By Matthew Cohen
SJS Staff Writer
Forward and back, that is the nature of our lives. It does not have to be. I used to think there would be a stage where I would be, or I would find people who are, contented with their lives; after all why else strive in the way that we do. It’s a tricky thing though, I see plenty of struggle and not so much contentment. I’ve trained well, I know the response, “If you do not strive, nothing will be accomplished.” Maybe, I suppose there is something to that, but it seems….incomplete. That sort of reasoning is very drastic, it has a twinge of avoidance. In other words, it changes the subject and does not address the topic directly.
Anyway, why is it so important for things to be accomplished? In many ways we use that word, accomplished, in the stead of advancement. So, why is advancement so important? There is a lingering belief in the concept of advancement that includes the word “better”. We imagine our heathen ancestors sitting under candle light, we conceptualize ourselves as being superior, but I am not so sure. It seems to me that human history’s central theme of struggle and strife live comfortably in the 21rst century. Perhaps there are more comfortable human lives, but that has an ebb and flow to it. I can certainly say that happiness does not abound. Of course I am not all places at once, but I get a sense that it doesn’t.
There might be a handful of people I have ever met that are content. The more one pays attention to these things, the easier it is to see in retrospect. The rest of us, me included, are climbing invisible walls, that’s why we are so tired. I think I am fortunate enough to get a break from that now and again, but this is more like being dragged back from the shore when high tide rolls in, back and forth. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with us, this is just a commentary on the fact that most people do not know they are being dragged about. They think it is not only natural; that this is the only way life goes. I get a sense of relief knowing that this is not so, even if it does allow me to bypass that normal human madness. Always creating walls, always defending, fighting, rationalizing, and all without ever getting a break. Don’t we deserve a break? Is the price of advancement breaking one’s back and will at the same time?
There are 10,000 injustices in this world and 10,000 complaints to go along with them. They are all related. Trying to right one just creates another. Trying to understand them all is the only course. If we wake in the morning, put on our armor, and spend the entire day defending our ground, we waste this precious opportunity, and it is so damned hard not to get swept up into that pace. And we don’t talk about it. How can we ever make a change if we don’t spend some time on the subject. I think perhaps for the first time in my life I am completely out of answers and you know what, that is fine by me.
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