Water is boring. And life… Life can be boring, too.
The problem runs deeper than boring. That word triavilizes the whole affair.
Life can seem empty. It can seem pointless. It can seem tastless colorless and stale.
There are times when it just seems like a vicious circle: We have a car in order to get to work and go to work in order to pay for the car. We work so that we can live and we live so that we can work.
There are times that everything we’ve worked for, everything we have once believed in, everything that once seemed so very precious… It’s just suddenly rings so hollow.
Thousands of years ago, Solomon said:
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare put Hamlet through this experience. One modern language version puts it like this:
I have lately, but I don’t know why, lost all my joy,
given up my customary activities, and indeed, things are so heavy on
my mind, that this grand place, the earth, seems to me to be a
barren promontory, and this wonderful canopy, the sky – look
at it – this splendid firmament above us, this majestical roof inset
with golden sunlight, why, it only looks to me like a foul
and diseased condensation of vapors. What piece of work is a
man? How noble his reason, how infinite his faculties. In form and
motion, how expressive and admirable in action! How like an angel, in his apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world, the
paragon of animals. Yet to me, what is this quintessence of
Today, we speak of our existential angst, our depression, our sense of meaninglessness. I am not suggesting that these experiences are the same thing. I am suggesting that their is this common thread. On one level, we know that in the abstract, things are enjoyable. But we just can’t find the joy in them.
There was a time in my life that I had lots of freedom. A time I allowed myself to do some things I probably should have not been doing. I fufilled all sorts of appetites. I had my share of excesses.
And for a while… it was enough. Fun was enough. Fun was great, in fact. I thought I’d want to live my whole life that way. And then…
Then, it wasn’t enough anymore. I needed something more. All these things that I was doing, they had their price. Once they had been vibrant, ecstatic even. But eventually… eventually they were like water. Odorless, colorless, joyless.
We all know that when the old thrills stop be thrilling we have two choices. The first is to step things up a notch. The second is to shrug our shoulders, give up…. And just go through the motions.
We can live off water. But who would want to? Sometimes, in life, it’s like our whole diet, our whole world is boring, room-temperature water.