Our 21st Century lives have experienced such a rush in acceleration that it seems everything we do is about reaching a personal endpoint before Death overtakes us.
The cosmic joke’s on us, though: from the moment of conception to the final cough, none of us are ever actually “alive” here.
Our cells immediately begin to decay the moment they’re formed.
We’re essentially constantly dying rather than living, which makes it more accurate to consider our mortal existence the longest, most intricate cinematic death scene ever filmed.
And like any good death scene, we should enjoy the scenery as much as possible while we’re here.
Why shouldn’t you take life too seriously?
Because you’re a pleasant-smelling zombie who’s, hopefully, a halfway decent cook.
We’ve all heard a variation of “gods laugh when they hear our plans.”
We’re constantly inundated with plans: parents plan for their children; a child plans for uninterrupted glee; teenagers plan for sulky behavior, college, careers, and the discovery of their true “selves.”
Through it all, there’s a constant: your plans mean nothing to a random, chaotic universe which increasingly seems to have the most warped sense of humor ever.
One need only look at who gets handed the keys to the most dangerous weapons on the planet.
So write nothing in stone, for it will send shards of rock into your face when it explodes.
Turning life into a goal to beat rather than a state of being to be experienced takes loads of joy away from the simplest things. And the simplest things are the best things.
Of these six things, which would you rather do?
- watch leaves drift from a tree
- let an ice cube melt from nothing but the heat in your mouth
- kiss someone quite slowly simply for the pleasure of kissing
- speak with insurance companies about rate quotes
- have every morning’s dream shattered so you can wake up on time for a 90-minute commute
- every other month solemnly tell a lover “We need to talk.”
ABC all the way.
We experience joy by being present, not by parsing it out days, months, or years away.
Life is weird in that it’s so wildly coincidental it verges on slapstick.
For days your dreams feature robins, then one day you come home to a baby robin fallen from its nest, hopping through your unkempt lawn.
Of course you try to rescue it, but it hops away through a gap in your fence and is gone. Plus the mama and daddy birds are screeching at you in disturbing ways. You have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, so you go inside.
A few days later you’re in line for coffee at a new place you’ve heard about. You get to the head of the line, you place your order. What’s the name on the barista’s tag? Robin.
There are so many instances of life grinning at us with these wild connections that it’d be foolish of us to remain stoic, dour, and/or goal-driven every single day.
Love is everywhere. There are over 7 billion varieties of it floating around this planet.
Love says laugh with me, run with me, dream with me, sing with me, sex with me, flow, flow and go with me, for I don’t know where I’m going, but I’d like to get there with you.
Beauty like that trumps seriousness every time.
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If you take life too seriously, your friends are at liberty to do silly things to you, up to and including making you do the backup karaoke vocals on Bonnie Tyler’s smash 80s hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
Friends are good for that.
If your life’s uber serious, chances are you’re missing out on the full experience of one of life’s most giggly, tingly boons: the nibblies.
A universe of nerve endings and nibbly bits is a universe of infinite whee.
7. Shunning Misery
If misery loves company, it should set a better table.
A life dredged in the serious business of ongoing misery only hastens the deterioration of bodily bits.
A time saver, certainly, if all we’re doing is screaming toward death, but fortunately most of us enjoy better preoccupations than that.
In a universe where all of us have that one friend who can perfectly mimic the voices of Muppets getting down and dirty – which, to our delight, makes us snort-laugh – laughter, not seriousness, is truly and definitively the best medicine.
Everything changes. Seasons. Minds. Moods. Desires.
Literally everything about existence is in constant flux, so, as with plans, it’s ultimately best to ride the rollercoaster and go “Woohoo!” whenever feasible.
10. The Merry-go-round Of Life
Every religion on this planet has some version of an afterlife. Some call it heaven, some call it reincarnation, some transcendence, others returning to the All.
Whatever the term, the thoughts behind it are sources of peace and mystery.
One way or another we’ve all been here before. Countless times. We’ll be here countless times again.
You and I might not remember all or any of it, but that’s where change comes in: what’s the fun in wearing the same outfit over and over again?
Mix and match. Make an entrance every time you show up.
The Meaning Not Of, But In Life
Life is to be lived.
There’s no goal, nothing that you can point to and definitively say, “Ha! I am finished!”
There’s no meaning to it. The late Professor Joseph Campbell, in his The Power of Myth series, said,
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.
If a professor of comparative mythology and religion can turn his back on serious meaning in life, so can you.
But if you have any more doubts that you shouldn’t take life too seriously, there’s this by the late Douglas Adams from the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”