Sunday, February 6, 2011

On the Good and Bad

Why enjoy anything at all? As I sat at my desk on this Tuesday morning I listened to the explanation as to why you shouldn’t enjoy too much happiness - I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. “Never get too excited. This way you’ll never feel too sad when the bad happens.” As I run through the logic I really can’t help but think that it makes a little bit of sense.

Our lives are the ultimate stage. As the protagonist, we will experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The good feels good and the bad, undoubtedly the worse of the two, feels bad. Why not live out life at a medium?

This is the beauty of conversation. For a fleeting moment, you are presented with the opportunity to, as they say, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. You get the chance to peer into the psyche of the other and see what life is like for someone else.

I wrestled with this story for weeks. The irony of my own life has put the themes it conveys into an interesting perspective and after much deliberation, and some light reading, I have decided to share my thoughts on the topic.

First you have to ask yourself a question: Is life pre-determined by fate? Or, are we in control of our own destinies?

As a fan of the Matrix, I like to think like Neo. I am in control of my destiny. My action, or lack there of, will determine my future. But, my philosophical side continues to weigh in on my judgment. I often find myself wrestling with the line, “Everything in life happens for a reason.” The people we meet, the roads we travel and the decisions we make, at times, can be linked together into one elaborate story that not even the best team of writers could make into a movie.

For instance, two years ago around this time I was visiting North Bay, Ontario. I had made the four-hour journey to meet up with the soccer coach and practice with some of the boys on the team. At the practice I met a few people, but none more memorable than my future roommate and current close friend. The interesting thing is, he was from Brampton as well and had made the journey for the same reasons I had. To him, friends are family and throughout the year I had the opportunity to meet quite a few members of his extended family. One in particular was a few months away from making a personal journey of his own and as we began to share stories with one another we realized we both shared a passion for reading. Without hesitation, he commenced suggesting titles I should read and I took my time seeking them out, but as fate would have it I opened one a few weeks ago and began reading.

The book is titled, “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer and within the first 100 pages or so I had stumbled across the answer I was looking for – humans are emotional creatures. Whether we are interested in admitting it or not, the decisions we make in life are heavily related to how they will make us feel and how similar decisions in the past have made us feel.

Why shouldn’t we enjoy happiness? Is it because past experience has taught us that feeling good can’t last? Is it because we know that life’s bad can come sweeping in without warning and bring our lives to a crashing halt?

Why not take in everything? The good and the bad. As we go through our experiences and continue to make decisions we continue to learn and grow. While we can capture moments of our lives in the forms of pictures or memories, we can’t pause it – or slow it down. As much as the bad hurts, it’s important to remember that life will continue to move forward and every experience in life serves a purpose.

The bad is dark and dismal, but just like how the good can turn bad at a moments notice – life will also provide us with the opportunity to turn bad into good just as quickly.

We only have one life to live – take in everything.

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