It's hard to know when the earliest inklings of Atheism began; really I suppose, it depends on which gods are being rejected. The idea of a person, frustrated with his or her life, getting ill, screwed over, even frustrated with the simple hardships that living consists of, makes me believe it's perhaps earlier in history than we think. Those bitter few were probably less likely to carve it in stone somewhere, so their doubts are lost to the annals of history.
One of my earliest memories of skepticism happened while I was in a private Christian school. Our class was going to adopt a whale named South Paw. South Paw got her name because she had a little paw print shape on her left fluke.
Holy shit. I'm a south paw! I am going to be co-owner of a whale that's just like me!
Pretty big news to little kids, right? What better way to get us pumped up about the most bad ass class pet that we're not actually ever going to meet than to show us a video about humpback whales? It was exciting. It was movie day, and it was only borderline educational. We got to watch movies and eat lunch in a different room (because extension cords were a real luxury in the mid 90s,) and we were going to watch a video about South Paw the humpback whale.
On the grainy curved screen of a boxy, donation TV, we watched humpback whales breaching all afternoon. It blew our tiny little minds. As any excited little kid with pizza-greased fingers pressed over my mouth, I gasped, "Holy Cow!"
Some lady, who to this day I can't remember why she was there, some TA, a volunteer parent, who knows, leaned over and said sternly, "You shouldn't call anything holy but the lord. It's as bad as cursing!"
We thought she was joking. Lady, we're in Christian School, we don't curse. "Holy Cow" is on the list of words Christian kids *get*, right up there with crud, or fart (when we were old enough, of course). As a class, we batted it off, and when another whale sprouted from the waves, its body arching backwards like an Olympic gymnast, we said it again.
And she stopped the video.
"If you say that one more time," she announced, "We aren't going to watch this video. It's very important that you understand what it means to be holy, and you can't use that word about everything."
We settled back down after that, apparently no longer allowed to show enthusiasm. All I remember thinking was whatever my second grade equivalent was to, "Fucking really? What is wrong with you?"
Even if I thought that woman was an idiot, I never doubted God. I did, however, from then on, decide that there were people who were morons, that took God too seriously. Even now, the things that I resent about being raised religious have nothing to do with God, they were the actions of people who used God, religion, as their indefensible argument. God was the "times-infinity-plus-one" of grown up logic.
God was sort of a consultant in my head for a lot of my early years, and when I felt distanced from Christianity, and it's almost as though he retired. It never occurred to me that while I was asking him if he thought my feet made good camel shadow puppets, he was whispering into the ears of other people that you can just go ahead and hate people for whatever.
Religion, whether or not the deity it's based on is real, and that religion is God. A god exists in the actions, beliefs and words of its followers, and it has movements. It is capable of genocide and charity. The acts of the religious are the acts of their God. Arguing for or against a pillar of someone's beliefs is as genuinely ridiculous as arguing against a literal pillar of the Parthenon. It is simply too big and inflexible to respond to vocabulary.
When I think of the far right, of racists, of anyone who believes that their god should have control over someone else's behavior or more importantly, their beliefs and thoughts, I think of that lady in second grade, who was ostensibly protecting God from being compared to a cow.
Institutions, religions, these things are faceless. They are suits of armor that any one can slip into, whether or not they intend to save lives or end them. There is no point in arguing. Challenge their actions, challenge their syntax, but most importantly, we have to challenge them. These arguments cannot be "us versus them." It has to be "You and me."
I have never wanted in my life to be political. I started writing this before having a few days ago, and I feel a bit defeated. Over and over again, I see a lack of certainty. We have red flags waving from every corner of our eye, and whatever political matador is waving it has successfully kept our attention bouncing around, one alluring threat to another. We are afraid of fundamentalism, and it is difficult not to see that as a vine that hangs on the branches of religion. We are running in circles protesting each other instead of finding ways to keep ourselves intact.
I see potential damage to very basic things, mostly, another human's life.The position of president is a fractional god, at this point. We can't simply attack him or the idea of his goblinesque administration.
We need to focus, but I can't figure out on what. We can't watch things erode the value of another person's life simply because they don't apply to us yet. The question is, what the fuck does that entail?
What do you do for fun?
