I have always scoffed at the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” No doubt, as is the case with everything, this was influenced by being raised in religion. I was introduced to the idea that when I die, there is a perfect place I am going to if I do x (let’s not get into what exactly x is, as its far too complicated to elaborate here, for the purpose of this piece, in my opinion). I’ve always had a destination in mind (two, in fact). My every thought, action, and feeling was weighed against these two destinations. There was not a moment in my life where these two destinations did not have a direct, powerful influence over me. I believe this “destination-mindedness” has bled over into other areas.
“I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” The truth that everyone is going to die someday, including me, has always made me aware of the sands of time ticking away. Anxiety has been my modus operandi for my entire life. Everything I do, I just want to get over with, and just get to the end. As I wish to write, this attitude starts to creep in. I ask myself: What is the final destination with regards to writing?
I love listening to successful people (especially artists). Over and over, I’ve always heard that they are never satisfied with what they’re doing. They always want more. They always strive to get better and better. I thought that was dumb as a child. Not only did I think that rich and famous successful people were the scourge of the earth, but I thought the idea of living life without a destination was ludicrous. Why would the ambiguity of “getting better” be a more valuable “destination” than an actual concrete destination? (Measured by what, God only knows).
My destination of choice is to make a living doing a job that I love. That is my main goal in life. But as I ponder what my life would be like if I had “enough money to last a lifetime”, I think: what would I do with the rest of my life then? If I, at age 25, were an infintillionaire tomorrow, what would I do? What would my emotional state be? I would certainly feel more secure, which is a gigantic motivating factor at this point in my life. But what would I do? It is so easy for people who are having a difficult time financially to think money is “the end”. But that thought depresses me. What do you mean “the end”? Surely you aren’t going to die immediately after making such-and-such amount of money, correct? What are you going to do? What are you going to spend your money on, and when? How much? How are you going to spend your time? It is very easy for people to enviously scoff at the rich, but it is a legitimate question. It is not a 100% guarantee that any amount of money will make someone a certain “level” of happy. Of course, it’s foolish to not acknowledge the obvious benefits of money. If I had a certain level of money (which I’m not quite sure what that would be), it would certainly alleviate many of the problems that I have currently. But I am quite sure that it would not touch others. It’s easy for me to say this now, but I do not anticipate that my life would change that much from how it is now. I would imagine that I would be happier as compared to thinking about working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, at the alternatives where I live (it also depends on what I would be doing to make that amount of money, how much I enjoyed that work, etc.). But, for the moment, I have a great deal of financial security. I realize this is limited, so I obviously think about the future. If I were to have a significant amount more money than I have now, I think I’d still be doing the same things I’m doing today. I don’t like the idea of flaunting my wealth around with expensive cars and luxury items. I’d probably fix the house up a bit, and save the rest. Maybe take a couple of trips, which would be different than I’m doing currently. But I anticipate that I’d still have the desire to write and create comedy for myself. I don’t think money would change that fact, because I’d still need something to do. Of course, I’d have more money to spend, and, thus, more options. Perhaps I can’t even conceive of what those options could be. But I want to write, and I want to create comedy. I don’t see this changing, even if I had a quadrillion dollars in the bank. I would just need something to occupy my time, and there’s little I enjoy more (productively speaking) than writing and making myself laugh through creating various things.
This has led me to the conclusion that I finally understand (at least, in my opinion) the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” I am starting to understand the profundity of that statement. I abhor the phrase “studies have shown”, but they have that there’s a certain amount of money which produces max happiness, and going above that (especially excessively) decreases that happiness. That makes sense to me. I can see that being the case. “Nice to see that your beliefs, whatever you base them on, matches up with science, Cody.” I’m glad I could please you.
The conflict along the journey bugs me: the fact that we all naturally go from being happy to sad to angry; that our life circumstances change; that we’re stuck doing the same necessary, mundane things from day to day. These things bore me, infuriate me, and I haven’t committed myself to focusing on anything else. I think that I have not committed myself to anything else largely due to the fact that I have believed that life is about the destination, and my destination was of a religious origin (and, of course, you can’t expect a child to have his entire life planned out for himself. I’m still young). I’ve ran away from “the world” in favor of “spirituality”, but now, I’m, very slowly, learning to appreciate the world. Learning to appreciate now. Life used to be this thing that just “got in the way” of me going to Heaven. Living here on Earth, through time, was a nuisance. Not only that, but it was actively preventing me from going to Heaven. Not only in the obvious sense that being alive means that I haven’t “died” and gone to the afterlife, but life here on Earth was affecting what was going to happen to me after I died. My entire life structure was based on certain beliefs regarding what it took to go to Heaven. Most of this involved hating the Earth. But I don’t believe that anymore. Thank God.
