Thursday, June 17, 2010
It occurs to me that this world is made up of dichotomies. Polar opposites seem to work together in the most extreme ways. The Ying-Yang sign seems to be the one symbol that speaks some truth about the meaning of the universe. Ever notice how many situations in life are like a double-edged sword? If you want the moon, you have to get rid of the sun. If you want the joy of children, you have to deal with the incredibly intense child-bearing process, and the continuous job of taking care of a child. If you want money, you have to work (well, that's true for MOST people). There are a trillion different examples I could list off, but the point has been made. Many, perhaps even MOST, things in life are a dichotomy. The negative is balanced by the positive, the hard work balanced with reward, the trials balanced by the lessons we learn from them, etc.
In all my blog posts so far, I've explored the idea of "escape", and how it affects the human consciousness. I'm very convinced that all humans are born with a natural need for dreams (whether they be daydreams or nightdreams), and a private space in their own hearts and minds where they can idealize the world around them, their future, themselves, and life in general. Hence the need for and creation of art, music, films, fashion, and every other category of things that TECHNICALLY aren't needed by us humans for survival, but HONESTLY are needed if we are to remain sane or enjoy life on this planet at all. It's almost as if we as a species spend half of our lives idealizing life itself, whether that be by listening to our favorite bands, watching our favorite TV shows, or creating works of art ourselves.
So the conclusion that I have come to, through observation, is that humans live in two seperate worlds at the same time. We live in the world of the animal kingdom, where we eat, shit, fuck, and display all of the animalistic, selfish tendencies of untamed creatures. But at the same time, unique to us humans above all other animals, we live in a spiritual realm as well. We dream when we sleep at night. We look to the past and hope for the future. We relish or detest the present. We have FEELINGS, beyond the instinctual feelings of beasts of the earth. Our short lives here on earth seem to be, for each individual, one big lesson in discipline.
What is discipline? I just googled the term, and found many different usages of the word. But let's use an example. Let's say there are two roommates. One roommate wakes up every day to a blunt of weed, smoking it to the face before spending most of his day alternating between playing video games and eating food. He may spend his night getting more stoned, or going out to party with friends. The other roommate gets up at precisely 8 AM every morning for class, finds time to workout and study in between classes, and makes the most out of every other possible hour of daylight, so as to end the day feeling productive. Who is more disciplined? The answer is obvious.
So, I'm not using the word "discipline" to talk about a child who is punished because of his bad actions, or any other negative use of the word. I'm using the term to illustrate the self-control and priority setting that a "disciplined" individual has. It's just strange to me, how we humans have a natural selfish instinct in our hearts, to always be seeking pleasure or entertainment, when the productive things in life are the tasks that require patience, sacrifice, and sometimes even pain. Everybody seems to be aware of this fact. Obviously, children are accepted as being selfish creatures, because that is their natural instinct upon birth. But as they grow, we as a society require them to learn to be less selfish, year upon year, until finally they are completely independent. Parents have the incredibly stressful and difficult burden of trying to teach their children to learn from their mistakes, to choose right from wrong, to avoid temptations and pitfalls of all kinds, and, all in all, to be better today than they were yesterday.
But why is this the case? Why would we be born with the instinct of selfish desire when the only way to truly live a full life is to throw this desire out the window, to master ourselves, to make our emotions and weaknesses our bitch instead of letting them run and ruin us? Once again, making judgment calls based purely on 19 years of observation, I feel that "discipline" is what we are here for. Obviously, there's many other things to be experienced in life than just school, work, and schedules. But to live your life as a work in progress, to try and make every day better than the last, to make priorities and schedules based not on what you FEEL like doing, but what you know you OUGHT to do, is a virtue.
Every person has to learn this lesson at one point or another. It doesn't matter what your issues are, what background you come from, how damaged or undamaged you are, EVERYONE has to learn it. There is no reward in a life full of pleasure. Ask the drug addict, who's sole purpose is to find a way to feel good every minute of every day. Ask the fat ass, the person who eats whatever they want and treats their body like something they detest. Ask the nympho, the girl or guy who runs away from their pain by sleeping with other people. We all have our addictions, our temptations, our reasons for escaping from our pain or stress using our desires and pleasures. But we all have to wake up at some point, to realize that the only way to make progress is to control ourselves, to sacrifice for a reward that is not immediate, to accrue the wisdom to know that you have to do some things you don't want, or quit doing some things that you love, in order to get to a much higher goal. Whether this means spending hours putting your body through physical stress in the gym, or avoiding the pack of cigarettes that is calling your name in the gas station, or spending an extra hour studying every night, we ALL have to learn a little bit of discipline.
In my eyes, this is the only way to a full life, a life with as little regrets as possible. And just like the rest of you, I'm still working on it.