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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Peaks and Valleys

Many of us, clear on the fact that tomorrow will be a miserable experience due to our actions tonight, are choosing to indulge in alcohol because it contributes to pleasure at the moment. We’re willing to be devoid of happiness later for the benefits of feeling happy now.

Others, will not. They will choose to forgo present happiness to avoid unhappiness later. They will choose to not be happy now, knowing their friends are laughing and enjoying themselves, because the future unhappiness wouldn’t be worth it to them.

One married man will choose to spend an amazing night with a beautiful woman even while being fully cognizant that the later guilt will be torturous for him. Another will go home.

Morals, ids, and addictions aside, we all make decisions constantly on when and how much happiness we will trade for misery. We each have our own general range that we won’t usually surpass, within the grander scale, on which we differ widely from one another.

Some of us would consider a broken leg a reasonable price for experiencing the extraordinary high of skydiving.  Would you? Or is it not worth it?

I constantly hear that YOLO and if you don’t carpe that diem then your existence is being tragically wasted. This philosophy doesn’t seem to have any detractors and I’m not sure why. Why should it just be a ‘given’ that those who have the most exhilarating experiences are living “properly”, while those who forgo them are subjected to our pity and, often, our scorn? “To each his own” is another popular personal philosophy but if you believe that, then you can’t believe it’s a mistake for someone to not wish for exhilaration in their life.

‘Carpe diem’ reaches many us so profoundly I believe, because we live lives of quiet desperation and fear going to the grave with the song still in us. But there are those of us who see our human lives as a shockingly brief and trivial micro-moment and harbour no particular anxieties about not accomplishing and experiencing things that will be soon forgotten in any case. Those who ensure their names survive the longest are likely the ones most horrified by the nature of life. And what does it matter? How is a king we remember a thousand later any better off than a nameless peasant who lived under his rule. One's as dead as the other. Was the negative stress of achieving such 'greatness' worth it for the king? Was the constant anxiety from which he likely suffered worth it? Or would he have been better off doing without it?

That lack of anxiety is the point of this piece.

Avoiding it, often means having less interesting outer experiences than others, but greatly reduced anxiety is worth that to some. So why should some people insist that the high anxiety they endure by working 75 hours every week in stressful jobs to supply the means of exciting adventures and really cool stuff, is something everyone should experience to consider their lives well-lived? Why, instead, is a well-lived life not one that had endured the least negative stress along the way?

Our aggressive approach to living, caused, I imagine, by our disappointment at not being immortal within this skin, is the Original Anxiety and all that stems from it is a sad comedy of perpetual little anxieties that never cease until - yep, death; the death that arrives whether you were anxious or not, whether or not you experienced adventures or had all the trendiest toys.

If this is all there is - if it turns out there's nothing but nothing after death - then basking in how wonderful it feels to be without negative stress just might be the best damn thing in all existence. Yet so many consciously choose to sacrifice that feeling in pursuit of worldly thrills and gains. To say they have 'lived.' How certain are they that they aren't making the error of the ages?

Take a moment to consider the possibility that long-lasting earthly contentedness is an experience not duplicated any where or when in whatever reality is. And then consider that you have a ridiculously short time to experience that treasure. And more often than not, you sacrifice it for something much less precious.

Is it really so “wrong” to limit your peaks in order to limit your valleys?

Consider chilling. Or don't. I'm cool either way.


  1. It seems to be in our nature to feel more validated doing something if we can drag a lot of other people along for the ride. It's almost like we feel MORE correct if everyone agrees with our philosophy (Think Religion).. But how much more free are we if we can just enjoy what we enjoy and leave others to what they love? A lot of times, it's not the default, but worth it when we can.

    Great Blog Amigo :o)

  2. Thanks, Average Joe! And good points.