It's a question I was genuinely asking people for awhile. I wasn't interested in what their hobbies were, exactly, so much as what did having fun look like? What is fun? What brings joy? It seems to me that the things I do for fun begin to wane exponentially in how much I enjoy them as I get better. I like to learn how to do things, but I'm not actively interested in doing them. Not the most logical way to be, but that's how I am.
The older I get, the shorter the time between learning how to do something and how much less interested in it I get. I used to think it was just something about mastering a skill; writing used to be fun until I got bogged down in how it had to be good. I thought it was about pressure, about standards. That might be part of it, but bigger picture, I think it also has something to do with the lack of novelty. The more you learn, the harder it is to really, really learn anything new; most knowledge is fractal. The more diversity of topics you study, the more you will see how everything is an iteration of itself. Brains behave like ecosystems. The laws of quantum physics resemble thought patterns. Bacteria and humans are the only life forms that are cultured.
Just as much as I like to learn new things, I like to create them, and there's a point where those two things become very blurry. What I know, what I believe or have created become very intermingled. That's what this blog is, and that's an important context for all of my thoughts here. These answers are stories, jokes, personal journeys of a comedian. I am uneducated, but I am very creative. Once you hit the limits of what you can learn, you start creating explanations based off of what knowledge you've accumulated in the past.
Most things are unsurprisingly systemic. It makes sense that everything in the universe has some ties to each other, from the molecular to the incredibly vast, because it's all existing at the same time. It all exists within the continuum of time, so more or less, everything is by some extension "touching." Maybe this is all a correlation fallacy, but I've always thought it's a naive if not well intended rule of science to assume there's no meaning. Arguably science simply isn't concerned with meaning; that's a territory for philosophers and artists. Science looks for the nuts and bolts, but why would there be any if there wasn't some use for them being there?
This sounds a little bit like an argument for God, but I certainly don't mean it to be. It's an argument for systems, it's an argument for coexistence de facto; things coexist because they exist simultaneously, that doesn't necessarily mean it's pleasant or harmonious. It is certainly an argument for something bigger, if the universe is one whole. It involves a god about as much as you are god to your blood cells. Very little of what you do is directly concerned with of any one of them as an individual.
There is a somewhat controversial theory called the Gaia hypothesis that the earth is actually an organism, with every part, from tectonic plate movement to weather systems, functioning as some kind of organ or unit. Despite its many criticisms, I am very fond of the Gaia Hypothesis. Some variants of the hypothesis suggest that "Gaia" is an emergent entity; that the planet as an organism is created from the interactions between everything in, on and around it.
Moreover, if we go off of the Gaia hypothesis that the earth is an organism, it's just as reasonable to assume that that it's also a cell, an organ, an organ system of the universe. The function of the planet earth is just as insignificant on the large scale as a single red blood cell. If everything is connected, everything is in infinite regress. It would seem the universe is only partially concerned with logic.
As a teenager, I thought about Gaia hypothesis and its arguments and often came to the same doubt, that many people who ascribe to that theory assume that our planet is "healthy." In terms of the rest of the universe, arguably we're the only planet that "hosts." Maybe it's more healthy to be turbulent gases than sustaining a biosphere, cosmically speaking.
Zooming back in to our planet as an organism, we could easily find a niche for our species, a purpose. It's easy to find meaning in your life if you think of us as evolved caretakers of the planet. Because of our voracious appetite for information and its exchange, novelty and curiosity, humans could cozy up to the idea that we're the neural network of the planet; we're the keepers of the earth's thoughts.
Good job hippie girl! That sounds amazing! Maybe it would be, if our planet were a psychologically stable one. If the Gaia hypothesis is correct, if the planet is an organism, emergent from its parts or simply comprised of them, we are the black sheep of the galactic family. The "brain" that is humans, is wholly sick. We are the neurons of a schizophrenic planet.
If music if the space between the notes, then maybe nature of the universe lies in the nothingness within atoms. There is a lot of emptiness in us, and what we do, and only moments where things come together and make sense. I'm not sure how much of this has been learning, and how much has simply been creative thinking. I have been needing a lot of space lately, and with no sense of irony, I have been turning to the stars to find it, and it's been fun.
