Bridge Over Troubled Waters - Part I (Guest Blog by Micah Webber)
Editor's Note: Micah has been one of the rare few in my life who have challenged my thinking on a regular basis. He thinks on a totally different level than most people and it shows through in the staggering questions he tosses my way. Many of the recent blog posts I have been putting out have been products of my conversations with him. You don't want to skip over anything this guy has to say. You can follow him on Twitter, @micahwebber93.
The web is chock-full of pithy anecdotes and vague cliché's. I promise you now, I'll do my best to stay away from those hackneyed phrases that lazy writers and lazier thinkers are so often prone to throw about. In fact, let's lay them right out there in the open.
"Life's a journey, so just enjoy the ride." When you're traveling, life's continual movement, its ceaseless flow, is so much more tangible. You feel as if you are so much more aware of time actually passing you by as you walk through new situations, new places, new thoughts. But no one knows exactly what "enjoying the ride" means, let alone how to do it.
There is this image of a river and a bridge that is stuck in my mind from a day I went hiking last semester. I know it has the potential to be incredibly melodramatic but thus is the way my mind works so bear with me. Nothing is more analogous to the ephemeral coming and going of time than the ceaseless flow of a river.
I like to imagine that we are all stuck in the present - this tiny, often boring bridge - watching the murky current of our future flow seamlessly into the sometimes clearer, sometimes stormier eddies of our past.
"Enjoy the ride", people say.
"How? It comes without my wishing it to and leaves either too quickly or not fast enough."
I am struck by the disturbing realization that people I know are constantly worried about the future, about things never promised. Others are constantly comforting themselves in misery with thoughts like: "When I'm out of college, and free, THEN I'll feel fulfilled" or "When I'm married, THEN I won't be lonely" or even "When Friday comes, and I leave this office, THEN I can relax".
I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of the time that people are either really sad or really happy is based completely on something that has already happened or may never happen. What a terrible life to live: frozen in the past wishing it would never have come or never have left or dreaming of things that hold no guarantee for either joy or sorrow.
In fact, that would be no life at all. If we're joyful, if we feel alive just in nostalgia for the golden days our life is already at an end and no growth awaits us. Conversely, if we're joyful and alive because of something that may not happen, or worse, may disappoint our expectations when it does happen: we'll never arrive at either true joy or true life. No happiness, no sadness would actually be real or alive.
So how do we grasp the present in reality?
Listen to any Top 40's dance song these days and you'll hear every chorus (each one a dead horse) being beaten redundantly with anthems of drinking and dancing and twerking the night through. A generation ago they were more eloquent: they would've called it "carpe diem". But every cliché about revelry in the present, about seizing the moment, whether it comes from mind-numb celebs or bearded philosophers, trickles away just as soon as any real tsunami of worry or opportunity breaks the surface.
Most advice we're given today is either stupid or vague. So let's call it nonsense and move on.
There have to be some real answers to really living life other than the vapid verses of lazy writers and lazier thinkers. I don't claim to have them here and you never should have started reading a blog post by a 21 year old expecting to find them. That is, if you expected to find anything real and true.
Now that we've reached the real question and weeded out some of the bad alternatives, I want to pose a few thoughts in Part 2 of this blog post that have bounced around my mind and which I hope will spark new thought and consideration in your's.
This is not a cop out. It is merely a sincere question aimed at oiling up those gears of our intellect so often left dormant by the flotsam and jetsam we scroll through every day.
How do we, unlike those petrified in the past, unlike those hedonistically lost in the present and unlike those lost in dreams of the future, finally leap off our bridge? How do we plunge into the full vitality of this elusive day?
Check out Part Two for my thoughts on giving this search direction. Happy swimming!