The Questions of my Heart…

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.”
― C.G. Jung

Ah! What peculiar creatures we are… Us humans and our intrinsic egocentric need to “matter”, to be of some notoriety, of some importance or to be somehow “special” and superior to our fellow men and creation, to have dominion not only of ourselves but our surroundings….
Irreparably we live in a culture plagued by the illusion of separateness, of “every man for himself”, and so we are encouraged and driven to some extent by the need to compete in every possible manner even if only partially acting out on this sometimes unconscious programming…
But nowadays it seems to be our daily bread… The media is a constant unrelenting broadcaster of these pernicious arbitrary yet rigid assessments we pass on each other, every news article can be condensed more or less to be a rundown of who’s “succeeding” and who’s “failing” at the game of life, who should be admired and emulated and who’s to inspire in us disgust and should shamed or feared, this manoeuvres taking place both in an intimate personal level in our everyday interactions and on a large sphere in between nations or other social groupings…
We are constantly reminded of this virtual running score of who (as individuals and collectives) has got the most of (insert an infinite variable of any given possession or asset)… Who’s the wealthiest, strongest, smartest, kindest or even baddest… We are so quick to judge and look at the speck in our neighbours eye while simultaneously consoling our own insecurities as we strive to be the “righteous ones”, who, even if we only admit to it partially, want to have it all, know it all and want it now, guaranteed.

It seems to be part of our mere human nature that we are driven by a thirst to conquer our surroundings, to achieve quantitive knowledge, and immediate measurable results all the while suffering from a desperate silent need for the certainty that our grand life plans will be realised and that after all, there must be a reasonable satisfying explanation behind all our otherwise absurd toiling, that the lives we lead “mattered” somehow, and that once we have long been buried underground we will not be forgotten, that we won’t just vanish into the eternal unknown as if we had never even existed but that hopefully, some form of legacy will remain in remembrance or to the very least perhaps merely our memory will “live on” in the minds of others …

We live in a culture where being “ordinary” is classed an insult and to be considered “nothing especial” is to be cursed… It seems that with each passing generation this problem entrenches to the extent that in our increasingly narcissistic, “selfie” driven culture, notoriety, approval, admiration of some sort seem to be the driving forces behind a lot of the commonplace routine interactions and enterprises structuring our society…To live a quiet, reserved life, to pursue an “alternative lifestyle”, free of societal expectations and influences is an anomaly, and a sure way to be granted the grand tittle of “outcast” or colloquially speaking a “weirdo” or “loser” who’s sanity is put on the balance…
It seems to be an irrefutable truth, that as humans we are all dotted with the inbred need to know ourselves to be of some importance, we all want to be cherished and be the “anointed ones”, and that’s ok, it’s part of our human character and we are after all remarkable beings…. But the glitch lays in that when confronted with our actual insignificance and impotence when faced with the grand impositions of not only life and the world as we know it, but also with the unsettling knowing of our eventual looming demise, we freak out and seek out shelter in our “reason” by constructing intellectual fortresses and armours and holding onto some form of “safety blanket” to try and alleviate or distract us from the inevitable discomforting anxiety we feel in the face of a future by nature ambiguous and indocile, maybe a little too much for our liking.
However, regardless of our preferences, that seem to be the structure of the timeline of life; a promising magic casket containing an abundance of infinite dormant possibilities but yet also a finite one, with a limited number of permanent, inedible possible realisations…
In this scenario, our “safety blankets” wouldn’t be a problem if only they provided a real answer to our existential enquiries instead of being band-aid/dummy solution offering only temporary relief and perhaps unwillingly, as a side effect fortifying the actual wound even more since the cause is left untreated… These “safety blankets” or foe cures, look different for everyone of course, some of us find comfort in amassing earthly fortunes, others in attaining “prestige”, reaching some sort of respect or admiration from our peers, some sort of fame. Others feel alleviation when exercising some sort of power or control, others seek shelter in the presence and validation of others through pursuing relationships, romantic or otherwise… Or some of us by dedicating our intellects to science or any other subject we’ve deemed as worthy… As well as devoting our talents to the arts or some other craft we find purposeful…

It seems that even if we were blessed with having attentive parents and sensible mentors who from conception and throughout our formative years asserted our worth and did their best to lay the solid foundations for healthy self-esteem, we simply can’t escape the shrewd appraisal of the social structure we operate in, which as soon as we have full use of our faculties demands from us to “prove our worth” in some way and burdens us with the burning question of why it is we even came into this world? Some arrive at this conclusion either through their own self deduction often in the face of difficulties or others when being bluntly challenged with the query by an outside entity nonetheless it seems none of us can evade this nagging itch.

