"Is the truth depressing? Some may find it so. But I find it liberating, and consoling."
- Derek Parfit
Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny — all shams. As kids this is our first lesson in sugarcoating — of being misled with good intentions. More surprise awaits us a few decades later… but honestly… life feels much better after — as long as we clear the existential mud of denial.
What’s special about living a few decades? Nothing. Simply the fact that by then, our instincts are honed enough to see what culture sweeps under the rug… harsh reality about life.
Which- strikes me as bizarre… WHY hide these things? I say, celebrate them. Honest investigation of certain psychological trickery makes life feel MORE happy and MORE worth living, beautiful as is… as opposed to believing it can be coerced toward imaginary utopia.
I am not the sole experiencer or author of these truths. I see them again and again… in poetry and philosophy and anecdotal conversation. In other words, they’ve been etched upon humanity’s cave wall for centuries. My suggestion is to sit with them… observe for yourself whether they feel true. You might not want them to be at first. Just wait. Explore honestly.
“The most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude — but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life-or-death importance”
– David Foster Wallace
"Our age is notably optimistic and it makes us suffer hugely from being so. We are all, in private, a lot sadder than we are allowed to admit."
- EM Cioran
Desire Is Empty
What we want will never permanently deliver. Whether it’s ice cream, or a 20-year career of fame and wealth, or a dream lover. And hey, ice cream? Count me in. Careers can be meaningful. As can love. What matters is what we expect from these things. Do we believe in ultimate happiness arriving someday? Is it taking enormous amounts of energy to keep our kite of ecstasy flying high? Or, is life fantastic now, whether we have these things or not? As you sit here reading this, if you have: health, food, and the ability to roam somewhat freely, do you NOT consider this the treasure of a lifetime? If not, why?
- Desire is Empty
- Our Unfillable Void
- Mother Nature’s Tyrannical Trick
- What I Want Is What I’ve Not Got
- AFTER the American Checklist
- The Second Noble Truth
Attachments mislead us into feeling secure and safe. Attachment to comfort, to money, to power, to relationships, to identity, to pleasure, to dreams, to stories. In the long run, all will pass. And in a long enough time, nobody will even remember any of these things. There won’t be anybody to remember them. In the cosmic sense, we are most certainly insignificant. So why worry?
Everyone Is Alone
Everyone is alone. Always! Even in togetherness, we are fundamentally alone. No proximity, physical or psychological, will ever bridge the gap. No person ever truly fulfilled by another. Surely, there are moments we feel fantastic connection with company — some magical intimacy with a person or group. But these experiences can only ever be ephemeral. And there we return, yet again… the default place we truly always inhabit — being with ourselves. If being alone fills you with anxiety or a need to distract yourself or be with someone — why?
No Universal Meaning
Serious feelings are born from serious beliefs — even hidden ones. Rather than answer the question, “What is my purpose?” or “What is the meaning of life?”, Albert Camus challenges the premise: why believe there is a purpose or point? Why place such enormous burden on ourselves, or on humanity broadly? This framing can lead to enormous relief, but also creates a moment of extreme vulnerability or crisis.
Reality Is Not ‘True’
Reality as we perceive it, can never be reality itself. It might be “close”, in the sense that it feels consistent with other people’s versions, but at BEST, it is nevertheless distorted, fragmented, fabricated, colored with meaning and stories, and obscured, by subconscious processes, before us — as consciousness — ever experiences it. We are in relationship with a brain that is doing innumerable things we have no direct awareness or control over.
Our Great Responsibility
If, somehow, you are able to kindle a fire of gratitude for all your good fortune – is it not then obvious to wish as many humans to have this, too? Not through convincing them, not through coercion, not through preaching or reprimand. But rather to help them on their own path – to help them indepedently learn and wander their own way toward the mother of all epiphanies? That everything is OK?