Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hell, We're All Just Cracking Up Over Here.

Last year, when I was thirty, I decided I was going to go on a spiritual journey. 

It was less of me living Eat, Pray, Love and more of me reading Eat, Pray, Love, but I think it still counted as a journey.

(Actual conversation between my mother and me:

Mom:  "How did you like Eat, Pray, Love?"

Me:  "I thought there were some amazingly good things in there.  But I also just wanted to tell the author, 'Fuck you.  Seriously, fuck you and fuck your unrealistically perfect ending that nobody in real life gets.'  But I'm really glad I read it."

Mom:  "Yeah, I felt the same way.")

One of the byproducts of my spiritual journey (which encompassed a lot more than reading one book, by the way) was a conscious awareness of the collective psyche - a recognition that moods, feelings, and states of being travel, grow, and morph among groups of people.  We all know this on an instinctive level; we've all experienced that universal atmosphere shift that hits when someone says or does something harmful in front of an audience (or, alternately, breaks the tension by saying something funny).  But I had not previously made it a priority to watch for it on a more subtle and sustained level in my daily life.

Another exciting skill I picked up (even if, admittedly, I don’t use it all the time…or maybe even a lot of the time) is detached observation – when, instead of reacting to other people directly from your emotions, you mentally stand behind your emotions.  In the same sweep, you can see both another person’s behavior and your reaction to it, allowing an opportunity for steadiness.  Detachment grants you a reprieve to determine where the emotions are coming from (you or the other person), if they’re real or fabricated, and whether you should ride them or let them pass.  

I suppose the difference between thirty and thirty-one is that while all that knowledge made thirty kind of fun (novelty! insight!), none of it has helped thirty-one be a happy year.  And that’s because adjusting one’s view of the world, while extraordinarily powerful, does not remove the world from one’s view.  

Over the weekend, I was in a situation that has become annoyingly familiar of late – I was being drug down.  I did what I often do in those instances:  I mentally stepped back.  I saw what was happening, why it was happening, and I understood where my reaction to it was coming from.

The problem was that still I felt drug down.   

There comes a point at which attempting to understand other people becomes moot, at which there ceases to be value in "understanding" at all.  I still feel it.  I feel the insecurities, the lies, the half-truths, and the vicious grip of competition that demands we tell each other who's better and happier and stronger.  I feel all of that regardless of any speculation on motivation.

It's possible, even, that all that time I spent magnificently reading the world from the back of my eye sockets was also spent projecting an air that the better, happier, stronger one was me.  If so, I'm sorry.  Because it's not.  

I don't have it figured out.  As soon as any of us thinks we have the answer to anything, everything changes.  The only assurance in life is that no matter how you live it, there will be ups and there will be downs.

If this year is teaching me anything, it's that people often come sharpest into view when at a peak or at a valley.   

I can only hope that I navigate my own peaks and valleys in a manner less destructive than so many who currently surround me.


  1. That is some beautiful writing.

    Sometimes, I wonder if I would be happier if I could stop thinking so much, but then, I also know that maybe I shouldn't or can't.

    Hang in there.


    1. I think there is a very valid argument to be made that people who think less are generally happier. But then I also think that people who think less lead much less rich lives, so it's a trade off...

      Generally speaking, I know have very, very good life, but no life is perfect. Sometimes there's beauty in imperfection and sometimes...there's just not.

      Thank you, and I hope things are well in your world right now. :)

  2. I can't think of anything to say right now but when I do I will.

    1. The inspiration for this was straight out of left field - totally didn't see it coming.

      But I've gotten a lot of insight into a lot of people in my life recently, so while this particular person may have triggered me to write, the overall theme here applies to many, many individuals. It's been an interesting 2013 so far...