Professor Mullen fussed around the room, droning on and on with his words, unaware that half of the students were slumped in their chairs with their eyes’ closed. The ones still conscious, as I, were on their phones’. Though philosophy was something I had never given a second thought toward, it was the only election available. However, as a woman majoring in business, with an aspiration to be a lawyer, the elective was inapplicable. It didn’t help that the stubby man couldn’t hold my attention for more than a scant five minutes. My eyes shifted from Mullen’s balding head to the grand window beside me. A flock of birds soared through the Iowa clouds and out into the painting like firmament.
“Open your books to chapter 3, section 4,” Mullen’s voice echoes as pages’ flutter, “follow along as I read ‘What Is Life?’”
“There is nothing more complex than life itself. We are born into this world already kicking and fussing. While one might argue that that is a sign of life and a blessing to most, I find it quite doleful that our first moments on Earth are spent screaming and crying. Then, as we develop and grow day by day, we are exposed to a yearn for a twisted perfection. What do I mean by this? Simply that already at the age of five kids are expected to have straight A’s and be done with their tantrums. Then, at the age of ten, we’ve learned all about the lives we are supposed to live; fall in love by twenty, have a stable job by twenty-five, get a white picket fence and a golden retriever along with a picture perfect family by the age of thirty. What if I told you this was all bullshit? That a life different from this isn’t abnormal or frowned upon. Our brains function in different ways, you’ll never find someone with the exact same ideas and principles as you. Thus, making life a different experience for everyone. We all see things different from each other; that is why philosophy exists.” Professor Mullen pauses, letting it all sink in.
“To have a perfect story of your own you do not need to follow all the guidelines. All the things you’ve been told to do with a promise of happiness at the end is untrue. To be content and at peace with the life you live you have to do what it is your heart desires, not what is told. Imagine this; you’ve forwarded about forty years and are now brittle and weak, on the verge of decay. You’ve lived your life as everyone told you to, and though you rationalized many times how dull it was, you figured it was the expectations to meet and had no other choice. But, as you spend your last minutes thinking, you realize you shouldn’t have cared. You wish you could go back and really live your life the way it was meant to be, fulfilling it to the most, doing every dream and thought you had a hankering for. But it was too late, so you leave to the afterlife with unfinished business.”
We all stood still with our mouths the tiniest bit agape, and goosebumps covering us whole. I, simply for the reason of the gifted writing. Others though, I was sure had connected with this man’s words.
“So… does anyone want to offer their thoughts?” Professor Mullen’s eyes pierced into me, as if he knew of all the thoughts swarming my head, “Annabelle?”
“I understand what it is this man is trying to show, but I do not agree. We are to live our lives with purpose, find out what it was for that we were placed on this planet, not dale around waiting for life to come at us.” I shifted in my seat, nervous I was the only one with these thoughts.
A petite man whom we had barley ever heard talk coughed.
“Rick, anything you’d like to share?”
Thank god, Professor’s beady eyes had shifted their attention away from me.
“Actually I do. I think Anabelle is all wrong and hasn’t gotten a good taste at the sweetness held in life’s freedom. Every day we wake up with a goal, a strive for closure. Most of us believe we have a path or destiny in this life, and that our goal is to find and accomplish it. Yet we’ve never really talked about how maybe we are wasting our lives searching for this goal. Yes, we will never be able to achieve all of our dreams but already doing one is more than what we have now. These man’s words show that life is not about finding yourself but instead creating yourself. Life is something that will always remain an unfinished business, but we still have a chance to live as we want and do what we want until we can’t. So Ana, I personally think you’ve been looking at life all wrong.”
The little man we’d thought would be mute, had a lot to say now. I stayed dumb, not sure how to respond. Defend myself? Or was he right?