How to fix something broken

Random thoughts

A paradise lost forever

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Nasse, one of the mischievous guardian angels in the still ongoing Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata‘s manga series Platinum End (2015).

I indulged myself in my victim role for too long. I guess I wanted some honorary spot as a saint or a martyr in a Heaven that doesn’t even exist, through useless pain and suffering and egotistic self-sacrifice. Seeking the approval and companionship of angels and a divine presence who had never been there in the first place. There’s no one waiting for you up there to award you the golden medal of endurance. It’s more likely that they’re waiting for you to laugh at your own stupidity, at how you’ve wasted most of your time making a hell of your life down here only to realize in the end that there is no second chance.

Then I wanted to overcome my penchant for martyrdom by trying to become a lively heroine. It’s not that I wasn’t fit for that role. It’s not that my intention wasn’t praiseworthy. I just wanted to be the captain of my own ship, but I was arrogant enough to believe that I could sail with the help of no crew whatsoever.

The role of the hero is too preposterously dramatic: the eternal misunderstood loner. An individual who withdraws voluntarily from the rest of the world since they think their life goals cannot be shared with the rest of mortals. Their excellence is supposed to lie in being capable of withstanding the pressure of having been entrusted with a mission that will put their virtue to the test and make them reach glory. Thing is: where’s the fun in that? What’s the point if you’re not enjoying it at all?

Now, I’m just trying to lay my feet on the ground, as cold and hard as it may be. I just want to be a simple human, with simple goals such as simple happiness. The paradox is that this is even harder that any epic Odyssey and perhaps even much more ambitious. The road is equally lonely and sad, because the decisions are solely yours. The success and the failures are yours, the pain is yours and you need to let it settle. But I guess it’s easier, less worrisome, less selfish… You’re only responsible for yourself, you don’t owe yourself to anyone but you.

The path of acceptance is a hard one. Letting go, realizing that nothing lasts forever, not even you. That nothing will ever go back to what it used to be and trying is just a waste of time. I’m not saying that you need to put up with anything that’s thrown to you along your life, on the contrary. But wanting reality to adjust to your rigid mental structures will lead you to neurosis and eventually, death. It’s ok. Death is what is there at the end of the road. But at least let yourself get there when it’s due time, not out of frustration due to an unrealistic struggle, not as a means to reach an unearthly perfection, not to run away from a reality that is too overwhelming for you.

We’re only humans in the end. No need to be too hard on ourselves. This is nothing but a big dark comedy. Be sure to play your part without remorse or pride and fuck all the rest.

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In this cuckoo’s nest…*

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Actress Frances Farmer (1913-1970). As many others, she was not mad. She was a rebel with a cause.

There’s always a good amount of lucidity in my craziness. Even if you don’t want to see it.

*Alluding Ken Kesey‘s novel and Milos Forman‘s movie One flew over the cuckoo’s nest

In love with the idea of love

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An iconically bored Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in the equally iconic adaptation of Margaret Mitchell‘s classic Gone with the wind (1939).

 

I’ve realized that I hardly ever fall in love unless I’m really bored with life in general. It’s more about falling in love with the idea of being romantically linked to someone and doing romantic things with him/her.

It’s not that I don’t find certain people lovable, attractive, and such. It’s just that I’m perfectly aware that romantic love is more about what you need to fulfill your life at a certain time more than how a certain someone makes you feel.

Comparing love to a drug -which is something that’s been done countless times in pop culture (songs, movies…)- is actually pretty accurate. We get easily fed up with things in our comsumer society. And yes, even our love interests eventually lose their initial appeal. I guess looking for l’amour fou –a sometimes even destructively passionate romance- is our way of challenging and testing our tendency to getting too accustomed to comfort and being trapped in the safety zone. And that’s pretty sick, if you ask me.

Not long ago even a psychiatrist told me that a discussion about including ‘addiction to romance’ in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was being held among professionals. So there you have it.

Let’s be realistic: life is such a fascinating, unfathomable journey, full of enigmatic things ready to be disclosed every step of the way… I mean… why would you miss all of that focusing and devoting yourself on just one individual?

Anger is a gift

Sometimes you just need to indulge in an outburst of fury. Otherwise it might eat away your insides, just like an infected wound that needs some cleaning and airing lest your whole body rots.

It’s not fair that an emotion of negativity that didn’t originally come from your own self ends up becoming a means of self-boycott, self-punishment and self-blame.

Rage allows you to drive away an emotion that does not belong to you and you’ve just inherited.

And let’s get things straight: people who’ve gained things that had been denied to them for long haven’t done it with a smile on their faces. They had to tell themselves that they weren’t putting up with it no more and painfully fight their way through it.

Therefore, sometimes anger IS truly a gift, and as such you have to receive it and embrace it.

At first it hurts, just as, as I said before, an infected wound you need to treat in order for it to eventually heal. And whomever has to endure your rage may hurt as well. Actually the pain you inflict that somebody is directly proportional to the pain you’ve been inflicting yourself, and above all, to the amount of time you’ve been storing up all the uneasiness.

And then again, sometimes it’s just ok to shoot first and then, if necessary, apologize or ask for forgiveness, only when you’ve already forgiven yourself.

Holier than thou?

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Ned Flanders, the American model neighbour in The Simpsons.

