When I was in high school, one of my favorite movies was called The Art of Getting By. It was about a senior in high school named George whose attitude towards life was less than optimistic. In the beginning of the movie, George says, “We live alone, we die alone. Everything else is just an illusion.” George is an artist who couldn’t care less about school or jobs or college. He was simply making his art and getting by – living each day not as if it were his last, but as if it were another day closer to the inevitable.
(Spoiler alert, George gets by and gets the girl.)
There is nothing wrong with this lifestyle. In fact, it’s very common for people (especially of eastern religions) to live with this “getting by” attitude. Life is not something that happens to you, but it happens through you. While it is common for people to talk about how they’re just “going with the flow” or “taking things as they come,” I would argue that living a life like that is nearly impossible in today’s world. We live in a world full of planning, financial dependency, and reliance on what we know. Over many years we have learned to accept that these things are a part of life and, more importantly, a part of a good life. But in my experience, it’s the people who don’t rely on things such as extensive planning or money who are truly living the “good life.”
I spent three weeks in Thailand this past summer, and it was very clear that the people I met were less fortunate than me, but at the end of the day, I was the one feeling less fortunate. While in Thailand, I met the grandparents of the friend I was staying with. They lived in what I would loosely consider a house, and my college dorm-room is nicer than their living situation. They were well-off financially, but didn’t feel the need to spend their money because they were happy with what they had. They had managed to do what so few people accomplish in their lifetime – they had become content with where they were.
We get so caught up in the “more” life has to offer that we forget to appreciate the abundance we have now. You carry everything you need to live a happy life with you. So maybe we should learn to live more like George or the people of Thailand. The sooner we learn that life is happening through us and it’s only as good as we think it is, the sooner we can learn the art of getting by.