A few days ago I was thinking and believe that I figured out the key to life. It’s thought. Life is basically an infinite number of events perpetually happening. In order to try and explain, I’m going to diverge for a moment.
I came to this thought by thinking about “reality” TV. What is called “reality” TV is of course not very “real” in many ways but is rather a semi-scripted program making use of nonprofessional actors and actresses. I tried to think of what would be more “real”. Reality TV would be watching one of the traffic cams they have set up around the city. What you would see is an unending stream of cars driving by, looking much like the ones that just passed by. It would be very monotonous. On a rare occasion you might see something out of the ordinary such as a collision.
From the outside especially, there doesn’t seem to be a point to all of the traffic. There’s a lot of movement but you won’t see anyone ever get anywhere. It seems rather meaningless and maybe even futile.
I think life is like that in a lot of ways. There are a lot of things happening but often apparently without reason. As humans, we can’t take in, remember, and process every single thing that happens. We can’t put our heads around “life”. And even if we could, I think we may still want to find more meaning than might actually be there. We need to have some framework for understanding, connecting and making sense of the events we encounter in our lives.
So how do we do this? By using stories and metaphors. This is one reason stories are important. We experience everything, whether consciously or unconsciously, through our mind. So the key to life is how we think about things. We compare the events in our life to stories that we’re familiar with in order to try and make sense of them.
So the key lies in which story you put yourself and your situation into. Consider an example: at your job, you are requested on a couple of occasions to do something which is ethically questionable. You refused. Soon after you are laid off from your job. What happened? Are you a victim, being wronged because you did the right thing? Are you going to fight and show them, or is it hopeless and might as well resign yourself to this fate? Did this happen because there’s another better job out there that you’re supposed to find? Does God not care about this injustice, or is satan trying to get you down, or is this merely a matter of economics? Can you see the difference your view makes? Some views will leave you depressed and angry, while others may allow you to find peace, hope and strength. And a very important element of this that I’ve yet to mention is that how you view a situation will control what decisions you make afterwards.
What good does this information do? Well, there is a couple of ways you can approach things. One is to try and choose the story which gives you the most peace and happiness. This is something I want to try more myself. However there is a hitch: how do convince yourself of something if you don’t believe it already? (I don’t currently have an answer to that question.) The second hitch is that if this story doesn’t align with reality, you may well make some poor decisions.
So a second approach is to try to find the story that most closely fits with reality. While this may help the most in making good decision, there are a couple problems with it too. The first problem is that many times this isn’t the happiest story. I think this is where I run into trouble some times. (On a side note, in many cases I think “goths” are intelligent, thoughtful people, who just happen to understand life too well.)
Another problem is that no story or metaphor is perfect. Even if it is close to the truth (which often they aren’t), they still are different in someway. Any metaphor is reductionistic. That is the idea I was trying to get at when I said not long ago, “Nothing is real; the only thing that is true is everything.” For my whole life I’ve been trying to get a grasp on what is real and true, and so I’ve become frustrated with stories and metaphors which people claim to are true, but which aren’t wholly accurate.
I guess this may be just another way of saying that attitude is everything or the only thing you can control is your reaction to events. But I hope maybe I’ve said something more.