Thus, in a free society there is a somewhat paradoxical combination of finitude -- our lifespan -- and infinitude -- or what we might call "lifebreadth," i.e., the overwhelming number of uses to which we may put our lives: so little time, so many choices.
Which goes to why freedom is not, and has never been, especially popular. That is, it exposes us to the infinitude referenced above, and in the absence of a telos, infinitude equates to nothing.
This is necessarily so: in a horizontal world, choice is either determined or arbitrary. To the extent that it is free, there is no intrinsic reason to choose this over that. Rather, there is will and there is power. Or just say leftism.
In this counter-cosmic view, the fact that we can choose most "anything" renders us nothing; unlike all other animals, we have no fixed nature or essence. Therefore, man is a freak of nature, in that he is the animal whose essence is no essence, AKA nothingness. (I've just spared you the burden of reading Sartre's Being and Nothingness. You're welcome.)
But in the real world, freedom is not arbitrary. It is not here "by accident." It is not a freakish mistake of nature, but rather, its freaking purpose.
If we go back to our civilizational uber (or better, unter) text, Genesis, we see that the Creator spends five days creating the world of necessity, while on the sixth day he creates the being of freedom, AKA man.
However, on the seventh day we dwell in the meaning of that freedom; on it you shall do no work, i.e., the necessary things, but rather, focus on the unnecessary, the non-utilitarian, the horizontally pointless: being as opposed to doing; receptivity over activity.
Con-templation relates to being in a space of observation, a temple; or, a temple is a vertical observatory in which the created good converges upon the uncreated good.
Allegorically speaking, of course. One can enter the temple at any time, not just Saturday or Sunday. We all have a key to the door that opens onto the luminous and noble peace of the desert (Dávila).
Along these lines, Pieper notes that animals are not capable of happiness -- contentment maybe, or satiety. Happiness is a -- the? -- human category, for which reason we need to mark it off from mere animal contentment.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with pleasing your monkey, but as Dávila reminds us, It is impossible to convince the fool that there are pleasures superior to those we share with the rest of the animals.
It seems we are granted the power to make ourselves unhappy, but not to make ourselves happy. In other words, although all men want happiness, it is not something we can simply will into existence. If we could, then everyone would be happy, and there would be no liberals. And happier still because there would be no liberals ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak.
This alone should alert us to our irreducible dependence, since the one thing we are born wanting most of all is annoyingly outside our control. Or in other words, in the absence of God we can truly say that happiness exists, and you can't get there from here. For happiness is never just "satiation of the will," or Hillary Clinton's eyes wouldn't look so dead.
In a purely horizontal world, the desire for happiness would be like an ineradicable itch we are powerless to scratch. For the will strives for happiness "by necessity," and yet, cannot reach it -- like those Buddhist demons with enormous appetites and pinprick mouths.
It seems to me that this in-built desire for happiness speaks to our trinitarian nature, because it means we are born with this desire for a relationship to the transcendent other. If happiness were simply a given, then we would be self-sufficient, and not motivated to seek it beyond the horizon of the self.
Remember what we said about prices being messages about supply and demand, but how the left prefers to shoot the messenger? "Price" occurs at the confluence of scarcity and desire. But the desire for happiness is rooted in a desire for the boundless, so again, it cannot be satisfied if it isn't directed toward its proper end and object.
Really, it's no different than the intellect, which also cannot find its measure in the world, but rather, is conformed to the Absolute-Infinite beyond this world.
So, today's bottom lines:
Liberty is not an end, but a means. Whoever mistakes it for an end does not know what to do with it once he attains it (Dávila).
The brevity of life does not distress us when instead of fixing goals for ourselves we fix routes (ibid.).
In other words, don't waste your scarce time trying to draw your own map from scratch, but ask for directions to the nearest faraway place.