Showing posts with label self-realization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-realization. Show all posts

05 April, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 8: il mostro dentro di me

Now is the time of monsters. -Antonio Gramsci

Sometimes it tries to kid me/ that it's just a teddy bear /and even somehow manage to/ vanish in the air. /And that is when I must beware/ of the beast in me that everybody knows. - Nick Lowe

My daughter's mother used to tell me that my face changed whenever I lost my temper.

"It's like you turn into a different person," she would say.

We were a marriage of monsters. Of course, neither one of us realized that at the time. We were young and stupid and had no clue what love was or what we were doing. It wasn't entirely our fault, either. I grew up denying mine and she grew up trying to run away from hers. Our monsters have very different origin stories. I don't propose to talk much more about hers here, since it is her story to tell and ultimately her burden to carry. I only mention hers to point out that monsters come in all shapes and sizes and that most of them, contrary to all the folk tales, wear vaguely human faces and walk through the world completely unaware that they are, in fact, monsters.

I also want to point out that in spite of all that, we managed to somehow create the least monstrous, most talented, and beautiful daughter that any two monsters could manage during an Eastern Kentucky winter blizzard.

There was a point a few years back that I thought I had my monster under control. My tactic was to starve it out. My theory was that if I simply didn't feed certain aspects of my personality that eventually the it would starve to death. Cage it off, chain it to the wall, and starve it. I'd been at it for several years, and believed I'd nearly conquered the raging bastard.

And to be honest, I'm not really sure what happened, except maybe that little shit of an Id, that part of my brain that's always getting me into trouble, was sneaking it food while I wasn't paying attention.

Puckish little fucker, that Id. (Actually, his name is Clarence.)

I suppose it could be argued that there's a lot to be angry about. The ugly monster that is the underworldly underpinning of America has given birth to a beast and elected him President. And he is unleashing all manner of monsters on the world in his wake... as well as legitimizing the lesser monsters that heralded his arrival. He's doing what all monsters do. He's eating everything he can. The environment. The poor. The arts. The disenfranchised. The dumb ninnies that prop him up. Everything. All things. Until there is nothing left.

The unfocused and unorganized rage of the Resist 45er's is starting to fade. Socially activated liberals and frustrated progressives have fed all of their steam to the monster and are starting to settle down and talk about the next election. The short-lived union of the left is starting to fracture under the inevitable weight of hubris and the usual rounds of King of the Mountain, each of them sure that they are more right than anyone else.

Moreover, Kentucky's Little Fascista, who is also another teeny tiny monster, is trying gobble up all he can. The environment. Education. The poor. The arts. The disenfranchised. The poor dumb ninnies that prop him up. All things. Until there's even less left than was left before.

Monsters gorge themselves, rage, and destroy, and that is all they do.

So while I know there's plenty for me to point to and say "This is why," the fact is I am, after 44 years on this planet, still confused as to why I have something like this in me, anyway. If you believe the comic books and great literature of the ages -- and really, who doesn't-- all monsters have an origin. But mine is just there. It's always been there. It will always be there.

Amanda has told me as much. She knows me better than anyone and has known me for a long time. She tells me that while I'm generally not monstrous, that it's always there, just under the surface. Waiting. I try to keep it away from the people I love and I do okay with that. I'm learning that in order to do that, though, that sometimes I have to let the monster out to play.

And that, Dear Readers, will take an entire other lifetime of practice.





If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
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05 January, 2017

Beauty is a monster, but it's still worth the search

Let the beauty you seek be what you do. -Rumi

Left to my own devices, I am a baboon wandering the wilderness. I would rather be either 1) at my desk writing or 2) on a barstool drinking than engaged in any other activity.  These two truths about me have been constant for roughly 20 years. I don't expect either of those things to change any time soon.  Both of those predilections have led me have both a ceaseless need to wander and a deep-rooted desire for love and stability. If all of these things seem to be contradictions, then you are correct. This is nothing more than a condensed explanation of the human condition. In spite of our desire to be utterly, drudgingly consistent through and through, human beings are driven by natural and contradictory needs.

A man who does not recognize he is beast with a thin veneer of manufactured civility is lying to himself. I've come around to the idea over the last few years that even admitting this falls short of enough. It's not enough to simply identify the beast. If the focus of a life is to embrace beauty, to seek enlightenment, to live as one with a higher ethic and moral conscious -- indeed, to eventually return to God -- a man has to, to a certain degree, accept and embrace the beast. If we accept Keats' poetic dictum: Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty'*, we must also accept that beauty is not always a comforting or comfortable thing. Beauty can be terrifying.

The weight on the other end of the fulcrum are my obligations -- to those I love, to those who love me, and to that short list of people whose opinions matter.

Lately I've been writing about the Grand Experiment -- my attempt to both hold down a job and pursue Beauty.  Like every other round of the Grand Experiment, this last round ended in failure. I allowed myself to get absorbed into the work I was doing, scribbling along the way, but ultimately I was chasing something other beauty, other than art. Something other. When this happens, the beast that is me gets surly. My temper -- which I have managed to meticulously starve and bury in the back of my psyche -- starts to taste the air.

I've decided to stop trying to restrain my temper as much as work it like hot steel. It's not so much that I want to fly off the handle, but I want to stop feeling guilty because I sometimes do. Anger, like any other emotion, can have justified roots. Anger, like any other impulse, will be misused and abused if I don't get used to it.





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* "Ode to a Grecian Urn"
 
If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons