Wednesday, May 23, 2012

YOLO, Click, and the Simple Secret to a Happy Life

You only live once.  Hate to admit it, but for once, a rap song was right.  Actually, there's a lot more truth to rap songs than most people know, but usually its buried amidst an army of emotionally charged words about less-than-thought-out actions.  But I digress...

"I have had it with the @#$#$^#$%# YOLO
on this @#$@#$@#%@ interwebs."
It's true, however, what Drake and Tyga said.  You do only live once.  Death happens to the most certain and most grim reality for us.  Therefore, it must be asked:  What do I do in this one life that I have?  In a life that ticks ever closer towards the unknown, what do we do with it?

Now, I'm in full understanding of the typical usage of the phrase "YOLO." It usually goes with person A doing something potentially hazardous, risky, or otherwise unknown, and person B applying steady peer pressure with the ever encouraging "Come on bro, YOLO!"  In the modern context, especially in regards to young folks like myself, we tend to associate the brevity of life with the need to experience as much as possible, to hell with the risks.  To boil down an otherwise complex philosophical concept to an indiscriminate cliche, our treatment of YOLO is essentially the idea that the unbridled achievement of your desires will ultimately make you happy.  Unfortunately, there's a minor problem with this notion: IT DOESN'T @!#!!@#$! WORK!

Universe-controlling remote...
Sounds like a future product
 line for Apple.
Perhaps that's the greatest lie we've ever excepted as a society:  That after all our desires have been fulfilled, then can we reflect upon our lives in satisfaction.  After I've been able to have everything I want to have, be everything I want to be, do everything I want to do, and live the life I want to live, then I'll be truly happy.  After I've gathered to myself all the wealth, honor, pleasure, and power I possibly can, then I'll be happy.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work.  Unfortunately, the man who has everything he ever wanted will no longer want everything he has, he'll only search for that which he does not have.

 There's no surer path to misery than the self-made life.  The person who has crafted his life himself is assuredly the most unhappy person.  They have made a universe small enough to fit in their head, they have eliminated all wonder in their life in favor of control, and have thus failed to see even the greatest things as wonderful.  Take, for example, the Adam Sandler movie "Click."  It came out in 2006, had bad reviews, involved a remote.  Remember it?  In the story, Sandler plays a workaholic architect always climbing the corporate ladder and ignoring anything that could get in his way.  Then, by chance, he meets a man named Morty who gives him a remote with which he can control his life, most prominently through time.  He later finds himself fast forwarding himself through larger chunks of time and missing out on more and more of his own life, costing him a marriage, a relationship with his children, and, in a tearful scene, (or, at least it was for me.  Don't judge.) his life.

What does he learn?  In an "Its A Wonderful Life" -esque journey, he realizes that, while he had absolute control over his life, he missed the whole point.  He did become wealthy, powerful, and important, he lost everything in the pursuit.  The Biblical wisdom played true:  he paid for the world with his soul, and found that, while collapsed on a hospital parking lot, dying in the pouring rain, that it wasn't worth anything at all.

A reckless life, while fun, is rarely happy.  Now I'm certainly not arguing against the value of good ole-fashioned fun, or having an enjoyable life.  The last thing I want to see is a world of somber people.  But I just as much do not wish to see a world full of flippant people.  Fun, enjoyment, and life ought to be taken seriously.  We ought to take pleasure very seriously, lest it lose its fun-ness (Not a word, I know, but are you really going to punish me for my creativity?).  Yes, we do only have one life.  Spend it wisely.  Do not seek after wealth, honor, power, or pleasure.  They'll find you in due time and in proper degree.
He's got a point there...

A happy life (if you believe in happiness) is really a simple matter:  As Epicurus puts it: "Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance."  Do not seek for more, enjoy what you have.  Adam Sandler's character used his control over life to seek what he wanted, and dying on the pavement, he looks up at his family and realizes that he has had everything he ever wanted in the first place.

We have quite a marvelous world, made by an infinitely more marvelous God.  Rather than creating a life and a world for ourselves, which will inevitably end in dust and ash, live life in the world God created for you.

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