Like many people, I’m in transition right now. And even though I know it’s an amazing opportunity and deep down believe it’s all going to turn out splendidly, sometimes I feel discouraged. And when I’m in the lowest points – as I was a week or two ago – I start to question why life has to be so hard and why I should have to put up with it. I suppose I ought to interject here that I’m not suicidal, but I don’t think I’m alone in asking the question, and I think it’s a valid one.
The thing is, I’ve never been very attached to life. Even when I was a child, I remember being perplexed that people around me seemed so averse to the thought of themselves or someone they love dying, since those same people also seemed to believe completely in a glorious afterlife. Why wouldn’t you want that for yourself or your loved ones? Of course, that was before I had experienced and understood the emotional devastation and grief of loss. But again, the question was still valid.
Even before I had met tragedy up close, I knew that life can be hard and painful and make you cry. And I knew that it can also be joyous, peaceful, amazing and fun. But that positive side pretty much described Heaven, or so I was told, so why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to have that all the time instead of just some of the time? Especially if you could leave behind the hard stuff in the process! I suppose if you believe in Hell, and believe that you might deserve eternal damnation, the answer would be obvious. But since I don’t and didn’t, it wasn’t obvious to me.
I think my perplexion (and if that’s not a word, it should be) – or maybe just my human-ness – led to a lifelong curiosity and examination of the meaning of life – that is to say, Why live?
My belief at this point is that this life is an amazingly brief experience in an unimaginably vast and incomprehensible existence, the purpose of which is actually unknowable with the human mind. It might be that the purpose of life is to learn, evolve and achieve enlightenment, as many believe. But it may also be simply for the experience itself – just for the fun of it.
But what about when the fun isn’t fun? What if it’s hard or scary? That got me thinking about amusement parks, which I happen to enjoy. In an amusement park, difficult and terrifying attractions feature prominently – think “Test Your Strength” games and the “House of Horrors”. But despite being hard and scary, those attractions are fun. And you actually pay to get in!
So we ride the rides and we play the games. We laugh with delight and scream in fear and terror. We suspend our knowledge that we’re actually safe, and that all too soon, we’ll be going home.