Death in Life (4/7/12)

From time to time I remember, all over again, what a prodigious misfit I am within my cultural world—if not within this species! My daimon must either be an avatar or an atavism—or more than a little of both. If I ask myself what is at the bottom of my misfitness, the first thing that leaps to mind is the recognition that the lights I strive to live by are noticeably different from—and often diametrically opposed to—the aims and purposes that almost everyone I know lives by. Sometimes I seem to be trying to undo what virtually everyone in this culture was brought up to do, to seek, to shoot for. I, too, was brought up much the same way, but obviously at some basic level it never took. My notion of freedom increasingly assumes the character of ‘wu-wei’ or ‘not-doing.’ This is certainly not born of laziness—since ‘not doing’ seems, paradoxically, to require a good deal more initiative and concentration than conforming to the generally prescribed norms and hitching my wagon to popularly endorsed pursuits, political figures, opinions, behaviors, etc.

‘Doing’ in the collectively sanctioned and endorsed ways often seems to entail ‘going with the flow,’ something I have instinctively resisted—in large part because this indeed strikes me as the lazy way of going about one’s business, even if such doing frequently involves burning off a lot of calories. It often amounts to a lot of huffing and puffing simply to push oneself further and faster in the very direction in which everything is already heading. (When and if the ‘giant pendulum’ reverses—as I am certain that it always eventually does—those who are first will be last, and those who are last will be first—in the new direction. But staying close to the center is the most prudent and moderate course to follow, I reckon.)

How do I feel about this general situation that I have sketched here? I can honestly say that I am neither happy and content nor ashamed and dejected—but, depending on the day and the circumstances, somewhere in between. The ‘human’ in me understandably longs for the soothing and affirming embrace of my fellow mortals—but the daimon subtly discourages my taking any more than a modest share of such comfort, since a few companions of quality outweigh a battalion of fragments. To continue to remain true and faithful in my service, the daimon limits me to only the most carefully chosen and mutually respectful affiliations with a handful of other like-minded comrades. Thus, soul-making is a kind of death in life, which, as it turns out, is infinitely preferable to the empty life of a dead soul.

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