And so we’ve become these species of conglomerated lone rangers, all baffled busily walking our own strict business of high importance, oblivious to each other’s common pain, not recognising in each other our shared humanity, silently bearing this mutual existential enigma… And so through life, even if only unconsciously, we strive to “justify our existence” and make up or find a meaning (or in some cases absolve ourselves of the question which is in itself an answer) as we best see fit, one which satisfies our intellects and settles our souls? As aforementioned these “safety blankets”, some form of formal religiosity, scientism, humanistic, nihilistic or hedonistic dogmas are just some of the mediums through which we attempt to soothe our souls…. And so from the beginning we’ve unconsciously absorbed the implied message that maybe we are all just trivial mishaps of nature, genetic mutations born barren into a competitive, discriminatory terrain where only the “fittest” survive and so we must be productive and make ourselves useful, legitimise our lives and increase our chances of survival… And so the eternal striving and grasping begins…

It seems to me, that in these times we live in we find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum. The “dog eat dog”, “every man for himself”, “survival of the fittest” dogma which seems to be primordial and dominate the workings of our modern western world is in my view totally absurd and self defeatist. The reality is that we are a collective of temporal very fallible and sensitive beings yet we demand of each other and of ourselves to be literarily bullet proof, perfectly working omnipotent specimens. Furthermore, we expect or aim for at least some aspect of our existence to be transcendent and go on for ever, almost as if we intended to transform ourselves into the Gods many of us have renounced… So when confronted with the reality of our own flawed mortality there’s nothing we crave more than compassion and acceptance, connection and union, love, despite our evident shortcomings, but sadly these are the very things our own egocentric tendencies, customs and self constructed armours fight against and prevent from being realised.

Sadly, it seems that this materialistic profit-driven western world offers nothing to alleviate this deep existential hollow all of it’s citizens carry, but on the contrary it seems to be programmed and operate in a way which aims to negate and often dilates this latent blank space… Sadly, it’s quite obvious that we live in a culture which encourages competition and discord not only with neighbours but starting with ourselves…
Naturally, this disapproval and dissatisfaction with our own being carries onto our interactions with others…

Sadly, I know it’s not just me who’s for too long suffered from the infectious “not good enough” epidemic. For years I too was a subscriber to the perpetual hourly bulletins this society bombards us with, selling us the current and ever changing ideals of “perfection” being promoted at any given time…
Sadly, almost from birth I too swallowed this bitter pill, its destructive intoxicating effects only becoming stronger with the passing years… And so for most of my life I walked around in a state of blind deception, resigned to solemnly believing I had to justify my existence because I, as I was, was not ok, there was something inherently wrong with me… what exactly that was I wasn’t quite sure, but it didn’t matter anyway, all I knew is at any minute the jig would be up and I’d be found out, ridiculed and vanished into a corner of the universe where all of the “not good enoughs” go. And so my life became a constant and arduous DYI self-improvement project… An improvised stand up routine where everyday I put all my might into upholding the different masks I tried to juggle, constantly switching into different characters for my expectant and demanding audience to judge and value, review and categorise as worthy or not, A+ or merely a B… All the while, the leading actor, the “real me”, my “true self”, was never to be revealed. Whatever that “true me” was, at that point I didn’t even know anymore… The only thing I believed is that whoever that self was, could never be pretty enough, clever enough, thin enough, wealthy enough, kind enough etc etc… And so I became a dazed and confused stranger forever running from my own shadow…

I wish I could say that one I woke up and casually stumbled upon the antidote to cure my malady, but the truth is the road and quest for recovery has been and continuous to be more like a tumultuous high speed chase for the holy grail of “self acceptance” and peace of mind. Fortunately, I know Im not the only one who’s had the realisation that maybe this quest for perfection and superiority is futile. So instead of trying to fight my humanity, my imperfection why not accept it and even embrace it. Instead of always trying to outdo my neighbour why not help each other along the way, why not love?… Because it’s not our first or learnt response, but it’s always an option and for me love has been the answer, it’s being the light against the darkness of mere being.

