Carrying the Fire, or…Why Do We Keep Going?

I must begin by apologising for my rude behaviour, that is, not posting on Friday. I have a list of excuses but I’ll only say one: I was tired. I am human. I am sorry. Now enough of the melodrama, and on to Sunday’s post which will be a ramble/reflection: Why do we keep going?

I watched the latest 007 film on Saturday (and if you have not, I recommend that you do. It’s very good.) Since I watched that film in the cinema, I’ve been thinking about one of its main themes: what is it that keeps us going? Why does Bond, a grizzled old agent, take up his mantle once again and push on despite injury and fatigue? Why doesn’t he give in?

Why don’t we give in as people? If you’re reading this on the Internet, it’s impossible for you not to have heard the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who did not give in to the demands of the Taliban. She was threatened, her family was threatened, and she did not give in. She has now been shot, but still she has not given in. Is that human nature, to keep going? Or is it instead human to give in? To give in to life’s pressures, to give in to sloth and greed and the “easy” route, to hang ourselves in that noose before we push through hell, come what may?

It seems to me that the Western world has a sort-of “give-in” mentality, nowadays. We always want the quickest, easiest way of achieving our goals. It’s a disappointingly-often occurrence to hear of that person found dead in their home; that parent who has mindlessly murdered their children and then killed themselves. Our youth do not know how to discuss their problems and this quite often results in them ending their lives. A friend I had in high school did not know how to talk about her problems, and she attempted suicide twice before she got any help. Talking, living, was the harder option, and so it was not her first choice. On the other end, there’s my mother. She raised me and my siblings for the most part as a single mother, although she’s now been remarried for about three or four years. Things were hard for her. Poor-paying jobs, a family which shunned her, three bawling children, depression–there were days when she got absolutely sick of it all. But she kept on going. Even when she didn’t know where our next meal would come from, she kept on going. Perhaps it was her religious faith, or her faith in her children, or her nature. Or just human nature. I don’t know. I only know that she kept going. That my friend, with help, has also kept on going.

We all have our problems. Sometimes we give in, sometimes we don’t. We can keep going in a case as serious as Malala’s, or one as comparatively trivial as NaNoWriMo. A lot of the time, I suppose we don’t really know why we keep on going. We just have no reason to turn back, to stop. So we’ll just keep going, on and on, until we wake up one morning when our hair’s grey and ask ourself why we’re still going. And then maybe we’ll be wise enough by then to realise how useless that question is, that not everything has an answer, and we’ll keep on going.

10 thoughts on “Carrying the Fire, or…Why Do We Keep Going?

  1. The Waiting

    You raise some really good points about moving forward and whether it’s our human nature that gets us to keep surviving. Although I’ve personally never had anything happen to me that really made me seriously contemplate giving up, I’ve known people who have. When my father passed away extremely unexpectedly when I was 19 and my brother was 15, my mom came really close to just throwing in the towel for a couple years because it was so hard to go on. But she didn’t, like your mom. I think I kind of understand this now because I have a child of my own. When you’re caring for others, the option to give in and give up kind of comes off the table, like it doesn’t even compute. It doesn’t have o be patenthood, though, that keeps us going. Faith that things will change is enough to egg people on.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      I think I can definitely agree with that, about the parenthood. In Philosophy class the other day, we were asked what we would die for, and our teacher said that she would die for her daughter. Because she was meant to take care of her, and that otherwise she’d have failed her as a mother. That’s why I don’t understand those cases where parents harm their own children. Maybe that’s a whole other ballgame. But there is definitely something in the parent-child/protector-ward link which keeps a person going, that kept our mothers going. I think faith in change is part of it, because in providing and caring for your ward you have hope that their life will be better than yours, that they will achieve more than you do. Maybe. There are so many answers, and I suppose they’re all personal and subjective.

  2. NicoLite Великий

    I hear you. I also go on because I have faith, not in god, but I have faith. I am an atheist, and not a nihilist, after all 😉 But I give in on many occasions. It is the nature of everything that lives to go on, but the same mechanisms that allow us to go on also allow us to surrender. Example: When we are in pain from injury, our cells release an alkaloid not unlike morphine to dull the pain, and like morphine, we can also feel the ecstasy of death when injured too badly to go on. Thanatos, too, is part of Bios.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      Mmm. I think I have faith in people, and faith in dreams. Faith in something at least; some of it in God, some of it in other things. On a side-note, it’s amazing how many religious people believe that atheism equals nihilism, and that no faith in God means no faith in anything at all. Certainly not all people, but some people that I know are like that. >.< And that analogy reminds me of the death/life one about blood: it keeps us alive, but it also has the power to kill us. Yay for simple analogies and epigrams. 😉

  3. Thomas

    First off, nice allusion to The Road in your post’s title! Not sure if it was intentional, but, great work nonetheless.

    I don’t think there’s one answer to this question. Everyone lives for a different purpose. Whether it to be just to get by day by day, or to make a difference in our world. On the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is self-actualization, which is basically when a human transcends themselves and attains their ultimate purpose, or pretty much achieves a very deep level of self-intimacy. We all struggle for shelter, for food, for water. Then we want safety. Then we want to have social connections, friendship, and love. When all of these needs are satisfied we start to wonder what more is there to life, and what we should do to make the most of it.

    But, yes, this question does not have an answer – at least not one that applies to everyone.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      Haha, it most certainly was intentional: I can’t get that novel out of my head what with an upcoming exam. 😉

      I wonder whether anyone has actually reached true self-actualization. Perhaps ancient, meditating monks in a monastery somewhere. I guess we have more time on our hands to wonder about all these things, what with those other needs being mostly satisfied in the West. Though maybe that’s me underestimating minds in the rest of the world. There are so many questions without answers; sometimes I feel this blog is just me musing over them. 🙂

  4. pinappleflavouredpeople

    I think I agree with the Waiting.
    I’m not sure that many people would keep on going for themselves, but the ones they love and who they would hurt by just giving up. And maybe we go on in hope that’ll it will all be worth it some day, by setting goals for the future, to know you’re working towards something.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      I think whenever we try to keep going for ourselves, our willpower gets affected by selfish. We stop trying, because we can give in without disappointing anybody. But then that’s exactly what you just said. ^_^ I definitely agree with the both of you. Just having faith in change or an idea or a dream, a hope that things will come to fruition some day…I suppose that’s also what keeps us going in education! All this work has to pay off in getting us the job of our dreams, or at least a decent paying one which will somewhat satisfy us.

  5. nevercontrary

    I think that sometimes it is hard to say what truly keeps someone from going over the edge. Each and every moment it may be something different. But the beauty in life is that more often than not there is something even if it small that keeps us all going.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      That certainly adds another depth to the question: is it only ever one thing which keeps us going? You’re right, maybe reason A carries us to one point, and then reason B takes us to the next step and so on. Maybe it’s a whole group of small things which are necessary, just like the small things which keep a marriage going instead of grand, solitary gestures.


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