As I sit and eat my turkey salad sandwich for lunch I have had a realization. First, I just spelled sandwich incorrectly and that makes me a little sad, you won’t see it, because I am intelligent enough to proofread my work before I submit it. Secondly, and my actual point, is that as people we tend to lay a significant portion of our being on identifying and labeling things. For instance, the Paleozoic era was, by our estimation, millions of years ago and host to all kind of exciting and irrelevant events. Irrelevant, why? Because in the grand scheme of the world it affects us so very little that knowing it isn’t all that important. Except to us it is important.

But why? An understanding of one’s past can be relevant to determining how one’s actions are conducted on a day-to-day basis. I believe that, and most of the world believes it. Want proof? We give people special leniency based on their past. “My parents were killed in a car accident, so I’ve always been terrified of cars.” We understand that, we can empathize with their empathy. Does that change the fact that it is a tad eccentric for this person to never use a car again because of some past experience? No, but we make allowances for it. We accept it.

But we also argue that our past does not define us. And by argue, I mean we want to believe it does not define us. We want to be the Captain of our Fates, the director of our lives, the person who decides when, what, how, and where. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. No matter who is calling the shots in our life, be it our present, or past, or our desired future, we all label things and identify them. I think we put too much emphasis on how important we feel things should be.

My ten-year high school reunion is next month. I’m not going, nor do I care to go. But I am in awe of how much it means to some people. The fact that it has been ten years since I graduated has no real bearing on my life at all. Why should it? Ten years is an arbitrary number selected because of the nature of the number. Ten is a nice, even number. We identify with ten. Seven would be odd. What we don’t realize is that it is all odd. I sometimes wonder if the premise of Fight Club might actually have a valid point. We’ve become so self-absorbed in ourselves, culture, society, that merely existing isn’t enough.

We have to acquire, create status, and keep up with the people we are on level with, while striving to become the people who are above us. I’m not preaching the merits of blowing up buildings to “reset” the world, but maybe the mindset that the things we really consider important aren’t important at all. Here is the ultimate, overriding truth of it all: happiness is a relative thing. The phrase you can’t buy happiness is bull. Because for some people money is the root of happiness. Identifying yourself through your significant other is the key to happiness for some people. I can’t tell you what makes you happy, and I can’t force what makes me happy onto you.

So where does that leave us? Fighting the cosmic battle of making ourselves enjoy our lives to the full extent, no matter what it is you choose to live for. Live for your kids, if that is what gives you the most pleasure in life. Live for your job, if that is what motivates you to wake up in the morning. But the important thing is that you pick what it is you live for. Do not let the world tell you that your dreams are bland if your aspiration is to own a sheep farm in Ireland. But if your dream is to own a sheep farm, and all you have done is buy chickens, the only person you can blame for your unhappiness is yourself.

And that is when I realized my own unhappiness is my fault.