Friday, April 6, 2012

Free Form Friday

Why do we bother?

That may sound like a depressing question on the surface and maybe it is but I really do wonder.  "Survival instinct" you might say?  At all costs keep going and stay alive?  That seems to be present in just about every other organism in the world.  Yet Freud spoke of another psychological instinct that he believes is nearly as strong as the will to survive.  That is "the death drive."  The need to one day be at rest.  After all, the constant struggle to survive gets mighty tiresome after a time.  Again turning to Freud, he once said that "being entirely honest with one's self is a good exercise."  If we truly are honest with ourselves, can we not admit that nearly all of us have had the thought, "I just want to be done.  Let me be at rest and at peace.  I'm done fighting."  ?  

Writers, bitter and depressing lot that we often times are, certainly have thought this way.  H.P. Lovecraft did.  His stories painted a grim portrait of humanity's future.  One day, we insignificant bags of flesh will yield our existence to the Elder Gods, such as Cthulhu.  Sure, we can forestall it, maybe set these things back a few years, maybe even decades.  But that's the most we can hope for.  In the end, we're toast.  The eccentric and esoteric view askew from a troubled, albeit brilliant, horror writer?  Maybe.  But consider this: in a way, he's right.  One day our sun will go supernova and engulf this big blue marble of ours.  Toast.  In the end, the universe just doesn't care about humans.  Why should it?

Maybe because it figures we'll do ourselves in long before that point of nova billions of years in the future.  There are any number of ways we can bring about our own demise, more than I want to go into right now.  And what do most people think about that?  It's simple.  They don't.

I feel as if I have the deck very much stacked against me right now.  Options to hack and slash my way out of this meaningless existence evaporate with age.  Compared to what many others face every day, however, even this sensation is nothing.  So many in poverty.  So many in pain.  So many with so many reasons just to let it all go.

But they don't.  I have seen people in some of the worst situations and the most abject poverty in the world.  They still smile.  What accounts for that?  I've given this a great deal of reflection and even though I fully recognize how agley my line of reasoning might be, there's only answer I've come up with.  It's trite.  It's cliche.  It's a pisser for me to even say.    Nonetheless, it's my only solution thus far.


There's something in human nature that fosters hope.  This spark, this idea that something cool might still happen.  Something we don't yet know about could come along and change everything.  "There's always hope."  That's what Aragorn told Legolas in the face of what certainly appeared as a hopeless situation.  Even the most dour among us can't seem to help but hope.  It's in our nature.

So maybe that streak balances out the "death drive."  The urge to survive and the yearning to rest then balance one another out.  One becomes yin to the other's yang.  We fight.  We weary and desire for rest.  In the middle, hope levels the field and grants us the impetus to keep going.  Or gives us the promise of rest soon to come.

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