So, oddly enough, my best friend asked me if I was still feeling good about things. Normally, this isn’t such a big thing because it is something he usually asks me about whenever we talk. But, this time was different. He asked me how I felt about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
So, being the snarky guy I can be sometimes, I responded with, “Aren’t those things guaranteed by something…” Not to be outdone, he responded by, “Well that’s self-evident :)” Asshole.
But, thinking about it now, he did have a point about things. We live in an age where we believe that we are so entitled to things. However, we are not really entitled to anything other than discord, conflict, and a life marred by an endless sense of competition. Why you ask? The reason why it is so is because we all believe that the universe owes us something and won’t settle for anything less than what we may find acceptable. Personally, it’s more like we won’t settle for anything less than something in which we can find gratitude.
Up front, it doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, it offers you an opportunity to earn your way into prosperity and appreciate developing a work ethic that aptly describes your approach to life. We believe that if we work hard, we will get out of life what we put into it. Sounds fair, right? WROOOOOONNNNGGGGGG. SOOOOOOOOOO WROOOOOOOONNNNGGGG.
“Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays.” -David Hartley
Actually revealed best in how it plays. However, I’ll get into that later.
In response to all of this, I decided to start a simple experiment: I wasn’t going to compete for the affection of another, period. If someone wanted my attention or affection, I’d freely give it to them. But, I wasn’t going to fight for something that didn’t want me.
We put in all that time and effort with people only to figure out that ones who either have put in more time and effort or with more to offer are the ones who win out in the end. It still holds true and we feel indignant because there isn’t any justice. We invest ourselves so much in something or someone only to get nothing out of it. How fair is that? It’s a question that I found myself asking daily. Well, until yesterday…
Yesterday, I decided that I wasn’t going to be engaged with intentional community. What I mean by that is things like bible studies or anything that was orchestrated to create the environment. If I was going to be in community, I was going to be in community with anyone who sought my attention or affection. I decided I was done making the offering and it going for nothing especially with the consideration of how isolated it made me feel.
I found it to be surprisingly liberating. I may not have hung out with the groups of people I would have normally but I found gratitude and understanding when I did find myself in it. It was so nice to not have to compete! It was free of expectation and free of obligation and it was perhaps some of the best communions I’ve ever had. It was strange but at the same time I couldn’t really help but feel disappointed and let down. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for having a singular instance of it.
So, after really being able to sit down with myself and think about why it was so disheartening, I’ve drawn the conclusion that the “More is better” philosophy is the culprit. We live in a time where more is better and the absence of volume might as well be an absence period. There was the epiphany…
The extraordinary has become ordinary because the cost of being ordinary is so high. If we’re not standing out or not in possession of something that isn’t present, we might as well not be where we are. It’s so painful knowing that we have to do more to be more and the price paid is the expectation of knowing that there isn’t enough we can do. It is at the root of what we are to aspire. But, that aspiration has been lost to who we are. We identity in how much of something we have. We identify in how much we work. We have become so confident in volume that we measure ourselves by it. It has become so altruistic that we’ve made it a philosophy: The more we have, the more we deserve and those who have more deserve to dictate more. Thus, creating the atmosphere that if you don’t have more than the next person, you’re not worth anything. More than that, we believe that if you’re not worth anything, you’re not anything.
I may be a lot of things. I am: a sinner, writer, philosopher, unsure, insecure, optimistic, friendly, introverted, shy, Christian, this, that, and whatever else I can come up with. That’s what I am. I can admit it.
But, that’s not who I am. I’m still trying to figure all of that out.
I’m not any more or less me and I’m finding that the price I’d pay to be any more of the things that make me what I am would be at the expense of who I am. That’s something I can’t live with nor would I really want to experience such a thing. I don’t have to have more of something to know that I have it.
After all, aren’t I entitled to that freedom?