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Making Useless Life Inventories
Do you ever feel haunted by what appears as a long string of mediocre results that don't match well to all those right moves and efforts you have invested in life? So you may see a dude of a dudese of your age doing so much better while apparently beating you in all disciplines of the life stadium - although with half of your brains.
Some fatalistic thoughts may creep up including those about "destiny", or "being born under an unlucky star", or anything else that serves as a good excuse and explanation of their advantages. At one point you get tired of trying to understand any of it, and just like so many others you may underline your life inventory and add it up into one sure conclusion - "life is a bitch".
Well, it wouldn't even be so bad as a temporary impression until the mood changes for the better - but then it starts acting as a magnet picking up all those "what's the use" pieces of evidence from experience, until it becomes a formidable life philosophy making us experts at fulfilling that prophecy.
Every Biography Has It
Well, allow me to give you somewhat surprising comment to all this. Nothing is "wrong" about your life inventory except that it's selectively omitting all those good memories, including only those unpleasant items that make you incessantly ask questions for which there are no answers.
Indeed, everyone's life story is a combination of those good, and those not so good memories, but no one is telling us to base the score on defeats which make us feel crappy. Even those "happy-go-lucky" dude or dudese whom you used for a yardstick of your successfulness could tell you those parts of their story which would test your compassion.
Now, considering myself as one of such happy campers, I could make you suppress tears with certain chapters of my never written autobiography. But ask me if I would feel the same while telling it. To me, all that pathetic material belongs to the same category with those temporary constipations and hemorrhoids - you know what I mean - the ones that probably inspired the expression "pain in the ass".
Long time ago I simply chose to see my life as more than a series of defeats, failures, mistakes, misses, misunderstandings, and all of the other crappy stuff that make you sweat bullets while on the toilet seat of life. So, hey, my friend, we have all been there, so don't think that your story is unique - as long as we are of the same species.
When Lying Is the Only Game Being Played
O.K., I understand, so far it may sound like a so-so consolation, but you are expecting more from a self-proclaimed "happy camper". How did I replace that toilet seat with a throne of clowns? You'll have to promise not to tell, but I did it by lying to myself. Wait, keep reading, it gets a little deeper than it sounds.
You see, my lying to myself is identical to others telling "truth" to themselves. In the long course of collecting impressions about ourselves, others, and the whole grand game - earthly and celestial - we form beliefs which we take for granted, rarely questioning them, but living our life in such a way that those beliefs prove themselves true.
Well, true for us, not necessarily for everyone else. Logically speaking, as soon as something is not agreed upon by everybody - it is untrue - or in a terminology of experts, it's a damn lie. Let's have a quick proof of that. Perfectly normal folks may equally be conservatives and democrats, or Christians, Buddhists, or Moslems, and we could stretch this story ad nauseam, including those different beliefs of nutritionists, philosophers, auto-mechanics, not forgetting mothers- and daughters-in-law.
That's right, my friends, the whole story of life games is nothing but someone's make believe which others adopted for true - or they decided to play their own make believe game, as it is in my case of lying to myself and not accepting much of others' lies.
Whether we say that life sucks, or that it's a fascinating journey - we are right, except that the feeling of saying one or the other is opposite. So, yes, Your Honor, I am guilty as charged - shamelessly telling good lies to myself, those beneficial and even those flattering ones. Not to feed my ego, but my basic human dignity.
Why Fight over Different Make-Believe Perceptions?
Remember those childhood games of make-believe? Being an old-timer I didn't have a luxury of playing Superman, Spider-Man, or Iron-Man, but me and my little buddies had to settle for Prince Valiant and Tarzan variety of heroes.
So I would let the other kid be that prince, as long as he would agree to take seriously my crazy jungle-yelling. All until a kid - a future skeptic, critic, or cynic - who didn't know how to play the game came along to spoil ours, just like he would be doing it some day when he grows up.
Such human specimens like to call themselves "realistic", while not realizing that their story is just as much of a lie as anyone else's. Much of the tragicomedy of human race is in this proving to others that their story is a lie, and ours is true, and we can even have wars over that idiotic routine.
This brings us to our basic question of this article - since we are lying one way or another, why not lie in a way that's more beneficial to us and to everybody that we are touching in our life? What kind of a "truth" are we looking for anyway?
Maybe the time has come in our life to stop pretending that we are handling some absolute truths - and instead open our eyes to the relativity of everything, which includes our own life story as it looks in a retrospect.
It's how You See It - Not how Others would See It
Sometimes I find extremely educational those stand-up comedian shows that so skillfully turn every painful human issue into a laughing stock. What do you think why all those in the audience laugh? Here is why - because they are catching themselves in the net of relativism, of realizing how nothing in life is necessarily this or that way, but the way we choose it to be.
Indeed, as you are listening to your best friend's story about her mother-in-law's constant bickering, and you are offering your best words of empathy - the next day you may end up on one of those shows and laugh your guts out over the similar story. By certain moral standards, wouldn't that define you as a "phony" friend, if you are "capable of laughing about the kind of problem that your friend has"?
Absolutely no. Actually, even morality is a tricky word, as what is perfectly moral in one part of the world may be a deadly sin in another, as we well know.
Yes, everything in life is relative, nothing is carved in stone, while even neuroscientists are telling us about "neuroplasticity", or ability of brain to change, to form new neural pathways and lose some old ones.
So thinking about our life in terms of absolutes may work for us only inasmuch as it may serve the purpose of promoting our health, happiness, and constructive relationships. If I say that my wife is the best woman on earth, it only means that I love her as if she was one - not that she really is that.
By the way, I am aware that the word "lie" may be falling too heavily on ears of those who think of it as a "dishonest act". And yes, dishonest it is, indeed, but I am counting on your understanding the context in which it is making sense. I am using it on purpose to emphasize that we ultimately have a choice how to see our life, and that's what makes our choice a lie, not an absolute truth that would readily be accepted by everyone.
There are those who are all about money and who would readily call me a "loser". And then, there are also some with a lots of money who have said that they would give up much of it if they could spend one single day with my peace of mind.
Again, it's all relative, my friends, so choose how you want to view your life inventory, don't go by others' example. You never know how those most powerful and smartest on earth feel from day to day. Maybe your life is a happy song compared to theirs - and you don't know it, so you don't appreciate it enough.
We Can Turn It into a Romantic Adventure - True or Not
It's amazing how much we can do with our minds, once that we set ourselves free from those limitations dictated by our assessment of who we are - according to how successful we have been in all areas of life.
I have been trying to point out how counterproductive, if not downright self-defeating can be our stiff insisting on the "realism" of our life story - while all along we could playfully replace those impressions with conclusions of our choice.
We should never leave that make-believe game back in our childhood, because the world keeps playing it anyway, so going relativistic about it we are simply replacing a negative lie with a positive one. Truth is not on the menu of our life assessing minds, only truisms that support our life one way or another - or they don't.
Let us not confuse facts with truth. Facts will always depend on our perceiving and measuring abilities, and they will always mean those proverbial blind men describing the elephant by touching it. Because truth works on so many levels and even dimensions, that we can't grasp it all at once, but just fragmenting it into facts.
While scientists can have all the fun they want with that - they are also humans, and a gynecologist, no matter how educated is bound to treat his wife as a woman, not as a bunch of tissues, if you know what I mean. So, he has to leave "facts" and "truth" behind - if he wants to have something like life.
"Having a life" is exactly that - creating it deliberately out of the textile of our make-believe.