It is going to take a lifetime to develop a philosophy regarding my life here on Earth. Undergoing a very significant change in religious philosophy starts off with getting rid of the old ideas, and replacing them with new. I have a general sense of what the new will be, and I’m working on getting rid of the old, but there’s still a lot of unknowns regarding how I feel about the journey. That is part of the journey: figuring it out, and writing about it. That feels pretty good.
Introspection helps me with a lot of problems. Many personality traits remain the same over time, but my philosophies have certainly changed over time, and I look forward to seeing what “peak” happiness is going to look like for me. At what point in my life am I going to be the “happiest”? Is it currently? What will my life circumstances be? My job? My financial situation? My hobbies? It is very interesting to me. Once again, I have an intrinsic desire to “hurry up and get there”, but “the grass could be greener on the other side” or whatever. There’s so many variables that it doesn’t really do me any good to think about the future in that regard. Although goals are definitely important, I want to relax. I want to have more of a “journey” approach than a “destination” approach. Ignoring people is very hard for me: especially if they speak confidently about something I haven’t given much thought. This is certainly the case when I hear, in my head, all of those that will tell me how the fact I’m not preparing for the future now is going to make my life suck in the future, I’m going to be saddled with an immeasurable guilt, that could’ve been avoided if I would’ve only taken step x right now-look. We both know that we don’t know shit about the future. Yeah yeah, I know. Experience. “Odds”. Blah blah blah. I have my own philosophies that I want to develop, for my own reasons. I am done uncritically accepting the “advice” of others to the detriment of myself.
The “destination” stress of a religious variety that plagued me in my youth was also of the “future here on earth” variety. I’ve written about that before.
I have always been susceptible to abandoning myself to do what others advise me to do. It is traditionally been hard for me to tell myself “No” with regards to taking actions that are suggested to me. A problem is that I haven’t been able to explain to myself the problems that I had with their suggestions. That just changes over time, with age, in my case. I feel stress when others tell me that I need to change what I’m doing, and even more stress when I try to take their advice. Something has to give. My wants matter. I’m currently not thick-skinned enough for my taste. It has been a work in progress for a long time now.
Of course, the destination that I have in mind is the same one a lot of people share: being wealthy, and relaxing in a gigantic house. Having a “permanent vacation”. Filling time with the same things I’m doing currently, but without financial anxiety. I’m not going to let anyone convince me to have a different goal. Write about the problems that you have with my philosophies among yourselves: don’t tell me, because I don’t fucking care.
I want to see how my writing develops over time. How my use of language changes, how my tone changes. I’m happy with my non-fiction up to this point, but I want to write a lot more of it. I want to get crazier, smarter, more sarcastic, and more organized with it. As my best friend has said, you have to get better at something if you do it enough. You won’t remain stagnant. I’m banking on that as far as writing is concerned. I also need to read a lot more, but that’s a whole nother story for another day. I still have a sense of hopelessness that things aren’t going to matter, anyway. No matter how many times people write about, say, how unnecessary nuclear weapons are, they’ll still be developed, and still threaten us all. I personally find it pointless to write from a “change-the-world” standpoint, because I don’t think it is going to work. That isn’t to say that words don’t have a profound impact. But, from my point of view, I accept that there are always going to be shitheads that try to fuck everything up for the rest of us, and there ain’t much I can do about it. I can whine and complain, but other than that, not much is going to happen. If someone is willing to twist my arm off, say, for something I wrote, I don’t think any amount of screaming in pain is going to change their mind. There’s certainly a certain amount of inevitability when it comes to evil, regardless of how depressing that fact is. The goal is to avoid the arm-twisting for as long as possible by as many people as possible disseminating the fact that arm-twisting is evil to as many as possible, and then, we just have to hope for the best. A fucking miracle, as it were. I don’t know if that will be enough while I’m here, but I suppose this is one instance where I think it works to be “destination-minded” as far as the afterlife is concerned. When I die, none of what happened here on Earth is going to matter to me. There’s no telling how long I’m going to have to wait to reach that point, but whenever it happens, it will last forever, so I guess there’s one thing to look forward to. The only problem is figuring out what exactly to do along the journey to getting there. It truly does take a lifetime to find out, for better or worse. That feels like such a long time to figure something out. I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to it. I guess it all depends on what happens within it.