I don't know what it means to be "good" at being social, or to have a lot of friends. So far as I can tell, it's just people who do it more often than they don't do it. A lot of my conversations are awkward and it takes me awhile to warm up to people. I write primarily because I know people who read it will understand exactly what I have to say. When it comes to speaking, I fumble a lot, my mind darts down rabbit holes and comes up with banal anecdotes that don't really matter to anyone. In spite of that, I try, and in that sense, I guess I'm social, and I guess I'm okay at it if for no other reason that I keep trying even after it ends poorly.
Every so often, something happens and not only do things end on a bad note, but they leave you bitter, or broken. You get in a fight, or someone you know gets in a fight with someone else you know, and you're left unsure of who's in the right or if either of them are. Knowing how to react feels like dismantling a bomb.
I put myself in a lot of strange situations socially. It's part of figuring out how to do comedy, and partly because I don't think I'm good enough at differentiating between what would be a generally normal social interaction and a strange one. I've definitely hurt people that way, by expecting something of them they weren't prepared for (Hey I'm homeless tonight, can you help?) or by leading them to believe they could expect more from me. I don't do it intentionally but it's a learning process.
Occasionally, your social role and how you really see someone becomes starkly clear. For me, that tends to happen whenever I have to go to a hospital.
Thursday, I am sitting in a hospital room divided by a pulled curtain. On the other side of that a drunk woman is moaning. The fluorescent lights here paint everything pale and it strikes me that this is an odd place to choose lighting that can make everyone look sick. I'm waiting for him to come back from a CAT scan, and I wonder to myself, What am I doing here?
I didn't ask myself that because I didn't want to be there; of course I did. There was an accident, you go when someone you care about gets hurt. It was more the intensity of how I wanted to be there. The second I realized that was where I had to go, my focus became a pin prick, it made a camera obscura and all I could see was this blurry image of something outside of where I was.
I have to get to the hospital. I have to make sure he's okay.
I knew that he'd gotten into an accident before I got the call. He was late and didn't let me know. Simple as that. It's a strange thing to know about someone. There was no future, no spirals of worry, imagining him banged up or destroyed. No regret about any fights we'd had, only a vague sense of responsibility because he'd been coming to pick me up. A friend gave me a ride, I went through a couple rounds of security, and then I saw him. His face was half caked in blood before they took him to the scan and I was left waiting, listening to the assorted ramblings of the drunk woman behind me.
When he saw me he smiled, a kind of smile that's still bright even with half of his face looking like a Halloween mask. I held his blood covered hand and watched him smile at me just because I was there with him.
No ulterior motives. No other sentiment besides, "Hi!"
They took him for a scan and I sat there. I listened to the drunk woman, texted a friend, but mostly just sat there and wondered, what was I doing there?
It gave me time to think about how complicated things can get when you don't know what you're doing. Especially if you don't understand why you're doing it, or you're in a situation where you're forced to wait on an outcome. There's a lot of room for accidents in my life.
(He is fine, by the way. He cleaned up, and escaped with a lucky concussion and a car that looks like a dollar bill after laundry day.)
We hurt each other, but usually, we're not setting out to. I think the fact that it's often unintentional, or at least misunderstood, is why it's so difficult to deal with. If someone wanted to hurt you, wanted revenge or to tear you up to build themselves, those are digestable, logically, even if they're hurtful. Those are motives, but a lot of the most painful things I've encountered are accidents.
We're trying to get over our losses or we're convinced we are past them. We use people because we need someone to talk to, or a warm body to just exist with us. The longer you're out in the social miasma, meeting and connecting with new people, forming friendships, you end up with an entanglement of lives. Everyone you know knots together. Sometimes they hurt each other, and sometimes they hurt you or you them; it's hard to know how to handle it. You doubt yourself, doubt the people you know and love, doubt humans as a whole.
It's the person who whispers to you that they love you when they themselves don't really know any more. It's how someone insists you can't change even though they had no idea who you used to be. It's pushing because you don't know how else to show someone you care about them. It's believing some other fallible person can save you. There are moments you don't really think about, moments that you inadvertently shape someone with. Often, it's senseless and it hurts. We begin and end things, repeat ourselves and our mistakes with other people.
