Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Like I Roll: A Short Meditation on Temporal Happiness

It's been a while since I've last written a blog post, and now I return with a new post. In the meantime I've experienced many things, visited many places, met many people. I've done things I'm proud of, and some I'm not so proud of. And yet, through it all, in the end, I'm happy. You really don't appreciate life's experiences until, at the end of one of life's many marathons, you look back and reminisce. No small part of happiness, I think, is looking back on the obstacles and roadblocks and realizing just how far you've come. I feel like I've come so very far these past few months.

And yet, the realization hits that I am not truly happy. For some folks, this is a crushing revelation, but for me, it's an opportunity to pause and ponder why I'm not truly happy. The obvious answer, for me, is that I have not fully achieved what Aquinas calls the "Beatific Vision," that perfect union with the Almighty that transcends mortal reason and imperfect faith. Consolation comes when I smile and remember that such sublimity is not mine to have in this life, for it is something that only exists when my frail and fallen mortality is shed for the cloak of Eternity.

But, besides the determination to at least in a small way earn my Redemption (though such a race is futile on my own merits), what keeps me going, congenial and merry (mostly) in this insane world? What comes to mind to answer that query is a quote from Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper, and the other is a realization from just leisurely listening to a slice of life song by the Southern rock band Black Stone Cherry.

Pieper's quote runs thus: "Happiness,... even the smallest happiness, is like a step out of Time, and the greatest happiness is sharing in Eternity." Even the smallest happiness shakes us out of our reverie of life's monotony and opens us to the symphony of being, that even when the night seems at its darkest, all it takes is a small light to turn night into flickering shadows cowering before the Light.

As for Black Stone Cherry, their song Like I Roll gave me a small epiphany: that life is meant to be lived, not just for your's or my sake, but for its own sake. It's a gift, really the most precious of gifts, and as Seneca admonishes, it should not be wasted but rather fulfilled with noble pursuits that seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. Life's temporal happiness is found in cherishing the things
that matter beyond the here and now, and experiencing life is in and of itself a small happiness.

"I roll like the hills under the California sun
Burn through the desert like a devil on the run
I'll be flying high until the day that I die
No matter what they say
At the end of the day
I will roll like I roll"