Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Better Life

I spend a lot of time worrying. Not real worrying, where the outcome is a tangible result, looming out of the gloom, but abstract worrying. Worrying about stuff that hasn't happened yet because you haven't finished worrying so that you can make a choice and allow stuff to happen.

It is, i suppose, the old Socratic question: What is the good life? Plato thought it was the discovery of the Good, Mill thought it was the greatest happiness for the greatest amount of people, and Wittgenstein thought it was to just do stuff that makes you useful (this is why he stopped being a philosopher and instead became a school teacher).

University life is great. Spending hours a day in intense study is rewarding and challenging. Sometimes i feel like i could do it for the rest of my life. But the rewards of the ivory tower are mixed. While you can spend time with a lot of people that think like you, you become totally removed from the outside world. And, to some extent i think, education is primarily a tool to help others. By staying in the tower, you undermine the very purpose of education, in some respects.

Sometimes i think it would be a far nobler life to become a school teacher and teach kids who actually deserve a break in what might otherwise have been an uninspired education, instead of supporting a system that rewards other white middle class kids who are just going to get a corporate job anyway.

More importantly, in terms of personal happiness, i never seem to be more content than when i am riding my bike. Even when i'm chugging along to work, or training with Brendan, his regime pushing me so hard i feel like time has stopped and i just want to curl up in a ball and cry, or racing so hard you stop thinking about your body, and start thinking about the event you are involved in. Happiness is on two wheels and, while it's a tired cliché, it's true. There is, in some sense, a being in the world, or, an interaction with the physical space that only comes into its own on a bike.

I can't always be happy, just like I can't always help others. But, fuck, I can do my best at both. Surely that's as good a life as any.

Or maybe i could start a band?

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