I never thought I would be the kind of person who hurt people the way I did. I'm still puzzled when I see people I know do the same things and hurt people I know they care about. I still get myself into situations I probably shouldn't, so I guess I can't blame them. That holier-than-thou attitude that I know what the right thing to do still lurks in me, either from when I was religious or when I was so closed off I wouldn't take any risk if I had any doubt in my mind that I might fail. I learned walking into that hospital room what you do in the face of doubt: you go with purpose.
I hadn't realized it, but this is something that I'd been working on for awhile. When I felt lost in my life, directionless to the point of being suicidal, I made the conscious a conscious effort with my choices to only choose what I didn't know. I felt lost, and that came from doing with what I assumed I was supposed to do, so I stopped. I chose uncertainty, and I made that choice with a sense of purpose. I wanted to know what happened on the paths I'd never taken. Sometimes it sucked, sometimes it was fine. In rare moments, it amazed me.
Later, when I was single, I made the conscious choice not to get together with someone solely because I was lonely. I fucking wanted to have someone, almost anyone, but I knew how that would end, and not well for me. I waited. My days were fine but I'd cry myself to sleep. I'd wake up, live, then fall asleep, crying almost as if to ensure that I was empty by the time I was dreaming. When I finally decided to look for someone, I had a purpose; I wanted to find someone I liked and that I was a person I liked when I was around them.
There is a difference between having a sense of purpose, which I don't know that I do, and acting with a sense of purpose. I'm hoping the latter breeds the former.
I can never always know how my actions effect everyone involved, and I'm trying to keep that in mind about the people I know. Everything is so tightly woven. I don't want anyone to get hurt, but sometimes being indecisive about how to let everyone come out clean leaves you hitting someone hardest. I tread lines when it comes to caring about people and I know that. The thing that I hope saves me is my intent. I may not know what I'm doing, but I know my intentions thoroughly. I won't act until I'm sure of it, until there's purpose. That's the best way I know how to navigate. The truth beyond that is relative and open to a lot of interpretation.
We get banged up, there are accidents, and often, we're forced to wait. The only thing that makes you feel sane, that you can be trusted or trust others, is understanding why you're there in the first place. You went there with a purpose. The rest follows.
Every month I have to play a game called "Rent."
Rent is my least favorite game in the world.
The rules are simple enough; do things you may or may not like doing so that you're not homeless. This can be a tough game to play if you don't have a college education, if you're attempting to do something creative, or if you're attempting to evade the service industry like the plague on your soul it seems to be. Rent is one of maybe a dozen games that I play on a daily basis.
This game sucks, like most of the games we have to play in society; reality is an MMO. (Society's for nerds!) Generations before us didn't question the game. No one really knew why they were playing it, or "Finder's Keepers: Marriage Edition", or any of the other ones we're brought into; so far as they knew, that's all that existed. We're coaxed into it pretty young, when we learn about different jobs and how grown up lives work. We're given the rules for the games by our parents and other adult role models.
Even with that early introduction, the disconnect starts surprisingly early. Our little hearts and brains get set on becoming the world's first Astronaut President who lives in an amusement park. As we grow up, we learn that the generations before us didn't pick accountant or data entry clerk over Astronaut President. Suddenly, we find out that we're not that special, jobs are limited, and no matter what job we pick, we have to play Rent, and ruling the country from space is not as lucrative as we thought.
Reality phases out the nonsense. We get better at games like Rent instead of games like Astronaut President because ambition takes a back seat to practicality. There's fewer players in the latter, so it's not a game we can continue to play if we want to play with other people. Eventually, we learn that our dreams are impractical, because we have more important things to do, like play "Rent", "Finder's Keepers", or "Oh My God I Am Not Helping The Population Crisis At All By Eating This Cake, Am I?" But aren't those games also impractical nonsense? Maybe, but they're so huge that often we have no choice except to play them.
These games form our society. If you want to participate, you have to play. You're supposed to get a decent job, get a decent life partner, settle down and keep this human race/economy/game perpetuating. The games we play as adults have higher consequences than winning or losing; these are blood sports. We have to survive, and adhering to the social structure in place not only ensures our survival but how comfortable that survival is. We spend a lot of time trying to make sure our lives are optimal.
Disclaimer, This is partially where my privilege comes in. I'm a girl and have the fortune of being one that people like to take care of. That advantage means I'm allowed to swim in the meaningless longer than most people and survive. Many people have to emerge from swampy nonsense in order to avoid being eaten by social monsters like Poverty, Bills, Class and so on. The fact that I can write this is because I don't have to participate, so this observation comes with the understanding that rejecting safety is not inherently feasible for everyone; this isn't an idea, it's an ideal.
