2009-04-17 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

Commentary by Marilyn Gelfand

People often ask, "what is the purpose of life?"

Is it to be happy or to create happiness for others?

Many people think that others are there for that purpose.

Happiness is the end result of being a good parent, partner or successful person.

Our society focuses a lot on happiness and people believe they are entitled to be happy. Almost any action is acceptable if it creates happiness. If one is not happy, we are told to change it so we can be happy. We also work hard to ensure that our children will be happy, and try to help parents find happiness in their later years. It's an integral part of the way we do things.

I really enjoy taking walks along the water's edge and love looking around to see how nature is at work on our beach. Over the years, I've been watching the clams, especially since there was a lot of erosion and they have been exposed in great numbers. Happiness doesn't seem to be their number one priority. I have watched them try to manipulate themselves into a vertical position and get themselves back down under the wet sand while squirting out the water.

I've seen the seagulls stick their beaks into their mounds and yank out the clams for the next meal. I have seen a seagull with a clam fastened tightly on his foot while the seagull flew through the air and bounced along the sand.

Twice the larger clams actually went tightly around the seagulls' beaks and the seagulls were unable to open their beaks. As I watched the clams rolling up and down with the waves, if they couldn't get themselves buried fast enough, I thought of how hard they worked just for their own survival. Their mating was a mixture in the sea of reproductive materials, and the next set of hard working clams would be back to live for themselves and be a food source for others.

Nature doesn't seem to make happiness for each individual its priority at all. Why do people in America think it is the reason to be alive? It seems we can learn so much about ourselves and others in the society in which we live as well as observe all the natural forces around us as we live a full lifetime.

The natural way seems to be one of experiencing life.

Literature in other cultures often does not have the happy endings in stories as often as we do. Tragic endings are more acceptable and the hero and heroine may be crushed to death instead of living happily ever after.

It is our own mistaken idea that life is meant for our pleasure and happiness that creates a lot of unhappiness through unrealistic expectations. It is vital to experience all emotions as part of life, and enjoy the good times as they occur. But we should not feel cheated when we don't live life getting everything we want as if we ourselves were in control of all the events of life..kind of imagining ourselves and our own personal scripts as if we were God.

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