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Beast of Burden

Dusty Mennella | Friday, March 24, 2006

What would happen if nothing mattered? What if, like Peter Gibbons from Office Space, we all just stopped caring? Let me put it this way. Imagine life without work: days gone just lying on the beach, or watching television, or simply doing nothing. How beautiful would that be, just to relax all the time, eating when hungry and sleeping whenever you feel like it … Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and I’ve decided I don’t think I would really like that. Like the satisfied feeling you get after a good workout, relaxation is made better by all the effort we put into everyday life, be it homework, jobs, activities – anything really.

So imagine it was true: nothing matters. That test you’re worried about or homework you’re doing-no worries. It won’t matter in the long run.We all end up the same, so why care? I realized that if I start thinking that way now, all that I have done with my life up to this point will mean nothing as well. And I’ve spent a lot of energy throughout my life to get to where I am now, it would be a shame to think none of it was ever worth anything. It’s as if I’ve carried a huge rock down a road so far that if I were to put it down before I get to where I’m going, then why did I pick it up in the first place? All I have now when I reach my destination is a sore back and no rock to show for it. Why I wanted a rock in the first place is a whole other issue … maybe I was going to see a geologist, who knows?

What got me started thinking about this topic was a passage from a strange philosophy book I have, describing a fictional conversation God has with himself. In the passage, God ponders the fact that he sent a message to free humankind, yet they chose to ignore this message and continue shouldering their burdens.

My first reaction was to wonder what message could God be sending to free us from something so universal as burden? And also, how did burdens get such a bad reputation in the first place? Adaptation is one of the greatest abilities of human beings, and without hardship we wouldn’t have anything to adapt to.

The rocks we carry around make life interesting – without any troubles, there can be no victories. An old swim coach of mine often said, “Winners are only as great as the competitors they defeat,” and the same applies to burdens. A person’s greatness is measured by the magnitude of the burdens they overcome.