If you're fortunate, you're introduced to the game with a few advantages. Some of us are introduced to the world with elbow pads and the love of our parents. There's financial support when we need it. When it's our turn to play, we go in trusting that it will go well. I've heard that this does nothing to prepare you for the hard knocks of life, but in that sense I disagree. Your cushions will break your fall. Having a community and a family to support you will help nurture your decisions and help you recover from things that go wrong. Having support can help you push further and help you go higher; but there is a danger to keeping safe.
If I were to name a deadly sin, Sloth, would be the ultimate, beyond all others. A society that has no deity seems dangerously steeped in it. Turns out you don't have to believe in God to believe in sin. Sloth is fear and laziness. It's spiritual complacency. It's a rejection of risk, and if you never risk, if you remain comfortable in all facets of your life, you will never need to change. Despite our craving for homeostasis, change is an inevitability; we are flux critters.
Few of us play our social games to win, most of us play to be comfortable. There are so many people who are terrified and uncomfortable in their daily lives. They assume that new experiences will hurt them. Instead of pushing, we dig our heels down and settle in, because this spot's comparably better than any other and we know we have the stamina to maintain it. If you don't push, whatever it is that makes you human will begin to atrophy.
We mistake safety with balance, and we often misinterpret balance as overcoming the odds. Balance is understanding that life is trial by fire, but not exclusively so. Safety means avoiding the flames. I dislike the term balance because frequently people refer to it in a way of equal complacency; they push themselves so much that they refuse to recover. That kind of drive is a different form of sloth. You'll work, be it your job, or relationship, until it's impossible for you to do anything else. That way of thinking means you'll never be able to learn the value of breathing, you'll never be able to visit your internal universe, and if you never tend to that world, it will decay.
Our fear of germs led to vaccines, but protecting ourselves from them also led to superbacteria. Industrialized society plays it safe, both for ourselves and other people. We think we're doing the right thing and ignoring when that isn't true. If you are happy and you don't push for anything greater, you have nothing to contribute, and in a way, you become expendable. People know how to live your happy, complacent life.
We seek comfort, bliss. We want to minimize pain and damage, and rightly so, those things suck. The damaged are not the strong; they are the wounded and can be picked off. There is nothing impractical about wanting to live your life comfortably, except for that it will make you the exact opposite. We yearn for homeostasis; we want to be happy but in order to be happy, we need our instability.
This is also why I don't meditate, by the way. Sadness, Fear and Anger are pushers. Maybe it helps people with different monsters in their head, but I quite like mine and I don't mind letting them off the leash every once in awhile. I don't seek bliss or happiness, because reaching those treads dangerously on complacency. I spend enough time in the world to get into uncomfortable situations and I need to be able to vocalize it in order for it to get better.
I also know better than to indulge my dark side. There's an atrophy in succumbing to your demons, listening only to your sadness or anger. There's a difference between letting your negative emotions guide you and rule you, and admittedly that difference is razor thin.
The dangers to taking risks are more obvious but they're also a lot more nuanced. Remaining on the fringes is not sustainable, and I know that. If you're going to take part at all, you have to have some integration into society. You can't live your life in a way that wouldn't be sustainable to everyone; that's selfish in the bad way. It's one thing to take care of yourself, it's another to assume that by doing so you shouldn't try anything new.
I don't know what your life is like, you darling, but you can't sit still in it. We aren't plants, we don't grow roots and we'd be hard pressed to understand them if we started to. You have to move, you have to crash. If you push yourself, internally or externally, you are going to get hurt. That's not a question of if, only when. If you choose to stay where you are, you are going to wither, and eventually, if you should try to leave, you'll find yourself too weak to.
Don't choose to be a character in the social game. You are the game. The sure fire way to lose is by getting too comfortable.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about meaning and motive, and I'll probably continue thinking about shit like that until I die. I don't consider myself a very intelligent person, but I do think of myself as very thoughtful, if it didn't sound like some shitty app startup, I'd call myself "ideaful." That's really all I've got going on, I put together a lot of ideas. I also have lived in such a way where I vocalize my ideas to bored people who are stoked to have something to do, and mostly for that reason, my ideas become realities. I'm not really sure how difficult that is to do, it's never been hard for me but I hear others struggle. I guess it depends on the mass appeal of the idea and the bonds you have with other people, but I don't really have any answers to why some shit works and some doesn't.
