Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How much do we need to be happy?

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In 2011, I wrote an article for the lebanese green magazine Beyond called Finally Full. Early this year, I watched a powerful short film written and directed by Spencer Cathcart: The Lie We Live that develops further the themes I wrote about, not only in the Beyond article but in so many others. So I will share both today, with the hope that they will open our eyes, at least a bit, on that thing we call “our life”.

How much do we need to be happy? How many zeros on our bank statement? How many credit cards and debit cards? How many friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, contacts on WhatsApp to feel alive? How many air miles to feel free? How many inches of silicone, how many shoes, dresses, carats, to feel like a woman? How much horsepower in your car engine to feel like a man? How many undone beds to feel loved? How big your restaurant check should be to acknowledge you had a good meal? How much should you spend on your wedding, how many guests, how much icing on the cake, to believe you're soulmates? How many demonstrators in the streets to understand you have a voice? Thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions?

We live in a gluttonous world. More, always more. Never satisfied. Never full. We devour, we guzzle, we bloat, we inflate and get fat. We get fat instead of growing. Over the years, we keep acquiring, accumulating, compiling, like good little dung beetles. Spending our lives carrying large balls of crap.

But if one day we stumble, if the treasure escapes us, if the dung ball rolls away beyond our reach, we suddenly feel empty and lost, alone and naked. Deeply, terribly naked. Like after a tsunami or a civil war, when we go home and discover that there is nothing left, that everything was swept away.

Life’s gifts often come as kicks in the ass. When we get one, we curse, we moan, we groan, we scream, we cry. Then we calm down. We inhale. We exhale. And finally wake up. The fog slowly lifts and we begin to see things as they really are. We begin to understand that all our treasures were mere disguises, armors and bulletproof vests, that underneath we are fundamentally crippled. And it’s about time to actually learn to stand up and walk.

True freedom, that's when it starts. When we wake up. When the fog lifts. When we stand up and walk. When we stop being the stockbrokers of our daily lives and become the writers of our destiny. When we decide to grow instead of getting fat. When we understand that a Christmas tree, as twinkling as it may be, only glitters for a short time, while Cedars in the wild can last millennia. When we understand that one person, just one, with a clear vision and the user manual that comes with it, has much more power to change the future than millions of demonstrators chanting empty chants. When we stop trading and begin sharing.

When we can simply say: “I’m finally full.”

(photo from John Carpenter's classic sci-fi movie "They Live")


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is excellent.
reminds me of the work Adbusters magazine is doing...