Two approaches to life
There are two approaches to life, lessons learned or just living. My 90 year old friend, Mrs. Hatcher, always said life is a school. Many eastern philosophers, many individual thinkers, see life as a personal journey with lessons learned along the way. Some see this as ongoing; others see these lessons as reaching towards a pinnacle, a point of revelation. Western writers and psychologists often see life as different stages to be passed through. There was a book actually called “Passages.” Jonathan Livingston Seagull’s bird learns to soar higher, Felix Wolf’s apprenticeship to the sorcerer Don Juan Matus, and Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” delves into various twists on his journey.
The other approach, that of just living, offers little consolation, accept maybe relief in not having too many expectations. The popular singer Patti Page sang a song with the words “Is that all there is....” Implied is that she tried so many things, been up and down, had money and not, had many lovers, been alone, had kids, drank, partied, and well, it all left her somewhat empty, wondering and disappointed.
My friend Ruth, who contracted cancer, said “damn, damn, damn” from Rex Harrison’s “My Fair Lady.” In this story he was cursing because he had fallen in love with the lady who he had helped and refined. In Ruth’s case “damn, damn, damn” was a reaction to her fate and what could one say but “damn, damn, damn.”
Shakespeare wrote and I paraphrase “life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” In other words, nothing is learned, no story told, there is no heroism, no journey, nothing really makes sense. It is just life and we are left still guessing and wondering.
Maybe there is some courage in this view. It does not rely on tales to ease our fears and insecurities.
Yes, two approaches to life and yet, both are part of life.