Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some say that we are like timid footmen, stepping from the carriage of ourselves, stretching forth our arm with a flickering lantern in hand, into the yawning dusk of the world.

We take a half-step, straining our eyes through the filmy void of each new day, trying to discern the outline of triangles and symmetry and other things, which are mostly whispers and words and silence. As if in a breathing sea, these things bob and sway about, and we size them up in our small goggled eyes as they float past: work, friendships, problems, misunderstandings, commitments, new opportunities. We rate them in order of importance, whether they are relevant, or secure a sort of happiness or fulfillment within us. Every day, and every week we choose and eliminate. We assess and undertake, we achieve and carry out; we fail and miscarry, we hesitate and neglect. 

“Life is about work. Life is hard work.” My mother ingrained this in my mind as a child. When I was young I thought it entailed math problems and dusting the living room. When I grew older I deemed it to encompass my job and purchasing a car. Now I realize that it has more to do with the relationships I develop, and the habits and desires of my heart, than merely with the tactile aspect of working hard within my career- which is excessively important- but working hard involves every fragment of one’s life. 

Some people recognize this in the truest sense, and are healthy and genuine individuals, who bring life and light to others. Some recognize this, yet have misapplied it. One of the grandest failures of our world is our predisposition to work hard at the wrong things. We work incredibly hard to appear in an auspicious light: to maintain a veneer of acceptability, or to give off an appearance of life. “We have adopt(ed) behaviors that avoid difficulties. The more loquacious the one is, the more silent the other, and the more the first talks in order to fill the silence.” (The Meaning of Persons) We have implemented automatic and programmed responses to questions asked of us, to issues that arise. I think we have a feeling that real answers will harbor acrimony among us, that they will create apertures in our friendships, in our societal and work environments. Or perhaps we avoid truth because after all, it is easier to choose to circumvent things in life, rather than to look someone in the eyes and utter something wholeheartedly, of which we really have no idea how they will respond. We are bereaved of our region of jurisdiction when we choose honesty. If only we always remembered that truth does not impair, but lends us strength and protects, and actually binds us together. 

We do not desire to live automatic lives, but because life is utterly exhausting, we often put ourselves on auto-pilot. Instead of daily choosing to work hard at life, we so often content ourselves with mediocrity. The Spanish proverb relates, "habits begin like threads in a spider's web, but end up like ropes." Our habits of passiveness and mediocrity have created us to be humans who are lazy at life.  We all struggle with our own ills; friends, work hard at them. It takes continual prayer and hard work on our part, every minute of every day to find freedom from the desperation of ourselves.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

In my quest for the specificity of man {in general} and of you, and of myself, it has led me to the implication of personhood; of the definition of man, of person, of personage. I remembered recently that the word person is derived from “persona” (Latin), from the masks worn by actors in ancient Rome, which were worn in efforts to represent various characters and to create a vocal resonance. Thus, person was first used as a definition of role play, of the exterior; a description of what is seen or portrayed. Later on it became synonymous with identity: “what kind of person is he?” 

Jung was of the first to distinguish the meaning of person to also imply personhood, which eventually we derived the word, personage from. We know the definition of personhood to be the element of merely “being a person.” However, Jung took that and stirred it into the concept of persona, enfolding the two together- the exterior and the portrayal, and the scientific aspect- the unshakable reality of being a being. It is extremely hard for me to comprehend the marvel of man, and also the marvel of him as a person. When I concentrate on one aspect, such as the scientific realm of being and existing, then the land of abstract, of person, of who, is blurred and out of focus. They need to be combined and studied collectively, yet the enormous complexity of the two threaten to disengage my mind, and I find myself resorting to dismissing it altogether in order to still my orbiting brain. As the French physician Paul Tournier said,

“I become increasingly aware that the person, pure and unvarnished will always escape us. Doubtless only God knows it. I can never grasp the true reality, of myself or of anybody else, but only an image; a fragmentary and deformed image, an appearance: the ‘personage.’” 

However, I have managed to stumble upon a few stars in my unskilled explorations, and they illuminate the experience of communication and of being so simply and easily; they are so obvious, yet I never fully acknowledged their power, nor made an effort to put them fully into action. These things I want to share with you.
One is this: that the most critical requirement for unambiguous and untainted human communication rests on the grounding of sincerity. Every day we intentionally or unintentionally, don a persona like the ancient Romans and playact our way into friendships and interactions. Mostly, reasons for this are derived from our culture and our inbred responses to human exchanges: “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine. How are you?” “I’m good.” Our motives may be completely innocent and un-thought out, yet the very concept of not being motivated from a place of wholeness and transparency, exploits our very growth and mars our personage. To be known and to know are very vulnerable positions of the human mind and person. Yet the strength that arises from that place of softness and lightness is untold. It takes courage to be sincere.

The other bright sphere in these little heavens is this: “Information speaks of personages. Communion touches the person.” (Tournier) We all long for understanding, to be understood and known for who and what we are. We desire to laugh and love. We despise judgment and turn our faces from the sting of misinterpretation. Thus, in order for this to be fulfilled, we must realize that first-- information and the gathering of knowledge of one another must be sincerely undertaken to ultimately lead to communion and closeness-- and of being unwritten-ly understood. 

There will always endure within each of us an indecipherable mystery of identity. Self will always remain unstrained and obscure. We are secrets. We are beings which desire wholesomeness and yet practice deceit. We are a portrayal and a guise, and yet we are raw authenticity. Our souls protest against artificiality and the misinterpretation of our being.

Thus, friends, let us be sincere. Let us all practice the beauty of being true.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I agree that silence is golden. 

One who takes the time to absorb and study human interaction, gains not only wealth of the observation and reflection of others, but also of himself, and how he relates to those around him. If time is spent fully in conversation, with expectation of what will be said next, I think we miss aspects of human communion and reception: quietude and listening. 

There is much to be said for such stillness and restraint.

It gives our minds time to process, understand and enjoy the moment, not the moment after this moment. 

Brisk banter is beautiful, but silence produces affluence of the mind and heart. It forges within us a woodland of other inhabitants besides the captivity of our own Self; it broadens our plains, extends our grounds.