C'est la vie!

Life: Does anybody actually enjoy life?

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, Nuclear Robot

824 upvotes by Tuan Trung Pham, Harshal Jain, Craig Heile, (more)


I want you to look at this photo of the world's tallest stacked pile of pig iron. It's from Wikipedia, and it's very nice.

Pile of pig iron

See, when you're trying to take a good photo, there's a lot to think about. Lens, light, filters, perspective, composition, timing, permits, thieves, alimony, and the list goes on. Looking through the viewfinder, you're not in the world. You're in your head.

Like the photographer, you're looking but you're not really seeing.

You look at life and complain that life is full of pain, and while life is punctuated by great moments, you don't enjoy it as a whole.

What I see is you looking through the viewfinder of life waiting for the opportunity to press the button to capture what you want, but when you finally do, the feeling doesn't last because you're already looking for the next opportunity. Or you're looking at the past, going over and over your long list of missed opportunities trying to work out when you should have pressed the button, and who to blame. Or you're imagining what life will be like when everything falls into place. That curiously timeless moment when everything is perfect is especially pernicious.

Guess what? None of it's real. It's all in your head. What you're not enjoying is not actually, well, life.

What you're not enjoying is comparing your life to constantly shifting ideals you will never reach, revisiting the past you can not change, and always wanting more even while you are getting what you want. What you're not enjoying are fantasies, very normal ones I might add, which are typically much more compelling than the simple, humble, often very dull reality of life.

Sure, there's pain and greatness, but they're two points on a rich spectrum of all kinds of mediocrity. In the grand scheme of things, you will be fine. Mostly other people are lying, or more properly are self-deluded, but some are telling the truth. Yes, there are people who enjoy life, but not equally all the time - why would you want to? And yes, others secretly and not-so-secretly think that life is overrated, including myself.

Life becomes a much more enjoyable ride once you stop confusing it with what you thought it was, or what you wish it would become, and simply let it be what it is. Acceptance (not to be confused with passivity) is your ticket to wherever you need to go. I also suggest you leave the camera at home. Buy postcards.