Yesterday was our last day of orientation in Vet School. One of the prominent speakers for the morning began his talk with a YouTube rendition of the song “I Can See Clearly Now”. Then, with the soft plucking of the guitar in the background, he proceeded to urge all of us to find either a song, a book, or an event in our lives, that when we woke up wondering why we were putting ourselves through the misery of vet school, we could focus on this material object…and instantly feel better. Pardon me for saying so, but I also think a shot of LSD would satisfy this requirement.
The problem with looking to the material world when we feel depressed or discouraged is that it is often the material world itself that is frustrating us. When we start to wilt under the intense class load and strike out at those around us from mental and physical fatigue, that is when we begin to realize that maybe we can’t do this on our own. Why? Because we are finite, natural beings. Imperfect. Flawed. Overcome with our own pride and self-servience and greed. Constrained by time and space and the laws of physics. We wonder if our lives have a purpose, and if not, what’s the point of putting ourselves through the agony of attaining those three consonants after our name when we could just as easily float through our meaningless lives as burger-flippers or 7/11 cashiers?
And somehow a singing hippo or a Joel Osteen book will combat these thoughts and reveal our purpose in life?
Looking to the material world to solve our material problems will never satisfy. Yes, it may dull the edge of hopelessness for a while, like a snort of cocaine dulls the hunger pains of an addict, but it will never be enough; and over time the dosage will have to be increased as our carnality grows and feeds on itself. We seek to find an answer, yet somehow know that nothing in this world will completely solve the paradox.
What, then, is the answer? C.S. Lewis gives us a substantial clue:
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity)