I have been pondering lately the thought of life as an experience. I used to think of life as being made up of a time and a place, an environment and myself within that environment. But now as I move through time my understanding has changed. Life is not what happens to me, but rather how I experience it. It is made up entirely of my feelings, perceptions, ideas, and preconceived notions. In other words, life in inside my own head. If I think about what exactly I want out of this experience on earth, and what I think every human wants out of life, the word happiness always enters my mind. We often point to other things like success or money or love as indicators of happiness, or goals we think will bring with it emotional bliss. But in the end, if we are happy, nothing else really matters. So if our environment is simply a visual stimulus to the internal experiences that compose life, what must we do to achieve bliss? These thoughts about life reminded me of a quote by Joseph Campbell:
"I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive."
This is the truest thing to ever caress my ears. I also love it because I feel it helps explain why I sometimes feel drawn to extremes. Extremes in any realm of life usually hold negative connotations; however, I think that because everyone holds a different view of “normal,” or the center of the spectrum so to speak, we could never agree upon what extremes are. As I have grown from my Catholic roots, I more and more find ways of viewing my own family’s beliefs as extreme. Really, extremes are not bad, they are just so far from our individual center that it feels uncomfortable, and we feel lost because we know of no precedent for how to respond. But in my case, I think it feeds my desire to seek the experience of being alive. In what other situations are we more alert, more sensitive, vulnerable, or passionate than when faced with something far outside our realm of normal? For me this foreign environment reminds me I am alive. Not only am I alive, but I am living. I am experiencing with every nerve something we rarely acknowledge.
Kate Moss and Johnny Depp, covered in champagne.