...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The meaning of life?

Again, readers – sorry for delayed posting. I promise to post something about my first experience of mushroom gathering this autumn, as soon I get the pictures. Right now, I was just overcome by the urge to write.

Since 2006, this blog has been a way for me to discover Sweden, discover myself by setting new challenges (like, not least, cooking) and to discover new things. Most of my posts deal with activity – all sorts of activities. Life, of course, isn't always exciting, but I think that if you keep your eyes and mind open, you'll see that life constantly offers something to wonder at. Wonder – how many times did they tell us, that wonder is the beginning of Philosophy? Questioning opens the human person to Being – that's what we do all the time when we ask questions in pursuit of knowledge. The human person, unlike other animals as far as we can tell, is the only one who asks ”Why?”. We can wonder at, and about things, or about ourselves.

Marcus has been in the hospital since last Monday, for his stem cell transplant – which probably explains my reflective mood. He'll be there for quite some time. There are many questions that run my mind sometimes; there is much promise, but also an uncertainty of not exactly knowing how things will turn out.

I came to think of these thoughts after reading a friend's (Cheryl's) blog entry where she writes (she is in love!):

Ever wonder why things happen the way they do? I was reminded once again that we are exactly where we should be. The future is vast and incalculable. What makes us think we can dictate every single detail we want to happen? There would always be better plans for us, plans we couldn't have even begun to imagine. I mean, a year ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd be on a dusty, sweaty jeepney ride from Mandaluyong to Stop & Shop. But that moment, I knew it was the best place to be. :)

And so I think, instead of going crazy planning our lives and putting up timelines, that we ask instead for the grace to be open and make the most out of whatever life throws at us, and to ask for wisdom to enjoy what we do have right now.
I agree, and yet I disagree. I believe in the vastness of the future, and I'd like to believe I have the wisdom to enjoy the present. However, I can't really get myself to believe in the fatalism of always-better plans. If there was a better plan out there for human beings, I would say that it would have been beyond our human condition to know that such a plan exists. To say that we are “exactly” where we should be presumes a knowledge of a completeness and a sense-of-life which, as finite beings, we would never really know. Life happens, and weather our life story is plan or not is something we would never be able to objectively tell. A plan also assumes a “planner” – perhaps one assumes that he or she has insight to those plans. But I'm a believer that all we really can know is the past, and the now – and even then, just its bits and pieces and never the whole, unprocessed truth, if such a thing even exists. So I agree about the openness to make the best of what life gives (or rather, what life is), and living in the present. A bit of planning doesn't hurt to have some kind of self-direction and a dream, as long as one is adaptable.

Where does this reflecting lead to? Here I am, sometimes full of anxiety, sometimes taking a let-it-be attitude. I can't control the flow of things, even though I can help with my presence to cheer things up. Worrying, although originating from love, doesn't really help with anything concrete. While some human persons are relatively helpless in the situation, others – the professionals – have more control. Yet, no one really has full control. Maybe that's why so many turn to religion, since it's a scary thing to realize that Life has no mind, and therefore, no will.

In contrast, humans do have a will, and we have desires that we really want out of Life. That is why we plan, and why do things out of our lives, sometimes with others. And this is also why, in times when we realize the limits of our agency to fulfill our will, we hope. Hope makes sense even for one who doesn't believe. But it isn't hope in a sense of a wish that can be granted by something or someone if you wish hard enough. We can't will certain things to happen that way, no matter how important this wish is to us. Rather, hope is a strong, almost uncommunicable desire of how we so very much want things to turn out. It can be a hope pinned on people – in this case, that people do their best jobs in the process; a hope that they know what they're doing. It can be a hope on things – that medication works as it should so as to make a scientific feat work as smoothly as planned. It can also be a hope for the sake of other people – that they may be well and fulfill their own hopes in turn. We can't really hope for more. If we knew, after all, that all things turned out well in the end, there would be no sense in human hope. Christian hope doesn't make sense that way, for how could hoping be true hoping if one already sees him- or herself privy to Life's "good plans"? Life is uncertain. That is why hope is real.


Blogger iamvix said...

hey joy! i didn't realize marcus started his treatment already. hope you're bearing up well. may kasama ka ba dyan?

everything you said there is true, too, esp this part: "That is why we plan, and why do things out of our lives, sometimes with others. And this is also why, in times when we realize the limits of our agency to fulfill our will, we hope."

i'm not privy to God's plans, and i guess you can call me simple, but to me everything boils down to choosing to be optimistic and believing that things happen as they should, that in the end even all the misery will make sense. steve jobs said it better, hehe, "Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life"

joy, i haven't been in your situation, so i don't want to sound like i know how you feel. but i hope you can take comfort in hoping and knowing marcus is in good hands. i will be sending you and marcus prayers and good vibes :)

4:30 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hey Cheryl! Don't worry, I didn't respond to you "personally" in that way. Yes, we do connect the dots. What I'm saying about plans or the lack of plans are: maybe we also make the dots ourselves? We are the meaning-givers. And yes, we can make meaning even out of seemingly meaningless things.

But don't worry, I'm optimistic, even if I can feel anxious somewhere in a part of my brain. As they say, the pessimist and optimist may be equally wrong but at least the optimist has a better time :-)

I'm coordinating with Marcus' godparents about sleeping over there sometimes when I visit Marcus. So, it's alright.

Thanks Cheryl!!!

7:33 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:08 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Salamat Camillo!

At salamat din pala, Cheryl!

11:02 AM

Blogger iamvix said...

yes! :) up to us to make meaning out of the dots :) >HUUUUUUUUGS< wish i could visit you and keep you company!

11:55 AM

Blogger Leplume said...

Life can be uncertain, for sure. I think I agree with your point of view. One has to be able to "roll with" whatever life brings but a little planning can ease that ride a bit. I believe in the power of hope. Without hope, you're right, there is no point and there is nothing. I cannot truly know what you or Marcus are going through but my sincerest good thoughts and hopeful prayers are with you, if even from a distance.

3:06 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Thanks for thinking of us, Mary! And I hope everything's alright at your end. :-)

6:25 PM


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