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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  November 26, 2008

As Life and Death Unfold

My mindreading ability is quite poor. I end up learning about people through open undirected conversation and genuine questions about what they are thinking, doing, and planning, or even more abstractly wandering with them in what they wish to explore. We are alive only briefly and should have honor enough among friends to have honest discussions, no matter how uncomfortable a truth might seem. The more direct something is discussed, the more quickly we can resolve misunderstandings and address conflicts that have not yet been overthrown.

This approach also means sometimes not raising the obvious. You can't tell moderns what will work or they will sabotage it, nor can tell them what will fail or they will almost surely do it. Oh you clever nihilists and self-destroyers, attempting to prove everything sane, healthy, and beautiful is impossibly out of reach! If they dismiss truths or evade questions, responding with a gentle detachment releases pressure to provide an answer and so the situation can drift away in comfortable denial and obsolescence.

You're going to be here your whole life so it's better to become comfortable and adept with reality instead of burning time trying to evade and deny it. That doesn't mean comformity or rebellion -- both are easy, false answers -- but rather seeing possibility and choosing wisely so you can at all times make for yourself the life you deserve.

By instinct I prefer being a storyteller to being a lecturer, as most knowledge flows from examples of interesting living and events reaching natural conclusions. Even hypotheticals can often be explored through stories, using reality checks at developing stages to assess likely outcomes. As with emotional intelligence, the exploration can only be as good as the raw material being used.

At first it is unpleasant when you sense the rhythm and tempo of what people are doing because you begin to see several steps in advance that they are preparing a harmful failure. How meticulously they perform each step of this ritual! The result becomes inevitable long before it happens, but time remains necessary for its conclusion to develop. Nothing suffices to halt their sequence, nor can they be pushed out of the way of their self-created onrushing bus at the last moment. They have made an alliance with this fate and must perform dutifully to the end. Perhaps their devotion even earns them their destiny. As Schopenhauer wrote, "Every great pain, whether physical or spiritual, declares what we deserve; for it could not come to us if we did not deserve it."

We can only have a thick skin for watching others harm themselves and others. We do not acquire a taste for witnessing destruction, but rather come to a soldier's realistic acceptance that destruction and misery is common in this era of confusion and dissolution. Being smart is no salvation either -- usually that just means more creative mistakes and the ability to go farther when lost before their ingenious ships run aground. After too many viewings of this repetitive carnage, we accept it as "normal" because it is common and can no longer consider it of any great concern, even when people we love are harming themselves and force us to watch their torment.

After all, humans are resilient and our humanity must be also. We can take it on faith that from pain comes wisdom, and from this a broader foundation for contemplation and consideration can emerge. They will do better next time and over time good people will do well in general. Not all is lost.

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