Life 101

by b.c.

...The kid will live and learn / As he watches his bridges burn / From the point of no return.

-Donald Fagan-

That, to me, sums up the nature of experience. It is an unfortunate reality that all the things in life that are best to avoid must first be experienced so as to know how to avoid them. How cruel of life to provide the answers to everything retroactively. Life is the only class I know that makes you take every test before you can study for it. About the only good thing that comes from experience is suffering. Suffering is like an internal crucible, heating and cooling us, changing our properties. From the suffering comes two important things, humanity and humility. The humanity teaches us how connected we are to each other, how related we are. The humility teaches us how impotent we all really are in the face of existence. Finally, from the realization of our impotence and our interdependence, comes wisdom. We like to think of ourselves as being in control of our lives and our destinies but that is simply not the case. Hemingway was right when he said that real life has no need for sub-plot the way a book does. Things just happen to us, some of them deserved, some of them not. And whether they're deserved or not, in the end it doesn't really matter. It's the process of life that's important. It's the forward motion that counts. You can only go forward, even if it is painful. Backward glances are mostly a sentimental gesture made to yourself late at night, like a nipple you suckle to help you sleep. It's only saccharin, fool's gold. You can never go back.

When we reach the end of our days on earth and we make that final backward glance, it's the footsteps we should applaud, not the destination. The destination is an afterthought. The process of our footsteps will lead us inevitably to the place we belonged all along.

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