I was talking with an old friend, who is also arguably the most miserably unhappy person I’ve ever known, but in that 40 year-old frat boy sort of way … of all the people who should be seeking self actualization! He took me aback when he commented with pride that he had life “all figured out.”
When he said this, my snarky cynical side wanted to laugh then reply, “Wow, wise Buddah, amazing that you have accomplished what PhD scholars, physicists, psychologists, theologians, and philosophers have not been able to do! Upon what misogynistic men-only bitterness forum did you read such brilliance?
Of course I didn’t because it is generally considered rude to debate with someone who is ill equipped to participate in the conversation. Suddenly, it dawned on me, until that moment I’d never realized this man was so … naive? ignorant? delusional? Instantly my impression of him changed. He went from a sort of tragic and self-indulgent, but smart, drifter, to a rather small thinker.
I can’t quite put my finger on the exact word I am looking for, but it just feels so silly. For a person who meets the world with such a lonely, angry, bitter face to think that his sad existence is as good as life gets, and an accurate vantage point from which to achieve understanding is rather sad. He honestly thinks we’re all miserable. But, the majority of people I know seem to actually get joy out of their lives, and continue to seek more. To each his own I guess if someone wants to choose to live a sad and vapid life.
But, it made me want more for him, and it also made me want to laugh out loud … an unhappy philosopher is kind of like Chris Farley teaching aerobics and nutrition classes. He may have theories, but if they aren’t even working for him, what’s the point?
But instead, I swallowed my snarky rejoinder (sort of), attempted to keep a straight face, and bit my tongue. During this all, I couldn’t help but think of the Cosby Show where Theo Huckstable makes the same claim. Of course Theo was fourteen so his naivety was sweet, and predictable, and resolved in a feel-good 22 minutes.
But, what would allow an adult man to continue to think like young Theo, in it’s perfect pessimistic opposite? I was baffled, until I “figured it out” myself.
If we approach the world lonely, angry, and bitter, drinking ourselves from one Friday to the next, completely lacking in self-awareness, the universe will continue to mirror that in what it gives us. And, those repeated experiences over time will trick us into thinking we are victims of some lackluster fate, rather than Captains of our own course.
It’s those of us who expect more, of ourselves, our friends, and the universe who recognize how little we really know of the world around us. The more we are challenged and surround ourselves with people and experiences that challenge us, the more our world grows. And, the more our world grows, the less we can really know of it.
So, if I ever start foolishly thinking I’ve “figured it out”, that’s a guarenteed sign that my evolution has stalled … and it’s time to seek out greener pastures and start again.