Thursday, March 17, 2011

Apathy, Who Cares?

I've been thinking a lot lately about a paradox that keeps popping up in my religious worship--in every aspect of my life. It has repeatedly led me to choose to be indifferent in various stages of my life. I know the signs very well, yet have no defense against the slow slide to passionless serenity. It's somewhat comical, because what people are usually searching for when they search religion is serenity. But, like boils on my flesh, it plagues me. For me, religion is no place for serenity and apathy. I feel like it should be struggle and pain and clarity. Serenity is like looking into the surface of untroubled water, you cannot see what lies underneath until the surface tension is broken and the glare from the sun sunders into waves.

It mainly has to do with life after death. If there is life after death, and if life continues on in the way we say it will, then this life is nothing but a waiting game. Once we die we move on, like the transition from middle school to high school--important in the moment, but forgotten entirely in the future. Again, if there is no afterlife, and if this life is really all we have, doesn't it become of most importance to preserve what little while of consciousness we have by managing our risks, and perpetuating this tiny existence as long as we've got it? Even more importantly, if there is no life after death, what is the point to passion? All the drops will return to the passionless drink in the end, anyway. But seeing as I do believe in life after death, let's explore that topic a bit further.

Life is followed by a better existence. When we are in a better existence, we rarely think about (or can remember adequately) the worse experiences we've had. Therefore, when we are in heaven we will rarely think about this life. How do you fight apathy when you realize that what you're living for will soon be obsolete?

Maybe I am just seeing a smaller portrait of the greater picture. I guess I am also confused by this other paradox. If we all believe in life after death, why are we wasting our time doing things that have nothing to do with that future life? It seems a rare thing to think these days.

I don't want apathy or indifference in any measure in my life. I want to care about the little things, even keeping in mind how they contribute to some celestial frame, and do each thing in life with that particular passion that is common among happy, or at least complex, people. But the paradox returns and returns. I am constantly living my life for the next, so why should I care too much about this one? But then again, if I don't mind this one duteously enough, I'll have lost any opportunity at seizing the next.

I should just devote my life to money, and put these cares of apathy and existentialism out of my mind. Money is easy. It provides enough stimulus to keep one always striving. One can never acquire "too much". The reasons are simple, the goals easily definable, and the pathway discrete. There couldn't be a more futile concept in my mind than the concept of striving for money. To have spent time doing anything for money is to have been truly idle.

I just wish it was easy to keep a fire always burning, you know? It seems, though, like life is a continual cycle of inspiration and flatness. Don't worry, though. Soon true doctrine will fill my ears and the paradox will plague no more. I'm sure of it.

"For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?" -Eccl. 6:12

"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" -Matt. 6:25

"Therefore, care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the soul, and for the life of the soul." -D&C 101:37

"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." -Luke 17:33


  1. Very interesting post. But I believe that in the hereafters we will be discussing this life over and over. It's the pains and troubles that you remember the most! If you don't believe me, just go sit and listen to a group of women talk about going through child birth. Those moments are burned in to our brains! Similarly, I can just imagine us all sitting around reminiscing about how we were able to get through this life. My husband and I even wonder if we will talk about the great food we used to eat. :)

    I think the key is to really live in the moment now, and appreciate the moments we have today. When my second child was born, for some reason I was a nervous mother and always worried that something terrible would happen to him. I remember holding him and rocking him while just trying to savor the moment in case those moments ended. Recently I have begun to try to do this more in my life. I have tried to really be in the moment and enjoy it. If I am laying on the bed, I try to focus on how comfortable it is. If I am eating something, I try to focus on how good it is. In fact, I believe savoring the moments is where the passion in life lies!

  2. I just spent over 20 minutes writing a really brilliant comment, and in the end, google told me my request could not be granted. Shoot. Anyway, the gist of it was that I think what really matters is the cultivating of virtues. Genuine patience and humility and integrity can not be created in apathy, but only passion for others and the good. Most of my day is spent doing the seemingly insignificant work of housewifery, which can be really discouraging when you have a long list of "significant" things you want to do in this life, but I've come to realize that it's who you're becoming in the doing that matters, not necessarily what you're doing. That, and the afterlife is overrated as a preoccupation, and a slow, steady flame, although not as glamorous or as ego-stroking as an intense fire, is personally more gratifiying in the end. Something like that, but perfectly eloquent. :) And I also recommended renting Get Low at RedBox. It's the best movie Mark and I have seen in a long while. YOur dad and my mom sawit together and thought it was slow; I knew I was going to like it as soon as they said that. :)
    And you often remind me of myself and I often wonder if I think too much. Life can be heavy for a thinker.

  3. Jacob 3:11
    I'm not sure what the exact correlation here is, but this verse made me agree with you.