I Don't Know
I'm the kind of person who tends to philosophize the things I don't understand, or in drastic situations those things that simply make no rational sense to me.
Like death. At my age I've finally come to terms with the death of loved ones. Let's face it, by the time you've reached my age, a fair amount of people have passed on—grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, mentors...
I've also faced my fair share disappointments. MORE than my fair share. Which brings me to the subject I want to broach today. When it comes to life, just what is an individual's "fair share"? Some people seem to have a relative easy ride in life, while it's a constant struggle for others. It's easy to explain this away with arguments that boil down to self-esteem, expectations, education, family history, and behavior, even fate or "The Will of God", but none of these make sense to me. While I do agree that making the right choices in life play a part in most cases, that doesn't hold fast and true in all of them.
Take my dad, for instance. He worked his whole damned life, not stopping until cancer put him in a hospital bed a few days before his 74th birthday. He had no choice about "dying in harness" because my parents, despite their hard work, never really had anything. He never had the luxury of dreaming of retirement. Their lives were a typical case of living check-to-check and he always knew that he'd have to work until he dropped. The other side of this coin is the 24 year-old rapper showing off his conspicuous consumption on MTV, or the bimbo driving her pink Benz to the plastic surgeon's office to throw down money for a new set of breasts or to get her rectum bleached. Did the former just get lucky and was the latter blessed to be born into a family with money? Did any of these, my dad included, simply get what they deserved?
There are people who lay out thousands of dollars on their education and put countless hours into studying, and then graduate to find the only job they can land includes saying, "Would you like fries with that?" Then there are others who never go into college at all and retire from good-paying unskilled positions with great retirement benefits.
My point isn't to infer that some deserve the good things in life and others don't. My point is, what determines these things? One's first inclination is to think that it's the choices we make in life, but that can't be true. Again, what about the guy who decides on a good education and winds up not being able to put his degree to work? What about the guy who decides to spend those years goofing off and then ends up in a blue collar union making lots of money hammering nails or sealing PVC?
The next place my philosophizing takes me is learned behavior and learned expectations. If my parents worked hard and died with little to show for it, perhaps I learned from them. Nope. I was always different. I've always had loads of ambition to be more, do more, accomplish more, and... where is it? I'm still living check-to-check and none of those dreams came true, regardless of how much hard work and believing went into them. And if I get all the things I want in life and others who have worked harder and believed more (and actually need those things more than I do) don't, what determines that?
The last place I go then is to the Fates, the Will of God, or Destiny. Usually Karma joins them, as well as my belief in reincarnation, but that always leads me to a sense of futility. If our quality of life depends on those, then why bother? Why work? Why even get out of bed?
The older I get the more I realize that I know squat-diddley about Life. If ambition doesn't give us what we want, if creative visualization, believing, and working don't, then what does? Is Life just a crap shoot then? Is there no order to the universe? Is it just serendipity?
I don't know.
Labels: Waxing Philosophical