Monday, 3 May 2010

Goodbye Safety Net; Hello World

I have one month left; one. That's a month of exams that I am underprepared for and terrified of sitting. That's one month of living off a student loan and being an unemployed student. That's one month to determine where my world goes next.

Needless to say, I'm somewhat scared about having to take on the role of 'grown up'. Life is just a series of playing different parts; taking on new personas. We're all on some sort of journey in the process and I guess everyone takes their own, but I feel like mine is about finding out who I am and what it means to be. Not what it is to be me, but to be. Period.

Everyone has goals in mind for what they want their lives to be - or what they think it should be. Theres the capitalist ideology of getting a big house, full of nice things and all the bling to let everyone know you made it. But this has most people falling into debt to try to secure. There's the got-to-have-a-family ideology, where people end up settling too soon. There are people trying to find love or God or excitement. Everyone has something they are after. There's a link to most of them though; happiness. 

People think happiness is the goal. They're trying to achieve things they think will make them happy. The only problem is, most of the time as soon as we hit our target we soon discover it wasn't good enough; we need to aim higher. We're a greedy species really. Though maybe that's not completely true. Some people find contentment despite the pressures of their surrounding societies. That's what I'm after; contentment. Fuck knows where you find it though.

So here I stand, approaching the end of university and now I have some decisions to make. I need to work out what is 'best' for me. Which direction it is I 'need' to take. Which goals I need to aim for. But how can I possibly know what it is I need to do to understand life? All I want is some sort of understanding; some wisdom. And I know that as it stands I don't know anything. The more I understand, the more I realise I don't know a thing. This understanding is depressing. But even so, I'd rather know than be blissfully unaware, as I once was. As much as I hate the nausea I still feel as though I'm better for having got this far. 

Part of me wants to just believe something, even if it's the wrong 'something'. It's the part of me that thinks I wont ever really know anything but so long as I believe something, I'll find a contentment in my discovery. Only the rest of me thinks believing the wrong thing is worse than not believing in anything and I should put up with the nausea until it can be properly over come. 

So I'm at a loss. 

But I will read. And explore. And hopefully understand a little more everyday - both about myself but also about everyone else. About being and existence and life and death and maybe on this journey I'll just discover that I've been wasting my time looking for the wrong thing, but at least I'd have been looking. 

I started reading a book today. I was stood at the train station with a half hour wait until my train arrives plus a two and a half hour journey back home so stood in front of the books in Smiths scanning. Out of the corner of my eye was a bright blue one with clouds on it. At this moment I decided that would be the book. Before knowing anything about it - before even reading the title. Maybe that's a stupid way to pick books, but heck it worked out well. 

It's called Hector and the Search For Happiness. It's written like a kids book but it's a grown up theme. It's definitely a PennieBook. It even starts 'Once upon a time...' 
I'm just over half way through by the time I get home and I'm loving it. I'll share whatever I learn with you when I finish it. 

The internet where I am has been rubbish - so by the time I've posted this it's technically tomorrow... 


  1. I don't think we should aim for happiness because happiness should be considered a by-product rather than a goal. It is best enjoyed when it is accidental. This is also the problem of most philosophers. They spoil it by talking about it.

    Instead, we should just do what we like or what we want to do. When we aim for happiness, like you said, we just get greedy. So I don't think you should figure out what you need to understand yourself. Just do what you like and things will become clear when you reach a certain stage of your life.

    That book seems interesting though. Perhaps the word "well-being" should replace the word "happiness".


  2. Do you know what really gets to me? You talk about people wanting a 'big house' with lots of nice things, and while that is true of some people, it is also difficult enough to get a small house and necessities... difficult enough that many people will be struggling and falling into debt just to get those essentials. For example, I have just signed the rental lease on a small 1-bed flat... it's not a shithole, but it's also not exactly a palace, and I'm confused as to why exactly housing costs so much proportionally when I'll be sharing with someone else who earns a decent enough wage. In order to actually buy this small 1-bed place, we would have to be earning about £60,000 a year just to scrape up the £210,000 mortgage! In 1992 this place cost less than £40,000 to buy! That is some fucking great markup. I realise this is in London but I am genuinely confused as to how any of our generation, minus the lucky & hardworking ones who go on to be lawyers and bankers, are going to be able to buy a house, let alone have children. OK, so you and I are very different in that way, in that I'm desperate to 'settle down' and you're the complete opposite (but I believe, and I hope, we respect each other despite and perhaps slightly even because of our differences?) but let's be honest, shelter is a basic human need, and many of us ARE going to want children sooner or later, yet it feels like we are just being priced out of these basic human needs and desires. I'm genuinely petrified of leaving uni, hence doing the Masters. I'm petrified I won't be able to make enough money, not for a massive house and a plasma TV, but just to keep myself (& my boyfriend, possible kids/dog, elderly parents etc) afloat.

    Perhaps these fears are groundless, perhaps not. In the meantime, that book looks excellent. And perhaps that is all we can do in the end, seek solace in the moments of clarity and contentment, the moments when we finally understand something, the moments when we can settle down with a good book and a nice cup of tea and know we are doing okay. I think that I could be happy with that, just knowing that I am doing okay, that we as a human race are doing okay. That to me is what contentment feels like. I agree with Mr Tam above that this is best enjoyed when accidental; if you just try to do what feels right, hopefully contentment will follow naturally?

    -Ice xxx