Reflections on Life & Non-life

Back in secondary school, Chloe and I had an energetic debate.

"Can you imagine a place where people are forever happy, a place without sadness? Can you imagine a place where all our needs are fulfilled and we want no more?" She added, "that's what heaven would be, a place of perpetual joy." Chloe was (and still is) a very religious person and I'm not.

"But, is that even possible? Sadness defines happiness. They're antithetical, they're opposites. It's like day and night, fork and spoon. It's only when we've experienced great sadness that we'd appreciate great joy."

"But you can't compare happiness to natural events or physical items! Being happy is a spiritual and emotional state, it's not quantifiable! It's not something you can count or measure. It exists because it exists. It doesn't exist because of other things."

"Okay, for example, if we're forever happy, we would forget what happiness means, right? Being happy would become our default state and we won't feel the same intense joy that we'd feel after a great depression."

"Being serene and satisfied can be compared to a graph. It's like a graph having a high positive value all the time. It doesn't have to be a sinusoidal graph with highs and lows. We don't have to lie our lives like roller coaster rides." She continued, "we can live our lives as though we reside on a mountain top, surrounded by blooming flowers with an ever-pleasant spring weather."

At this stage, our arguments began to circle. Both of us were repeating our main points and becoming increasingly frustrated. Only now, upon reflection, that I realised we were cross-talking. Chloe was arguing from the spiritual domain and me, the logical perspective. We were never going to meet, or agree.

And, recently, one friend passed away.

I'm trying not to examine this experience, trying not to rationalise or philosophise my friend's suicide, but it's difficult. Part of me feels that this should be about him, not me. But the other self-centered part keeps babbling and asking, "death defines life, what constitutes happiness, what about building a cathedral to worship innocence, what is the value of friendship, why can one person's death cause such an earthquake in my life but nary a ripple in others', why is it that people can be happy so quickly when a moment ago they were posting sad comments, how can people be so callous, why are we describing him in past tense already."

Questions repeat themselves, demanding answers and those answers that came were vague, uneasy. Part of me is trying desperately to make sense of this tragedy, but the other part is resisting. The other part just wanted to be quiet and respectful, to remember the better times.

I thought about the conversation with Chloe, that conversation which took place years ago. We were innocent or, at least, more innocent that we are now. How have our thoughts about life, death and happiness changed?

Does death really define the urgency and beauty of life? Perhaps, it does, perhaps, it really does.

I still think about my friend, not with the same trauma, but with a quiet wish that he has found solace elsewhere and a wish that we'd find solace in him finding solace.

A rock that have weathered the ravages of time.
Giant's Causeway, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 
The careless beauty of Nature.
Natural formation of surprisingly hexagonal rocks
at Giant's Causeway.
So Life & Non-life goes on.