So, I went for a long walk last night. Wasn’t my original intention. I was just planning on going home. But there was a lot stewing about in my brain. The night was mild…not the usual spring evening filled with potential energy teetering on the cusp of activation, but a comfortable open darkness. No one was about and when cutting through the common, I headed east instead of home, craving the opportunity to be alone out in the world.
Rote motion has always been key to me working through pieces of my innards, some bit of my brain needs to be engaged in order to let the rest of me out. Everything from driving on the freeway to dropping trees with an ax have become my vehicles for dynamic self experience. I ended up almost completely at the end of the neck before I realized it, which didn’t please my pre-arthritic feet when the time came to go home, especially since I still owed the dog her daily mile. (Well, a mile for me, around four for her!)
Words haunt me sometimes. Phrases that I’ve read can stick in my brain for years on end. Frequently, this happens when an idea that is succinctly expressed is important to my own experience in a way that I’m not yet ready to understand. Many of these seeds combined with some of the conversations and experiences that I’ve had in the last few weeks, and presented themselves to be examined. You’ll have to bear with me as I pull these seeds in, so if you find referencing intolerable (and I kind of do myself, despite the atrocity that follows), this may not be the blog for you. All these thoughts are associated, but in a pattern more parallel than a linked path to follow towards conclusion. (interpretation: that means I’m about to ramble 😉 )
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders;
;I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.
Ben Franklin believed in the certainty of death and taxes, as a child I believed in pain and lack of control…these elements of life were very full of proof. Sanity was protected through a state of being called Endurance. It is not possible to endure by thinking about the end of your current state. One must accept the here and now as chronic, never beginning, never ending. Dreams of a better life, in this situation, are toxic. I read an interview with a POW who had spent a great amount of time in captivity1. He said that the ones who died quickly were those who carried the hopeful thought "I’ll be home by…." Christmas, summer, or in two years, doesn’t matter the time. When the benchmark came and went, they were goners. The ones who dwelled on life before their captivity were also quickly eaten up and destroyed. The change in circumstance, when compared to the relative happiness of freedom from pain was intolerable.
He said that those who survived believed in the end of captivity in the same way that we believe in deities, life after death, and the paranormal. A reason for hope, and a reason to survive, but not something that the individual can affect through either belief or action. Survivors had to accept that the future was nebulous and out of their hands, and instead set their minds to their one and only important job: surviving.
There’s a key difference when I apply this to myself…they were adults, but as a child this was my development state: therefore I have little experience in knowing other ways to be. There’s good in this—I continue to survive. I’m proud of it, even. But enduring can also be called waiting. Opportunities for life have come and gone, and here I sit, enduring, waiting, and observing. There have been several times when I have found false paths out of this state, and worked hard in what I believed to be a path towards humanity, trying to value the concerns and investments of those I saw around me who were not caught in an emotional limbo. Those values were not my own, hence the paths ended in tangly brambles and ‘proved’ that the time was not now, the person was not yet me. The only skills I have on this earth are the assimilation of data and the ability to work hard. That has not yet proven enough. Return to waiting, return to endurance, return to separation.
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Love is anterior to life
Posterior to death,
Initial of creation, and
The exponent of breath.
Seemingly unrelated, the ways in which interactions between people gives birth to greatness and tragedy never ceases to amaze me. I am continually filled with surprise and awe at the puzzle of humanity. It amazes me even more in those rare moments when I find it in myself. Through a slow battering, my time here has brought my mind to a conclusion that leaves me twisting in the wind. The fierce joy of living can only be discovered through people, including the experience of ourselves. All great pain that I have experienced has come to me through people, internal and external. It’s logical to avoid pain when you can, and endure it when you can’t. And yet, that pain avoidance has produced joy avoidance as well. Are there great joys to be had without acknowledging the state of being a critter on this earth? One who can only discover the essence of what makes life more than breathing through accepting that there is a brotherhood of confusing flawed individuals like yourself? Even laughter, that great balm, is more easily found in company. Is there delight at all without delight in others, and in doing so appreciation of self?
If this is the case, I’m in big trouble.
I suppose we only have one question to answer…Do you want to live or do you want to die?
Commit yourself!! Commit yourself!!
For me, the eternal unanswered question. And hence I sit in limbo, crying hey ho for an answer, demanding it of that small frightened thing called a soul. I’m afraid the time is fast approaching when I must commit, fill myself with the state of being and join the battle of life. After thirty odd years in a state of little-death, the downfalls of mere survival are becoming intolerable. I know what I want the answer to be. I’m afraid that I’m not equal to it.
The time to decide is not yet. But it looms closer than it ever has before. If I can see the end approaching, then I have left the state of endurance, right? So now I delve into myself in search of courage.
If you made it this far…my you ARE bored, aren’t you? 🙂 My apologies to haras’ operating system.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
1. Sorry, I don’t remember the original source–and as a result, may be garbling a bit. Who cares?
2. Karen Reak’s mother…teaching her to drive.