Can you have good without evil? Pleasure without pain? Do you need a spice of anguish to really appreciate the romance of life? A classic philosophical question that’s been raised and asked throughout human existence. And as you mention, on one extreme, a life devoid of the understanding of sorrow, suffering, a broken heart, one without a little Toska Seasoning (trademark pending), reeks of boredom. But on the other end of this imagined dichotomy, a life with a constant slew of anguish is by in it’s own accord, insufferable. So here, we arrive at this ‘b’ word again. Is there a happy balance somewhere in between? Let’s say there is. The obvious follow up is how do we get there? We often discuss these conceptual dichotomies. And a general, and obvious understanding is we can’t balance a weightless idea: there isn’t a scale that measures 50 pounds of suffering to 50 pounds of joy. So how do you actually go ahead and evaluate something that isn’t quantifiable? Here’s my stab in the dark. Much like you have to put yourself in the position to appreciate a piece of art, you need to put yourself in a position to reflect, create, and internalize the story of your own anguish and happiness. It needs to be interpreted through a romantic lens, different for each person, with their own hindsight story telling.
But how do we look through the right lens to colour meaning in our lives to begin with? In a world with no clear message of why, without a faithful dive in an imagined explanation, ultimately, we are left to make meaning in life by our own convictions. There are tendencies in our programming that incline us to stamp meaning on certain things more easily than others: babies, love, food, and babies, to name a few. But beyond that, and even within that, lies a rainbow of possibilities to make meaningful. We can romanticize Toska, and I am definitely in that ship called Titantic. But what if you aren’t? What if you don’t? What if art doesn’t tickle your fancy? Then what? Then, that Toska is just pain without meaning. And pain without meaning is gruesome.