My overall approach to my journey is to coast. This attitude was developed over the course of my childhood, when things were beyond my control, and no matter what I did, I could not alleviate the bad. My actions did not help the circumstances surrounding me one bit. I had to accept the circumstances, and become depressed. That helped foster my apathetic attitude, which, regardless of your beliefs, really did help me out. Of course, it is tragic that it came to that, but “it is what it is”. I frequently found that the harder I tried at something, the worse I got. I didn’t have an overall philosophy that I was longing for. I was confused, and that made me miserable. Apathy helped me disconnect from negative external circumstances, and that helped me develop intrinsically as well. When I failed and failed and failed, no matter how hard I tried to succeed, I finally developed apathy. In this “moralistic cliche” world in which we live, that’s outright blasphemy. But it helped me out more than I can say. “Apathy” has been my modus operandi for a long time now, and it has helped me out tremendously. I’ve coasted, and been very lucky. But, as I’ve written about before, I’ve uncritically listened to people enough in my lifetime. It’s time to be more stubborn and judicious.
There is something about freedom that just produces happiness within oneself. Freedom just produces this happiness. This good feeling. Success, of course, produces yet more good feelings and happiness. But even separate from success, there is a happiness that just naturally comes from independence. It is so intrinsic to our very existence; makes up our core. It is the “will”, and the exercise of that will produces a natural happiness. Of course, we make mistakes, feel miserable about it, beat ourselves up about our stupidity, etc. But, still yet, there is a happiness that comes from the exercising of one’s own will. Because, as I’ve elaborated on before, who cares more about my happiness than me? Who cares about one’s happiness more so than oneself? This is where “do-gooders” will pipe up and say “Some people don’t know what is best for them”, etc. etc. And it is certainly the case that many with self-destructive lives are happy after someone intervenes. But the point is that every action taken is an attempt to achieve a greater state of happiness, even if it doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean that mistakes will not happen, but every person is always attempting to make himself happier than he is currently. When he’s hungry, he eats in an attempt to satisfy himself, even if what he eats leads him to get food poisoning, and he’s worse off than he was before he ate. The point is that every person attempts to increase their satisfaction, even if they ultimately don’t. How can anyone argue against the good of that? Not successfully, I would argue. The nature of man is to have a will and exercise it.
Humanity is so complex that writing about it is a great chore. It truly takes a special mind to do so effectively. There’s so many different paths to choose from, so many varying lengths of the different paths, and the destination is so often unknown. One can go to medical school for many years, incurring great debts, and then regret it later on in life. Someone else can consider that experience the best decision they ever made. Newborns die all the time, while some live to be 10. Others, 20. Still yet others, 30, and some even make it to be 100. We desire to make sense of this. This inequality bugs many, if not most of us. It introduces us to tragedy, and unfairness. We seek to understand it. At least, for a little bit. Then, we find other things to cheer us up. If it makes one happy to continue to ponder these tragic inequalities of the world, I would say continue to do so. But if one does not enjoy doing so, but feels obligated to do so, I would urge that individual to move on. In my opinion, “Help” really helps when the helper feels some satisfaction to do so. If an individual has a gun pointed to his head, and is required to “help” another, there’s clearly something lost in that. If we should strive towards being more “loving” people, we can’t do that by pointing guns at each other’s heads to arrive at that point. Does that mean I dislike guns? No. Defense is different from aggression. We should not be initiating violence to achieve peaceful ends. But I, personally, do not believe that one who engages in violent defense is “unethical”. Life is a balance between evil, forgiveness, and justice. This is what we have. The evil is unavoidable in a complete sense. Evil consumes us all, even when we don’t want it to, from time to time. We will all wrong other people during our lifetimes. I think it is a blessing that the degree to which we wrong others can be less severe than others. Although we are all sinners, we are not all murderers. I consider that a blessing. But when it comes to love, forgiveness, and justice, we must accept our natural humanities. Fear is natural within us as humans, it is true. But it is also true that love is greater when freely given instead of being coerced. It is always better than aggressive violence.
The harder I try not to sin, the more I’m aware of my sin. It consumes me to the point of hopelessness and depression. And anger. Why is that what God would rather have me do than enjoy the good times as they naturally occur throughout the course of my life? If God cares about me, why would He want me to torture myself? Surely there are some similarities between humans and God, if we were “made in His image”? Why would our concept of caring for someone give us a feeling of compassion, whereas when God enters that equation, it leads to misery and fear? I don’t buy it. God does not torture us because He loves us. Therefore, we should not torture ourselves just because we love God. If God has forgiven us for our transgressions, as Christians believe happened through Christ, then why can’t we forgive ourselves?
I don’t know anything more about my journey through life currently, so I’m going to end this piece here. All I hope for currently is that my pieces continue to get better, and that I’ll be able to recognize it. That’s probably the biggest step along my “journey” thus far. Is this step leading to the destination? I have no idea. But the destination makes me happy, the journey is making me happy, so that’s what I’m going to do.