About a year ago, I was at the funeral of the father of a good friend of mine. He was only 60 years old, so he didn't see old age. He normally had to work for another 2 years before he could retire. From the many testimonies of friends and family, one word came back each time: a bon vivant. A tad impulsive, living at full speed. He still wanted to do so much. he still got a whole boat-load of plans. Those plans were being thwarted by a necessary lung transplant. Unfortunately, after a years-long battle, it eventually killed him.
The West has a difficult relationship with death. A funeral evokes emotions, but the vast majority of people are deadly quiet, find it inappropriate to sob. Everyone wants to control themselves. Me too. In India, they can still do it. Crying, throwing themselves to the floor, screaming, wailing, tearing their hair out. En masse, at funerals. And then it's done. Then they go to the family home to eat and talk.
Such a way of mourning has its consequences. I did not know him, but such a day full of pent-up emotions can really knock you out for the rest of the day. You not only see a good friend suffer, the running conversation in your head is at full speed. Where do you want to go in your own life? It can be over so quickly. Do I do enough for others? Do I take care of myself?
On such a day, at a mandatory time of reflection, you often decide to do things differently.
You're convinced, there on that little funeral chair, that you will give your life a different turn. Away with the past and the future, fully alive in the now. You will pamper your partner every day. Small frustrations are now easily pushed aside. No procrastination anymore. You think of your children, and immediately after that, about your health. I will take a gym membership and stop smoking. Every moment has to become memorable. At a next party with friends, I'll buy the best ice cream I know. You want them to enjoy. Away with negativity, away with the rut.
However, the mind is strong. The uncontrolled flow of thoughts starts again. Days fly and you continue with your life. You're going to work. You are tired. A work out just hasn’t happened yet. On your way home, you quickly buy a pack of cigarettes. You come to the point where it all started. We’ve come full circle…
It always strikes me that it is so amazingly easy not to do anything. In other words: why is it so amazingly difficult to change destructive habits? Even when you realize that drinking is doing more damage than would appear at first sight, that the breathing problems are directly related to those damn packs of cigarettes and the eternal worrying really doesn't help you. Many people know what is wrong and yet that insight is rarely enough to change. That our brain is 'built' to withstand change is just an all to easy excuse.
Now we are about 1 year later and I notice that nothing has changed. Although, I'd be lying if that's the case. There's something different: I now only smoke at parties. Since weekly parties are already far behind me, it feels pretty ok. Thus apart from that, everything stayed the same.
Maybe, whether we like it or not, we are who we are. Many among us just have of lot of really bad habits. Trying to change that would be unnatural. Maybe it's because of the fact that it is so difficult for us to recognize harmful effects of bad behaviour in the long term. As I wrote here in another publication, that's not entirely illogical. Normal functioning would become impossible if we had to take into account all the dangers that might come our way in the future.
In short, people are destructive. Coming to this conclusion feels like a relief. It's not my fault. We can't help it. So let's just continue...
PS: the day after: I have read through my words again and I actually don't entirely believe what I'm saying. It doesn't really fit into my scheme of things. It's incompatible with my view of who we are. But maybe that's just how it is. One day you have a certain insight and energy and the next day it literally has shifted again. I guess I just have to catch the good flow.
Note: this is an addition to a post that I wrote earlier
Photo 1 by Mayron Oliveira on Unsplash
Photo 2 by Ross Findon on Unsplash