Journaling June: Existential Meditations

“Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.”

I’m a sucker for quotes like that. I came across it on the subreddit inspirational quotes. I’ve subscribed to that subreddit because I’m trying to find the positive in the world. Sadly, most of the time it seems that the good things don’t surface quite like the bad ones do.

But, I can’t point my finger without three fingers pointing back. I may have quit watching the news, got off of social media (except Reddit), and avoid the sensationalistic hype machine as much as possible, but I still find plenty of click bait titles to follow. I go down those rabbit holes incensed, pitchfork and torch in either hand.

(in other words, we’re a sucker for that stuff too.)

Life, the universe, and everything falls somewhere between those antipodes.

For instance, on a walk recently I came upon a worm. It was on the sidewalk, partially dehydrated, and ants were swarming it. One end stretched out slowly, grasping to get away. The other end, paralyzed and covered in ants, was too heavy to move. My automatic reaction was to pick it up, move it to the still dewy grass in order . . .

(for it to suffer and die over there.)

I kept walking and let life play out. As I walked off I remembered the quote and thought, “That struggle was failure.” Not in some small way, either. That was end game. Pithy statements like to give us things in black and white demarkations, but things are rarely that easy. Life is far too nuanced, and even if it weren’t, we’re good at seeing things the way we are.

Language plays a big role in that. As specific as it can be, it’s still vague. Take another inspirational quote: “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1888) Depends on what one means by stronger. My heart attack did not make me stronger. It made me significantly weaker. Plenty of people who’ve survived cancer would agree with me. Same for organ transplant patients. Granted, that’s because in these cases I’m taking stronger to mean physically. Perhaps if we were talking about psychological strength the statement might be true.

(where are we going with this?)

I guess I’m reflecting on the nature of my role in what life means as opposed to there being some intrinsic meaning.

(ah! we’re being an existentialist, waxing philosophical.)

Yeah. Just taking a moment to stop and observe the cup into which I’m pouring the water that is life.

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