I'm a very curious individual, I like to see what happens when my ideas come to fruition. In essence, that's creativity; that's how art is made, jokes are written, sites like this are built up. As I get older I'm beginning to realize that curiosity is like an appetite, and it requires something to feed it; there are times when that can get dark, and violent.
Curiosity is a carnivore. The roots for the word "curiosity" in Latin stem from both "cautious" and "care", elements I'd argue real curiosity isn't concerned with. Curiosity is the path that destroys wonder; curiosity wants to learn, test, and create. Even so, curiosity is proactive wonder. In itself, that sentence sounds like the kind of shit middle school science teachers throw around before they tell you about space lightning and hand you a pamphlet for astronaut camp, and not a very terrible thing. Curiosity is just natural, it's human, it helps us achieve greatness.
All of that's true, curiosity is natural, but nature as a rule is indifferent, and indifference can lead to some very complicated, very evil things. This is why I'm troubled by the nihilists.
Speaking as a very curious person, I test things. "Same shit, different day," are the most terrifying arrangement of words in my vocabulary. I spend a lot of my time and squirrely resources trying to find ways to make that statement inherently false.
I will fuck up my life just to see how far people will let me go, and to learn what exactly it takes to get it back. I am an emotionally unrefined person, and it's been a carving process to shape my understanding of how I feel. I don't like to have any opinions that I don't understand. You're taught growing up that doing things are wrong, but until you do the wrong thing, do you really understand why? Maybe I'm just mistrustful, or maybe I just don't believe people know my best interests better than I do.
I'm so curious about what motivates people and what has meaning to them, and if I see someone value what is ostensibly meaningless, it's hard for me to resist the urge not to break it. In some fucked up way, I view people as toys. I like them a lot, and I play with them, but I don't really think twice about dropping them, or how they might feel about the situations I bring them into. My concept of emotion is too limited, and this limit is something that frequently motivates me to do emotionally detrimental things. I'm pushing myself because I'm curious, I don't understand, and I want to. I can't say I'm proud of myself for a lot of my shitty situations, but doing them made me understand myself better, and appreciate and understand why I did those things and maybe why I shouldn't do them again.
I'm often lumped in with the nihilists, the ones who believe that life is meaningless, and therefore you should just fuck everything and stop worrying. I should point out I'm referring to the nihilists in my life circle and not some better understanding of people who ascribe to that philosophy as a whole. I don't reject this belief as nonsense but I find it a little ... for lack of a less condescending word, unsophisticated.
Living like that suggests you live without context. I don't think life is meaningless, but I don't believe that anything inherently holds meaning either. We assign things meaning, and I also hold that belief about people. I think this is why I don't particularly like to be touched; it doesn't mean anything to me. If you believe that nothing is capable of having meaning, and you're running through the world, setting shit on fire to see the world burn, I can't imagine you're learning anything. I have to admit, I was this kind of person for a long time, and then I got kicked in the teeth and realized learned how little I enjoyed that feeling. Learning that was so valuable, I began to look for other things to learn about pain, and I guess that's the point I'm at in my life right now, or the one I'm just coming out of. It's honestly a bit hard to tell given how the context of time is so fluid.
Maybe nihilists don't want to learn anything. Maybe that's not as big a hobby to some people as it is to me, I don't know. I think I'm getting away from myself.
Here is what I learned about curiosity: just like everything else, it holds no inherent meaning. Curiosity is no more innately positive or negative than eating or shitting. It is one of the billions of processes our chemical mill of a brain undergoes. Curiosity does, however, extrapolate some sense of meaning through intent, or more specifically motivation. This is where we find our mad scientists, our mad artists, madness in general, I suppose.
Motivation and intent are different creatures. Motivation is the drive that propels you, intent is the cause. You can have pure intent and bad motivation, I think that's one of the more common flaws of curious people. I find motivation is frequently an emotional buildup, but which ones vary on the day to day.
