Cyclic Sanity (Take II)

Once we obtain a level of realisation regarding the finite nature of life, or rather, knowing without doubt that death is approaching, we will realise the time that is passing without us exploiting its opportunities sufficiently. When we consider that against the knowledge and skills we may have acquired up to that point, we realise how fickle our focus on life may be.

If we truly believe in the ephemeral nature of life, and we claim to serve a higher purpose, then it dictates that we should endeavour to ensure that every skill or resource that we have that can benefit others must be brought to bear in their benefit. If we don’t, we’re insincere in our conviction of purpose, selfish in our endeavors, and undeserving of investment from others.

Why then are we so easily distracted from this purpose? I believe it lies in the continued cycles of sanity that we subscribe to. We have developed an unhealthy fixation on time. Everything we do is measured in hours, minutes, or seconds. We see our lives through the cycles of birthdays that pass, and relationships in the context of anniversaries to determine its success. More recently we’ve been distracted by the annual commemorations of days earmarked to recognise the value of significant others in our lives. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the insanity continues. But none of this would be an issue if it wasn’t for the distraction it instills in us.

I’ve always believed that if it was not for entropy, time would be irrelevant. Yet we’re still more focused on time spent, than the progression of entropy in everything inside and around us. Coupled with this distraction is the conditioning that leads us to believe that there is age appropriate behaviour that is expected of us. Those that wish to be accepted by society willingly subscribe to these stereotypes, while those that don’t are often shunned or inadvertently isolated, or at the least, become entertainers.

The combination of such conditioning and the distraction of time robs us of the very essence of life. Imagine a world where time was in fact irrelevant? Entropy would still exist, but then our measure of the quality of our lives will not be in how much quality time is spent with our family, but rather how much of our health and wellbeing did we expend in their benefit or enjoyment. Yet, we are caught in a cycle that insists that the best years of our health must be expended in amassing enough wealth so that our twilight years which are most often accompanied by ill health and fatigue is available for our indulgences in life. The logic is simply illogical.

The reality is, we do live in a world where time is irrelevant, except when we give it significance. It’s yet another distraction that we use to ensure that we’re apparently not distracted from the task at hand. And that’s part of the problem. We’re so task focused, and time aware, that most of what we do eventually becomes a chore, the cycles bed down deeper, and freedom of expression and indulgence is considered within the norms that we subscribe to in order to be accepted, validated, affirmed, or all of the above all the while bemoaning the constraints that society places on us.

When will we realise that we are society. We defined the rules that burdens our souls. The same rules weaken our resolve and discourage individual accountability so that we constantly shift the blame to the collective, while denying that we form part of it.

I do not subscribe to age appropriate behaviour, nor do I believe in a work life balance the way it is traditionally perceived. But that is a topic for another day. Right now, it feels like I’m wasting too much time bleeding my thoughts into a post that will largely go unnoticed leaving me lacking in affirmation or validation, resulting in the stress of unfulfilment building in the bile that slowly erodes the lining of my stomach leaving me aching for acceptance so that I won’t have a need to feed on myself while denouncing my significance in a world that doesn’t care. Because I don’t care. And that is exactly the point we miss. Each day, every day, as we continue on that treadmill now fitted with an interactive LED display to feign the experience of movement while running like a hamster in our efforts to be at the top of the pile (pun intended).

Life awaits.

Double Standards

The hypocrisy of society is reflected in its inclination to chastise individuals for being individuals while declaring that we should all be respected for our right to be so. The individuals among us are often belittled and ridiculed when we seek to encourage change because of a notion that if we try to achieve more, we’re automatically assuming a level of aloofness that undermines the validity of our neighbour’s struggles. The only time we’re allowed to be bold is if a presently recognised authority or personality (a.k.a. uninformed celebrity) bestows such acknowledgement on us as well.

We are a mentally lethargic society that seeks direction from academics and political leaders alike in our assessment of the merits of anyone’s argument, before we will apply a meagre dose of courage to actually think for ourselves. The distractions have become the substance, and substance is rarely recognised any longer. Too many times have I found myself being ridiculed for holding alternate views about a common misconception only to later see the same pea-brained bodies propagating the very same view because it was suddenly associated with a public figure. Public figure, celebrity, academic, and the like should not be mistaken for an informed source or an independent mind.

