Sunday, October 30, 2011

fun does not equal happiness

plat-i-tude  n,  
A flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound.

I hate  platitudes. Don't get me wrong; I love words of wisdom.  It just seems that inevitably, when you over-simplify something down into a bumper sticker motto, you lose important details in the translation.  For instance, I keep seeing this little moronic sample on facebook:
We do not stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.

This pretty much sums up, in my eyes, what's wrong with the world today.  Or at least my little corner of it.  For one thing, this idiotic idea that age can be avoided, that somehow one can stop growing old,  needs to go away. I understand fearing death. But death can come at any age, although it is admittedly guaranteed closer as we age.  I just don't understand fearing wrinkles and gray hair and loss of dermal elasticity.  Sitting on my Great Grandma's lap, with a scrotal-wrinkly cleavage to snuggle against and blue-veined tissue-like hands to hold, those are some of my fondest childhood memories.  Why would I resist becoming her? Plus, why would I want to look like the people who resist aging?  Have you looked at Joan Rivers lately?  Or Wayne Newton? Oh My God!   

What the stupid facebook quote should say is, "We don't stop playing because we grow up; we grow up because we mature enough to stop confusing momentary pleasures with lasting happiness, and thus we choose one over the other."  But the populace prefers its platitudes.  Mottoes spewed forth in the form of motivational chants in arenas around the country, etched into key chains, screen printed onto tee shirts, and plastered onto bumpers all across this nation.  People want to think that the key to happiness is eternal youth (because they confuse the happiness with the young age rather than with the ignorance of responsibility that came with it), and that such happiness can be theirs again if only they could return to their youth.  No, adult happiness is a whole different animal.  It comes from recognizing reality and responsibility, not shying away from it, and from meeting it head on.  Adult happiness is not playing, or toys, or momentary pleasures and temptations but from being able to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that you are a person you respect, from knowing that you made the world a better place somehow, even if your contributions are small.  You helped raise a child who will impact the world, you donated to a cause, you volunteered to better someones life, or you just resisted the urge to kill a hooker (some people have bigger problems than I do, okay?).  It's about recognizing that there is something bigger than yourself, that you have an impact upon it, and trying your damnedest to make it a positive one.  And no, I don't mean religion.  Religion is an easy answer, but not the only possible one.  Family is a good one. Community is, too.  But whatever keeps you grounded and purposeful, that's what makes you happy.  And forgetting or hiding from your responsibility to it will make you unhappy.  And if the thing you're working with now isn't working, try another one. 

No comments: