I have recently turned 36 years old and thought it would be a good idea to get some thoughts down in a post.
When we are young time goes by very slowly. I recall my elementary school days where I attended a K-8 school. At an age where an hour seems like an eternity I thought I would never get through all 9 years of Elementary school. One day was long enough, but a year, and 9 of them were too immense to be comprehended!
I remember my mother telling me that she never thought she would turn 40. Now, here I am facing that same prospect with complete disbelief. Life has become such a blur that I have actually had to take some advice from Buddhism and just live in the moment, learn to savor the here and now. I didn’t have these thoughts when I was 10 or even 18. Life just occurred, one didn’t think too much and both pain and pleasure were at extremes. I’ll always remember the absolute euphoria of a day spent at the water park as well as the darkness of being grounded (punished) which meant being made to be completely idle for a while.
At 36 I don’t have any problems with being completely idle, I could just sit and meditate, or just fall asleep. Grounding doesn’t work well at this age. By the same measure the intense pleasures felt as a child are lessened, they are dimmed a bit. Sure I still feel joy at a good mountain bike ride which leads to beautiful views, or an hour spent surfing in the ocean. However, it is not as intense as when one is a child. I miss the excitement that simply being a kid brings.
As an adult a lot of “fun” seems to center around alcohol. I don’t think I would enjoy drinking very much if the only choice I had was beer. Luckily I live very close to great wine country and opening up a good bottle is kind of like an investigation. You’re never sure how the wine is going to taste and the alcoholism takes on a rather sophisticated air as we reach for the right descriptors: I’m detecting the strawberry, with a hint of minerality and a long fruity aftertaste.
For me, I balance all this wine drinking with exercise and my favorite being the mountain bike. I wouldn’t have taken up the activity if it were not the beautiful mountains and ocean that I’m surrounded by. Taking the bike up these mountains and seeing the views is quite a spiritual experience!
And speaking of spiritual I find that a lot of my old acquaintances have “found Jesus.” This makes me smile because I know that many of them have a lot of repenting to do for their High School extracurricular activities. They start out the worst sinner and now really really really love Jesus. Two completely different extremes.
As for me, I gave up religion and am very glad to having done so many years ago. Through all my studies, travels and investigations I’ve come to the conclusion that Christianity, Islam and Judaism are simply the biggest fairy tales in the history of humanity. Reading many of my posts in this blog and *the other one* a reader can get a sense of how I came to this conclusion over time. No need to rehash everything here, I would just say that at this point and time I’m feeling very confident that I know much more than most people about history, and the mysteries of the universe which is ironic because I think my ultimate belief is that I understand everything I think I know could be wrong.
Thanks to Facebook I was able to reconnect with just about everyone I’ve ever known. Most of my connections I would never have seen / spoken with again if it were not for Facebook. On the other hand it did rob everyone of those spontaneous and long catch ups. It all happened so quickly and suddenly we were all in touch with a hundred of our long lost friends. Due to this, I believe the conversations were rather short instead of the longer and more intimate drawn out conversations that would have happened otherwise.
Oh well, I’m still glad to be in touch.
At 36 I feel very fortunate to have found many new and very good friends. There is a saying that if a person can have one or two really good friends in life then they are lucky. A few of my better friends from Ohio turned out to not be so great in the long run. For me, a really great friend is one that will see you no matter what when you are in town. This did not happen for two people I thought were very good friends the last time I was in town. What this means is that I was not important enough for them.
It certainly did not feel great, but the good news is through my travels I’ve been able to meet and remain in touch with some of the most amazing people. These people are simply at another level in life, ideas and passion. This is certainly one of the most valuable aspects of traveling/living overseas, the ability to compare and contrast between your origin (where you grow up) and an unlimited amount of others (depending on how quickly one gets around!). I find that people who do not travel stick to the same beliefs and ideas of that which surrounds them, and how could they not?? Without being exposed to other ideas and thoughts it is no surprise they will just repeat that which they have heard and do what others around them do.
This is the main reason people choose which religion to follow; if they believe they have thought it out and come to the correct conclusion based on logic and or some divine feeling they are simply deluding themselves. Just as a person believes their football team is the best, so do they with their chosen religion, it is not more complicated than that really.
At 36 I’ve come to one conclusion for the purpose of life.
1. There is no purpose.
– Life is a sojourn from the eternal something. A holiday which could turn out good or bad depending on the thoughts that stream through ones own mind and thus resulting in choices. The playing field does not start out equally for everyone but no matter how good or bad the starting position is, the state of mind is really what will determine the quality of life.