After many years stumbling around in the shadows, blindly trying to “make something of myself”, trying out many different “safety blankets”, looking for a potion to quench the yearnings of my soul, it was only after I had exhausted all my options and had no bullets left that I had to put down my armour and do the one thing I hadn’t dared to do before. To cease all striving, call a truce and raise my white flag, only then I was free to the most simple yet most revolutionary thing I ever did, to turn to love. The answer I’d been looking for had lied within me all along, always being within mine or anyone’s reach, yet sadly more often than not its foregone… Maybe because it’s often misunderstood, seen as weak and dainty or infantile, a myth only valid for fairy tales or Hollywood films, a fleeting fluffy feeling we sometimes experience… When really, it’s the most powerful earthshaking, word-transforming power we all carry within us, if only we chose to honour and embrace it… The answer, love, being the only antidote towards all the indifference and frivolous inequity we encounter in this world.

I’ve now made peace with myself, both my light and my shadow. I now see the idea of “perfection” for what it is, a handicapping belief keeping us from fully experiencing life, from realising our full potential afraid we won’t live up to a certain ideal… Truth is there’s nothing wrong with making “mistakes”, with being different from the norm and breaking the mould…
I’m not perfect and I don’t expect to be. In fact I now see that’s it’s in my imperfection, in my idiosyncrasies where my unique power lies. It’s truly through my cracks that the light gets in. I’m broken and I needed to be so I could break free.

It feels amazing to say that I’m now ok in my own company. I don’t need anyone else to validate me or entertain me. I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m perfectly comfortable spending a Friday night in the company of my tranquil self and perhaps a good book rather than feeling guilty or pressure to be out and about “hitting the town” in the company of a million strangers engaging in social rituals I find no real enjoyment in… Societal expectations no longer seem to have the impact they once did. I’ve realised now there’s really no guidebook to follow or script I must stick to, it’s up to me to to create my own path and write my own book, and it’s doesn’t matter if it makes sense to others or not as long as I’m living and writing from my heart, all things in love. After so many years feeling like a stranger inhabiting an alien body I can finally say I’m at peace in my own skin, and I can breath deep down into my belly. Sure the future, is still uncertain, I’m well aware that I’m living in a very opinionated sometimes intimidating world, but I can now relax into the flow of existence knowing that no matter what the future holds it’ll be alright. There’s no need to walk around inflamed, geared up and armed for battle because I’m not here to fight, I’m here to love, myself, my messy existence and everything else in this truly quirky whimsical world…
I’ve realised I don’t need to do anything to prove my worth, life is so much more than a rat race, a pageant or stage play. I’ve realised there’s nothing I could achieve, no earthly fortune, no amount of fame or “success” that could satisfy if I’m not satisfied with my naked self, full stop.
I’ve realised I don’t need to make anything of myself, I’m already whole. I don’t know need to build an empire or a fortress where I may rule supreme, truth is the natural world is already a majestic wonderland I’m not called to conquer but to submerge into and integrate… I don’t need to try and control or manipulate others or my surroundings but instead embrace, become one and amalgamate into the flowing dance of life. I don’t know if my memory will go on living after I die, and it doesn’t matter for this one life I’m already experiencing and the memories I carry in my heart are more than enough. I don’t know if I can change this material world we live in and I don’t intend to, but the truth is I can certainly change my world and make it a loving place, if I can do that and in some way help change someone’s else too, I’d consider my work done.
I’ve realised I will never be next Einstein, Nietzsche or mother Theresa, Luther King, Picasso or even Michael Jackson (insert any other well-known icon) and that’s ok. I’m called to be nothing other than me… And maybe that’s what the world needs, people who are not afraid to be themselves and let their true colours shine with all their might.

So now, my only task is to have loving compassion for my flawed self, everything that I am and not as well as my mirrored neighbour. I’ve realised we are all in this together, we are all part of the same family, living this puzzling temporary human existence we at first know nothing about and try to figure out as we go along… I’ve realised that deep down we are all feeling just as overwhelmed and isolated, deep down inside we all just want to be loved and treasured, and why wouldn’t given the intricate, wondrous and forever enigmatic creations we are? Despite our fallibilities, despite our massive egos and tendency to turn on each other….

So I’ve chosen to take up love as my shining light as I navigate this excitingly uncertain life…
I’ve learnt that there’s no need to fear the future or my brother, I’ve learnt that by paying attention and taking loving care of the present, the future will take care of itself. I’ve learnt that as long as I’m living in awareness and present in each moment, living true to my heart and the values I hold dear not a borrowed ideal of a “good life” everything will be alright… So now I’m putting my feet firmly on the ground and standing true to myself and pursuing my own idea of a live well lived,  fully inhabiting my body and being present to experience all the joys and all the heartbreak, the thrilling vulnerability of life…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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