First off, my inner-Nietzsche really wanted to subtitle part of this entry “Why I Write Such Excellent and Lengthy Posts,” but I thought that doing so might be potentially a bit too off-putting to some (considering I don’t really know my audience and I’m just starting out in the world of blogging). So I have decided to appease my inner-Nietzsche by instead giving him a quick shout-out in this first paragraph.
Ok, now onwards and upwards. . . .
I am well-aware that many of my posts are long and meandering. And that occasionally (frequently?) I use a lot of parentheticals and dashes and string a lot of adjectives together in an effort to group together or connect related terms (I believe I just did so), and sometimes it’s in an effort to help us all better realize that every time we act, it’s like being a kid on the playground at school at lunchtime and we’re picking sides—the good or evil team, awake or asleep team, mature or immature team. We’re always—always—picking—choosing, deciding, declaring defining—our allegiance with every choice we make in life—red pill or blue pill, truth or self-deception, honesty or deceit, transparency or dis-integration, mental health or pathology, real growth or regression (see what I mean about the adjectives). All of our life is about choices. Every minute we’re making choices—whether we want to admit it or not, face it or not. And because I am writing this as much for myself as for others, I will liberally use adjectives and run on with my thoughts, because all of this—all of what I write—is helping to write me (Gibran remarked, “As I was writing “The Prophet,” “The Prophet” was writing me; so too with me and all that I write and all of my blog posts, et cetera), helping to drive things deeper down into my own thinking and being/core, helping me to better learn things that I may think that I already know—and in fact may actually already in fact know—but that after I think and write even more on them now I am even more clear about. Writing is inescably essential in deepening our own thinking; if we want to deepen and grow as human beings then, yes, Rilke, we must write.
I also write longer posts because it requires a certain amount of depth and focus to write them as well as to read them. And we live in a culture that does little to encourage deep thinking, reflection, contemplation, and serious soul searching, and instead offers plenty in the way of distractions and diversions and ways of losing and numbing ourselves, and that strokes our immaturity—our impulsivity, want of ease and comfort and “fun,” our impatience and inability to defer gratification. We live in a hustling and bustling ADHD society of seemingly ever shortening attention spans, increased frenetic–ness and impulsivity and avoidance, diffuse focus, multitasking, et cetera—basically all things that thwart and stymie the “soul,” that stunt the development of depth and solid thinking, self-awareness, wisdom, and, yes, real Love.
The vast majority of human beings will never be able to develop the capacity to genuinely Love another or themselves. Their fates are already sealed. Their errant and deceptive thinking patterns are already set in stone, their limbic system has been wired to be their enemy instead of their ally (meaning their emotionality and impulsivity and reactivity routinely get the better of them), and they will likely never experience the paradigmatic shift that will allow them to learn the language of choice and responsibility and real self-awareness. There’s no real plasticity left for them. Their habits have become their character and their character their fate. End of story. No redemption is possible for them short of something out of “Fearless” (the one with Jeff Bridges) or “Phenomenon” or “V is for Vendetta.” They won’t rise to the occasion, take responsibility for themselves, and do what is necessary. And so an intervention is necessary—a near-death experience, 5-years uninterrupted with a Buddha or 3-days along locked in a room with God Himself or 10-years in a hardcore Zen monastery—some sort of catastrophe or forced apprenticeship of that magnitude would be the only things that might possibly awaken them or gift them a “metanoia.” Reading won’t do it—no matter what they read, because they’ll always be able to spin it or misread it or forget about it or lose themselves again. And therapy likely won’t do it either. 98% plus of people are not simple not growth-oriented. Less than 2% are. But there are plenty of 98%-ers who like to think that they are growth-oriented, and who like to put on the airs for themselves and others than they are growth-oriented and not like the rest of people. But, alas, they are precisely what they do not want to acknowledge—they are just like everyone else: asleep, sleep-walking through their life. It’s just that their pride—their fear of feeling ordinary, un-unique, un-special—won’t allow them to see this about themselves. And perhaps it’s this same pride that is at the root of their particular neurosis or pathology—a fear of feeling inferior, not-OK, unwanted, not-special, of being lost in the crowd. . . .
Pride has two meanings. Or: there are two types of pride. There’s “good pride”—the feeling of satisfaction and pride we get when we have struggled and worked for something difficult, overcome many obstacles along the way, and grown wiser and more courageous and intelligent, et cetera, for having done so and for having stuck with the journey. Pride is our reward; we do something difficult first, and then we get the pride afterwards; but we do not necessarily undertake the difficulty because we are proud; we may undertake the journey for any of a myriad of reasons.