However, while we are here on this holiday, this detour I think I should be doing two things to make it worthwhile and to give my thoughts a pleasurable boost.
1. Be kind to people and help them when possible.
– There is something about helping others that really lifts up the soul. I know what cerebral pleasure feels like but to help others, connect with them is something quite different. I feel that the whole universe rejoices and supports the effort when people help each other.
2. Have as many experiences as possible.
– Life is to be enjoyed, to be savored. I find that many people always need to be doing something. They have programmed themselves to do one activity after another and trained their minds to not be happy if there is not something to physically do. Some are afraid to be alone for too long with their own thoughts.
It think it is best to slow down, really appreciate the beauty of life day by day and really live in the “right now.” This is actually very hard to do without training. Our minds can easily slip away, we think about something negative and before we realize, we have put ourselves in a bad mood due to none other than our own minds!!
Instead, I like to reign in my own mind and constantly ask myself “What am I doing here, where is here, but in any case, how beautiful it is!” To really look at your wife, child or the flower in the planter as though it were for the first time is quite a rewarding experience. Through this, it is as though we recapture the magic of life that often fades as we grow older. To ponder the mystery of exactly why a seed can grow into a plant is a wonderful miracle that we’ve trained ourselves to not appreciate!
Yes, yes I’ve studied biology in university, but to simply look at life only through scientific explanations is completely missing the larger metaphysica
l point! Why do the cells, atoms react in certain ways when in any other universe the rules might be quite the opposite!
And the question never becomes clear.
Yes the plants grow in part because of the sun, but where does the sun come from. Ok, the sun comes from the big bang, but where did the big bang come from. What was before the big bang? Who/what/why are the physical rules as they are in this universe?
Now what irks me most is when people respond confidently to this question with “God.” It makes me want to bang my head on my desk. They too are missing the beauty, the mystery of everything around us with a flippant “one shot” response. ‘
I could easily ask them how they are sure about this and they would point to the Bible. If I interrogate them further about history, the origins, and with many “whys” their “knowledge” quickly, quickly deteriorates.
But I do not do this because let us remember rule #1.
Be kind to people!
It really does not matter if they believe there is an old man called God who just made everything. It is also not my job to convince them otherwise. Instead I much prefer to live in harmony and gently discuss their beliefs with perhaps an inquiry here and there but to leave the conversation in a very amiable way. We are all on a path of discovery and there is no need to try to forcefully yank someone from their state of belief onto another path. It never works anyway.
But getting back to experiences, are experiences not the absolute essence of every moment of every day? Why do we listen to music, watch movies, meet with friends? Why do we have children, plant flowers, go for a run? Isn’t the absolute answer simply to have the experiences?
In my current culture (the USA) many believe we do things to reach some sort of goal. Everyday we have to do something to try to get towards something in the future. For me, living life today is the goal in itself.
For religious types they would say that the purpose of life is to “honor God.” This is the same as living life fully, and learning to appreciate the beauty of everything. Seeing beauty as though it were the first time is in itself a kind of prayer.
However, when life and experience are boxed, confined in the religious context I find it to be akin to riding a bike with training wheels. You get the basic idea of the mysteries and wonder of life but within a very limited framework. Eventually, these training wheels should be discarded so the individual can ride free, go fast and really really enjoy the ride! The training wheels were a false sense of security, really limited the person at best, completely stopped them from developing at worst.
As with so many of my other posts I’ve ended up discussing religion. In any case, these are the thoughts of the 36 year old me. I’m glad I’ve gotten these down into an archive (this blog) so I may look back many years from now at a version of me that no longer exists. I wish I would have done much more of this throughout my life. It seems like I’ve beaten my apathy demon today though and it feels great!
Just as I ask myself, “Why am I here” and “What is here.” I ask myself why I bother to write. I write because I am an archivist. I like to archive, to try to preserve this wonderful experience that I’m living. Every experience is infinitely valuable to me and I want to collect and keep them all. I really do hope that this life is being recorded by something much more powerful than my picture taking or blog writing abilities (insert NSA joke here). I am referring to the great archivist that exists beyond space and time that has never missed a moment of this life experience. I wish to be able to look back upon this life in full technicolor, surround sound and to feel everything just as it was felt in this life.
I do think there is a grand archivist in the sky but I like certainty and so I do much archiving on my own as weak as the attempt may be in comparison.