This is not a website dedicated to the self-help of anyone in any way whatsoever, let me be clear. It is a place where I can personally dedicate a few hours of thought a day to things that endlessly pique my abounding curiosities and passions. I wish to clarify that I am nowhere near qualified to render advice on any matter, or regurgitate positive and supportive facts to any community, persons, or person, that may fancy a read on this site, or may be able to find themselves in the innumerable and legion blogs dedicated to self betterment and improvement; each of which seemingly builds upon each other’s material offering scant contemporary metadata to the ever-expanding internet new-age self-help canon.
This is not a disclaimer, if you so happen to find any kind of wisdom in my words, I would firstly suggest you carefully re-read, as I have never been known to impart any knowledge except in the rare contest of Trivial Pursuit, in which I may say I am almost unbeatable, since I am usually likely to take the time to memorize each and every possible solution on every card. It’s not difficult to impress others with trivialities.
The only things that have been my compass in life are the deep self analysis of my personal, and most peculiar, disparate circumstances, which trouble me to no end, and of course the stout quality of pragmatism that I have coldly and paralytically (in some cases) developed in a solitary vacuum of introspection over a series of many spectacularly beautiful and complex failures. Peppered and sprinkled only with a few brief moments of happiness and ease from a crucible of social anxieties.
Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
“O phronimoz to alupon dioke e ou to aedu:” Not pleasure, but freedom from pain, is what the wise man will aim at.- Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
I have realized over my short life of 33 years, ever short, yet never lacking in adventure or the occasional terrifying decision, that suffering in any from, is extremely relative to the disposition of each and every member of our shared humanity who may feel the stings and pangs of loss, or trouble or traumas, or any kind of debilitating few moments that always seem to last a lifetime. Each person on earth suffers differently, and pain is a uniquely particular, idiosyncratic, numbing, and hemiplegic condition peerless to what another may encounter. The adage that I have conceded to over again in my life and catharsized through deep talks with the very few others that I can call “friends” is: “What may be suffering to you, may not be to me.” However, I understand that taken into a context of a conversation between two parties, that it may seem a cruel thing to say, yet I truthfully believe the phrase when I composed the quote. One could say that I care and love people in a different way than most, in my defense, that is.
I chose the Aristotle quote for a reason. It has not been blocked off in quotation marks to take up copy space. I have a belief, and please comment and correct me if you think me wrong in any manner. Well actually, firstly, I wish to say that life, that existence and being and love, those are the most incredible gifts that I have ever received. I have a belief that my love of life is unsurpassed, incomparable, unparalleled and superlative. I may be right now this moment suffering an abject poverty of college debt and no income, living, supported by my caring elderly parents, and counting the bank fees eating at my $12.40 cent saving account. Yet I love the challenge of almost failing. The prospect of an adventure on the horizon, or after I recover from my latest and most fulfilling and crystallizing failure in love, I soon hope for an adventure with an atypical woman of uncommonly questionable memory, that I hope should, no, must, again lead to a broken and this time un-mendable heart.
However many gifts I have been given, as we all have an aptness or an endowment and gifts that matter in one way or another; for as an educator of refugees and marginalized populations, I firmly believe that every human being on earth is a genius. I, personally, am most grateful for the gift of being alive. Bieng alive in this time and day and in this place. Before I stand and reason my choice of including the Aristotle quote, I think it important to say, that as one who loves differently, albeit greatly and sensitively, I have suffered much. However that being said, I am at the point where I would never choose to live any experience over again and wish for a different result. Every choice, be it bad or good, or dangerous, or even at some junctures of my life leading to incredible physical injury and almost death, I would live them all over again, just to have those spare few moments with everyone who has touched my life in some way.
However much I push the fact to you, the reader of this essay, that I love being alive, it comes not from measuring my life in the moments of pure unadulterated joy that I have felt. For instance, a recent moment where on a cold dark night, in the blackest of a New England dark, with the violent sound of a cold water stream collapsing a dirt road in the middle of a moonlit wood, where the stars poked between the naked branches of the hemlocks and maples, I walked hand in hand with a woman of singular vision. That one moment meant more to me than any “thing” I could ever wish to collect, or any amount of money, (which is another fallacy of our times.) An instance of happiness for me would be the pain of longing for someone you cannot have, or those odd, queer, and eminent occurrences of complete gravity, like for example, the first time you hear your lover’s heartbeat.
For me, as exemplified in the quote penned by Aristotle. A good life, a life that was worth living, besides being a man or woman of character who chooses to, through their own personal compass, stick to what they believe in–for trueness to oneself and the embracing honestly of who one is, unapologetically, is all that matters.–is a life that can be measured in the moments where one chose not to take the path, forked on a cloudy and murky road that would lead to any pain or trauma. Suffering is the human condition. In our times we suffer from stress, interpersonal, or work related, or related to our disconnected lives growing ever more distant from each other, yet all of us wanting to share something, some aspect of ourselves, even though we all at some points push others away. Yet I firmly believe that if we were to sit and record every instance of our lives, that at the end of it, when we have lived, at our ebb and demi-jour and when we view ourselves in retrospect, with age and grace, I believe that a wise man or woman should keep those moments of joy locked away and write only the times where they moved in a direction that caused them the least amount of suffering.
If we were to view holistically, the idea of pleasurable moments in relation to painful ones and suffering. I would have to say that during our constant struggle for survival, that the moments of drudgery outweigh, by far, the moments of happiness almost three to one, (only in a metaphorical manner, I have conducted no research into this). For instance, our lives are three parts drudgery, work, pain, learning, and heartbreak. For every 3 moments of rack and woe and soreness, we have 1 moment of happiness, for instance a hug, or a kiss, or a momentary love affair that burns a new face into your memory that will last forever, even years after you marry and have children. If 3 moments of plainness, boring moments of life; a traffic jam on your way to work, or an office feud that cripples your productivity, are subtracted by -1, the good, the exceptional, the rare beauty of a quiet wood for instance; than the positive moments will have a negative effect on life. 3-1, positive moments are in fact negative, -1. As Schopenhauer would put it “Pleasure is only the negation of pain, and pain the only positive element in life.” It is quite a troubling formula. However, we could never all enjoy our shared lives as a human family, if we did not suffer the passions and failures and meandering old waters of life.