Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Great Irony of Life

by Suzanne Jacobson

The great irony of life is that by the time you figure out how to live it, it's over. The torment of life's third decade, often discarded by those who forgot with the justification that youth alone is a great elixir, is wretchedly undocumented.

Perhaps the great literary bore of "coming-of-age" is to blame. But, then aren't humans constantly coming of age? If great lessons ever cease to transform my way of seeing the world, I shall walk into the forest in the guise of a great elk during hunting season.

Life's third decade offers imperative lessons. The 20s are an era of struggle, of self-establishment, a tug-of-war between the still lingering great dreams of youth and life's often stark realities.

The practicalities. The realization of the steps necessary to reach the Goal. And the subsequent discovery that one might not be willing to do what it takes to arrive there.

To be truly great at one thing necessarily implies the forgoing of many other minute pleasures. It's not that everyone can't be Great. On the contrary, not many have the stomach for what it takes.

The distractions are plentiful and enticing, and in the end, greatness is most likely an isolating phenomenon. Eccentricities developed during the pursuit contain possibilities of alienation.

(Or, perhaps our culture is less tolerant of them. Perhaps America's commercialization is killing greatness.)

But to create something lasting and substantial as judged by the annals of history, that is where humans can discover redemption.

We are but mere mortals. Attempts at adding to the collective unconscious shared by all living beings, and possibly those deceased, is in my opinion, what should define a life.

Everything else is superfluous.

During life's 20s, foundations set precedent, and the gravity of everyday choices is an exhausting burden to bear. The recklessness of youth slowly erodes, replaced by the desire to categorize ambiguity. The rush cuts the journey short, cementing a life well before events unfold at their own -- often glacial -- pace.

The opposite is equally terrifying: Prolonging the journey with selfish stoicism masked in dedication, eradicating any chance for mortal happiness.

The 20s are when the majority of journey prolonging or shortening decisions are made. And I, for one, wish there were more documentation of man's struggle through the decade.

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