I've felt lonely most of my life, which is odd because as far as most things go, I have a pretty social existence, and I also really value being by myself. Loneliness also shares the ironic condition of being a near epidemic. We are all lonely. Loneliness is a pretty powerful motivator, and it can back some pretty good intentions.
Your motivation can be loneliness, and your intent can be to feel accepted, but because the underlying motivation isn't acceptance, whatever you're going to reach in the end is going to be a little bit sideways. I realized this when it came to seeking romantic partners; I do it when I feel lonely, which is a pretty logical reason to want a relationship but an awful footing to start out on.
That's why we spend so much time lying to each other, because we want our motivation and our intent to be the same thing, but sometimes they don't correlate. When they don't, we end up doing terrible things. I think the only reason you should seek out a relationship with another human being, romantic or otherwise, is because you like that person. That person won't necessarily make you feel less alone. Loneliness is part of your human package. What you'll develop though, if you base a relationship off of each other instead of a need to feel less alone, is a stronger bond that will palliate that sense of loneliness, if only for the times you're together.
This is especially true for physical intimacy. Being with someone sexually will make you feel less alone for the moments you're doing it, but you'll end up facing that same chasm shortly after, and it will only feel more exhausting, more abysmal. You've gotten literally as close to another person as you physically can, and you are still alone. That's such a terrible feeling we frequently inflict upon ourselves, and each other for the sake of not feeling lonely.
If you are looking for meaning in anything, if that is your intent, it's important to understand that your motivation for that search should not be the feeling of loneliness. Ideally, it's that sense of wonder that motivates you, and ironically, that sense of wonder will get eaten alive by your curiosity. Learning is a bit self destructive in how it decimates your sense of wonder. Often times we travel into these tunnels just to find what's shining at the end is the sunlight we had just left behind.
None of this makes learning or curiosity bad, by the way, like I said, it's natural, and therefore indifferent. What you gain from learning, that you lack with wonder is understanding. So far as I know life tends to be that cycle on repeat ad nauseum. The thing that makes it enjoyable or not, detrimental or not, is motivation. Figuring out why you do anything is greatly important in not becoming your own monster. To figure out why you do anything, you have to figure out what you are, and that's an undertaking not a lot of people have the time for.
Some people are simple, or they think all of my thoughts are unnecessary. They prefer to be conscious without being thoughtful, and I don't have any argument as to why you shouldn't be like that or why you should be like me. I am the way that I am, and I come up with ideas because that's apparently what I do. There's no way for me not to be this person that I am, not without an exhausting amount of effort towards making each day very similar. If you think about it, not being yourself is effectively a form of living suicide. You're killing yourself every time you try and pretend that's not who you are. No wonder people get so depressed in their shitty jobs they don't want to be doing.
I don't really know what motivates me aside from I want to understand what I feel. My feelings are partly mine and partly something else. I have a monster that lets me know which paths I shouldn't take. It's hard to necessarily know what motivates oneself, and I can't say I often know why I desire to do the things I do. I think as humans, we seek comfort, companionship, and a sense of divinity in one another. Our hope and our hell is other people. The only difference is that motive. Once you learn to recognize why you want to do something you can decide whether or not you should explore it. If your only reason is to break someone because you are hurt, or lonely, you shouldn't touch it. If you want to understand something, to join the aether as it were, only to become more of an individual on your way out, that's about as good a person as I know how to be, a carnivore with a conscience.
It's so easy to become jaded by intelligence. The older you get, the more you can find to take issue with. The world sucks. It's portals to snake pits and failure. Things go wrong, people are corrupt, and here we are, the elite in coffee shops, acting as though nothing is happening. Or worse, we acknowledge it and do nothing.
Having an extended childhood is a fortune permitted to the most industrialized nation. There's something almost biblical about how we worship innocence. The unquestioning, unknowing purity that comes with simply accepting something for what it is has a lot to do with how faith works, but that's not sustainable. Much as we laud innocence in ourselves, losing it is how we learn to survive. People who don't lose any of it become twisted somehow. If you remain innocent because you never question anything, you accept what you've been taught as dogma. If you remain innocent because you avoid everything, because you're afraid, you become clutched by self imposed rules, you lose the ability to integrate and adapt.
