This Too Is Life

Lonely Guys and Lonely Girls

"The awkwardness of the situation was obvious - guys were lonely, girls were lonely, and there they were, all in the same place at the same time."

The other night I went on a bike ride with a friend. The moon was full, and it was somewhat cold outside. The Mission Bay, in San Diego, looked just charming. The sky was mostly clear with just a few clouds decorating it. The beautiful appearance of the clouds and water was arresting, as they reflected the moonshine.

By the water front, there were two lonely-looking guys, sitting outside their apartment. They were bundled up, drinking something, and listening to the music coming out of an inexpensive boom box.

Then, three lonely-looking girls passed by. They were talking, but when they reached the guys, they became silent. The awkwardness of the situation was obvious – guys were lonely, girls were lonely, and there they were, all in the same place at the same time. Naturally, they should have “hooked up.” However, they did not know each other, so the girls decided to continue walking. At that time the refrain played from the boom box loud and clear: “I wonder whether you could be the one.” The girls clearly heard it, sped up, and abandoned the scene.

That was awkward.

And that is also life.

As a child, I used to think that animals and plants do not get sick. I thought that it must be quite nice to be an animal. I even heard many folks say things such as, “If I were to reincarnate, I’d love to be a poodle.” It made sense. There I was, suffering from occasional toothaches and other diseases, while animals, in my mind, were always healthy. After all I had never seen a hospital for animals, and when I eventually did learn about one, I thought it existed only for the sake of domestic animals. I thought that domestic animals, unlike the wild ones, were artificially made to live in the human-created environments, against the natural laws, and were thus falling sick.

I was quite wrong. Not only do animals get sick, but plants do too. I remember the surprise, nearly a shock, I experienced at a Rainbow Family gathering in Mendocino County, California – a whole forest of oak trees was infested with a disease that made the trees die slowly. It was an epidemic, as I learned from a girl I met there.

Life does not only consist of blissful times when everything goes along with our desires and aspirations and when things unfold smoothly and effortlessly. As a matter of fact, hardly ever does the world cooperate with us. For the most part, it is an uphill struggle.

You got to love the movies that end with romantic scenes where the couple, after a long struggle, is finally united. The ending gives the impression that the couple has happily continued the romance forever after. However, in most cases the result is neither “ever after” nor “happily.” If the movie is to continue playing, we would likely see the couple’s romance ending, and them entering the rough waters of marital crisis.

There is no point in being like an ostrich – sticking our head in the sand of hallucinations, false expectations, dreams, and other such forms of non-objectivity, basically illusion. It is much better to know what life is like and soberly deal with it.

Because the tendency of our desires, in real life, is to often be disconnected from the actual outcome, many people develop a pessimistic attitude. At the same time our intrinsic nature yearns for harmony and pleasure. So what are we to do? Grow despondent? Become suicidal? Eww.

For many people this is a crossroad where they need to choose their path, their direction. Some choose to be plain ignorant, accept the painful existence as the norm and learn to live with it. Other people can not allow themselves to live a life of ignorance and thus they experience the existential crisis. For anyone to continue to exist, they need to have a reason, a goal to strive for. If they do not see enough brightness ahead, they lose inspiration to enter yet another moment of existence. That is called the existential crisis.

Some people experience a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless and absurd world. That is how existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus come into the scene. This group of philosophers, who produced volumes of “dark and depressing” literature, felt that there are many existential obstacles and distractions, including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.

Other people take on the stoic attitude: “Life sucks. There is nothing you can do about that. Proudly keep your head high and march off into life’s grinding machine.” Of course, for most folks, there is nothing stoic about life. Managing to pay bills, and keeping one or two semi-authentic relationships, one of which may include their dog, does not come across as a mighty accomplishment.

It is often at this point, at this crossroad, that some people start thinking about the plausibility of the existence of a categorically different life. This is often the beginning point of a spiritual search.

It makes sense. On one hand, we all have an insatiable urge for a steady, constant, and perfect happiness, yet at the same time we are finding ourselves in a world where there are only sporadic appearances of such a state. These are some powerful clues that there is existence of a parallel world to the one we are experiencing. I think it worthwhile giving this thought a chance. After all, what is there to lose?

Perhaps the awkward experience the lonely guys and the lonely girls had at Mission Bay will add another drop of bitter substance to the cups of their lives, which, when it overflows, will set them on a spiritual journey.

Mahat is the editor of "16ROUNDS to Samadhi." Born in 1975 on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. Monk since the age of 20. Moved to Los Angeles in 1999. Moved to San Diego in 2004. Living in Berkeley since October of 2013.


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