Monday, July 17, 2006

Monday, July 17: It's a Mess, yes, and still: happiness is crucial

The world is a mess. Look around you. Read the editorial pages. Watch how people drive. If you can stand it, watch a little television. Listen to people as they yammer on their cell phones. Read the headlines. Read the news. Read the hidden news, notice the weather patterns, go see An Inconvenient Truth again.

Okay. Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. That’s snafu, a phrase from world war 2 describing what the Army life had to offer people. With the glories of capitalism, we’ve had almost a permanent war economy since that war and has it helped?


Okay, okay, so snafu, snafu, snafu, how can we possibly feel happy? It’s such a mess, don’t we have to fix it?

Well, some of us might want to do a little or a lot toward fixing it, but that’s not the issue, the issue is this:

The feeling in our conditioning is, Yes. First we cure our disease, or get rid of our burdensome spouse, or move to a new town, and then we’ll be happy. But what if we die before the disease is cured? What if the spouse is only half or a quarter of the problem and we are missing all sorts of great chances to learn to love and know and laugh at ourselves along the way? What if this town and the one we are moving to are full of smart and dumb and good and selfish people, and what we need to learn is here, now, in front of our faces?

That is all to say: we don’t live forever, and some of these problems may not be solved in our lifetimes. Does that mean we plan to spend the rest of our lives in a froth until the mess is straightened out?

I don’t think so, nor do you.

In fact, when we get suckered into this thinking: Thou Shalt not be Happy Until the Mess is Fixed, we tend to hold our breathes, get anxious and want a really quick fix, so we can breathe and be happy. And most quick fixes turn out to be one more contributor to the Mess. Indeedeo, most of our mess can be attributed to greed and the inability to slow down and be happy now.

If we were happy now, we wouldn’t have to buy extra stuff, we wouldn’t have to rush off in our car, when a leisurely walk would be more enjoyable, we wouldn’t need to cram extra meetings or tasks into our day to get our guilt off our back. If we were happy, we could do one thing or three, and our attention would be one doing each thing well, with a peaceful and happy mind,.

We wouldn’t be in the rat race: how many tasks can I cram into my hour? How much stress can I handle? How much unpleasantness can I deny? And then, what to do with all that stress? Buy something. Drink or eat too much. Tear around on our weekends like there was no tomorrow.

So, the earth is in trouble. Global warming is real. Weather is a mess. So let’s get our inner weather together, smile, be happy, get on our bikes, hang up our wash, put in fluorescent lights, bug our politicians, walk instead of drive, talk to friends instead of rush off to something far away. Let’s be happy, do less, buy less, use less, and enjoy life more.

How’s that sound? Sounds good to me. How about you?


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