February 5, 2010

meaning, past and present

when i was younger, i was drunk with meaning. purpose was epic, epiphanic, and it extended out of my heart and into everything i did. i closed my eyes and saw rainbows of colour. i opened them and saw beauty. even the sadness of loss was beautiful.

i grew older. i saw how commonplace and preventable a lot of tragedy seems. i saw how the ignorance grows back, even after the most amazing of events. i saw how humans backslide, how we would rather be comfortable than give up what we have so that others may have. i saw how easily we disconnect our savings at giganta-mart with the persecution of entire nation communities. i saw how greed and fear whisper in our ear and how we listen. how we get tired. i got tired.

even though i kept on practicing kindness, i learned to defend myself against people wrecking judgment on themselves, using me as a scapegoat. even though i shopped local and fairtrade, i forgot to feel the difference i was making. even though i recycle, i donate, i still feel like part of the problem. and i lost sight of the epic solution my young brain had proposed, found fault; how difficult it was to get off the grid completely, how easy it was to think i knew what i was doing, how many people had tried and failed before me. i realise i give up too easily, i don't want to keep fighting what's all around me - i cut a deal with myself to settle.

part of this settling was a greyer realisation that even the solutions are part of the problem. we solve the wrong problems - we teach nike how to give money back, we teach our children to be kind because they want something, we justify society's change as a result of how angry we are, how we 'aren't going to take it anymore'. and what else can we do, when we're still half-broken ourselves? when development agencies just pave the way for industrialization? how is this ever good for anyone other than those in power anyway? even when the actions are good, the results are the same. as michael franti says, "they handin' us the bible while they walkin' off with all the gold."

and i came to the conclusion that it was far better to doubt one's own beliefs than to try vehemently to solve or save anything. terrible things happen at the hands of people who've had epiphanies. the word means that a god has appeared to you. it's a dangerous word.

so i became a fan of science. because at least science doesn't tell you it's okay to kill someone else (and don't tell me that science is bad because it teaches you how - EVERYTHING teaches us how to kill). at least science can agree that light can be both wave and particle, that both sides can be right. at least science doesn't try and convince your ego that you're special.

except that again, this decision of mine, aside from inviting my life into a permanent grey area, didn't change my nature. it may harm more slowly, but it still harms, because second-guessing oneself is what the silent, complicit minds do, to pass the time. never picking a side, so i'm never wrong. i never make a mistake. oh wait, mistakes are made through inaction as well as action. fuck.

so. to summarize: living with fervent meaning is dangerous. living without meaning is dangerous.

reading kim stanley robinson's eco-sci-fi-thriller, forty signs of rain, allowed me the realization that i am suffering from an excess of reason. people who know me might giggle at this, because they know i use my intuition on a fairly regular basis, even when i have a host of data to support my decision.

i think many of us are suffering from the yearning to explain things and the reluctance to accept that we might never know, but that we need to keep on keeping on. how many suicides are brought on not because the person logically deduces they should die, but because they can't find another way that hurts less? we must continue to make decisions on inadequate knowledge, but bear 100% of the consequences.

sorry for all the italics, but it is, to me, a subject deserving of drama. we want to be all-knowing because our egos like the idea, but we also really want to know so that we can stop with all the pain. because we walk into the pain all the time. we flounder like a drowning person, making it worse. some of it may be inevitable, but this much?

and the brief epiphanies are not enough. brief flashes of lightning on the recurring, inevitable, generations-long dark and stormy night. but they're all we seem to get.

this was actually designed to be a really light and wonderful entry, but i needed to slog through ten years of pain i've held in my everyday actions first.

the years of doubt, of trying someone else's plans, the excitement of "this time, we'll make a difference!" and me thinking "and that's the point? okay, i'm in!" they sound so sure of themselves. and except when i am angrily denouncing a sexist bastard, i do not feel sure of myself (later, when i realize he was sexually abused as a child or some other equally horrendous thing, i wonder if there might have been a better way than just taking my turn at wielding the paddle).

and i am ready to not defend myself.

it feels the best when i can just sit in the light and be love. but always, i am pulled out into the dark world of action. and shamed when this is not where i want to be. because i should be grateful for my legs and use them for my country, for my religion, for the kind of change i want to see in the world. blah blah fucking blah.

i am meant to sit. and to love. sorry if that's not in your plans. suck it up. it's in my plans now.

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