The tale of one girl, a bag of chemically-enhanced fries, and this question: why am I lonely?
We have become so disillusioned by fictional happy endings that don’t translate to real life. Perhaps we’ve told ourselves we’d rather face life head-on and see things as they really are. But don’t we secretly long for more than that?
It seems we have lost the ability to sit still and do nothing, which is more problematic than you might realise.
Without a doubt, the Second World War had a galvanising effect on people, the likes of which have never been seen before or since. Yet many of our veterans returned with feelings of guilt or meaninglessness that weren’t acknowledged or understood for years to come, if at all. Victory had left so many floundering in a vacuum of purposelessness. It was hard to face the idea that so little had actually changed postwar, and even harder for many to admit that if ‘this’ is all they fought for, it didn’t seem worth it.
The primary way we understand someone to be trustworthy is not by what they say, but how they live. We’ve all met people who might claim to be whiter than white, but when you dig beneath the surface and see into the nooks and crannies of their life, they’re just as imperfect as the rest of us. So simply claiming to be trustworthy isn’t enough — we need to see it in someone’s behaviour.
In the past few years, the study and practice of mindfulness has exploded in Western culture. Originally deriving from Buddhism, it’s now utilised as a form of treatment for both mental and physical illness. But does it really possess the answer to the problems we face in life?
The very same attitude that makes us first to cry, ‘That’s neither fair nor true, because it’s just a social construct!’ is itself a social construction, a product of specific cultural conditioning. Relativism cancels itself out. Still, we often assume present norms are innately right because we’re entrenched; we haven’t known any other reality. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but the spell breaks when we realise the norm itself is always shifting.
When you have to come to terms with failure, when you don’t get the recognition you think you deserve, it forces you to shift perspective...as I’ve grappled with my career disappointments, I’ve seen this longing for what it really was: a meaningless pursuit of my own glory.
How can life possibly have meaning when we’re just an accident of chemistry + physics + who-knows-what? Dawkins gave his answer, and it’s fascinating.