Why do we think life is supposed to be easy and carefree? We do. But I don’t know why. Are we so far removed from our history as to be completely unaware of what a risky thing life is? It is fraught with danger.
I’m almost 64 years old. That means I’m over 23,300 days old. That’s a lot of days. And on all of those days – except one – any car in my possession or my immediate family’s possession did not blow an engine. However, just once, a little more than a week ago, one of my cars did blow an engine and I was furious at the universe for being so capriciously unkind.
For 23,299 days I did not thank the universe for not blowing up one of my car’s engines. I was not thankful that my cars kept running. I expect my cars to keep running. Always. Regardless of the number of miles on them. They are supposed to be running. That’s what cars do.
They also break down. And I was affronted in a universe where that happened. I was not at all amazed for the tens of thousands of days when it didn’t happen.
And that explains us. When it all goes well, which is most of the time, we take it for granted. Things are supposed to go well, we think. I don’t really know why we think that.
I have watched all the BBC nature series with David Attenborough. There are lots of confrontations between predator and prey and each and every single one of them ends in sadness. Sometimes that sadness is that the prey is caught and killed. Sometimes it is that the predator did not manage to capture any prey and expended all that energy for no dinner at all, making death that much more imminent. Sadness. Every. Single. Time.
And somehow, we have built societies and civilization and mitigated many of the dangers of the wild kingdoms. By banding together, we have a surplus of food and don’t have to know how to do everything ourselves. Specialization comes with the freedom of mutual support.
With this greater society, with civilization, we have told ourselves that life is supposed to be wonderful. We may, in fact, build a perfectly wonderful life. But it isn’t a given and it isn’t just supposed to happen. And you don’t deserve a damn thing. The world owes you nothing; it was here first.
We don’t have to hunt for dinner which used to take up a large portion of our ancestors’ lives. Dinner can be picked up at the grocery store or through the drive-in. And with all this security and surplus, we aren’t ecstatic every day of our lives. Instead, we think we deserve more. We tell ourselves that our lives are in a mess far too often when all our lives are is the human existence.
We aren’t supposed to skate through life unscathed. We are supposed to push the limits and test the waters and have things happen. When our normal routine is upset, we notice what we don’t have available. But when it all works – which is most of the time – we assume that is the way life is supposed to be.
Life really is one damn thing after another. The respite in between catastrophes is there for us to catch our breath and prepare for the next one. For there will always be a next one.
Take a moment today to think about your car and it’s engine.