Individuation Blues, Revisited
I also seem driven to write as if I were standing two feet behind my own right shoulder, dictating, while chatting from time to time with Noel Coward. Good lord. Even editing didn't help. It's so bad, I have fallen in love with it and have to leave it there. (I know, I know, murder your darlings.)
Okay. The world for what it is. The first problem, for writing and thinking, is that I cannot imagine I will personally discover anything new about the concept of acceptance. There is Buddhism, after all, not to mention Taoism, or Dr. Phil and Oprah. And let's face it, I am not a scholar. I have no idea what has been said on any topic until and unless I crash into it on the Autodidactobahn. This leaves me compelled to rely upon, examine and write about myself and my own experience because I cannot speak with true authority about anything else. It is a humbling obsession, this need to tell one's own story while living it, even when no one wants to hear the tale, but it is one in which I am, at least, in vast company.
There is so much about the world that I do not want to accept for what it is. War. Corporate monsters. Their marriage. Why do I even care about Maslow and his list? Who needs self-actualization in a world that distracts us from disasters with instant makeovers? Even Maslow doesn't make self-actualization sound appealing: along with "Accepts the world for what it is," he has included, "Can make decisions contrary to popular opinion," and "May appear remote and detached." There's a recipe for cozy social interaction. Do this in a job interview and no one will hire you. And yet...
The sun is long up now. I have checked enough news to know that thousands of protesters are disrupting the latest meeting of global kings, and we have begun some kind of "new offensive" in Iraq today. The fires of Paris have spread to the surrounding towns and I find myself shocked that France, of all places, is coming apart at the seams. Meanwhile, it is gorgeous here today, and quiet: one of those bright flat-earth mornings that the world moves to Florida to enjoy. I am in a fine mood (as I seem to be so often lately, even when I forget to take ginseng), feeling like fortune's child. "Things" have not changed; I have. In fact, I have plenty to worry about. Along with all the usual "things", I am worried about the big dead Buick in the driveway. Really worried. I hesitate, like FEMA, to declare this latest breakdown in the Mosser infrastructure catastrophic. Really, now, what's a little fire under the hood? True, it took a lot of fiddling around just to get the car to crank up, and when it did, the fire started immediately, but there was no explosion, no open flame. It could be something perfectly harmless burning under there. Right? Right. If I could work up the courage to bend in over the engine again and peer around while it's burning, I could probably figure it out for myself. Bad week to see burn victim slides, really.
Maslow says that the self-actualized person, "Is realistic, sees life clearly, and is objective about his or her observations." Meanwhile, I am enjoying brief, intense chats with those kind classmates who drive me to school and the hospital, visits for which we would not otherwise find time. Without reason, I believe it will all be okay. That I will beg for rides and kind people will furnish them until I do find a transportation solution, and finish school, and get on to my new life, and write multiple novels, and in the end, I will be okay. More than that, really. More that whatever happens, up to and including the moment of death, I will be okay. That is a much bigger, warmer, less rational belief. If I try to examine it, I get a rambling, essentially blank page. If I try to feel it, there it is, strong as ever. I am breathing with my whole belly again, for the first time in years.
So, I hope that someday I do accept the world for what it is. I have always found it difficult to do this, in no small part because I chose the world view I learned from fiction, when I was choosing, instead of the one that raged two-fisted through my childhood. This was very wise of me, I do understand that now, but I was confused for many years by the unresolved plots and badly conceived backstories of my life, which had no place in a decently-written reality. What I think today is this: the more I accept what happens around me for what it is, the more I see the truth, and the safer I am. The wider I open my eyes in an unbeautiful moment, the more likely I am to see the constant beauty behind it, and remember my priorities. The more I accept people as they are, the calmer I feel when I choose to say no to them (or yes). The more I accept the world for what it is, the more I am at home here, even with all the ugliness. Why do I care about Maslow's ideal of an enlightened, ever-evolving human? Because I want to see what is real, and know it when I see it, and act with conscious intent, even if this "may appear remote and detached." For all I know, this is the only ride I get on this pony, and I wouldn't want to miss it because I was bungee jumping, or researching bungee jumping, or avoiding bungee jumping, or pretending to have bungee jumped. I want all of my life to count, in the end, as part of awake time.
You know, like it does in novels.