“The secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met.”
I have a giant life-size teddy bear in my room that blurts out Calvin and Hobbes quotes every time I push a button on it for advice. But, sometimes solutions to life aren’t as simple as a Calvin and Hobbes quote. There must be more to it otherwise Bill Watterson would be more of a spiritual guru than a cartoonist. Irony, satire, humor (dark or otherwise), sarcasm, story, or even a simple plain description… I have been thinking about ways in which we narrate our world to ourselves. Maybe we do tend to describe events with textures they don’t necessarily have or maybe we don’t. Maybe events do have the texture that we use to describe them or maybe they don’t. What remains, I guess, is the familiar question mark as an idea, as a climax, as a potential point of departure… Nope, this does not work; let’s loop back to the beginning.
“Paul Gauguin asked, “whence do we come? What are we? Where are we going?” Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I came from my room, I’m a kid with big plans, and I’m going outside! See ya later!”
The beauty of the answer lies in the complexity of the questions. I don’t have simple answers for Paul Gauguin and I think that his questions don’t deserve an answer. That’s my position. I demand to know what makes up for the ‘we’ in his question and then, I move on escaping the very quintessential reflexivity that his questions demand. You see, for me, ‘we’ is me and her. And I can tell you about her and I can tell you about me, but I can’t tell you about us. Not because I don’t know about us, but because us is an event with two stories. One is mine, the other is hers. They meet somewhere, in conversations and gestures and then they diverge in thoughts and minds. I have constantly wondered if I know her and more often than not, I do think that I know her, only to realize that sometimes I don’t. What remains, I guess, is the very familiar question mark personified by her, as a doubt, as a dead end for us… and again, I must apologize because this doesn’t work; I am going to loop back to the beginning.
“Isn’t it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humor? When you think about it, it’s weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it’s funny. Don’t you think it’s odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?”
“I suppose if we couldn’t laugh at things that don’t make sense, we couldn’t react to a lot of life.”
“I can’t tell if that’s funny or really scary.”
Maybe this need to react to a lot of life is absurd, making life funny, I suppose. Maybe I shouldn’t react to a lot of her. Wouldn’t that solve the problem? There are things that I love about her and then, there are things that I don’t and somehow, I end up reacting to all that is her. What if, I don’t react to things that I don’t like about her? Would it be dishonest? My life with her isn’t going to be all about instant gratification. It’s not an episodic 30-minute soap opera televised every day. It’s a longer engagement and I think truth and lies would be intricately mixed in the process anyway. Then, why not lie? If it helps. The only problem is that I have seen perfectly well-balanced people, simply breakdown in trying to find that instant gratification. Some people call this phenomenon – a mid-life crisis. The strange thing about mid-life crisis is that if you try to avoid it completely, your life becomes a constant crisis. I wonder which state is better. The white of my love for her seems to be enough to tackle the black of my frustration. I move between the two like a pendulum, never realizing that our relationship is quintessentially grey. And all I am left with, at the end of every single day, is the same familiar question mark as the future, as a problem which could be me or her, as the Zen of our relationship. I suppose, you are all now familiar with my objection to every line of thought that I traverse. This doesn’t work and hereby, I am going to loop back to the beginning.
“I have realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!”
I think my teddy is bored by my pontifications. A friend of mine once told me that what I never realize and appreciate is the depth of the friendships that I tend to instantaneously realize with each of my friends. I don’t have friends that I just play poker with; I have friends who would return my call even at 3 AM in the morning. That ability is rare, I am told. Maybe I am doing something right that I still have her in my life despite all the question marks in my head. Maybe it’s just that she loves me despite my idiosyncrasies. Maybe she knows that I doubt. Maybe she is with me despite me. Doesn’t that count for something? Now, that’s a question that I do have an answer to.
I suppose the reason why I loop back to the beginning every time I end up with questions is because unanswered questions are difficult to live with. Maybe contentment is all about living with questions that you do know the answer to. Maybe it’s more than that. But, if I could really tell you what it’s all about, then, I suppose I wouldn’t be here writing this piece. I would be outside living every moment of it.