I had a terrifying thought this last night, and I hesitate to share it, in fear, it may be taken the wrong way, but I fear far worse, if I don’t share these thoughts, or at least express them in writing, they will only continue to expand beneath my feet, only to overcome me in the night, alone. Of course, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but there is a bit of truth, as well.
Is it all worth the pain? And I mean that, not in a pessimistic or nihilistic way, but in a serious, yet, disturbed kind of way.
Let me give you some background to how these thoughts came to pass.
In recent weeks, I have taken a deep dive into what it means to live a meaningful life. It means to orientate yourself in a way that justifies the suffering of the world. It means to, as the Bible suggests, Walk with God, even in the darkest of times.
It means to not be resentful, in spite of pain. It means to aim yourself at the highest good, and, even when you find yourself off target, reset your sights and aim again.
I get this. I understand this, and, in a few short weeks, have seen the benefit, the actual good, this way of living can produce.
It allows you to be the beacon of light in a stormy sea of chaos. It allows you to go out and rescue you those who are drowning, metaphorically speaking.
But, as I sit here writing this, I fear I might have fallen upon the roaring waters. I have lost my footing on my “Noah’s Arc” in the flood. I may have reached too far, put my hand out too deep in the water, to pull someone aboard, and slipped. I’m drowning, drowning in the chaos of the storm.
So how did I get here? And let me explain.
I’m reading a book, Notes from Underground, by Dostoyevsky. It’s the story of an (as far as I can tell) atheist man who lived his life, and whose sole purpose, was to make life worse, for everyone. Quite a grim way of living, wouldn’t you say?
Although I’ve only begun the book, I came across a phrase that, more or less, struck me. And that is the only way I can describe it.
“Men are not piano keys”
What does he mean by this? We live in an age where the idea that we, as humans, can and should build a society that is to meet all the basic needs of human life, that if we have all of our basic needs met, we can go on to then produce higher order goods and services such as cures for chronic diseases, end world hunger, poverty, and so on.
At first thought, this logically and emotionally feels as if it’s an excellent goal to aim towards, and to aim at anything less would indeed be a crime; a crime against humanity.
And that’s where I, myself, have slipped. I bought into, a little too deep, this idea.
Again, it might be hard to be following me, though let me give a little more explanation to help clarify things.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve opened up my range of topics that can be discussed in day-to-day conversation. I’ve learned to dive deep into the mind, and even soul of those I’m speaking to. What I mean is I’ve not been afraid to ask people what they believe, and even, to explain to me what it means to them. And, as I’ve been listening to others, prying to know more, it seems evident that others seem to have a darker look on the world than I previously imagined.
They don’t see a way, in which, the world can be saved, at least, not without a miracle. I explain to them this “utopian society” idea, and then, without much hesitation, they agree it should be obtained, but don’t see how, or at least with the progress being made today, if it’s possible.
That’s when Dostoyevesky’s quote, men are not piano keys, it made sense.
We are not simple creatures who, like an equation of math, 2 x 2 = 4. We do not suddenly feel, once our needs are met, that we no longer have to suffer. There’s always suffering, it’s just always changing the way it’s defined as we move closer and closer to our “utopian society”.
And, I think, maybe we know this, or at the very least, we act it out, even if we don’t know this. It’s hard to say for sure. What I mean is, you look around the world, you see, the way we live, the needs we’ve had met, why is no one grateful for that? I’m not suggesting that no one is ungrateful, I’m only saying that the degree to which we should be grateful, relative to how our ancestors lived and what they faced, it does not reflect to how grateful we actually are. We still complain. We still argue. We still fight.
Because men are not piano keys. They do not simply conform as if they were a math problem. They will always find a way to break order and introduce this chaos.
At first, I thought, is that because of our proclivity to always be improving our species? That, we must call out what inequalities there are in the world, so that they may be rectified. Is it the only thing that will bring us to utopia?
But then I thought, maybe it’s something else? But that, I’m not sure what it could be.
And then, here I am, swimming back in the chaos of the stormy sea, of which, I had previously been afloat. I had learned to traverse the chaos, or so it had seemed, but now feel as if I’m drowning.
I think it’s because of those I tried to help, even my family around me, they refused to listen, and not out of arrogance either, but out of sheer hopelessness.
They do not see how we can ever truly justify the suffering of the world, to which, would make them want to spend an eternity here on earth. They believe the only justification they need is that one day they will meet God and live in heaven. They do not value the world we live in now.
Then I thought, does that make me an atheist? To believe the only life worth living is the short one we live here on earth?
But quickly, I thought, no it doesn’t. I’m not trying to live a life here on earth for eternity in belief, that it may be my only life I’ll ever live.
I’m only trying to create a world, in which, the short life we do live here on this planet, in this reality, every second of it was worth it.
But how do I show others that we achieve this?
To that, I still have no idea. My only thought at the moment is, to be a good example, and maybe others will follow.