Monday, December 12, 2005

As Good As It Gets or At Athena's Mercy

The phrase “as good as it gets” makes me nervous. I have a pretty serious paranoia that really good things are happening to me, and I don’t really appreciate them.

The simplest example of this is going to bed and waking up. I really enjoy going to sleep/passing out, but when I wake up, particularly on a cold Monday morning, that sense of longing I have for it to be midnight, and I’m just going to sleep is so much stronger than what I felt the night before. I think about how I stayed up later than I should have for some stupid movie, and I want to kick myself. Why don’t I remember that I feel so much better with more sleep?

Okay, that’s a silly example, but it’s what I am trying to illustrate. A great dinner with friends, an amazing movie, a fantastic concert, I am always concerned halfway through these events that I just don’t know how good this is until it’s over and cannot experience again.

I have heard of people acting this crazy when it comes to being happy. For example, you’re dating some great new person, and you are riddled with the thought that it’s going to go bad soon, it’s just too good. Such neurosis seems like it takes away from the experience, but it's just as bad as my worrying about whether I’m enjoying something enough.

I remember when I turned 12, I thought, wow, this is the best age I will ever be, I hope when I die, at no matter what age, that God makes me 12 in heaven. Being 12 was as good as it gets, I thought. Of course, I was super freaking wrong (about a lot of that declaration). But, it’s strange that I was appreciating something with very little perspective, and I worry that no matter my collection of experiences, I can’t truly understand how good things are.

Would I need to live my whole life in depressing shit and squalor and then have one day of perfect joy, to truly know how good it could get? I am not sure. Nor am I sure a life of shit and squalor is worth one day of joy, no matter how great that may feel or be.

I have wonderful memories of high school and going on speech and debate trips and being in this amazing intellectual environment with some of the coolest (and sometimes cutest) people I had ever met. I got to dress up, travel, hang out with friends and was treated in a way I had never experienced, as a smart, attractive young woman. These years held my introduction to Bob Dylan, mashing Pumpkins, old and new philosophers, atheists, garage bands, drinking, drugs and exposure to what I still consider to be my definition of a true friend. And, did I have any idea of how good that was, how new and life changing? Not really.

To me wisdom is the ability to as fully as possible appreciate moments. With appreciation and understanding comes perspective, and to me, the most important aspect of wisdom. Perhaps it's an ouroboros point to worry if I am getting wise, but I can't help but wonder if the idea of pursuing wisdom is maddening by its very unobtainable nature?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the fact that you wise enough to know that you know nothing is the definition of wisdom. With age comes the realization that we truly were ignorant previous years. But there is nothing worng with that. We are meant to continue to learn and grow as intellectuals.

You stay up late to watch a movie knowing you have to wake up early because you are enjoying the moment. There is no reason to regret or want to "kick yourself" because of it. You deal with the rewards and consequences of your decisions and move on. Perhaps you will do the same thing again or perhaps you won't. Either way, you are doing what you feel like doing at that moment. Therefore, you are living in the moment and enjoying it and making decisions based on those feelings.

You are wise to even question your wisdom. As someone once said, "The quality of one's life is determined by the questions you ask and not by the answers." (or something like that)

The fact that you question is significant and wise. Continue living in the moments as you are and enjoy.

7:09 PM  
Blogger DC Cookie said...

To ease that concern, I just loosen the moment with a couple of martinis and then forget what came out of my mouth the night before...

...then again, my headache usually makes me long for that moment before I took my first sip.

Hence, my full understanding of your 'sleeping' analogy.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

There are times when a situation is so right that you want to just suspend time to enjoy it more fully. Unfortunately it is often after the fact that you realize just how good something was and then it's gone never to be recreated. I think that's the Buddhist rationale for living in the present moment.

Your posts make me think. I'm going to add you to my link list.

10:31 PM  

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