It may be revelatory, to take particular notice of the usual responses to one’s routine social greetings. One is often met with tiresome and wearisome, responses such as, “hanging in,” “same old, same old,” “the usual,” “nothing special,” “could be worse,” or some such similar remark, articulating, at least some measure, of malaise or disappointment, with life. Occasionally, one is rewarded with marginally positive responses such as, “OK,” (tolerable) or, “not bad” as if “good” was the absence of bad, rather than the presence of good; viz., that the absence of negative events is the aspirational standard]. Such unpromising statements of personal status quo, are depressing; happiness is the positive presence of happiness, and not the noted absence of misery. Another popular response, “Getting through the day,” evinces a shamefully inappropriate commentary on the marvelous gift of life, when used by people who are not, contemporaneously, in the throes of constant pain, suffering the recent loss of a loved one, or possibly, confronted with a hopeless medical diagnosis.
The popular observation that man’s span of life is a relatively short one, is inarguably true; our allotted time seems to, unaccountably and inexorably, slip away. As one grows older, frequently, his attempts to remember past events, results in the predictable recognition of the substantial human shortfall in personal recollection. As we have quoted in an earlier writing, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Man’s short allotment of time is best lived by him, as fruitfully as possible.
One is morally and appropriately obliged to recognize, at least a modicum of gratitude, for nature’s grant to him of the franchise of life, the most miraculous extant planetary phenomenon. In addition, man has, been generously, favored, by natural evolution, with the potential ability for advanced thought, creativity and the acquisition of knowledge; and thereby, for the capability for happiness through self-fulfillment, should he but aspire to it.
It is unfortunate, that so many individuals seem to, simply, visit life, in the manner of unschooled and uneducated tourists, as mere spectators, lacking suitable knowledge or motivation for development of the understanding of themselves and others, as well as of their environment. These people are merely “inhabiting lives”, or serving out their allotted time on Earth; we have referred to them, above, as merely, “doing time.”
Man, as a practical matter, is obliged to pursue gainful employment, in order to acquire life’s necessities for himself, and responsibly, for his family. A substantial number of weekly hours are, mandatorily, sold to an employer, or dedicated to an employment, in that endeavor. In his non-employment hours, caring for family is his primary responsibility, supplemental to the pleasant necessity of maintaining a social life. But does he, electively, expend his remaining (private) hours, pleasantly engrossed in an interest, or just “doing time?” One would conclude that those humdrum responses to morning greetings, referred to above, are probative evidence of just serving, or doing time, and regrettably and ungratefully, wasting that limited and irreplaceable resource.
There is an intangible, personal luxury, in the reservation of some completely private, personal time, during which, one can retain his own persona and truly be his acknowledged self. Such time also provides a venue where he can choose to utilize his natural aptitudes, or pursue personal interests, such as, art, reading, crafts, gardening, cooking, engagement in sports, or volunteering in hospitals, parks and institutions. These are but a sampling of the plethora of possibilities, all of which have the promise of affording pleasure to the participant, and of offering to him valuable dividends in the nature of personal growth, empirical experience and deeper understanding.
The languid avoidance of the chance to explore the potential of life enhancement and emotional satisfaction, by non-participation in any such interest or activity, amounts to an unrewarding rejection of one’s opportunity for his own advancement of life and self- realization, which inevitably, results in a lack of contentment and predictable ennui, such as are expressed in responses such as, “same old, same old.”
Simply existing, or “doing time,” is, indeed, more than a tragic waste of one’s own most precious and limited resource; it amounts, in reality, to shameless and unprincipled ingratitude, for the many generous gifts bestowed upon our species, by natural evolution.