Today, I met a woman who quit a job which gave her responsibility, power, money, personal space and the opportunity to live in a place she loved. There she sat across the coffee-table gambling away everything which carried any weight. In fact, the only things she was choosing to keep were attributes which she cared little about or those which couldn't be placed on the betting table. Perhaps better things were coming her way - but what's better than a regular job with assured stability and monetary inflow, one which allows you to be surrounded by people you love? No, she wasn't gambling away such luxurious certainties in the quest for greater material wealth or spiritual meaning; she was betting with everything she had because of what they were - certainties.
Seldom do we behave so expressively as when we are given great certainties in life. It does not matter if these are perceived by us as advantageous or unfortunate. At the sight of a given, there is an overwhelming urge to flee, and it does not matter where. It is quite ridiculous that we think we prefer the tranquil charms of stability over the ruthlessness of change, for we are brought up to stand-up to the latter, while the former draws us out of our depths.
There was a lad who had everything figured out: he had satisfied the expectations of everyone around him, excelled in a test which only the brave attempted and was all set to move away to a city far away from where he lived with a girl whose company he most dearly enjoyed. He didn't know when he would return - two years? Three perhaps? Maybe four. Only one thing was for certain - he was going away for a long, long time to live a life he thought he would enjoy. Unable to accept the finality of this step, he found a girl he was quite indifferent about and told her that he loved her.
This should not seem strange to us, for the mind is initially programmed to reject permanence, just like it feebly combats change. "Change is the only constant" is uttered as a pacifier, as if "constancy" was a desirable trait, that we yearn for and will cling-on to, and "change" is the part we reject. This is foolishness. We clearly do not understand the implications of such a constant.
Is the Bachelor Party a last temptation that the body must get past in order to enter a life of sacred marriage, or is it a last-ditch attempt to escape an impending constancy - a thought which is only quashed by society and external will? Why is it that we are truly free to do what we want to do when the calendar is marked with the day we will die?
It is amusing that freedom, which we humans seem to value as all-important, is never true until we are surrounded. Much praise has been showered on constancy as well as on freedom, although they stand opposite each other for much of the time. Anything permanent, by virtue of being immovable, acts as a wall, however distant it might be from us. Therefore it is a constraint to our motion. Paradoxically, it is only when there are walls on all four sides that we feel truly free; we make life-altering decisions and place great bets.
This alarming prospect suddenly turns amiable when one becomes conscious of this fact and can live with the knowledge that true freedom can be achieved only while in chains. Perhaps this is not such a bad way to live.