I’ve recently spent a bit of time skimming through the pictures of local girls on the new app TINDER. It’s fun for the whole family, a bit of a laugh having a flirt with a few lasses, getting rejected by most on the basis of your picture choice and feeling slightly empty inside due to the shallow nature of the whole thing. However, one thing that struck me when going through a reasonably heavy number of the profiles were the tag lines. Just a very minor look into a person’s motivations and experiences. Ranging from ‘I want someone to frig me right now’ to ‘When life throws you LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADE’ (LOLzzzz) all the way to the point of reckless indifference; ‘This is a joke right?’ to an obscure regurgitation of a quote from a nameless philosophy; ‘Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.’ Great quote but I’m struggling to see how it will help you gain a few pointless matches on this app.
Now, I have absolutely nothing against life mantras. Sure, some of them are so overused that it renders them so pitifully cringe-worthy that you’d prefer to stick a fork in your eye than spend an hour with a person who swears by the quote. I’m talking the ‘You only live once’ type with a sincere belief that should be followed to the enth degree. Look, generally I think it is great to follow the teachings of those who have passed or exceed our own age and wisdom by almost three fold but I don’t know about a generic piss take such as YOLO being your life mantra. Let’s face it, there will come a time when you are walking on a busy street and something will happen such as a homeless man asks for you to help his dying dog or a woman is being held up in a dark alleyway and you will walk away thinking someone else will do it. Is that truly following such a mantra when you walk away from the once in a lifetime situations to genuinely change the direction of your existence?
So are mantras to be taken seriously? I think a mantra reinforces something we hold dear. You know, grab onto the experience while you can, hold onto the person you love relentlessly, those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail, that kind of rhetoric. It’s valuable to remind yourself of something that you think is important even if it is laughably cliche or regurgitated from a very famous celebrity/philosopher/pundit. We’ve all been moved by a quote enough to really consider it worthwhile to put into practice even if it is prior to heading to a shitty nightclub with the intention of getting absolutely maggoted and chatting up some chicky babes. (Come on lads, we all know you’ve tried the ‘How many times do you live?’ line when attempting to convince one of your mates to come out.) Perverted stylings of a 18-25 year old male aside, social rhetoric reinforces a certain steadiness of mind to refocus our attention on what we feel is important. It does come back to the Buddhism/Hindu/Sikh roots and loosely translates to freeing the mind. (Apologies to anyone who has a far more concerted knowledge of the word than me.)
Read between the lines here, I’m not suggesting that an ancient theorem should be burdened by contemporary Gen-Y equivalency to cheapen the whole concept, however the end goal of both is generally to improve our life whether in the short term or long term. So how effective are they? Does it really change our life enough to justify following a couple of ideals or slogans or is it simply tokenism to believe you can transform yourself into something you’ve seen written on paper or had regurgitated onto you by an overly friendly pal who has attended a couple of sessions of the LIFE cult or watched a few too many ESPN documentaries.
So let’s take a look at some famous examples.
“The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. it means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Unknown
“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.” – Larry Winget
That one is awkward considering the blog I wrote recently about how I was rather against the whole concept of having a life plan. Sorry Larry.
The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
I never have been afraid to fail.
Now, all these quotes are wonderful and give you a sugary feeling inside but then you do remember that Michael Jordan was dished up a beautiful genetic code, Arnie enjoyed a bunch of tasty morsels that aided him in becoming the most delicious physical specimen and Frank Sinatra had plenty of support from le mafioso. However, let’s not be cynics because there are certainly positives you can take out of those quotes. I suppose it is just reinforcing something that we were taught to want and desire as kids, something that can dry up through experiences ranging from indifferent to melancholy to downright tragic. Does it matter where the quotes come from? Is the anonymity of the quotation a real factor in assessing how inspiration and effective the quote really is or do the words in their barest form express enough for us to be moved to make a change or challenge ourselves in a particular way? For some people, the advertisement of them finding the quote that suits them is enough but for others, the story behind the words is just as important.
We know the basis for following mantras is to restore something or aim to something or to lift ourselves to a new level but the basis for a mantra or template for life does stem from documents such as the 10 Commandments.
It certainly isn’t as inspirational and moving as the Eleanor Roosevelt quote but it may have been the catalyst for many of us following the words of others to become better in some way. At the same time, it also illustrates how simplistic the foundation of building our life upon something we have been taught or come across really can be. Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery and thou shalt honour thy mother and thy father. Pretty much common sense now but still it inspires thought. The origins, the person or people who wrote it and what inspired it. However I am torn. Is it really that important to know the context or is it enough to be moved by the language and the intent of the quote? Is it enough that words have interrupted the pattern of our membrane enough for us to sit, think and reflect? We just sometimes need to remind ourselves that everyone is involved in this eternal battle and if a few words can release the burden on our shoulders then there is certainly no harm done.
A life mantra… does it matter who wrote it?
Man’s temerity is always defeated by that nagging inevitability; the flashes of our bodies swamped by the black raven who appeared to be a twinkle in the sky until the breaths became harder to draw and the bones began to creak with every heartbeat. However, it is those breaths and those creaking bones that are the final chapter of a story that only you can retell to the ones who love you, the ones you love or maybe just the ones who will listen. You start small, with nothing but potential. You end frail, with little more than a house, a couple of kids and a tired mind. So what happens in the middle? You can wake up every day and just exist and hope that things work out. Or you can wake up each day to challenge the stars, smell every flower, smile at a random stranger, kiss someone who makes you laugh, dance until you think you’ve beaten the day and arrived at the night and write a letter telling someone else to do the same. Maybe they’ll listen, maybe they’ll throw it into a bonfire with another thousand messages that summon their heart to sing proudly or maybe they’ll just exist. A shadow will descend on us one day but until then I’m going to avoid the shade and salute the sun.
But really, let’s cut the shiz – we’re all on Tinder to get a bloody ‘frig’ right?