I Like This

choose-joyFound it here: moreintelligentlife.com

This is the one that resonated. I always say that the purpose of life is to live it, and to experience as much joy as you possibly can while doing it. This is also very Buddhist.

What do you think?

JOHN BURNSIDE Poet
As any teenager can tell you, it’s a short step from asking the question: “What does it all mean?” to arriving at the inevitable answer: “Nothing.” Meaning is constructed by each person after her own fashion, his own nature; there is no universal formula or divine plan—no “all”—that can make individual lives meaningful. At first, such a realisation can lead to dismay: befuddled by the schemes and promises of our elders and betters we had trotted dutifully to school and kirk and community discos full of the blithe enthusiasm youth is cursed with, in the sure expectation that a worthwhile life would just fall into place, with a modicum of effort, so long as we did the right things. Maturity, love and marriage, job satisfaction, happiness—they were all out there, waiting to be achieved. So we thought, until this perennial teenager’s question cropped up, and we began to doubt.

Doubt is a good thing, most of the time. As is the shedding of illusions, however painful the process. For after dismay, after the insomniac nights and the hollow feeling in the pit of the mind, what follows (if our supposed betters can be persuaded to refrain from meddling) is the gradual understanding that, since meaning is neither fixed nor universal, it is determined, to a significant extent, by the power of the individual imagination. True, there is a world out there that would compel us to conform, to consume, to render unto Caesar. But we are, nevertheless, free to resist, free to imagine, free to furnish our lives, and the terrain we inhabit, with meanings that derive from our own natures, and from the nature of our home terrain.

Henry Miller remarked that “life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.” But he also said that “the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” In a conformist society, the attainment of that joyous, drunken, serene awareness is both an act of resistance and a personal achievement, for it says to hell with Caesar and his tawdry coin, and leaves each of us to invest life with all the intangible and unaccountable forms of wealth that the imperial minions in their counting house can scarcely begin to imagine.

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