Delight Springs

Friday, August 30, 2013

Choosing to like it

Still puzzling over Gretchen Rubin's assertion: "You can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you LIKE to do." 

True? I'm still not convinced. Oh sure, whenever I exercise impulse control and (for instance) refrain from clobbering the lip-smacking gum-popper seated next to me on the commuter train, I've chosen to suppress an overt expression of what I'd like to do about one of the trifling annoyances of social existence that I despise beyond reason.

And sure, it feels like my preference for chocolate over vanilla is a given and not a choice. Or for baseball over football. Philosophy over concrete management studies.

Obama over Bush? I suppose I can believe that our politics partly reflect predispositions and attitudes that run deeper than reflective intelligence. But we stand to lose a lot, if we start thinking of the ballot box as just a collective mirror of antecedent and extraneous factors and not the great locus of our unforced freedom.

Joy over suffering? Happiness over misery?

"One must imagine Sisyphus happy." Why? No sane, sensible non-masochist would choose to push that accursed rock endlessly, nor like it. But as someone pointed out in HAP 101 yesterday, you learn to like doing the things you've come to understand as prerequisite to the satisfaction of other things you do like. (Like feeding your kids and watching them grow.) You cultivate the like attitude, because if the rock (the job, the marriage, the health challenge,...) is onerous and heavy enough the alternative is to hate your life and possibly end it. Sisyphus didn't end it.

Amor fati? No, this isn't about fate or recurrence or embracing your pain and suffering. It's about loving your lucky life. We're the lucky ones, one day we're going to die takes on a different aspect, in this light. We're even luckier if today is not that day.

But it's always useful to remember, whether you're Sisyphus or someone luckier, that the death clock is ticking down. It's not stopping, while we're killing time. Our search for meaning is now or never.

1 comment:

  1. makes me think of the "while you'r killing time, times killing you". beyond that I have no thought worth contributing.