I love the summer. I love the mellow feel of the evenings, there’s a lush vitality in the air. It’s a time for delight and relaxation, for appreciation of beauty and celebration of life in general, for outdoor art, music and food, for friendly ambiance and enjoyment. This evening we watched a near full golden moon rise in the east, just with the slightest hint of hint of waning but still filled with promise. In some ways that moon represented the year.
We watched the rest of the Spurlock documentary on eating habits the other night. The experiment had to be called off, simply because of the damage his liver was already suffering. It was interesting and rather alarming to see the development of a clear addiction to fast food caused by his new eating habits, i.e. over-eating and insufficient activity. The short term effect of eating fast food was a feel-good rush but the longer term effect was a sense of malaise and depression. Clearly a vicious cycle, a feedback loop that leads in one direction only- obesity with loss of health. The obvious and intelligent response is to recognize that cycle for what it is and exit, escape, quit out, change habits before it would be too late.
No, it’s not legit to sue McDonald’s even though they definitely do encourage over-eating. Adults need to be smart and responsible enough to realize when we’re over-eating or over indulging in anything, and get back a control of our lives in a healthy and wholesome manner. This is the true use of our freedom.
While resting today, on this Holy Shabbat, I was contemplating the main elements of life. What do we live for?
Most simply put:
love, a sense of accomplishment, beauty and delight.
Love. I look at this as essentially the emotional drive to connect with another. There are many kinds of love and many flavours of each kind, every single relationship is a different ‘flavour’ . I cannot imagine living without love. Love for lovers, for friends, for one’s children, for one’s teachers, for people we admire. There’s also love for other living things, for pets, for wild animals, for the land, for our country, the biosphere in general, for the earth and for God.
The desire to serve is related to love because we wish to give to and care for someone or something we love. This is natural.
A sense of accomplishment is essential to our sense of a meaningful life. This can related to our service as touched on above and to meeting any difficult challenges in life, to work projects, learning projects, creative projects or anything that gives us a sense of satisfaction from painting a picket fence to tidying a room and making it beautiful.. and this of course relates to beauty.
It is a constant source of wonder to me that our nervous system allows us to perceive beauty. Lots of neurones, grey matter, action potentials, and yet our perception transcends those wet matter realities. We find images and music beautiful, we have a definite sense of aesthetics both in nature and in the things we can create, song, architecture, poetry, dance so many possible expressions.
The planet earth is breath-takingly beautiful from space and is filled with beauty, especially where things are the way they are meant to be. A blackbird’s song is beautiful , a pile of litter in the forest is ugly. It offends our aesthetic senses and irritates us enough to want to do something about it to restore beauty.
Finally, delight, and this is closely related to beauty. In this I include almost any area in which we inter-act with the beauty we perceive around us, or with anything that can give us pleasure. We take delight in beauty, in food, in dance. A sense of humour is also a kind of delight, laughter and amusement are an expression of delight. There are so many levels and flavours here.
I see two possible levels here, the upper and the lower, but these are intricately interrelated. In accomplishment we inter-relate with the things we love. In delight, we inter-relate with the things we find beautiful.
For our lives to be truly integrated and meaningful we need to integrate all these elements into one coherent whole, to see beauty in the things we love, to serve with delight, to acknowledge the place of those things in which we delight in the whole, feeling genuine love for each person involved. All needs to be part of a whole rather than fragmented, to bring all these elements back to a wholesome purity. In this way we can avoid ugliness and destructiveness, damaged relationships and alienation of any kind, on any level.
Consciousness is truly an amazing thing isn’t it? Here we all are, conscious of ourselves and yet in a sense cut off from other consciousness. This existential loneliness is the greatest reason for personal pain and one we try to transcend with everything we do in life. On a deep level we are impelled to connect with the rest of the universe, -and this is how it should be. We reach out and try to touch the rest of the world but we’ve already learned that the touch of delight is transient, it doesn’t last long. We know it’s part of the key but the door on the inside is still closed as it were.
By integrating all the elements: love in all its forms, accomplishment in all its potential, beauty and delight, by embracing them all we can become one with the universe, not with chemicals, not with denial of reality, not with anything negative but with a consciousness that truly desires to be alive, awake.