“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
By Richard Cirulli
We can all agree we often find ourselves perplexed when we feel challenged by the gauntlet of life’s trials and tribulations.
At times, we feel life is like a snarly pit bull on a long leash at the hands of a feeble master, fearing the animal will wrest itself free from his master and attack us.
Taking an existential view to this, we come to realize at times we may be the feeble master. For sure, life is greater than us, though we are expected to navigate the whims of fate and destiny. We can’t conquer life as if it were a riddle to be solved, albeit we do have the ability to conquer ourselves by navigating and reacting to life’s fickle and absurd encounters.
At times we may feel like we know where we are when we are actually lost, unaware we are not at our destination. This can be heightened by our era of increased anxiety that makes us feel we are in search of our lost selves, and seek direction when confronted with life’s adversity by examining our choices to either react with caution or confidence or to take flight or fight to counter our fear, despair and resulting anxiety. Life’s ups and downs will make us react with either butterflies or heartburn in our stomachs.
Depending on one’s beliefs, we have an a la carte menu to choose from to assist us in our life’s journey, tools such as religion, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, nature therapy and, of course, art to help us find happiness – and more importantly peace.
Life’s contradictions can also bring on additional anxiety in the form of tragic joy. For example, children and dear friends, who we love, at times challenge us and try our patience.
In these existential moments, we address the instantaneous encounter with other people who come alive to us on a very different level. Instantaneous referring to the quality of our encounters with other people. We should ask ourselves if we will respond to these instantaneous encounters as a pit bull?
This tragic joy can also apply to our professions that provide us with our material needs at the cost of our time, long hours and demanding bosses. Many of us at times feel a sense of worklessness, the reliably terrible feeling of not having done the kind of work that feels valuable to you.
Well, don’t feel so bad. I will confess I spent my younger days working in the quantitative professions as an engineer, then as a professor of statistics and economics; yes, it was a hopeless case of worklessness.
After squirreling away some money and making a few good investments, I finally escaped that corporate pit bull and retired finding myself financially secure to live life as a poor artist and finally finding my essence. Well, I guess I’m just a late-blooming baby boomer.
As we approach the holidays to spend time with friends, family and loved ones, let’s ensure we rein in the leash of our pit bull, and if we are going to show our teeth, let it be for a smile and not a snarl like a pit bull.
Be well. Be safe. Be happy. Be nice! Amor fati!
Dr. Richard Cirulli, is a published author, playwright, and retired professor. His body of works can be viewed at www.demitasseplayers.com. He looks forward to your comments and can be reached at email@example.com