“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”—
I struggle to believe that success is healthy, or that it really exists in true form. But if this is its definition, perhaps I can support it. This is sacrifice and love, not expectation and standardization.
My heart is aching right now. The people who formed my heart and made it grow and stretch and illuminate for the past four years have been pulled away from me, and it is only beginning to sink in how alone I really am. The fact that I’m alone is not the problem, though. The primary issue is that I’m not with them. They bring me to life, give me breath and dynamism that no one else can incite, and without them I wonder how I will be awakened again.
“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking a moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious ambiguity…”—Gilda Radner
"To be free from any longings—the longings that make us needy, dependent, and vulnerable—would not be a moral achievement, nor would it give ‘true tranquility.’ On the contrary, it would be a ‘monstrous’ state, from which was missing ‘every shred of humanity.’ (Augustine, City of God, 14.9)
Throughout the past few months I’ve been looking at the value of reason in Western society. Each of the standard moral theories (Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, and Social Contract Theory) value reason as the ideal behavioral guide. Reason follows a particular, unilateral trajectory of thought within these traditional moral models. There is right and there is wrong; there is black and there is white. 2+2 will always equal 4. There is one train of action that is appropriate, and all others are insufficient and possibly immoral. Reason intends to eliminate insecurity by creating universal rules. One result of the glorification of reason, however, is that it snuffs out the living, breathing emotion and experience that precludes humanity.
In the quote above by Augustine, he claims that humans have “longings that make us needy, dependent, and vulnerable.” Immediately after reading that, I suppose that most would be disgusted by the pathetic, weak imagery provided for humanity. We are desperate for sustenance that we cannot attain independently. We rely on those around us as a newborn depends on its mother. We are vulnerable, not only to other members of the human race, but also to the universe in its entirety. Although these images seem degrading to the highly evolved condition of humanity, I think there is a unique beauty that Augustine is conjuring to describe the human race. Rather than being parasitic, manipulative gits, we are actually in an interconnected, symbiotic relationship with every other member of creation. Hidden, yet intrinsic, to the fabric of existence is a delicate, fragile reliance that must be sustained in order for us to be fulfilled.
I was thinking about a friend a while back, and described him as having a tough exterior that can take a large measure of brutality without being impacted. Directly below the surface of that exterior, though, he is glass that is fragile, breakable, and will shatter at the slightest touch. It now appears to me as though everyone exists in this manner, and the only difference between individuals is the thickness and durability of their protective exterior. Some are thick-skinned and sturdy in most areas of life; these are the people who can see gruesome images without seeming to be shaken, or who can go through a major illness and come out on the other side seeming unchanged. Others have the luxurious curse of never experiencing enough pain to require a thick skin; these are the people who revel in their naiveté, because outside of their guarded sphere of existence, they will be broken to the degree that they fear they may never be reconciled and whole again.
I would argue that people, regardless of the thickness of their skin, has at least one area that is practically translucent. I guess this could be called the “Achilles Heel,” but I prefer my metaphor. It is the place where the fragile glass heart is practically bursting from its protection, and the moment it is tapped, it shatters. People ultimately dissolve, whether it is instantaneous, or like acid slowly disintegrating each molecule. Grief, insecurity, shame, fear, and a whole host of other human experiences are revealed through prodding the heart, and when the exact spot is touched, each of us devolves to the same level of neediness, dependency, and vulnerability that Augustine summons in City of God.
So we are controlled by emotion, and we are controlled by each other. There is an undeniable interconnectedness that determines the decisions we make and the formation of the self, yet in the standard moral models, reason and rationality reign. It is as though each human is being called to fight the natural instincts that are formative for the self in order to conform to a universal pattern of behavior, which is, in reality, a smoke screen. The mirage is used to make people think that they are strong and secure, that society is safe, and that the world would be perfect, if only everyone followed the rules. Those same people ought to examine their own beings, and find the places where they are fragile. It probably wouldn’t even require much thought since our weaknesses are some of the most common inhabitants of our thoughts. At that point, perhaps, we may begin to observe experience over rationality in order to understand each other’s lives.
Okay, here’s the list. I typically refuse to create “favorite” lists, but this one almost created itself. I was driving home from Family Video and my favorite movies sort of aligned themselves. Here is the fruit of that particular inner monologue:
So, plans had been made for me to go to a political event with a guy that I have been dating who works for the Treasurer at the State Capitol Building. He had asked me two days ago, and I agreed. I assumed that he would call at some point today and let me know where I needed to be and when. At about 5 PM I receive that phone call while at a friend’s house. He informs me that the treasurer will be speaking at 5:45…
Slightly panicked, I rush home, which takes about 10 minutes. I strip while I’m running up the steps, throw on a dress and heels, find a thong that doesn’t create lines, do my make up, straighten my hair, put on jewelry, and throw my belongings in a clutch. I make it out the door 12 minutes after I arrived (quite the feat, in my opinion). I’m 10 minutes from the venue when my date calls me. He says that there was quite a turn out for the event and that he will be working much more than he had thought. It would be better for me to wait and to just get a drink with him later…
So I’m supposed to leave my cocktail dress on, staying looking beautiful, and wait around for him to call me, pick me up, and take me out for drinks. Am I that kind of girl? Let’s be real.
So I went to Fresh Market, got some sushi, came home and opened a bottle of wine while watching Lie to Me. I’m about to meet up with some people and if I happen to see my wait-til-the-last-minute, date-postponing prospect tonight, that will be his luck, not merit.
Okay, I’ve been saying this for a while, and I’ll continue to say it: Anderson guys need to learn to date.
I went on a date tonight and it was wonderful! It was with a guy who has consistently taken me on the best dates that I’ve been on throughout my college career. He lives in Bloomington, but drove to Anderson once to take me out. I have gone on a myriad of dates with other men outside of the Anderson community and each of them has surpassed the quality of the dates with AU guys.
I’ve dated a number of guys at Anderson, and I’ve never gone on a date that is even comparable with the one I was on tonight while there. They were just slacking. It was as if I didn’t merit their affection and adoration. In Bloomington (and really anywhere apart from AU, if we’re being honest) guys are honored to take me out. It’s wonderful! They’re not degrading or demeaning; they appreciate me for who I am.
The guys at Anderson had some potential, but none of them worked out. I suppose that I quit taking them seriously after being treated sub-par for so long. Either way, one of the aspects of being home that I will enjoy is being taken out on legitimate dates =)
“Trying to make it work but man these times are hard
But we’re gonna start by
Drinking old cheap bottles of wine,
Sit talking up all night,
Saying things we haven’t for a while
A while ya
We’re smiling but we’re close tears,
Even after all these years,
We just now got the feeling that we’re meeting for the first time”—The Script—For the First Time
“She had the perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”—Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (via imfantasyparade)