On the phone with a friend this week, we talked about our new lives. Carrying on about our redesigned routines, fitness goals, and relationship woes, I suddenly realized how many of our sentences began with ‘I wish.’ When our conversation was over, I put the phone down and mulled that over.
Intrinsically interweaved with consumerist ideologies, I’ve been tethered to the constant desire for ‘more’ my whole life. Incessantly believing I need what I don’t have, I’ve been attached to the concept that the present is never good enough. Got a good job? Now I need a bigger house. Got a new car? Now I need a new phone. Finally finished that project? Too bad something else needs to be done. No matter how good things get, how much I’ve achieved, or what I’ve earned, my drink could always be sweeter.
While the frequency of those two little words has increased in the midst of current difficulties, I think this ‘grass is always greener’ mentality has been the cornerstone of human thought since long before the pandemic. These conversation starters have laid the foundation of our culture for decades if not centuries. Years upon years of wishing and longing and hoping for anything other than what is.
This being said, I do believe that hoping for better circumstances is a normal response while life dances with uncertainty and flirts with disaster. With the world flipped on its proverbial head, it’s only natural that I’m sitting here wishing it were different. But, I also believe that such a response is futile.
The thing is, not only does longing for greener, fuller, sexier grass not sprout mine any faster, but it actually makes me hate my dismal little patch of turf even more than I thought possible.
Upon that realization, I tried to find a solution to my constantly displeased attitude. That’s when I came across the concept of Amor Fati.
Amor Fati, or “lover of one’s fate”, is Nietzsche’s recipe for hope.
Rather than revolving around the acquisition of better days, this little phrase simply suggests that the solution to chronic unfulfillment is simply to hope for what is.
Amor Fati is to accept life in its entirety. To be high when you’re high, and low when you’re low. To feel the good days through to their core, while keeping the door open for the bad days that inevitably follow. It’s to get stoked on the idea that with joy comes pain, with bravery comes fear, and with success comes failure. But most importantly, Amor Fati is to accept that this is as ideal as it gets.
“My formula for greatness in a human being, is Amor Fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it–all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary–but love it,” Nietzsche wrote.
In claiming that hope is flawed, seeing that even our greatest realizations are streaked with unforeseen struggle, he claimed that the path to contentment is merely to hope for the moment. Every moment. And in difficult times like these, as well as all the times that have come before or will ever come after, what else can we really do?