Sunday 25 September 2022

Should we seek 'depth' in life? Yes, but...

As a late teen and young adult, I was almost obsessed with the idea of finding more depth of life - a more fundamental satisfaction than accorded by the mundane social interactions, workplace and media that took-up so much of my existence. 

It seems that many people experience this craving - yet, on investigation - there are few (or no) people who actually achieve the goal of a life of satisfying and sustained depth of gratification.

The most anybody realizes is living-in-depth, in an intermittent and partial fashion. For almost everybody, including great Saints and creative geniuses as well as the good and integrated people - the basic tenor of life is mundane. 

Is that goal then impossible to achieve? 

Is it then a 'waste' of time' - because unattainable - to reject superficiality and seek more depth?

Yes, sustained depth is impossible; but no, it is not a waste of time seeking it. 

To attain this answer required several changes in the ultimate metaphysical assumptions of by teens and early adult life: I needed to acknowledge the reality of a personal and loving God, and that this was a creation in which I dwelt. 

I also needed to acknowledge that this mortal life only makes sense (and satisfies) when it is regarded as an essential preparation - that is, a time for learning - before eternal resurrected and Heavenly life. 

Once these were accepted, I could regard this mortal life as essentially spiritual in nature; and, as such, a series of potential 'lessons' or challenges' - problems or 'learning experiences' - some 'given' by providence, others by my own efforts (for ill, as well as for good). 

Although success in learning from these life-experiences was typically partial, and always intermittent; in an eternal and resurrected context, it is worthwhile to live 'in search of depth' because dissatisfaction with the mundane and the merely-material is a good way of remaining open to the spiritual possibilities; so we don't miss them, and make the most of them.

A successful life is therefore possible, even when - considered in isolation - all mortal lives are a failure. 


Lucinda said...

I like this post. We want to think that once we've learned something in our mind, it will stay and affect who we are. But the challenge isn't just in the learning, but in the keeping and encorporation, struggling against the temptation to excuse and justify the inevitable backsliding.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - I like to think it too! But more significantly, I believe this must have been how God made things - in order that this mortal life be made valuable (otherwise, extended and complex mortal life would be a waste of time, and we would presumably die immediately after obtaining bodies by incarnation).