Friday, April 8, 2011

Illusion and Reality and Hope

Part of recognizing that I drank too much--and the project I'm on now to stay sober--is that I had to recognize that I was too full of illusion, to the point where I was deluded.  Naturally, I've tried lately to figure out ways that I can become the opposite of deluded.  This is risky business, though, and it's occurred to me now, as I was reading a fascinating book called, Stumbling on Happiness, that any project toward completely rational actions inside of a realistically perceived world is flawed.  In short, what I mean is this: if we recognize our "true" value in this world, we're not going to have the incentive to get out of bed in the morning.  We will not be able to get excited about anything, because the essence of excitement is really the idea that something which is not currently possible or existent, can become possible, and, further, that I/you/we, can work to bring that notion into existence.

It is a basic tenet of a happy life that we believe our actions relate to control and control relates to happiness.  The tension is that we cannot control everything, even our interactions, and that our absolute value in the world is actually quite low.

Therefore, we must value our personal interactions and the facts of our individual life much greater than it is valued by others, and we must inject meaning into our possessions that is higher than others might value those possessions.  That meaning is at times called "hope," and it is necessary to live, to move forward.  The problem occurs when it blinds us to the other realities that are inconvenient, like the  probability of a certain event occurring.  Just because we like the idea of something doesn't make it happen, or more likely to happen, but the trick to living, it seems, is that we shouldn't totally listen to our hopes NOR should we totally listen to our doubts.

It is easy to say "live a balanced life," but this misses the point a bit because it is too general.  If we listen to our doubts all the time, we'll constantly undervalue ourselves as compared to how other similarly situated people value themselves and we will therefore miss out on possibilities that we could have attained if we valued ourselves higher only because those people who did value themselves higher had the inertia to strike forward and try to attain X goal, something we might presumably want--and I'm not just talking about mundane goals here, but things like: rewarding conversations, etc.  At the same time, if we listen too often to our hopes and dreams, we'll become blind to certain realities that go on around us, and that will actually keep us from attaining the kind of peace that could prove relaxing. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peace and happiness can only be found in the present moment, because you don't exist anywhere else. The past and future are stories. There's nothing wrong with hope, as long as I recognize that it can be the flip side of fear. Hope can be demanding that I will only accept life if it turns out the way I want it, and fear that it won't. Hope can also be the wish that all people, including myself, be happy and free from suffering. That's a more expansive view of life, where all are valued equally, including me. It's like Indra's net, each of us a brilliant jewel, reflecting all the other jewels.