Monday, June 22, 2009

The Liar. The Cynic. The Mascara.

Last night my sister, mother and I had an interesting conversation about life and happiness and selfishness and living authentically and, well, stuff. The conversation stemmed from a certain movie we'd all seen at various times over the past few months. We all had very different reactions and interpretations of the film which led us into the territory in which we asked ourselves what it means to live authentically. (Now, before you go thinking "Whoa, freaky pseudo-intellectuals at Rookie's house," know that 20 minutes prior bowel movements might or might not have been our conversation's focus.)

When it comes to my attitude about life, I dwell in the camp of endurance. In my experience and opinion, life offers us moments of joy interspersed with legs of endurance. Life, as I've known it, isn't some exciting and entertaining experience in which we're happy 100% of the time (despite what TAMN at Seriously So Blessed might say). And I'm okay with that. I'm fine looking for the small and simple pleasures of life. The moment you put the key in the door at the end of the work day. The clean smell of lemons. Holding a sleeping infant after the bath, after the final feeding. The sound of rain on a tin roof. The smooth resonance of an acoustic guitar. Seeing and understanding another human being entirely and having that understanding reciprocated. These small pleasures can be lush oases in what is otherwise a desert of endurance: boring meetings, difficult trials, challenges, frustrations, mundane responsibilities.

And I told my family I thought this was living authentically: living an ethical and giving life, seeking out--stopping to recognize and appreciate--those simple pleasures. And when life is not at an enjoyable point, you wait. You endure. My sister disagreed with me, or she was playing devil's advocate, I never know. She shared a statistic about happy marriages and their correlation to a suspended sense of reality. She stretched this into a philosophy that we're all lying to ourselves about how happy we really are in order to endure. I could see her point, but hated to think I might be lying to myself about my own satisfaction in life.

We left each other in disagreement. My sister, the cynic. Me, the liar. Me, the optimist. My sister, the denier. I've been thinking about it ever since. Which one of us is being honest? And I came back to what I know about myself. The joy I feel when I open a new tube of mascara is a tangible, concrete piece of joy. You might choose to say this demonstrates just how unhappy I am, that something so simple and meaningless shouldn't impact me in such a way. But I choose to believe that I've stopped to notice the details. And that is what breaks up the endurance for me.


~*"*Dia*"*~ said...

I always say the truth is somewhere in the middle. But I wouldn't call it lying to oneself. Maybe it's just a moment when it seems that things don't work as they should and we try to balance our point of view in order to appreciate more the little things we have. I agree, happiness lies in details, in the small things that make us who we are.

Alicia said...

Very interesting. I would have to agree with you though. I think that living "authentically" doesn't mean you're happy 100% of the time. It means you take the good with the bad... but you get through the bad with hope and endurance... you move on with life and keep finding the little things that bring a smile to your face a warmth to your heart (like opening a new tube of mascara!).

Stephanie said...

Frankly, I feel that being able to find joy in a new tube of mascara speaks volumes about who you are. Accepting those small moments that life hands you and appreciating them for the pleasure they give IS authentic. Life is hard; there is no getting around that. Why make it harder by refusing to see, find, accept, and embrace the details. Too, I think, life isn't meant to just be endured. It feels that way sometimes, but we are meant to have joy -- it's part of our purpose, our journey. I'm glad for you, Rookie, that you can find it.

Wendy said...

Let me just say that you missed MY point completely AND misrepresented it here on your blog to make YOUR point. Just sayin'.

Rie Pie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Melissa Bee said...

Beautifully written and so true. I personally maintain the philosophy that life is good and also that life is what you make of it. Both cliche, I guess, but there is a reason they have become such. Sometimes there are really bad days. Days where crying, screaming, and staying in bed with your head under the covers seem the most logical things to do. We endure, but inevitably the day ends and a new day begins; the tears dry up; the screaming stops; the sunshine beckons through the bedsheets. Life is made of small moments. Those who find joy in the simple things that happen everyday are those who are happiest... inspite of the cynics. Oh, and I think mascara is miraculous.

Meg Fee said...

two scattered thoughts:

1.dr. bob (my really great therapist) says to a certain extent we're all delusional--the difference is that those people that lie to themselves to endure (as your sister says) are functioning delusionals. kahil gibran's the prophet...the one on sadness and happiness. it's all about how you can't know one without the other. the whole book is amazing!!

living authentically...i love that. that's so important.

that movie...ugh, i hated it, it made me so angry.

FreeFamWorld said...

If the purpose to life is to have joy, then life must be full of things by which we might find that joy....even though life isn't joyFUL every moment, that doesn't mean that there isn't joy to be found in every circumstance.

Jen said...

Love this. As a vacuum-wielding diaper-changing dish-washing housewife, I am a firm believer in Mary Engelbreit's magnet on my fridge: To be happy don't do whatever you like. Like whatever you do.

I know it is impossible to like many of the accoutrements of potty training, but I am not lying to myself when I exult in the new diaperless status.

Also, it seems like there is some sort of wisdom out there about how you need the rotten stuff to make the good stuff Good with a capital G. The misery of cleaning the messes makes the successful trips to the potty even more joyous.

Anonymous said...

The hard times are and will come into our lives, and are suppose to. I have been thinking about this and in my opinion, our childhood gave us the wrong outlook on the endurance part. I feel the endurance was not properly modeled for us. As I see it, we are to expect that challenges are going to come, it's how we look at them and come out of them that is the key. Every challenge is NOT "the end of our world," but should be a learning and growing experience. That's the hard part for me, call me idealistic, but I think everything should be perfect.

So, I feel that the "authentic" part is being, doing, enjoying and accepting the life we have and the world around us the best way we individually can. That's one of the miracle's of this life, we all are individual. We are allowed to think, feel, see and experience this life in our own individual ways. Whatever that may be.

So girl, go on with your experience anyway you feel is right for you. I think that is a healthy way to live. Enjoy those little happiness's, you have reminded me to do the same. Thank you!