Life ®

Life-Is-A-StoryThe word ‘life’ is synonymous with complaints.

“Life is getting me down.”

“Frustrated with life”

“My life sucks.”  And so on. I hear it all the time and I use similar phrases.

Recently I tried something different with my regard of this word ‘life’ and I capitalized it, to ‘Life’, to make it a noun, a real thing, or sometimes I added a ® to make it a brand of some kind.

If I was going to talk about ‘Life’ as a thing that was ‘getting me down’ or treating me badly, then I was going to reference it as such, in my mind, or on paper. In doing so, I saw the absurdity of my statements.

life hc picIn humanizing it (more obvious when made into a noun) I was attempting to find a perpetrator for my problems, something, or someone to blame. As if Life is a mysterious yet malicious force that is out to get me. The problems I was bundling up into the term ‘life’ were a series of small problems, but more often than that the source of the problems lay within me, issues I didn’t want to face and therefore had become externalized. For an atheist such as myself, I had allowed a remarkably superstitious element to pervade my thinking.

I realized that what I’d been doing was separating this ‘Life’ away from myself, like I was having a relationship with it, like it was some ethereal thing that wanted to make my time hell. I get frustrated with Puck, my cat, and we grumble at each other. I get annoyed at ‘Life’ and I treat it the same way. Strange, because ‘life’ as I’m referring to it doesn’t exist. It’s a word co-opted by us humans to describe the sum of all experiences up this point, nothing more. It’s not a force for good, or bad. It just is.

Change-Your-Life-mission-for-michael-drug-alcohol-treatment-center-orange-countyThe danger when treating it like a perpetrator is that it’s too convenient to disregard the constituent problems or issues that are making up the general feeling of frustration. If those component problems are broken down, they can be solved, fixed, or accepted. As long as they remain in the form of this quasi-parent-like form that doles out punishment, deliberately makes our time difficult, it remains something we can’t deal with. And maybe that’s why I use the phrase ‘Life is a being a shit right now’ so I don’t have to handle it – perhaps it’s a coping function, the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears, ignoring the problems until they ‘go away’. Yeah, right.

So, yes, I’m really frustrated with Life ® right now. What a big old meany, eh?


Little Fly


Little fly,
Thy summers play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not though
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

– William Blake
Songs of experience – 1795

Thank you Tarquin.

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Jefferson on old age


…but our machines have now been running for seventy or eighty years, and we must expect that, worn as they are, here a pivot, there a wheel, now a pinion, next a spring, will be giving way: and however we may tinker them up for awhile, all will at length surcease motion.

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Depart the tottering edifice


From Seneca:

I will not relinquish old age if it leaves my better part intact. But if it begins to shake my mind, if it destroys its faculties one by one, if it leaves not life but breath, I will depart from the putrid and tottering edifice. I will not escape death so long as it may be healed, and leaves my mind unimpaired. I will not raise my hand against myself on account of pain, for so to die is to be conquered. But I know that if I must suffer without hope of relief, I will depart, not through fear of the pain itself, but because it prevents all for which I would live.

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Do not go gentle into that good night

By Dylan Thomas, 19141953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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