Disappointment, left unchecked, grows into a ferocious resentment. The former is inevitable, the latter is not. Common and heartbreaking, but not inevitable. Human interactions are destined for conflict. Needs are rarely mutually beneficial. Selfishness is the rule. And after a lifetime of abuse, being cheated and taken advantage of, optimism seems, at best, naive. We know too much to be happy. We know what people are like. The secret's out. We've seen how ugly the world can be, been disappointed too many times. Hope is masochistic.
But it is precisely what is needed. We must forget what we have experienced, ignore our intellect, bury instincts, and minimize experience. Any chance at happiness depends on a willful naivety. A voluntary renunciation of history's lessons and an attempt to forget every truth branded on our bodies.
It's no guarantee. In fact, it's likely reckless and debasing. But a life lived with one foot out the door never made anyone happy. Over the course of a lifetime, we amass a debt of misfortune and we seek someone to pay what is owed. Someone must pay the bill for the crimes of the past. But the debt is unpayable; it is a well that can never be refilled.
Is yours a life spent chasing tiny revenge? Or, can you be bold enough to be naive? To let yourself forget? To make yourself. To insist upon it. To lay like a turtle on its back in front of a chef. It is irrational and counter to every intuition. To offer oneself as vulnerable to the world is no small achievement. And though you'll likely spend your last moments watching the chef raise the knife, that life is preferable to one lived cowering in your shell.
Is anyone that brave? Could you ignore everything about human nature and wipe the slate clean for a world that hasn't earned it? Do we know a joy that isn't derived from what the world allows, that springs from an exposed heart? Do we even have a word to describe it? Is there a name for these magnificent creatures?
I can't think of one. But we all might be better served being born again naive. We've spent a lifetime to shelve it, but we need to dust it off. It might just be the key to a happiness that has lived too long in the back of our throat and not on the tip of our tongue.
Labels: Armchair Investigations