The other type of pride is “bad pride”—it’s what we feel as defense against feeling ashamed or guilty over something we’ve done—we’re too proud—meaning we’re too afraid of feeling ashamed, in the wrong, inferior, not-OK—to look clearly and honestly at a situation and admit what we’ve done. This type of pride keeps us stuck and small, immature and or mentally unwell.
Real intimacy—self-revelation—can only occur when we’re proud (in the good sense of the word) of who we are and who we’ve become, of the work we’ve done on ourselves, of what we’ve made of ourselves. When we’re rightfully proud of who we are and how we think and see the world and treat others, we have a good cause to want to be intimate—open, transparent, self-revealing, honest, who we truly are—with another—because who we are is something good and decent and noble and worthy of being shared.
When we’re not proud of who we are—when we’re secretly ashamed of who we are and displeased with who we are and our life and what we’ve done with our life so far and with what’s happened to us—we don’t want to be truly intimate—truly revealing of ourself (although paradoxically this is what we most need in order to heal and grow). Instead because we feel so secretly unworthy of being loved and ashamed of who we are, we think that we can only stand pseudo- or very limited-intimacy, meaning only sharing parts of ourself—the acceptable parts, the parts that won’t be scrutinized or possibly rejected. And so we don’t reveal ourselves and live transparently with another, we present ourselves—and, at that, only the not too unsightly parts of ourself—and hide away the rest. We live compatementalized, without integrity, and in doing so we only reinforce and perpetuate—if not strengthen and deepen—our own sickness/pathology/immaturity/unwellness.
An unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself & rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room & yet a world apart.
The ego thinks of a perfect relationship as one in which everybody shows a perfect face. But his is not necessarily so, b/c a show of strength is not always honest. It is not always a genuine expression of who we are. If I pretend to have it together in some area where I really don’t, I am fostering illusion about myself. I would only be doing this out of fear–fear that if you saw the truth about me, I would be rejected.
But spiritual progress is like detoxification. Things have to come up in order to be released. Once we have asked to be healed or to awaken, then our unhealed places are forced to the surface. A relationship can become a place where our blocks to love are not suppressed or denied, but rather brought into our conscious awareness. When we can see our dysfunctions clearly, then we can ask to be shown another way.
God’s idea of a “good relationship” and the ego’s idea of one are completely different. To the ego, a good relationship is one in which another person basically behaves the way we want them to and never presses our buttons, never violates our comfort zone. Thus why what we call love is often hate or at best robbery. Although we many not know it consciously, our search is often for someone who has what we think we don’t have and once we get it from them we’ll be ready to move on.
But if a relationship exists to support our growth, then in many ways it exists to push our buttons, violate our comfort zones, force us out of our limited tolerances & inability to love more deeply and consistently. There have been times in my life where my thought about a relationship was, “This is terrible,” but upon further reflection I realized God would probably be saying, “Oh this is good.” Marianne gets to see her own neuroses more clearly.
(Adapted from Marianne Williamson, “A Return to Love”)
. . . . . . .
Our thinking is like a child . . . sometimes it has to be redirected and steered back on course, sometimes it has to be disciplined and controlled a little, but above all it definitely needs attention paid to—it needs to be nurtured and exercised and taught and instructed, et cetera. It needs—meaning we need—good (meaning healthy, wise, caring, loving, understanding) intellectual and psychological role models if our own thinking and perception and psyche are to grow up right. When we don’t surround ourselves with healthy and wise and loving psychological and intellectual role models—or when we refuse the opportunity to—we are likely condemning ourselves to being raised by wolves or coming from “the wrong side of the tracks” psychologically and intellectually, and thereby, condemning ourselves to being much less than we can be—much less healthy and loving and wise than we can be.
Which is another reason I write long (-winded) posts. What I’m saying is important to me. And I hope (I would like to believe that) there are at least a few people who will bear the burden of my style (or lack of style and lack of editing) and find something important and even essential in what I write and that it will nourish and encourage and activate (help in some small or not so small way to bring to life) and stir, rouse, jar, awaken a similar region in them. As Emerson wrote: “The one thing in the world of value is the active soul—the soul free, sovereign, active. This every person is entitled to; this everyone contains within them, although in most people, it is obstructed and as yet unborn.” Everything I write and share is intended to move both myself and whoever happens to read what I write along in this direction. And if it does, great; but if it doesn’t, then please let me know where and how I have erred and could have done better.
And thank you for reading this post!