitty gritty of it, the more I realise just how unprepared most of us are.
I can envisage us all standing on a precipice, ready to take that first step and enter life. Feeling nervous and filled with doubt, we’d try to convince one another that it will be a piece of cake, all the time knowing that life is a challenge beyond all challenges.
When we’re kids soaking up the world like a sponge and getting cocky about how adept we’re becoming, we are setting ourselves up for the first fall, in a succession of many. Particularly in our teenage years we learn all about rejection, just how breakable we are and that wanting it and getting it has a process in the middle. We learn by failure, the experience revealing our mistakes and we hope teaching us to not do it again. But basically we’re stupid, and many of us do it again and again until... well, it doesn’t stop hurting even when we stop.
As adults life has afforded us some wisdom, or should I say a modicum of, and we face life with a new-found confidence, and perhaps the delusional feeling of control. Bang! Then life remedies that with a swift uppercut to the jaw. Ouch! I’d better sit down for awhile and rethink a few things. Getting too cocky has always been a big mistake; like an invitation to be thwarted. Murphy and his law has nothing on God, no smiting involved, just a subtle reminding that you’re a novice and know very little.
As we continue through life, get married, have children, get promotions, buy houses, experience economic downturns and losing ones job, we begin to get a little tainted, a little less able to cope with this simple life quest. Now it’s time for therapy, someone to tell you what you should already know and charge you a fortune for it. Of course, we didn’t listen to all the lessons of experience, why should we listen to anybody now.
Our heads are becoming clouded, fuzzy and life and its purpose indefinable. So we turn to religion or ideologies that can offer comfort, hoping for a reprieve from this incessant doubt. Hallelujah, we’ve found a scapegoat; the buck can finally be passed. But life still ensues with all its excruciating detail. People start dying, security starts waning and we suddenly realise we are ultimately alone. More therapy!
Then there is divorce, when you thought that life couldn’t get any more complicated. There are lawyers, excessive cost, internal conflict, the kids and the world upside-down. Now we’re considering sanity as a questionable asset. It’s becoming all too much to function, but eventually we are standing at the end of it, feeling weathered but upright.
Perhaps now life will settle down and I can enjoy my autumn years free from disaster and emotional turmoil. I start thinking about all the wonderful experiences I’ve had: falling in love, more than once, having beautiful children and watching them grow and have their own, finding success, accomplishing goals and in the end finding peace.
It’s not that the journey is over, but with some wisdom and water under the bridge, one sees life in a different light. All the good stuff and the bad stuff don’t mean much in themselves, it is always how we respond to them that matters. It’s not the outcome but the journey that defines who we end up being.
This gift of life we are given is not straightforward or easy in any sense. It is a quest, with many stumbling blocks and lessons to be learned. The best we can do is to retain a sense of humour and do our best, regardless of circumstance. The meaning of life is simple...it’s individual for every one of us. Just keep breathing, laugh often like you mean it and don’t regret a thing. Enjoy ever second, every good and bad of it.