I’ve been reading a lot lately (lots of Alain de Botton and Her Holiness Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) and thinking more comprehensively, discerning more comprehensively, yet I don’t feel any closer in finding what it is I seek.
“We can conclude …that we are drawn to call something beautiful whenever we detect that it contains in a concentrated form those qualities in which we personally, or our societies more generally, are deficient. We respect a style which can move us away from what we fear and towards what we crave: a style which carries the correct dosage of our missing virtues.”
— Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
I’m at an interesting point of my life. I desire simplicity, freedom, adventure, beauty, awareness, zest for life and an open heart. These are all qualities I feel I am lacking, and as de Botton says, these are things I am drawn to other aspects of my life such as art, artefacts and architecture.
The reality is that I just don’t believe… in anything.
I used to believe in lots, I used to care about things. I used to have a social conscience and care about tanks dismembering student demonstrators, about animals caught in oil spills, about the girls around the world sold into slavery against their will. I used to be passionate about things, stuff.
But now… I don’t believe in much at all. And besides being boring, there’s a real void. I lack the patience, empathy, time. I have the attention span of a gnat. And I find myself travelling in my mind back to places I’ve been that seem more simple, more honest and in tune to the machinations of human interaction. I seek happiness, bliss… but is happiness something we can never attain, only obvious to us in retrospect? Have I closed myself off to experiencing or enjoying anything in response to being around death and heartbreak at work each day?
I remember being in Kindergarten and having to colour-in the Scripture Book, and I didn’t feel anything. Nothing. Throughout school, I just faked it: I sang the songs at Chapel, I did the homework assignments for Christian Studies and rather enjoyed drifting “off with the fairies” as soon as I had to sit through a sermon (or whatever it was called).
In Year 11, my parents were called in to see the Chaplain to discuss why I received 2/100 on my Christian Studies exam. I told the truth: I didn’t answer in the affirmative because I didn’t believe, but I cited the references appropriate to back up my stance. Wasn’t that what they were after – me reading and forming my own conclusions? Er, no.
But an upside of the religious education I received was a half-arsed ability to answer bible questions on Jeopardy… so it all evens out.
So it put this question out there: what do you believe in?
What makes your life worth living?
Have you ever thought you could pack it all in and move to an ashram in India or baptised as Amish, forgoing all of the technological gadgets you ‘need’?