I guess most people have some sort of “life philosophy” in one way or another, whether it is of their own meditation, or through the lessons of a particular role model. Blame it on the pathological need to find an explanation, a theory for why “bad” things happen sometimes, or why things don’t always go the way we plan.
As the title probably spoiled it already, my “theory” about life is that “Life is a Bag of Doritos”. Simple as that. Now, don’t give up on me just yet, I promise you this is not as cheesy as it may sound (see what I did there? So clever).
I have shared this “theory” with some of my friends before, and they reacted the same way that you probably did: thinking I was full of sh*t. And I don’t blame you…. Because how on Earth could “life” even begin to resemble “a bad of Doritos”. Nevertheless, this is just pretty much a sketch in my effort to start compiling all my various “theories” about life, humans, and the universe in general, so it is open to amendments. And hopefully, as the years go by, I will even be able to add a couple of corollaries to it with further implications. You know, for extra enlightenment.
I came up with this theory after a realization I had a couple of years ago. It was around September, which means that I was undergoing that end-of-summer blues most college students should know about. It comes about when you realize that you have four months until your next vacation, and that before then you will at least have 3 hell weeks (one for midterms, one for finals, and an extra one for a week that you have a lot of papers to hand in), and that (given that I was in Montreal) it will probably start snowing by the end of the month, and it won’t stop until probably May of the following year. And you think about how amazing your vacations were, all the fun times with all your friends, all the trips, the concerts, the parties, and wonder how long it’s going to be until you have that much fun again. And you think of how many classes, reading, assignments, group projects, papers, quizes, and exam are in between now and then… Yeah, that feeling.
It’s that moment when you feel the wheels spinning again, slowly pulling to bring you back into your same-old routine. Yes, soon enough you’ll be doing the same groceries every week, walking the same route to school at the same time every day, getting coffee at the same, most convenient coffee shop on your way. You’ll be stressing about the same subjects, over (or under) studying for the same exams, struggling to find the same place at the library in the high season, and complaining about the same #firstworldproblems, or #undergradproblems on social media. You’ll be paying the same bills, freaking out about how the same mobile company overcharged you for something yet again, using the same laundry machines, and spending countless hours of your life pairing the same pairs of socks.
And then I realized how, almost ironically, all that “stuff” in the way, that same-ness that constitutes the less-exciting logistics of living… were sort of necessary, and how that end-of-summer blues was actually a good thing.
You see, I believe that we human beings are creatures of relatives, and not absolutes (This is another theory of mine, although it falls on another category. There’s probably a study somewhere about it). And, as much as it makes me a douchebag to say this, I don’t think that we would be on a constant state of happiness if things were ideal 100% of the time. I mean, think of it, how many times have you compared yourself to another person to gauge your own level of happiness or wellbeing? Ok, maybe your’re better than that: How many times have you compared your present sent to your past self in order to assess your personal self’s level of happiness or wellbeing?
Let me give you an overused example. Think of the Dominican Republic. How hot is it during the summer? Around 35ish degrees Celsius. How hot is it during the winter? What winter? It’s a one-season country (Although, it does get chilly at nights in December, it’s even a thing, we call it “la brisita de Navidad” –the tiny Christmas breeze).
Now, let’s head a bit North. Think of Canada. Montreal, to be specific. How hot is it during the summer? Probably around 23-28ish degrees Celsius. How cold is it during the winter? Well, I would say that on average, anywhere between -10 to -20ish degrees Celsius, although you have some crazy days where it can go from -20 to -30.
So, naturally, do you think Dominicans (in the DR) are in any particular rush to go outdoors when it’s sunny and warm out? Hell no.
But what about Montrealers, on that very first day in either March, April, or May (it depends, apparently this year winter decided to stay a bit longer), when it is finally warm-ish enough outside? Oh they will all be all out on the streets, on the parks, you will see the joggers, the barbequers, the freesbiers, the bikers, the rollerbladers, the tam-tamneers, and the mere walkers. Why? Because, having been through those awful and seemingly endless months of winter does make you more appreciative of warmth and sunshine.
And don’t even get me started on what this “relativeness” means for relationships, or personal or material achievements. It’s that whole “you can’t appreciate what you have until you lose it” cliché all over again: You would not feel as miserable having little if you had not had a lot previously (there’s a slight chance I screwed up my tenses in that last sentence, but comments are welcome). However, I also believe that it works the other way around, as in fact, you do enjoy some experiences even more only after you put them in perspective.
Ok but enough with the introductions, I have now to explain how this Life is a Bag of Doritos works. So here it goes:
Think about when you are out, and you suddenly want to buy a bag of Doritos. It may be while you’re waiting in line at the supermarket, or when you want to have a snack at work or school, or even something that you just randomly decided to pick at a vending machine somewhere.
Now, you have your Doritos bag in your hands, looking forward to dig in, and you open it and see what?
…YOU KNOW WHAT! THERE’S ONLY LIKE 1/3 OF DORITOS IN THE BAG, AND THE REST IS EMPTY… JUST AIR.
And every time is the same, there’s always that disappointment that there are less Doritos in the bag than what you imagined (I know I am generalizing here, most people don’t tend to overanalyse the bag of Doritos they just purchased. I’ll probably just talk in the first person from now on then). Thing is, I didn’t pay for 1/3 Doritos and 2/3 oxygen, I wanted at least the majority of the volume of the bag to be filled with the snack. But whatever, I mean: Am I just going to throw my unconsummated bag of Doritos away because of my unmet high expectations?
Naah, I’ll probably just eat it anyways. And I get over it. I do. And by the end… Do I regret having bought it in the first place (health/caloric considerations aside)? Not really. Would I buy another bag of Doritos if I want to snack again sometime (and have no other health/caloric considerations)? Probably yes. In fact, I could even make the case that the scarcity of Doritos that was generated by the presence of a higher-than-expected volume of air inside the bag has made me value each Dorito even more.
So… that’s life right there. I’m sure my metaphor is crystal clear by now. It is almost certain that you won’t be able to get that full bag of Doritos that you would like to. There is always going to be some air that needs to fill it (I mean, they can’t vacuum-pack chips, can they?).
And for most if us, that “air” are those daily routines and struggles that keep us going. It’s getting from A to B because of the destination, not the journey. It’s paying the bills or passing the classes. It’s the alarm snoozes and the coffee-fixes, the xls, the ppts, and the pdfs. Don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with whether you love or not what you do. Because, even if you are in love with what you are doing, which to some may imply that “you will not have to work a single day in your life”, you are still not immune to the logistics of life. And sure, some may consider themselves lucky that their profession does not enslave them into a 9-to-5, so that they do not live under a “routine” like the rest of us mere mortals do. But still, whatever your everyday, I-got-to-pay-the-bills normal is, that’s your baseline. That’s the air.
Which is why, when you finally get to the actual Doritos of life: the vacations, the travels, the fun night outs, the weddings, the graduations, the reunions, the catching-ups, the visits, the events, the concerts, etc etc etc, they feel so special and memorable. It’s the stuff you want to take pictures of or write about, it’s what you tell stories about, what you look forward to ex-ante and are nostalgic about ex-post. And yet, for the most part, these experiences are meaningful to us only because we tend to put them in perspective with the rest of the “air” on our lives.