I grew up being the typical optimistic kid with that belief that I would grow up and life would be great, adhering to that cliché of ‘everything will be okay’. Everyone goes through tough times in life and I knew that, but after several of those bad occurrences I felt as though life was just a series of tough times. And my strong optimism is perhaps what let to each of those bad occurrences hurting with the same overwhelming force as after each event I thought it would be ‘okay’, I didn’t expect so much more to follow and so my extreme optimism led to serious let downs, which thus caused me to question my whole view of being optimistic and hopeful as the right means to live life.
The things I experienced opened my eyes to the fact that catastrophes and bad situations are always at such a close proximity, yet we expect a world of ideals where the terrible events are simply for the movies and so when it happens to you, it’s the end of the world. And it was this realisation that caused me to embrace an attitude of acceptance of all the bad in the world, what I had gone through, what I will go through, as that seems the smartest way to be close to that abstract concept of happiness.
In this world where all things are undoubtedly impermanent and we constantly preach the inevitability of ‘change’, we are ironically programmed to cling to things, to form strong attachments and desires which ultimately leave us unhappy when their time is up. I was always told to be positive and aware of all the good in life, but isn’t it also important to be aware of the bad? To be able to look at something and think “okay this is so great, but well, it won’t be here forever” and truly understand that, instead of just employing that false hope that it will be great forever.
It was probably a time in literature class, studying “Waiting for Godot”, and looking at the lives of the two main characters as they spend their days in repetitions of suffering, unable to break the cycle, when I thought “wow, how familiar”. This summarised version of all human lives is what really opened my eyes. Like Vladimir and Estragon who justify their pointless and agonising wait by that possibility that ‘Godot’ will come, we too spend so much of our time suffering but we justify that suffering with the certainty that it will get better, but what if something unfavourable always comes up? Then what point will there be of simply living towards a time where all there will be is good? Shouldn’t we adapt a mindset where the bad is not necessarily bad but just the waves of life taking its natural toll?
Whenever something went wrong in my life I used to react so strongly, I used to feel so much hurt and so much pain, but having realised that things won’t always last and that there will be more bad things coming into my life changed the entire way I went about life; instead of having the motto of ‘everything will be okay’ it’s now ‘everything won’t be okay, but that’s okay too’. Having recognised the impermanence of the good I’ve also recognised the impermanence of the bad. Life is a rollercoaster, they all say, with its ups and its downs, and the only way to go about life is with an awareness of both those ups and downs, so you are unshaken by both and prepared for the good, as well as the bad.