Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Cause

An adventure would be cool. Longboarding somewhere in the world and seeing all the sights would be very cool. However, just doing that for the thrill of it is not a good enough reason to go. I really like how Ben had a purpose to his journey, he was helping and making a change in the world. I want this to mean something too. I want to help make a difference somewhere.

One of my favorite psychologists and thinkers, Viktor Frankl said in his book, Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, "Man is originally characterized by his 'search for meaning' rather than his 'search for himself.' The more he forgets himself- giving himself to a cause or another person- the more human he is. And the more he is immersed and absorbed in something or someone other than himself the more he really becomes himself. Just consider a child who, absorbed in play, forgets himself- this is the moment to take a snapshot; when you wait until he notices that you are taking a picture, his face congeals and freezes, showing his unnatural self-consciousness rather than his natural graciousness. Why do most people have that stereotyped expression on their faces whenever they are photographed? This expressions stems from their concern with the impression they are going to leave on the onlooker. It is 'cheese' that makes them so ugly. Forgetting themselves, the photographer, and the future onlooker would make them beautiful."

Viktor Frankl
This fits well with the biblical wisdom "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26) or "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Luke 17:33).

Too often in life we focus on ourselves, being the best we can be, "finding ourselves" and things like that. We spend a lot of time and money on our own pleasure and enjoyment. Everyone wants to be happy and becomes very concerned with achieving that goal. What if that thought is the very thing keeping us from being happy? Frankl continues to say in his book, "Primarily and normally man does not seek pleasure; instead, pleasure- or, for that matter, happiness- is the side effect of living out of the self-transcendence of existence. Once one has served a cause or is involved in loving another human being, happiness occurs by itself. The will to pleasure, however, contradicts the self-transcendent quality of human reality. And it also defeats itself. For pleasure and happiness are by-products. Happiness must ensue. It cannot be pursed. It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness."

And I've always wondered what Thomas Jefferson would have to say about that last line. 

Therefore, with my own paradigm of thinking I would believe it to be a waste of time to pursue this journey for my own joy, for the kicks and giggles. It would seem a waste to me. A cool experience, but largely a waste of time. I would rather be like Ben and use this to wrap myself into a larger cause (this begs the question, am I just using this cause to try to transcend myself and be happy? Is my own happiness still the end goal? Or is sincere altruism involved? I suppose we shall see). 

Now...where would one want to invest themselves? 

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