Recently my philosophy hotshot friend asked me, “Are you okay?” So for him I replied; “What does okay mean, reallly?” The next day, when asked by another, I went with; “Well, I’m not setting things on fire, so, yes, I am okay.” Of course it got me down the road of; “What is okay?”
Jason Silva, (of the TV show Brain Games) expanding on Diane Ackerman’s theory of the “Deep Now,” states that anxiety is a “temporal dislocation of the mind.” That it is being “worried about the impending future or longing for the now dead past.” They are supposing that experiences of “deep play,” like we had as children, will, “Dissolve the tyrant that conducts the orchestra of the self” and let us enter into a childlike regression to the “deep now.” (https://www.facebook.com/jasonlsilva/videos/1795443157386628/)
The main point is to find ways to experience joy, wonder and awe by intentionally creating experiences and living wholeheartedly in those moments. The guy is fun to watch, he speaks like a kid full of joy.
In The Forgotten Way, Ted Dekker states: “It is true that pain and hardship are unavoidable in this life. But suffering is optional.” He has a view of God that supports his thesis, which I tend to agree with. Much to the chagrin of some of my fellow disciples, I am no proselytizer. I believe if you are interested in finding God, all you must do is ask Him. My favorite Russian (Alexander Solzhenitsyn) found Him during a long stay in a labor camp with no Bible or direction from evangelicals, so I believe no one needs instruction from me.
So, what Ted said. “Suffering is optional.” It may seem a harsh statement to one in the throes of a circumstance, sickness, or situation not asked for or created by oneself. Yet…when my fellows ask me if I am “okay,” this notion of suffering as optional brings me clarity. And for my dear friends full of worry, the pain that comes isn’t terribly lessened whether it was a surprise or expected. I tell myself this all the time, worry less, suffer less.
I believe I am okay if I am experiencing the effects of pain or hardship. If I am sad and crying, I am okay. If I am confused and weighing options, but coming to no conclusions, I am okay. If I don’t know what the next day will bring but I sleep and arise to face it, I am okay. And in the middle of all that, if I find the pieces of good and joy in the days, I am okay. I may not really understand the theories of “deep play” or “deep now,” but I can look for them by hanging out with good friends. Or having a philosophy discussion with my family. Or going on a skating adventure, or having fun in a sport. They do help to keep any tendency to “suffer” at bay.
Emerson’s poetry reminds me, sometimes it is just how we think that protects our hearts:
Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.
Suffering can also be found when believing that a particular failure or hardship has the power to ruin a life. Which is no more true than thinking that a particular success could make a life. Here I found one of my old movie quotes to add.
“The worth of a life is not determined by a single failure or a solitary success.”
The Emperor’s Club (2002) – William Hundert (Kevin Kline)
Blunders and absurdities and nonsense may abound at times, but I’m okay. Thanks for asking.