No. You’re not a better person just because you put the focus on good deeds and actions at all times. 

What does “being a good person” mean, anyways? It’s all a matter of circumstances, and circumstances make you practical, not good or bad.

Ironically, in religious terms, the obsession with virtue might be the highest form of selfishness and arrogance. A capital sin, to sum up. An a sin that leads to a guilty feeling, probably the most useless emotion ever created (Christianity and Catholicism can be indeed twisted forms of faith).

Likewise, you do not become a better person for repeatedly punishing yourself for your bad deeds and thoughts. 

It might be better to risk it and be confronted, not by God or The Hades in the Final Judgement Day, but by real people who’ve been ofended by you in the everyday life. That’s how you actually learn to be a so called “good person”.

And also by forgiving yourself. Oh, wait: if you’re not guilty, if you’re actually no sinner, why would you need any forgiveness? But it’s true actually that we all need to treat ourselves a little more compassionately.

Even Jesus himself kept it quite simple: “Go and sin no more.” Case filed. Move on.

Adjustment

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Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), Ferris Bueller’s anxious friend in John Hughes coming-of-age classic Ferris Bueller’s day off (1986).

I guess I should make peace with the idea that I’ll never be in peace.

Enlightenment

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A still from Steven Spielberg‘s 1977 masterpiece Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

There is a moment in our lives when we finally become aware of the real meaning of things. Or at least that’s what I believed and have experienced, and I believe it’s the path to follow.

As Plato described in his Allegory of the Cave, we were living in darkness and we eventually see some light through a slit, and by following it we get out of the shades and creep up to a place full of light.

Suddenly, that light blinds us, after having spent so much time in complete darkness. And when we start to walk we stumble, we probe and feel everything around us to make sure it’s safe. But somewhere in the middle we get too scared of not knowing what’s ahead of us and we quickly creep back to the den. We haven’t even given our eyes time to get accustomed to the light.

We prefer the dark. Funny enough, we’ve got to know as little about what’s in the cave, in that tunnel underground -since it’s so dark we haven’t even been able to go far enough to find out- as about what’s under the blinding sunlight. So, fear cannot be a reasonable excuse to remain in the dark. What’s more: if we had given our eyes time to get used to the light, we would have had a useful guide throughout the rest of the journey, as long as it may have been.

Even when being outside of the den the night might have come, we would have realised that darkness was just a temporary blackout; and that after those silent and mysterious hours, sunbeams would light our way again.

A guide to deal with assholes

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Griffin Dunne lives a literal nightmare in Martin Scosese‘s cult masterpiece After Hours (1985).

Remember to repeat this mantra every now and then, in order not to go mad when you come across some asshole:

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)

It’s nothing personal (you’re not the only one they behave like assholes with)…

But it’s oh so hard…

Memento mori

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Frances Conroy as the Angel of Death in American Horror Story: Asylum (2011).

Death or God are not the selfish ones: we are.

We cannot cope with the fact that we die at a certain time and we desperately hold on to life and those around us.

It’s only natural to cry and miss someone when they leave, but it’s not sensible or generous to deny Death when it comes. Not sensible because Death is part of living (just as getting old is), and we should learn to welcome it with peace and serenity, albeit sadness because we abandon life. 
Not generous because the selfishness and posessiveness that make us want to keep someone who’s about to depart by our side (or even ourselves) interferes with the process of mourning, which is necessary to leave this earthly world peacefully.

It should feel just as when you leave a place you’ve lived at for a long time, and people you’ve shared precious moments with.

We don’t have any rituals in our culture that celebrate Death in a natural and open way (or funnily, they’re all rituals that come from paganism). We live with our back turned to it, running forward to catch up with time, like Captain Hook running from the sound of the clock in the jaws of the crocodile.

Our culture is the culture of denial before Death. We should have a permanent reminder since childhood that prepared our spirit for that event. For Death is not the end, not even the worst of outcomes.

Just let the dying die.

Ego & capitalism

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Marshall Arisman‘s 1998 book cover edition of Bret Easton Ellis‘s American Psycho.

Lately I’ve been using the notion of ego quite often in lots of conversations, either they’re deeper or lighter. I don’t really know what people might think when I do that. Perhaps that I’m a lunatic prophet trying to turn them into some cult fanatics.

But the notion of ego I use is very real. Not an esoteric concept, not even the psychological one. But the ego resulting of an unjust system.

Ego is quantifiable. It is political. It is ingrained in our identity, an identity we build by means of enculturation. It is a cover letter an a protection measure against something out there we believe it’s threatening, something we usually imagine to be The Other. 

It shows in competitivity, pressure to gain success, classism, envy, the lack of solidarity… 

Actually, cultures are the building of collective egos, the ultimate ego projections, a system of rules to maintain social cohesion in a group in order to become strong AGAINST another/other group/s. It is the most primal form of unity and corporation, and it has its fullest expression in the capitalist system. Capitalism is a form of culture in itself that’s been spreading worldwide.

I’m sure even the ancient scholars, ascetics and other people who had experienced and wrote about the esoteric aspects of human existence knew about this.

Gaining awareness is not impossible. It’s not something accessible to just a few chosen. Unless those few chosen are the ones who have the money, the power to get the best education, the best jobs, and the most influence and they convince you that that kind of awareness is out of your league.