We have become masters at producing templates for individuals to adopt, and those that don’t adopt our templates are discarded as irrelevant. Our templates are disguised as frameworks and free thinking models, associated with a farce of freedom of expression, embellished with unspoken limits which, once crossed, finds the transgressor stripped of any credibility that they may have previously enjoyed in those superficial circles. It’s a matter of first winning the popular vote, and then being able to sway opinion, rather than winning the popular vote because you have an opinion.

This is not a vent, nor a cry for sanity to prevail, both of which would be futile anyway. This is merely an attempt to state the obvious, because far too often we miss the obvious in our efforts to appear informed or introspective. Stating the obvious without demonstrating any personal conviction in the process (unless you’re a celebrity) may afford you a rare opportunity to actually influence the minds of those around you to challenge the reality that they take for granted. Of course, even if they do pause for a moment while seriously contemplating the gravity of your observation, their moment of pause is often quickly followed by a nonchalant shrug waiting patiently for an endorsement of the truth they just contemplated before they find reason to act on it.

Those that act on a recognised truth independent of such endorsement quickly fill the ranks of the individuals that shalt not be. They are the eccentrics, or the weird ones. The ones that apparently don’t get it because everyone disagrees with them, while they smirk internally and smile politely externally having realised that a lost sheep will forever remain lost if their only sense of direction can be obtained from a shepherd. And all the while, the sheep will be goaded on to think for themselves and exercise their right to freedom of expression, provided they express themselves within the norms that have been deemed acceptable by the tokens that rule their brainwaves.

Yet another case of pervasive ignorance parading as collective wisdom. Or more importantly, the sane man appearing insane in front of an insane society.

