I recently ran across a book in the “Self Help” section at Barnes and Noble that caught my attention. As usual, the cover boasts the benefits the Reader will accrue by purchasing and reading it. Screaming bullet points on the back include the statement that humans have the right to a life filled with ecstasy – that if we live even one day in something other than ecstatic happiness, it’s our own fault. She (the author) is willing to share her secrets as to how to move our life into that continual state of bliss. What an incredible claim, I thought, expecting a Dali Lama- or Mahatma Gandhi-esque offering. So I thumbed through the book.
Lots of instruction to let go of friendships that are less than perfect (including any friends who have been the victim of misfortune – gee, that’s just about everyone I know), a command to meditate at least fifteen minutes per day, and even daily platitudes to commit to memory that can be pulled up at a moment’s notice to convince yourself what you’re experiencing is indeed ecstasy.
My thoughts? It’s a bunch of hooey. Because the truth is life experiences, even the bizarre or horrifying, when repeated over time become the norm. We humans are amazingly adept at adapting. And, of course, the norm grows boring.
I for one don’t want to be under the pressure to perform ecstatically every day. Besides, one of the realities of life is that it often sucks . . . and it’s supposed to. It’s through challenges that we grow our coping muscles and learn wisdom. It’s the yin and yang of life – the light and dark. I cannot imagine anything more irritating than to have someone command me to “be happy, it’s all good” in the face of tragedy or loss.
My life has included a few mountain top highs. I treasure the memories. But one reason I can describe those times as mountain top is because there are also valleys against which to compare them.
Final word? Grow up, Lady Author (who appears in her photo to be about fourteen). And after you’ve gone through the pain life inflicts on every participant, write something worth the paper it’s printed on. Then I’ll take you seriously.