You just keep going, moving forward slowly, hopefully, perhaps, getting wiser and a little bit better everyday. Even if it seems that all that is being done is the spinning of wheels. Coffee, pastry, or cereal in the morning, work, chatting about nothing really with those who are around, keeping thoughts to oneself…..not quite pretending, but very difficult to be oneself. Good manners are important, keeps the inner primitive in check, that narcissistic aspect, under close scrutiny. There are some who simply live from that wild place and there are times when I envy them, their freedom to simply express whatever is going on, no matter with whom or where. Yet the price can be steep indeed, if that route is taken and perhaps leading to a tighter corner than was supposed, when living out of the unrestrained position.
It is like good manners, they are really needed when around strangers, for it sets up boundaries, wherein it is shown that there is no threat. I bump into a stranger at the airport and I say “excuse me”, that simple phrase means simply….”I mean you no harm, please don’t retaliate”. If around people I know and am known, I might not need to say that, for instance I can say something….”hey look out where you are going”….and it is taken as a joke, or even if angered by it, my statement, I will not be perceived as a threat. However even then, there are limits. For instance if someone I know overreacts in that kind of more relaxed environment, then I become more cautious and even apologize. So yes in public, lacking good manners could be a matter of life or death, or perhaps it could lead to serious injury, or a jostling match with someone, who perceived you as a threat if an ‘excuse me’ was not forthcoming. In public for instance, I don’t look anyone in the eye, or if I do accidently, then I quickly advert my gaze and others have done it with me. It can be disconcerting if a stranger is staring at me, for I wonder what he or she is up to. How else could a large group of people, say in the Atlanta Airport, be able to be together if some form of social behavior that is codified is not in place. Can you imagine someone walking through a crowd and bumping into people or pushing them out of the way without any kind of ‘excuse me’ being in place. I would think at the very least he or she would be arrested, for such behavior points to some kind emotional instability that could be dangerous. It could also cause a tit for tat response and end up as a tragic story in the newspapers. For it is true, we never know what kind of state the person next to us in ( in fact much of the time I am not so sure I know my own) so it is best to keep the playing field clear and without incident.
That goes for me as well. There are days, when I am in a ‘mood’ when I have to be careful how I react when out in public. It is just my being human; I don’t think I am any different than anyone else. I have seen small women go ballistic in public, over some minor incident with a stranger and believe me people gave her a wide berth. I have a feeling a few hours later she probably wondered what came over her…..nothing really, just her inner state, temporary as it was, became manifested to the surrounding people and it scared some of them and perhaps amused others who knew actually what she was going through. Perhaps those who smiled had more self awareness and self knowledge, so they could have some empathy. To find something humorous is not always condescending but an actual understanding of the human situation in all of its rawness. Raw, well yes, I think that is a good word to describe what often has to be dealt with by most people on a daily basis.
It is very difficult at times to simply be a decent human being, to not act out ones aggression, or to react to fear, or to give in to anxiety. Perhaps we are all on a tight rope trying to simply get over to the other side, something which takes concentration and for me, lots of prayers for divine grace to simply help me get through the day at times. The gist of it all, at least for me, my main problem is the relationship I have with myself, which can be called rocky at best, it has never been smooth. In my inner world, I guess I am ok with myself, but when I go a little deeper, well demons do dwell there, my own little collection, just waiting for some outer incident, be it from others, or from a book, or whatever, to become the key to allow them to speak their mind towards me. They are like children, though there is nothing childlike about them. They could perhaps be called childish and narcissistic, getting upset when the universe does not run the way they want it to. Oh, did I say destructive, yes the old saying “to cut off ones nose to spite the face”, would describe them to a tee. So I spend time trying to simply deal with them.
When younger I feared these inner voices, but now, while I am uncomfortable with them at times, I do not have any fear of them. However I know that I need to stay in touch with them, for though repression can be a good thing at times, for me; at least in this regard I don’t think it would be good at all. Better to keep them on the upper floors of my unconscious where they can come out from time to time and speak, or scream their self centered and yes even at times evil rants. Perhaps they are not part of my unconscious any more, yet I feel they are fed by ever deeper streams of inner primordial energy that I can experience at times as rage. No I actually fear losing touch with them. I think if I did I would become depressed and lose all ability to feel anything, or perhaps to see any color in the world around me. It would take a lot of energy to keep these inner aspects of myself quiet, so it would not be a good idea.
I think I am an average human being, so that is why I respect what goes on in others and am wary of strangers. Not in a paranoia kind of way, but seeing other as just another self, like me, who deserve respect for the daily round of ‘****’ that they, we, all have to go through. Some have words to articulate this reality and for some I will sound mad, well perhaps I am, yet I am still on the tight rope just trying to get my self to the other side.
The hardest thing, in my opinion only……is to learn that love for self….. which Christ says is necessary, if I wish to love others. I think I am closer to that than when I was younger and hopefully if I have another twenty or thirty years ahead of me I will continue to seek to fulfill the will of my Lord, though it is perhaps the most difficult thing that I am called to do. Trusting is also a problem with me, but I trust anyway, I love myself anyway, even if my inner state says the contrary. I see others and pray for them, and seek to deepen my compassion and empathy for my fellow men and women. Do I do this because I am good or together, no the opposite. I don’t perceive myself as good, but as a very primitive type of person, just a little south of the border of being a cave man. To this day if I pick up a club, I seem to want to use it, not in an angry way, but in a ‘just wanting to kick ass , and it would be good sport to do it’ kind of way. Like I would want to go out and get a tattoo and buy me a Harley put on some heavy metal music and roar screaming down the road and having a good time doing it. Here I am a ‘old man’ of 61, somewhat over weight, a nice guy for all appearances, yet still darkly primitive underneath, and would not want to be without it, yet it needs to be watched but perhaps impossible to tame. Perhaps that is why many humans or so tired all the time. For just wanting to stay ‘normal’ on the cultural level, which is very important, is in the end, hard work.
Perhaps there are many people out there who are not ‘inner primitives’, not conflicted and I am very happy for them. For me, well I have to learn to be at peace with my inner cave man and yes my inner demons. It is my path and I hope to see it to the end….though to tell the truth, and it is the truth, I do it poorly. Yet I am called to love myself so that I can love others. So compassion is part of the learning process, first for me and then for others…..my brothers and sisters my fellow travelers to who knows where?