Lately I've been having lots of thoughts about serious matters but scattered around the wide range of topics, so I've been finding it difficult to concentrate on one of the topics and write something about it. Plus, some rather absorbing events in personal life. But that I usually leave off the public sphere, so lets not break the tradition.
I guess I'll just talk of what comes to mind first...
Life is so controversial, it is absolutely insane.
We went on the city beach the other day with my friend. Lots of people. Semi-clean sand (varies from beach to beach), bird songs, chatter, children laughing and crying from time to time, and a couple of hobos under the tree. You look to the left and see a cute kid playing and looking at you with those innocent curious eyes, you look to the right and see a woman in her 30ies or 40ies (hard to tell the true age when one is a drunk) lying on the sand in her dirty stinky clothes. One moment theres a breeze of fresh air, another - of the mix of some cheap parfumes with dirt, sweat and garbage. One moment you hear a sencere laughter, another - a cough of a heavy smoker and some swearing.
This is life. A mixture of beauty and horror, of dighnity and disgrace, of hope and desperation.
What separates that little kid from that drunk homeless person dragging her miserable existence? A chance, a flip of a coin, a sheer luck or a lack of it. Hard to imagine now, but every person who hit the rock bottom and is now considered something less than human was once an innocent child.
Our first self-protective reaction is to blame the victim. But nobody wants to end badly, nobody wants to suffer. People make some bad decisions, that's true. But that's because they don't know any better. No living being has an incentive of hurting themselves in order to get hurt. When people sometimes do that deliberately, it is always with a hope of attracting attention and getting help. And sometimes there is no one around to offer it in time.
There was one poor-looking guy who approached me on the street about a month ago, while I was standing near the post office waiting for their break to be over. He started telling me the story of how he got in trouble, was beaten and woke up in a hospital with no money and how he now has to get home to another town somehow. I stopped his speech and just gave him the money. He probably thought I was naive enough to believe in it, but I just didn't care. Life is a tough shit. Deceiving is a way to survive, especially when you're not particularly gifted, handsome or smart.
Half an hour later I saw that young man standing on the bus stop in the opposite direction than the town he claimed he needed to get to.
Seeing people around me who lead such miserable lives always saddens me. I feel bad for them and for myself having to contemplate that. There is this 'fatal flaw' in me that I keep thinking about the world I'm living in, the one beyond my close circle of friends and family. People used to say 'it's just a phase in your life' back when I was around 15. They probably meant I will grow up, 'have a life' and concentrate on it. But the global questions never disappeared, just some other, more personal ones were added.
I liked Celia Green's description of sanity: "The sane person holds his life in front of his face like someone with short sight reading a newspaper with rather small print. It follows that he cannot have emotions about the universe, because he cannot see that it is there" and later "Sanity may occasionally allow transitory emotions about the universe or reality, but it does not allow them to exercise any perceptible influence as motives in the life of the individual".[link]
Of course, to keep myself relatively 'sane', which means, adjusted to this insane world, I have to regularly do what others do - distract myself, hold my own life in front of my face to make the big picture disappear. Well, at least theres still plenty of distractions that come my way easily. I imagine this may not always be the case. But so far... let this "feast in time of plague" go on.
Thanks, John. I'm very glad my thoughts resonate with yours.
I finally started reading that 'Human Evasion' book properly, from the start, yesterday, and I keep finding more thoughts that I (and you, evidently, too) have been having. For example, with regards to serious, global questions about our existence being 'kids stuff', Celia Green writes "Adolescents are known to think about metaphysics more than most people; thus thinking about metaphysics becomes associated with the negative concept "immaturity". If someone thinks about metaphysical problems at a later age, they are said to show signs of "delayed adolescence". " and also "In order effectively to distract people from reality, society has to provide them with pseudo-purposes ... There are two main kinds of pseudo-purpose ... they are known as 'earning a living' and 'bringing up a family'. They both provide a person with a cast-iron alibi for not doing anything he wants with his life. (He does not, of course, want to be free to do what he wants, so this is all right.)"
Interestingly, some people claim they've never had such thoughts. Never wondered about the meaning, the ultimate purpose. Hard for me to imagine.
Talking about work as an excuse to not get too involved in relationships. Barry and Janae Weinhold wrote a book entitled 'Counter-dependency & The Flight From Intimacy'. There they talk about how people surround themselves with all sorts of activities that 'need' them, so they alays have an excuse not to spend more time with their family.
I am self-employed too, I actually was thinking that to be the next topic to cover. I can't imagine going to work in the morning. Hell!
Fromm is right in saying that people fear freedom as it brings about responsibility as well.
But C. Green's quote was in a different context, she talks about how we learn to convince ourselves we actually love and endorse our limitations. We know its unlikely we're going to be all rich, loved by the opposite sex and win a Nobel prize, so we quickly learn to delude ourselves that our dreams are in fact very much down to earth anyway, that we never wanted anything too special from this life, that we just want to be like the majority of other people: have a shitty 9 to 5 job, a bunch of out-of-control kids and a spouse. A dog and a house would be nice. Something like that.
So here she makes an accent on frustration that we fear, not responsibility. A child learns pretty early in life that the one who has high expectations will suffer from great disappointment. Adjust your dreams to what is easily available - and you've saved yourself a lot of anguish.
Usually when people call you selfish means they want something from you. There's a humorous definition of selfishness us psychologists have, it goes like 'a selfish person is the one who always thinks about himself, and not about me'. Doesn't sound as eloquent in English as it does in Russian, but the accent is on 'not about me'.
I've broken every connection with those who would like to manipulate me. You should too, if you can. Makes life much more peaceful.
Regarding the exposure of the spirit and true desires, true love etc... I don't know, it's a difficult subject. Theres certainly vulneravility in intimacy and the fear of it. I'm very skeptical of 'true love'. I gotta write another post on love, I guess. This is the subject that one keeps re-evaluating many times in their lives.
What I will say here though is that it seems to me, the rejection of one's 'spirit' shouldn't be as horrible, as, for example, your loved one dying. It's painful being not wanted for who you truly are, but it becomes unbearable only if you yourself have doubts of whether you are worthy of love or not. If you are sure you deserve to be loved the way you are, the rejection should not hurt you at least in the sphere of self-esteem, it will be limited to frustration of desires and hopes, which is still quite unpleasant, of course, but the feeling of unworthiness is deadly.