An Overdue Brain Dump

I am who I am as a matter of consequence, not design. It is not the independent process of destiny that has defined me, but instead my interaction with it. My choices have allowed me to contribute towards my future rather than passively waiting to see what may come to pass. It is a reality that few share with me. Most are pacifists in their lives, but aggressors in the lives of others. We tend to over compensate for our weaknesses by projecting the reasons for our failures on those around us. At the core, it is this that prompts me to share my thoughts about the failings and successes of my life. However, as I am often reminded, you need a receptive heart to be able to communicate what you truly feel or think. The thoughts flow easier when you have that receptive audience. Otherwise the ramblings remain your own and the words create a veneer of the truth without ever revealing the truth itself.
When I feel as if this endeavour is pointless, or that it does not add value, or that it is more self-indulgent than it is constructive, that is when I consider if it is a worthwhile use of my time and energy or would it be better for me to apply myself to something that will actually benefit others. To delete or not to delete. That thought crosses my mind often.
Writing is therefore not my companion. It’s more a plea for sanity to prevail. My sanity to prevail. And when the probability of that happening seems slim or non-existent, I question the rationale behind using this avenue for that plea. It’s not as self-indulgent as it may appear. We all go through life appealing for our sanity to prevail, but we lose sight of exactly that fact. That it is our perception of sanity and not necessarily the sanity that the next person experiences. And so we grow aggressive or despondent in the process, depending on how stubborn or weak we choose to be.
Gaining the credentials that are worshipped by the masses will make this endeavour significantly easier to pursue. The membership that is supposedly a reflection of intelligence. The token badge that is supposed to be a meaningful measure of our ability to regurgitate what we’re fed in a way that it is expected to be regurgitated, and if we regurgitate it correctly, then we get rewarded. If we apply a measure of independent thought or creativity beyond the predetermined tolerance level, we’re punished. So I don’t care for the credentials, and I’m ambivalent about soliciting the affirmation or validation of those that do have the credentials because the source of those credentials belong to the very system that I am critically opposed to.
The true ambivalence comes in when I realise that it will be that much more difficult to make any significant progress without their endorsement in some form or another. I spurn that system. I believe it started out with good intent, but has morphed into an elitist club that suggests that you’re incompetent by default unless you have a membership badge that they deem authentic. The tokenism that accompanies it is exactly what I despise. So even though I agree that it will make the path easier, which I have often considered as an option, at this point my conviction on that subject doesn’t allow me to become part of the very system whose legitimacy I am challenging. I know, ambitious, but nonetheless, if I am going to be true to myself, then I need to find another way of being heard.
Another consideration that often dogs my mind is the need to single out an area of thought leadership or influence and to focus on that rather than being so generalised in the breadth of topics that I tend to delve into. Do I contemplate the human condition, religion, emotions, or spirituality, or do I contemplate the whole?  I do not wish to single out only one area of influence, and I accept that this further adds to the risks of not being heard. But my life’s obsession has been exactly around how all that comes together seamlessly in our lives, and that we become somewhat dysfunctional when we try to pursue or view them individually. It is the whole that I hope to define more critically, and not just one of its components. That is why I deliberately weave in thoughts grounded in religious traditions that demonstrate its practical value beyond just its religious affiliations.
I do not seek to understand others. They become easy for me to understand as I grow to know myself more intimately. Every observation I make is grounded in my observations of my own experiences, and how I related to the circumstances and challenges that I see others facing. And perhaps in that is the reasons why I needed, and continue to experience so many colourful events of betrayal in my life. It has given me a broader context from which to draw lessons compared to most people I know, or have met. By extrapolating the lessons I’ve learnt in those permutations of life that I experienced, it automatically gives me a knowledge base against which to develop those concepts and extend those principles into a much broader array of life experiences.
So in short, my understanding of people is based on my innate need to pay attention to the details of my own failures. And perhaps in some small way therein lies the blessings of the challenges of my life. I do not spurn the knowledge that may be contained in individuals that have come through the system of tokenism. I spurn the system itself. So while I am against obtaining a membership badge for purposes of opening doors, I am always happy to expand my knowledge from whichever quarters may spawn it, including that contaminated system that is so blindly celebrated.
I am by no means sufficient to myself. If I were, I would have no need for receptive hearts, nor will I need to engage with others in order to identify my own flaws in them. Do not try to define me. You will not be successful at such an attempt. I am anomalous. I take pride in my anomalous nature. I do not wish to constrain myself in line with traditional views of how we should be pigeon-holed by society. Despite how often I use the word, my emphasis is not on “I”. My focus instead is on ensuring that I do not give anyone any reason to believe that I am providing them with ‘academically derived’ perspectives, but instead, that I am relating my personal experiences to them and using that as the source against which they may find common ground relative to their own life experiences.
The ultimate goal of this approach is to prove that each person, if only they are observant enough, carry with them the wisdom and insight that I hope to impart. So if anything, it should be empowering, rather than a distraction towards supposed self-centricity. In addition to that, it is also an admission that I do not believe that I am special beyond the average person, and that I am convinced that every person possesses the same capacity for observation and insight if only they remove the distractions that blind them from these truths.

When Love Fades

That first look, when eyes meet, minds align, that moment when you find yourself appreciating a random moment of beauty with a total stranger. In that moment your hearts connect, a yearning of a thousand years collides and it prompts a moment of unexpected euphoria that leaves your knees in search of support, and your mouth agape with wonder. What follows is usually an indulgence of each other, sometimes only intellectually, but often physically as well. In those moments perfection was not sought. Perfection was not even a conscious consideration because the feeling inside made all such standards irrelevant. The unsightly spots, the skin blemishes, the dishevelled hair, or the mismatched clothing all faded from view because that desire of a thousand years was suddenly fulfilled. It didn’t leave enough energy to recede to a safe distance in order to measure what we were presented with. We allowed ourselves to connect, because that connection was always infinitely more important than the lustful satisfaction of two perfectly toned bodies embracing. But then it fades, seemingly for no reason.

That feeling of love, infatuation, amazement, wonder, awe and all those other beautiful sensations don’t just disappear as a natural cycle. Look at any old couple that have kept the love alive in their relationship and you’ll see that it simply is not true. The wisdom of love lies not in knowing what to do when that happens in order to save what once existed. Knowing what to do. Just the thought of that sounds far too deliberate and onerous to make it joyful.

