11:7:11 Life Is Tragic

Life is tragic. Inevitably so. Why?

The simple reason is--for all our desires--life is short. There is not enough time to have it come out right. There is not enough energy to make it right. Or ever enough of that stand-in for energy--money--to even buy the illusion of it going right (ask some MegaBucks lottery winners).

If we ultimately lack time and energy to get life right--to savor a contentment with life lived as we desire from our inner core--what else derails our yearning for contentment? Very simply, things outside our control. Bad things happen and dispatch optimistic plans.

But we must also plead guilty of adding to the "life is short" quandary by our tendency--as flawed individuals--toward repetition of the same woeful life experiences, over and over. We don't learn.

Guy gets married, gets divorced, gets married ... until by wife #5 he gains belated enlightenment: Perhaps he's not the marrying type. So, too often, we mimic Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, re-doing the same doomed behaviors, any lesson of failure lost on us.

[frowny face] Moreover, we compound our failure to learn from past mistakes by not understanding the future brings only change. Everything is in flux: The failed solution for a past problem is unlikely to work for a present (or future) problem that is slightly different. As Heraclitus said, We don't step in the same river twice.

One life outcome worse than repetitive Groundhog Day behaviors is denial implemented by procrastination. Okay, if life is short and tragic, why not deny the arc of life from the get-go?

The American poet Robert Bly was one of the first to identify a contemporary pattern of prolonging adolescence, putting off adult responsibility, in some sort of Hope-I-Never-Grow-Old logic. But the fallacy is, Life deals you a hand of cards to play. Throwing away cards by refusing to acknowledge the stages of life means finally playing out with fewer and fewer, then no choices.

We see women put off marriage and kids as long as possible, focussing on often imaginary (but planned) careers, and increasingly settling for service (read menial) labors .... Yes, middle-aged men and women dress and act indistinguishably from high-schoolers, with a bounce to their step, and faces unlined by the burdens of parenthood, mortgage, investing for the future. The moment was always now for Peter Pan.

Student to pensioner without a stop for adulthood?

Life begins. Pauses on hold. Ends. Not embracing the tragic arc of life is an even greater tragedy and a sure waste.

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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