Innocence is what makes one child hurt another, before seeing that pained expression that teaches them not to do it again. Nature is innocent by default, there is no self examination in most creatures to take that away. Innocence goes to waste if left to its own devices. Innocence is not sustainable, and it can't take care of itself.
There's a point in time where we lose innocence, either through learning about the world or having it robbed from us. It doesn't have to be dark, it's just a part of life; you will get older and more worldly. Innocence is the uncarved block, losing it sculpts you. It's hard not to feel an attachment to it, something we see in kids who are still learning about the world, but I think we confuse innocence with wonder, and wonder is something you can get back. There is magic in the ineffable and inexplicable, the things even the most robust sciences fail to answer.
I have, and continue to lose innocence. I make terrible decisions all the time, but I learn from them. I've started doing things that I think are bad ideas just to see what will happen. I wonder about the results and how they work, and that gives me the feeling of magic. Meaning is magic, and that's something we have can always have, innocent or not.
I believe that reality is objective, but I believe that perception is not. We're given an objective world like a reference point, we can all look at a cat and learn how to describe it to one another and reach some consensus for how to describe it again if need be. Beyond that though, we filter through so much stimuli at any given second that our methods for pruning and processing are bound to be different. Whatever value we assign to things, whatever resonates with us with meaning will always be personal.
I've been in Chicago for a few days. True to my methods, I didn't do a lot of planning. Every time you go to a new city, you have to start over, at least a little bit. If you do it enough times, that process gets easier. You learn what kinds of questions to ask, which facial expressions to make and the language of getting what you want or need. I've seen enough shit in my life that believing that everyone is kind is how I protect myself. I have to believe that terrible things are uncommon. I know it makes me naive and susceptible, but without that I will feel nothing, there will be no wonder.
We celebrate childlike innocence but very rarely stop to appreciate mature wonder. To me there's something fantastic about what you can accomplish when you don't know, or you endure something that changes you. If you try to hold on to who you were before, you feel damaged, of course you do.
It was only a month ago or so that I admitted to myself how broken I felt over Jay. I was so angry that it didn't work. I had tried so hard to make it work. There's something in me that still wants to. I felt nervous before this trip because I felt like I was yet again putting myself in a position where I wouldn't be able to mourn, and therefore I'd get stuck in this frustrating cycle of not dealing with this huge emotional shit storm that I had been avoiding and therefore elongating.
Turns out I just cried on trains a bunch. I still think about him a lot. At one point my lips felt like they were stinging and that superstitious part of my brain thought that he must be kissing someone else. I haven't talked to him in awhile. I wonder if he'll read this.
(If you do, hello, I hope you're well. I saw a raw honeycomb at a store and thought of you.)
Whether it's the actual distance or the implied distance of time, grieving has been more bearable than I thought. I do feel pretty broken, but I'm no longer trying to put the pieces back together. I'm rearranging them, figuring out what fits and how they feel. I wonder about things and what they mean to me, and that was the reason I left in the first place I guess. I had begun to feel numb.
Being in a relationship restricts you, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and in some ways that can be very comforting. You are with each other so you never feel cold or alone. You're always understood and cared about by somebody. I had been with Jay for so long and from so young that I didn't know what feeling cold or lonely meant. I can't say that those are enjoyable experiences, but they give me a reference to look at my world, and they teach me how to connect and adapt.
In some ways I do feel like a child. I am learning how to hurt. I am learning how I hurt people, and more importantly, how to stop. I am learning what it means to be close to people, and to choose not to be. I'm getting nuance back.
Even as childlike as I feel in my emotion and social capability, I do feel a sense of maturity. There's a kind of wildness, something dark that is mine that guides me. I am older now, I have experience. I am very detached from the idea of being comfortable and even being safe, those things take time and maturity to come to terms with. I know what I can handle, and I'm not afraid, I have nothing to protect. That's a skill that age offers, and it's one we don't celebrate enough because of our desire to see things with novelty.
My favorite people have magic. They are adults, and I'm not talking about them being naive or innocent. They know what they want and they understand their values of the world. They can take care of themselves, and they can laugh themselves silly for the sake of it. Everything has a meaning, and the ones who have magic look for it in everything, find it when necessary and have the experience to know when to let it go if the meaning becomes detrimental to themselves or others in any way. That's what I want, that's what I'm figuring out. I'm shedding an evil innocence in favor of magic.