Instead, the wisdom of love lies is in being consistently true to the image you portrayed when you first met the one you claimed to have loved. You see, we present ourselves in a way that makes us most attractive or appealing when we find ourselves in the company of those by whom we wish to be admired or accepted. It is an aspirational desire. The insincere will quickly revert to their default disposition of being less than that the moment they feel that they either accomplished the goal of winning said admiration or acceptance, or if they believe that it is a futile effort. That is when the love fades.

It fades when you think that your best is not deserved any longer. It fades when you think that being lethargic, distracted, or otherwise inclined is more warranted than the giving of your attention in the same measures as you did when you first met. We confuse love with lust far too often. It is the lust that fades. Lust will fade if we grow intellectually and spiritually. That growth automatically demands fulfilment of a different kind. People don’t grow euphoric with physical stimulation, but rather with intellectual or spiritual fulfilment. Euphoria is a feeling of the heart, not the loins. The loins breed lust and indulgence, not euphoria. How many lay there emotionally detached while fulfilling the rights of their lovers while faking it? The absence of the heart renders any physical act impotent.

When we expect the loins to fulfil what the heart needs, we delude ourselves into believing that physical attraction is more important than spiritual beauty. Relationships don’t go through natural cycles of decay. There is nothing natural about us losing interest in the one we’re with. That only happens when we grow separately, or when one grows and the other doesn’t. That is when love fades. And don’t be fooled into believing that it is anything more complex than that simple truth. Love fades when we leave the ones we love behind, or when the ones we love choose not to continue on the path that we set out on. That is when love fades. And then we set out in search of trinkets to distract ourselves in order to remain loyal to a cause that has long since lost any of the substance it once contained.

Love fades when you stop caring. You stop caring when you stop paying attention. You stop paying attention when that which attracted you is no longer available, or you’ve outgrown the wonder that it offers. Perhaps that is why it is said that it is not love that keeps a relationship going, but commitment. But even that is not enough, because at some point, the cost of remaining committed will outweigh the benefits of the commitment.

The Reciprocation of Trust

The strange irony of not being able to trust others is that it inherently makes you untrustworthy. If we just set aside our egos for a minute, we’ll quickly realise that trusting others is not a reflection of their integrity, but is in fact a reflection of our sincerity, or lack thereof. I think it goes something like this. We start the cycle by reaching out and wanting to trust another. They recoil at the thought of the burden that such a trust imposes on them because they doubt their ability to live up to the expectations that accompanies such trust. We see this as rejection, and recoil as well. So the next time someone reaches out to us to trust, we recoil at the recollection of that previous betrayal from another because we need to protect ourselves from such rejection again, leaving the one reaching out with the distinct impression that they were just rejected. They repeat the cycle in their little world of influence, and before you know it, everyone is recoiling from everyone else and the world becomes a shitty place.

The cycle can’t be wished away. We can’t sit idle expecting others to trust us if we’re not willing to reciprocate that trust. I’ve seen the deflection a million times or more. People hiding behind the fact that no one understands their reality so it’s all just flowery language no matter how sincere the advice or the gesture to connect or support. Strange how once again, through such a detrimental self-image, we architect our own demise with those around us. We sit bitterly complaining to the world through our inaction and disengagement waiting for someone to magically lift us out of our doldrums because that’s what our fairy tale upbringing has taught us. But we slip further into despair when we reject every extended hand because it didn’t come in the right shape, size, colour, or packaging that we wanted.

It reminds me of the parable of the man that complained to God that he was not being rescued by God in his moment of tribulation, after he rejected every hand that was extended to facilitate his rescue. He wanted to see the hand of God extended, but refused to accept that it was extended through others. The point is, we’re so full of crap most of the time that we judge the extended hand because the body that extends it does not meet our fairy tale perceptions of what it should look like. It’s no different to the denial of answers from others even when we don’t have the answers ourselves.

The hypocrisy of it all erodes our self-worth in ways we only realise when we find ourselves face down in the dirt suddenly yearning for the most feeble of extended hands that we previously rejected, because at that point any hand will do. But our egos prevent us from recognising this slide into despondency because throughout that process we’re busy protecting ourselves from the reality of our fears. Funny how it all starts with the simple act of trusting, but so quickly slides into a cess pool of self-imposed depression because we failed to recognise our insincerity while blaming others for their apparent dishonesty.

