My musings on different political topics relevant to America today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What We Crave and Why We Crave It

Life goes on.  Its disturbing how true this statement is.  I mean really, no matter what happens, life goes on.  The most joyous events drift away.  We look forward to or quake in fear at the thought that something good or bad may happen, but at the end of the day, they are extremely short events.  Given the doldrum of routine we usually are stuck in, these highlights of our existence literally are like the blink of an eye.  The rest of life, the other 99% we never talk about, is the daily routines we glaze over in our minds and in our conversation.  Yet that is the majority of our life, but we rather focus on the 1%.

It is easy to see why.  The 1% is far more exciting than the 99%.  That 1% of life is what we crave.  Why? those moments of life are an escape.  They let us escape from normal life.  It actually does not matter what the moment is that leads to our escape.  Yes, we do not want it to contain any threat to our existence, but besides that, as long as it differs from our norm, we will be happy.  Its quite strange, for I guarantee that if what we did became flipped, then we would crave what used to be the 99%.  In the HBO series Band of Brothers, in one scene Lieutenant Dick Winters is looking on into all the destruction and death that had just been inflicted on France.  He concludes that after all that, all he wanted was to settle down on a farm and live in peace.  When America had entered WW2, everyone craved escape from their normal lives, and many joined the military as a result.  However, once they joined the military, and that life became normal, they soon desired what they had left behind.  It truly is a ruthless cycle, for we will always desire what we do the least.

Think about it, do we like diamonds
because they are shiny? Or because
they are rare?
Nevertheless, any good event that we do not do very often, we look on fondly.  We love vacations, but I do not believe we love vacations just because we love traveling to other places.  We love vacations because they are an escape from the norm.  Many businessmen get to travel all the time, yet because it becomes normalized, it loses the flair it once had.  Now, they probably look forward to just being at home with their family more than anything.  So a vacation would be a joyous event burned into our memories, but the businessman's routinized excursions to other countries would not create the same memories we hold onto.

Our most joyous events are the rarest events, and we hold onto them fleetingly because they are rare.  If whatever it was became routinized, the happiness we receive from the activity would soon drift away over time.  Thus the paradox of happiness.  We gain happiness from doing things we rarely do, yet if that activity ever becomes normal, we would not care for it much anymore.  Therefore, joyous events are fleeting because only fleeting rare events bring joy.  It cannot be any other way.

Oh yeah that's me, no big deal.
I know this personally from my experience as a swimmer.  The experience I would most crave in swimming was winning a race, placing high, and dropping time.  When I finally dropped time my senior year from my 100 breaststroke and broke a minute, going 58.88 seconds, I was ecstatic.  I was on the high I lived for in swimming.  There is nothing like the feeling you get when you have worked your butt off all four years of your college swimming career, and you finally had achieved the goal you always wanted, which was breaking a minute for me.  The moment lasted a few days, but eventually normalcy set back in.  Indeed, After such a high I was down about a week, because it was all over.  I had looked forward to the event so long, and now it was over.

Yet what if I always dropped time?  Then it would not have been such a big deal.  If I dropped time every time I swam a race, it would not be as big of a deal.  Indeed, when I was younger, I took time drops for granted.  I just assumed it was normal to drop time every time you swam.  However, as I got older, dropping time became more difficult, and the longer it took to drop time, the more ecstatic I was when I finally did.  The happiness associated with an event is directly associated, in my view to its rarity (though of course, a bad event would not make us happy).

This is not a bad or good thing, its just the way things are.  There is nothing wrong that we humans crave the rare things in life, but I believe it we recognized this it would make us realize why we actually crave what we crave.  Perhaps then it would help us to appreciate everything more.  Think about it, some day the things you take for granted, like hanging out with your kids or parents, could be a rare thing.  Some day, some things you take for granted that you do not appreciate may go away forever.  Its okay to desire the rare things in life, but do not neglect what you have right in front of you as a result, for it may be rare some day as well.

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