What should any of us do?
It is the human problem, really. None of us is entirely clear about what we should get up to. And the ones for whom it is entirely clear are generally the ones to be feared. Religious zealots tend to feel like they know exactly what to do. Even those that predict the end of the world and watch the date come and go. Even in the depths of their wrongness they remain sure.
I heard, on a podcast, about this effect of when you give someone evidence that their very closely held belief is entirely wrong, it actually intensifies their belief.
I think I know what I’m here to do and vaguely how to proceed but find myself questioning it at every turn. What should I do?
Well, people surely have some advice. Samuel Johnson was asked about the important things in life and reportedly said that the first pleasure was “fucking and the second was drinking. And therefore he wondered why there were not more drunkards, for all could drink tho’ all could not fuck.” Religious scholars might disagree with Johnson’s take.
Everyone’s really thinking their own meaning, chipping away at the sculpture of their lives. Only at the end of it is it clear what they were making. And even then –
Well, in reading about English Renaissance history, I find myself struck by the difficulty of so many people’s lives in an era filled with such amazing writing.
While Hamlet wonders what such fellows as him should do, other fellows were dying in the stocks, women were sold into prostitution, the slave trade was going into high gear. And maybe none of these people stopped to wonder what they should do as they crawled – they just crawled. Sometimes to the theatre where they could watch someone else wonder.