Memes, Relativity, and The Meaning of Life
I saw a meme once that said,
“Getting drunk today is just borrowing the happiness of tomorrow.”
At the time, my partner and I were deep in the throes of alcoholism and also looking for any excuse to quit drinking. This quote resonated with me for a long time, as the hangovers were getting worse, and more frequently I reached the point of projectiling when I drank, as I knew nothing of self control. We stopped drinking completely for two years.
As I lay in bed this morning, having gone out last night, thus sporting a mild hangover – I ponder this quote I used to consider wisdom.
Enter: the meme.
Upon first glance, this seems like wisdom. Hell, I took it as wisdom for two years of my life. Now, when I stare at it, all I’m left with are questions.
- Why are we assuming there exists a bounty of future happiness?
- Why are we assuming that if you tap into that well, there will be no happiness tomorrow?
- Why does this have to be transactional?
- Why are we assuming there will be any happiness tomorrow?
- Why are we assuming there is happiness at all?
- Why are we assuming there is a tomorrow?
Okay, I know that is a bit of a dark path to take considering it’s just a meme meant to get partying fools to reconsider their awful choices. However, these are the questions I’ve asked, and you’ve been reading this far, so we’re in this together now.
This inquiry has left me to conclude many things. One of which is this: tomorrow is an idea. It’s a word we use to describe something we don’t understand – time. In our dimension, we experience time in a linear fashion. We only know is happening to us, or what already has. We live in “the now”. We base time on when the sun rises and sets, and when it rises again we call this a new day. When we talk about tomorrow, the assumption tomorrow is going to happen is intrinsic. But, for each and every one of us, at some point in our lives, tomorrow will not come. We are all taking vastly different paths that all lead us to the same destination. I will come back to this in a moment.
The next thing I’ve concluded is that happiness is not my natural state. To borrow tomorrow’s happiness assumes that happiness inherently exists in the future. Yet for me, happiness is a constant struggle. Upon waking, if I don’t tell myself those ridiculous affirmations only seen on the walls of high school counsellors, and force myself to get out of bed and spread that stupid smile across my face, I feel like garbage. If I don’t cross check every thought in my head and talk myself out of my own sad version of homoeostasis, I will be miserable. Guaranteed.
So, if I have the opportunity to do something that brings me joy, I am going to do it. Fuck the hope for tomorrow; fuck assuming I’ll be happy then. I could not wake up tomorrow. I could get hit by a bus tonight. If I decided against going out last night based on the off chance I’d be happier today because of it, I would miss out on some of the greatest moments in life. I would not have danced with my friends. I would not have had the great conversations that I did. I would not continue to grow closer to the people that already mean so much to me. If not last night, when? When again would the opportunity to experience such things occur? I feel like holding back from moments like these because of the fear of how tomorrow will be if we don’t is doing a great disservice to our purpose on this earth.
Now, I’m not writing this hoping everyone become jaded nihilists, acting on the notion there is no meaning to our existence and no repercussions for our choices. Our purpose isn’t to destroy ourselves or anyone else. Our purpose isn’t to drink to the point of being blackout wasted and ruin your ability to recall your experiences. I believe it is to create everlasting memories with those you feel closest to. I believe it is to enjoy all of the experiences life has to offer you. I believe it’s about enjoying the now, because one day there will only be then.
From my experience, we give our lives meaning through the choices we make, the people we meet, and the things we do. We have the power to create our own purpose, and craft our own significance.
So if my purpose is to get trashed with a good group of friends on a Saturday night, so be it. I might not have the chance to do it tomorrow.