Thursday, October 23, 2008

Something I've always known, revisited

*If you're reading this on a Facebook note, I want to warn you that this entry's one big reflective thing of mind-vomit. If you don't really care for that stuff, I'm saving you the effort of one more click: just go. I don't want to waste your time XD*

And if you made it to here, congratulations! Let's begin.

In a Facebook note entitled "Something I've Always Known," I detailed my belief about going through life alone, because nobody can truly make you happy for long unless you're happy with yourself. Despite all the great things I said about having poeple in your life, that note was actually written out of sadness, loneliness, and even a little bit of contempt.

When I'm struck with deep-seated feelings of negativity, be it anger, jealousy, rage, contempt, etc. I often resort to the thought, "Screw everyone, I have to do this alone," and this thought stems from many things:
  1. That I have to do it alone because the situation is too sensitive/complicated to talk out with others
  2. No matter how much others insist it's "okay to talk about it," I'm always afraid that revealing so much of myself will leave me vulnerable, and consequently leave me
    • a) hurt by their judgement
    • b) dependent on their sympathy, which won't always be there (honestly)
    • ---i. and this would probably make them sick of me
  3. I don't want to "burden" people with my troubles (see item 2bi)
  4. I want to be able to come up with solutions by myself
  5. I feel badass when I say it

I hope ya'll remember how to read those kinds of outlines, because I feel like that's how I best express myself XD Some artist, right?

I'd been thinking about this for some time. Wouldn't one person go insane trying to do everything alone? I had the privilege of being left alone for a few days by the friends I talk to most, and yea, it does suck (especially when the back pain's bordering on severe). I thought back at all the times having friends and opening up to them actually got me through tough times, and it's true: you do need people, because your mind is only one perspective, and opening yourself to others is like opening several windows of possibility. People will think of things you've never thought of before, and if they actually echo your thoughts, then you know you're on some track because someone else shares your opinion.

But swinging back, what about all the wise old men who came to enlightenment on their own? Buddhist monks who sit alone in caves for DAYS, only to come out completely refreshed? Jesus, who retreated to mountaintops and solitude to be alone (redundant!) for uninterrupted blocks of time? Finding enlightenment alone is certainly a theme that's been visited and revisited throughout human history, but can you find yourself by yourself as well as finding yourself with others?

I think I realized the difference this morning, and I did it all alone.

So here's my take:
You can "find yourself" in the time you spend with others... finding out what you're like, finding out others' perspectives on you and the things you believe in. It sort of puts you to the test and, as I said before, opens you up to other possibilities that you can choose to take, leave, or make something of. The time you have alone is a time to reflect and absorb these experiences, and put them through your own little info-processing-brain-machine. It follows the saying, "In class you're given a lesson and then tested on it; in life you're given a test and taught a lesson from it."

Pertaining to me specifically, I learned that tackling problems by myself, as well as tackling them with help, is a method that should be treated with care, just like tackling problems with others. With others you run the risk of becoming too dependent (a condition to which I've fallen prey more times than I care to mention), and by yourself you risk your own well-being and sociability.

We need others to show us things.
But without applying ourselves to them—if we merely subject to what others say and do—we are products of everyone else. We are no one.

Figuring things out is a cycle, a pattern that alternates between your time spent reflecting on stuff and your time spent exploring. It's all about balance.

I never really know how to end these kinds of blogs, so I'm just gonna hope that you followed that massive train of thought well... and if you didn't, go ahead and leave a question. Comments are fine too :d


Gyllilian said...

You already know how I feel about needing people.

I love people, generally as an idea. Naturally there are counter-examples to this.

In my younger persona, I was obsessed maintaining an impossible level of independence. Consequently, I thought of needing people (and religion incidentally) as a form of weakness.

Growing older has softened these notions of strength independence. It's not so much that I no longer think of needing people as a weakness, but as a necessity (for some people, religion too, incidentally). Yes, this makes us weak, but it also makes us interesting. Our flaws, tragic or otherwise, are the most interesting aspects of ourselves. I'm not ashamed to say that I need people. I would be ashamed to say that I cannot depend on myself.

I am completely in agreement that much of this aspect of our social existence hinders on balance. A balance between, time alone and time with people. Ideally I would want a mix and find ways to enjoy myself and find contentment and enlightenment whether I am alone (figuratively and literally) and when I'm with people.

Naturally, I would use the term "enjoy" as I recently discovered that I'm something of an "Epicurean" as the majority of my life's long term goals are the pursuit of pleasure. It is a form of hedonism, but a high form. That is to say, Epicureans do not only pursue physical pleasures but intellectual. I want to spend my life, eating fine foods, reading good books, watching provocative films, and spending time with interesting and entertaining people that I have the pleasure to call my friends.

There's also sex. That's a good thing.

Jordan said...

Balance and moderation is pretty much key to anything... from how much we hang around certain people, how much time we spend alone, our calcium intake, and how much we work out and sleep. We all naturally get off balance sometimes, but it's fun to rerealize it and hop back on track.

Of course, a little indulgence every once in a while isn't so bad.

It reminds me of that Harvey Steiman quote, "Everything in moderation — including moderation."

Lauren Ashley said...

You also need to remember, when Jesus retreated to be alone, he spent a lot of that time in prayer... so he didn't really leave to be alone, but to spend time with God.

Perhaps that's what it means... take time alone for reflection, work things out with the big guy upstairs, and see where He points you. :)

Loved it.

Russkitai said...

I agree with the 'going at it alone' sentiments. I worked together with someone else on my ling hw the other day and got so much out of just bouncing ideas off each other. I thought you couldn't use nouns after the verb 'jump' but obviously, you can 'jump the fence', which I didn't think of. I like the idea of monks going away, but the crucial issue not to be ignored is that they come back.

Lauren also brings up a good point, and begs the question of what the purpose is of being truly 'alone'. And keeping a balance, as also aforementioned, is essential.