So in yesterday’s post I wrote (um … to quote myself, which I know is Automatically Pretentious, but whatever):
For what it’s worth, everyone self-harms. Some do it with booze, some with food, some with drugs or whatever. That doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to cut yourself; if that’s what you do, you need to stop that. But just know that the core urge to self-negate is simply part of—and the worst part of, really—being human. Everyone’s life is attended by that pull downward; each responds to it as they may.
So some readers asked me to expand upon that a bit.
Right. So … well, there’s really no news there, is there? People hurt. In a lot of ways it’s just extremely hard to be alive. We all know that; we all feel that. At times we feel it a good deal more than we wish we had to, of course; other times we’re as happy as a frog on
another frog a lily pad.
But again: doi.
I think what does come as news—what, in fact, we basically cannot believe—is that virtually everyone is possessed of the same dismal internal life that we are. That’s the part we’re really, really not designed to believe. Our pain is so special to us—so singular, so deep, so achingly dull and persistent—and mostly so clearly derived, as we’re certainly acutely aware, from our own extremely not to say absurdly unique life experience—that it’s simply unfathomable to us that other people could be feeling, all the time, the exact same awful things that we would no sooner reveal to the outside world than we would take a dump in the middle of the street. (Sorry: terribly crude, I know. But our need to hide from others our persistently reoccurring or nagging feelings of depression is that great. Few are so far gone that they don’t, when the doorbell rings, screw on at least something resembling a happy face. We front.)
We all accept that joy feels the same to all people. But depression, pain, our tendency if not flat-out drive to self-negate? That we feel is in some ineluctable way entirely unique to us.
And in some ways it really and truly is utterly unique to us.
And that’s kind of the rub, right there. That’s where things get determinedly tricky. That’s the vortex into which so many of us continue to find ourselves being sucked.
But before going there let’s back up one giant Mother May I? step.
Here’s the thing: full consciousness—the kind predicated upon free will, basically—demands separation. There is no fully independent consciousness without radical and complete individuation.
So we are, just by being born, automatically apart. We are distinct. We are separate. We are alone.
We are the Other.
And we want that. We want to be inherently, organically alienated. Because literally the only alternative is to be a fundamentally unaware component of some dumbshit Borg. If we’re not fully human, we’re fully automaton. Them’s the rules.
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That’s what people way too often fail to understand about the story of Adam and Eve being banished from the Garden of Eden. That story is the all-time, eternally awesome, 100% perfect metaphor for exactly what it is to be human. It’s just … beyond genius. When Adam and Eve leave Eden, they do so acutely aware of one thing: they are all kinds of alone. They have knowledge—which is to say they understand themselves as separate from everything else, including and even especially from any sort of God or overlord. They’ve individuated. Even from each other: that’s why, suddenly aware that they’re full conscious—once they have knowledge of themselves as individual autonomous beings—the first thing they do is cover the parts of themselves that they’re suddenly aware are most private to them.
And then boom: Off they go, to be and become … well, us.
Everybody thinks The Fall is some huge, deep, rather infinitely complex dynamic. But it’s not that at all. It’s simply a way of referring to the intractable emotional suffering that every human must endure because that endurance is a necessary by-product of being fully conscious—which is necessary for being fully independent, which is necessary for the exercising of free will, which is necessary for the greatest gift we have—the very culmination of our creation—which is freedom.
If we want to be free, we must have free will. And if we want free will, then we must be independent: free will without independence has no meaning. And if we want independence, then we want separation. And we cannot have separation which is not attended by a sense of isolation.
Freedom → free will → independence → you sometimes alone in the dark drinking too much and morosely watching bad TV. Or injecting yourself with something. Or eating until you’ve actually changed your consciousness into something not good. Or cutting yourself.
Man, that is life, right there. It’s not all of life, certainly. But it must and will be part of it—for literally everyone. No one rides for free.
Which brings us back to lé tricky part deluxe. Because while the lives of us each and every one of us must be partially defined by the existential angst that necessarily attends all human consciousness, it is to that hole in the center of our soul that all manner of life-generated craziness attaches itself like tentacled barnacles to the underside of the Good Ship Lollipop. What is in essence natural to us, in the not-so great-on-the-user-end way that seeds are natural to apples, all too quickly becomes unnatural to the point of perversion by the time most of us are toddlers.
And why does that happen?
Because we love that ferociously.
So. We’ll continue this tomorrow, yes?
Love to you guys. And thank you for so thoroughly and wonderfully answering the girl from last time. Awesome of you. And she wrote me to say how much it meant to her. You guys are really making a difference in the lives of others.