Existence is Hard (But that’s okay)

I’ll admit to having something of a penchant for the melodramatic – somehow the art of such flourishes strike me as imbued with valuable meaning.

So perhaps it is simply that flair for the dramatic which occasionally catches me uttering such phrases as: well…existence is hard.

I made that very statement conversationally the other day, though in retrospect such apparently bleak phraseology is not the stuff so-called proper conversations are made of.

I immediately regretted having voiced it.

But, perhaps, there is no need for such regret. Perhaps the statement isn’t so melodramatic after all. In fact, is it not true that existence is hard?

Life is hard is a well known adage, and existence, I would posit, is roughly as hard as life.

Yet existence is hard sounds dark, dreary, and – as I was told – depressing. It’s the kind of thing you might say before tossing yourself off a cliff or going out in some other dramatic fashion.

I imagine someone simply disintegrating into nothingness, too overcome with the difficulty of existence to even hold their molecules together. They might simply disperse, scattered upon the air. An ex-parrot.

But why should it be so depressing that existence is hard? Should we rather have it that existence be easy?

I’ll not deny that the option sounds tempting. Some days, in particular, life would just be so much easier…if life were easy. But life isn’t easy. Existence is hard, and sometimes it’s a struggle to get out bed in the morning.

And that’s okay.

I don’t dream of a utopia where all is perfect and harmonious all the time. If such a state were even possible, I would find it…unsatisfactory. It sounds static, fake, forced. That is not life in its finest sense.

Growth and change and improvement takes conflict, disagreement, and tension.

I’d certainly agree that there are no shortage of things we can improve upon in our society. And I like to think that those improvements could create a better world. A more just world.

But life will always be hard. I’d not advocate that everyone live forever. Nor that everyone hold the same opinion. I might argue that we have the same capabilities, but I wouldn’t advocate to have the same functionings. These realities create challenges.

We should certainly strive to minimize those challenges. I’d advocate for civil dialogue. For systems that treat people fairly and equitably. For collective efforts to address our collective problems.

But we will still have problems. There’s no end to the road, only the constant challenge of continuous improvement. Facing those challenges will make us better, and braving those challenges will make the good times sweeter.

To embrace the role of dysfunction is to embrace the nature of change – to spurn a static ideal. To say that the bad times make you appreciate the good is to appreciate the bad times – to accept that they add value to a complicated world. To say existence is hard is to acknowledge a challenge – but to be cowed by it.

So yes, existence is hard. It is a challenge. But a worthy challenge.

I for one will strive to undertake it.

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