For me there is nothing worse than being stuck somewhere I do not want to be and not having the power to get out. I picture someone who has fallen through a trap in the middle of a forest and has gotten stuck down in an enormous ditch. Day by day, small problems like hunger and thirst grow larger and more urgent while large problems like the enormous climb out of this ditch seem insurmountable. How did I even get in this damn ditch and why do I deserve to be here? For me hunger is more like rent and credit card payments while the ditch is probably my enormous amount of student loan debt. Oh, and not having a job... at least not one that pays me money.
What is the lesson to be learned from being trapped in such a ditch? Surely I have faced unhappy situations before that I was able to climb out of. Why does this current ditch seem so perplexing and why have I not found my way out after months of unhappiness? I always find solace in times of darkness with the promise of learning a new invaluable lesson from it all. I think that is the only way we can justify going through dire times of distress.
Thus, I think Socrates would then say, "Ask the real question that you want answered"
In a burst of euphoria, I would shout, "What lesson have I not yet learned from being trapped in this ditch?
Then Socrates would pat me on the back before taking a refreshing shot of hemlock... The guy was not going to resist a drinking challenge. He was a savage and I love it.
Regardless of our drinking habits, there is usually a lesson to be learned from every circumstance. The trouble is not in climbing out of the ditch. The trouble is in finding out what it is we need to learn in order to get ourselves out. My brother called me the other day and told me an amusing anecdote while I sat on the toilet with the phone on speaker. It went like this:
There once was a man who fell in a hole in the middle of nowhere. The walls were too high to scale so he screamed for help, wishing someone nearby would hear his cry. Eventually, along came a local politician. As the politician witnessed the helpless man in the hole, he spoke about how much of a shame it was that such a hole existed that caused the man to have such an unfortunate circumstance. The man agreed completely. The politician then vowed that he would march to the nearest town to demand an answer as to why such a hole existed. He then marched off.
Overcome with frustration and disbelief, the man shouted louder and louder hoping someone else would hear his cries. Finally, a priest appeared atop the lofty walls of the hole. "Father, thank god you have found me," exclaimed the man. "My son, it saddens me to see you in such a terrible situation. The lord's intentions for each of us are not always clear. Nevertheless, I will pray for your salvation from this hole." stated the priest. He then trotted onward to the local church.
In complete disbelief as to how others were reacting to his misfortune, the man shrieked more cries for help. As the feeling of hopelessness slowly began to take hold, a familiar face appeared in the opening of the hole. It was his neighbor. "My friend, please help me get out of here," cried the man. Without a word or hesitation, the neighbor jumped down into the hole alongside the man who had been trapped for days. "You idiot! Why have you jumped down here? Now we are both stuck in this godforsaken hole!" yelled the man. "No we're not," explained the neighbor, "I was stuck here once before. Let me show you the way to get out. There is a rope buried in the wall."
You never expect the epiphanies that come to you while sitting on the toilet. I think that in itself explains something about when and how we should expect to find the answers to our questions. What would I know? I'm just an amature at life who is stuck in a ditch.