FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: The Primary Objective

by Dave Markwell

I’ve heard it said that the hardest thing to write is a simple, true sentence. I believe this. It is much easier to add words and use literary magic tricks to convey a thought than it is to strip it down to a simple truth. The conservation of words while preserving the integrity of the idea is a skilled art. This is true for words, but also for life.

It is easier to complicate life than it is to simplify it. We subtract by addition in the process of establishing this contrary truth. We add “stuff”. We add more obligations, tasks and goods which only serve to clog the machine. Our schedules, minds and garages are full of this stuff, which makes it difficult to enjoy a clear, simple and true thought or park a car.
Ernest Hemingway addressed his writer’s block by beginning with one true sentence. He believed that if he could write this one sentence, it would breed others. I think he was right. Drawing another parallel between words and life, by stripping away the noise and peeling back the burdensome layers of complicated, but often extraneous clutter, we get closer to where we want to be. We unblock our lives. This is liberating and peaceful and right.

“The more you strive to be sensible and serious and meaningful, the less chance you have of becoming so. The primary objective is to laugh.”- John D. MacDonald’s character, Travis McGee, in the novel, Free Fall In Crimson.

This idea is also liberating. In our quest to be responsible and sensible and reasonable, we lose things. We also diminish our chances of finding the things we are looking for. We search for peace, but manifest our own chaos. It’s a crazy and confounding system.

For most of us, the end of our lives will be a non-event. We will simply slip into the great waters and drift away. Certainly, those close to us will mourn, but most of the world will just keep on keepin’ on. The neighbor’s TV will still turn on and the 7-11 store down the street will still sell slurpees. Not much will have changed by our end.

With this in mind, Travis McGee’s philosophy makes much more sense. Since one day we will simply be gone, today is an important day. It is a day to enjoy and it is a day to remember and embrace a life philosophy in which “the primary objective is to laugh”. The world is less for all of our seriousness. It deserves our joy…we deserve our joy…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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