(This is an incomplete thought process…and this new editor in WP sucks!)

Holystic Healing

It’s so interesting (read ‘entertaining’) to note how people convince themselves that everything is solved through faith and struggle. It’s probably one of the cleverest disguises of feigning strength that I’ve come across. You see, the moment we profess to be answering to a higher calling in our efforts to rid ourselves of our demons, people are automatically obliged to show reverence for our beliefs, which puts any criticism or analysis off limits. But even that is not the most important part of all this because what lies beneath, as always, is what really counts.

Most people I meet are so proud of their ability to cloak their true emotions that it’s become a source of strength for them. The irony is just, astounding. We find strength in reinforcing our weaknesses! Just the reality of that statement forces me to pause and consider how much else do we do that is this destructively self-serving. It’s as if we focus on finding a sense of composure about our current state, and presenting an image of contentment or confidence about it. Once that is achieved, we assume we’ve triumphed. Until the next wave of tribulations that strike, which forces us into defence mode, once again driving our focus towards building those walls so that others don’t see our pain or vulnerabilities.

Fortunately, that is not sustainable. Those that persist beyond the realisation of how unsustainable and damaging it is, commit suicide through self-inflicted ailments that the world has convinced them is an attack from outside their body. And so they become martyred heroes from being such successful victims. And yes, I believe that the realisation does enter their consciousness at some point, but usually at a point when the validation and compassion that their established defences solicit is too great for them to want to reveal the truth behind their misery.

We long for moments that we didn’t quite enjoy when we were in them, but they appear so much more appealing later on when what we have is considerably worse than what those moments offered us. This reminds me of the lyrics of that song by Gladys Knight where she reminisces about memories, and wonders if time has rewritten every line. I think it has. I think that failed relationships of the past seem to hold more appeal when the shortcomings of our current relationships cause those to pale in comparison. But this is not only true for relationships, but instead it is true for everything we do or experience in life. Nostalgia can be quite the selective spouse at times, and it is this very same sense of longing for what was that defines our perception of what is, which ultimately robs us of what we can be.

And so in our efforts to hide from these awkward truths, we present the ultimate defence, faith. But even that is not an entirely bad thing. I’ve often considered whether or not psychosomatic relief is a valuable remedy or not. I’m inclined to believe that it is. If the objective is healing, rather than how one is healed, then by all means, draw on the healing effects of faith through identifying token markers that shift our minds towards that healing cycle. However, unless we reflect on those conversations we have in our heads and have the courage to honestly pick it apart, we’ll always be subject to the presence of those markers to heal ourselves, which will most likely result in the destructive behaviours persisting, which eventually leads to a rot beyond repair.

It’s the same old analogy of the car once again. Driving the hell out of it wears it down, and no matter how many times you rigorously service it, or how much love and attention you smother it with, eventually the result of the on-going abuse will cause it to fail beyond repair. That is when death overtakes us, leaving us bewildered at its approach because the defences that served us so well for so long suddenly appears to be deserting us. No. We deserted ourselves long before that moment. We deserted ourselves each moment we chose to indulge our fears to feed our ego, instead of facing our fears and suppressing our ego.

There is nothing in this world that is wholesome if applied excessively, and faith is not free of this flaw. The world only remains in balance if we apply moderation in our lives. Be it spiritually or physically, regardless of your professions of faith or spirituality, the result is the same. Even the atheist or the agnostic, or the ascetic or the religious scholar, all need that balance. But that balance is relative, and can only be found when we reflect and sincerely apply what the realisations of our reflections reveal. Unfortunately too many are looking to others to instil that balance in their lives. We look for gurus and frameworks and funky philosophies that worked for someone else, then call it this big secret to happiness and assume that if we follow the textbook, we’ll be fine. We won’t. As long as you’re living someone else’s reality in your life, your life is a lie. It is a painful delusion that will kill you in unpleasant ways while you’re praying for a peaceful death.

Stop fooling yourself. It’s the greatest gift you could ever give yourself and the people around you.