Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Examined Life

"The unexamined life is not worth living."


If this quote is true my life must be worth living and then some. Monday I was propelled into yet another existential crisis. 

This has been a pattern of mine over the years. I am humming along, thinking that all is well when all of a sudden I read something or hear something or experience something that calls into question my whole life and how I have lived it up to this point. 

Right now that "something" is the book I quoted in my post from last week, "Sex at Dawn."  I have not even gotten to the sex part yet and it is blowing my mind.

It is about the evolution of our species and the authors' assertion is that we basically took an evolutionary wrong turn around 10,000 years ago that has led to most of the evils of the present day: war, disease, famine, reality television. 

This idea that we are all living an unnatural life is both comforting and highly disturbing. 

Comforting because it affirms my life-long feeling that things are not quite right in this life. That things could be - and should be - a little bit (or a lot bit) different, easier, less complicated and confusing, simpler. 

Highly disturbing because there is just no way to go back. Nothing anyone says or does (short of some 2012 predictions that is...) is going to turn back time on the development of agriculture (the "wrong turn" Ryan and Jetha speak of) and the industrialization of Western society.

So where do we go from here? How do we live when our whole lives have turned out "wrong?"

And the answer is: I DON'T KNOW. 

Whenever I start thinking too hard about something too big this is where I end up.  At I DON'T KNOW, and I DON'T KNOW is not a pretty place. 

I end up paralyzed by the need to know, while the words I DON'T KNOW just keep reverberating more and more loudly in my head. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T KNOW. 

When this happens, everything is called into question and it is all I can do to function. I just wander around thinking and repeating, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T KNOW. 

My dad always said that when I started to say I DON'T KNOW, he thought that it meant I DID know, but I didn't want to admit it because it was something too big or too scary. 

I think he was right. 

This time my I DON'T KNOW was calling into question my whole life and not just mine, the whole life of my species. That's a pretty big I DON'T KNOW. 

So here's what I DO KNOW: I do know that I don't know where we came from or how we got here or even if there is a God. I don't know if I believe in a random collision of atoms or a white-bearded man on a throne or even intelligent design. I don't know if we should be living in roving bands of hunter-gatherers or our individual castles in concrete jungles. I don't know - yet - what I truly believe about Heaven or Hell or past lives or angels. 

I know what I have been taught and told and read about, but what I TRULY BELIEVE is still eluding me. That's why I read and write and think and meditate and do everything I do. To try and figure it out. That's why I am here. 

I'll keep you posted.


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