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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

REPLAY: The absense of control/The sweetness of solitude

I wrote this blog in March, and I feel it was a very crucial part of where I am now and how I got here. Looking back, it's intriguing to see my own history from slightly altered eyes. I think when we can do that, we gain a spectacular insight into who we are and who we want to be.

One shouldn’t know just how to percieve our own life. The reason I say "should never" is because I feel that having any sort of handle on our lives (where we are, where we are going, why we are going there), while these are all great ideas to have, they spoil the innocent joy of how we live our life.

Consider a good story you’ve heard, a good book, good movie, or a good song. Think back to the first time you heard it. Do you remember having an idea about what you thought it was going to be? Maybe you did, and you were pleasantly surprised. Maybe you did, and you were reassured in your choice you made to watch this movie. Maybe you knew nothing about it, and were stunned that this was out here, and you knew nothing about it.

Now think back to the second time you heard this story. The third time. If it’s a really good story, you enjoy it every time, but you still never quite gain the mistique of having heard it for the first time.

Can we apply this principle to our own lives? Is it safe to say that we can wander through our own lives, on the one hand making the decisions that make us happy, truly happy, setting goals that will help us find an even greater happiness and sense of self? I believe it is, and I think having everything pre-destined, while a noble ideal, leaves something to be desired in the essense of life.

Imagine going on a backpacking trip and seeing something you’ve never seen before in the solitude of the wilderness. Imagine the first time you were on an airplane or the first time you went to a different state or a different country. Imagine your first road trip, your first pet, your first child...

Imagine your hardest times. The times you’ve felt yourself tested, challenged, pushed beyond what you knew to be your own personal limits of existance. Think back to the times when you knew you couldn’t make it one more day without something giving way to all of the weight of the world that you were carrying on your shoulders.

I would hope that if you’re reading this, you’re still here. Somehow you made it through those difficult times. You’ve answered the calls of the challenges and met them, and chances are, you’re a different person now then you were.

You didn’t plan for the bad things to happen. They just do. And you cope with them, you grapple with them in the depths of your soul and show return to the every-day workings of your life as new and improved and better than you were, even if you are now stained glass instead of an open window.

I feel happiness should be the same way. I feel like happiness shouldn’t be planned as much as met with open arms in the midst of everything that goes wrong or awry in our lives. I beleive that when we map out the courses of our own paths through life, we lose some of the flavor of what it is to be overcome by happiness, only leaving room for the undeniable realities of grief and suffering.

I believe that it’s arrogant of us as humans to expect that everything is going to be okay and that bad things interrupt the flow of the good. I think that particular philosophy robs us of our abilities to learn from the difficult times, an prohibits us from learning even more from the good times.

Every aspect of our life has the potential to be unknown territory, the potential to be new and exciting or challenging. I don’t think that trying to funnel your life into a very narrow track of the typical "career, family, financial security, etc." allows you to branch out and experience the weird sensations that may lie just beyond the outside of the funnel.

I suppose with this rant, all I can do is encourage you not to be scared. Maybe I have no right to encourage anything. Maybe this is a blog about me being scared and afraid to branch out and seek my own truths about some questions that are bigger than me. However, I know for certain, that there arecertain parts of this universe that have to be negative, even if simply for the idea of balance. I feel obliged to tell the stories, to boast the good deads and gently utter the not-good.

However, I am not afraid to let go of my control. Do not be afraid to go boldly into the unknown, to trust the lack of control. Whatever happens, I have to believe that despite the losses and wickedness, there are lessons, too, to be learned from the random and overwhelming good that exists when you forfiet control.

Do not be afraid.

"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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