Sunday, March 22, 2015

Self-importance and character

Hairy Woodpecker, near Sparkill, New York

 It's interesting to me to see how insecure most of us actually are about our own nature.

 The reasons for this, on the face of it, seem obvious: we don't know our own nature; and so, when we begin to see who and what we are (an action that forever takes place in the psyche, even unconsciously, whether we want it to or not) we are confronted with a stranger.

It makes us nervous; we pack in rebar, pour large layers of cement over it, develop habitual responses, take refuge in reliable subterfuges that conceal who we are from others...

and move on.

It's as though there weren't time to be anyone real: there's too damn much to do.

 I'll be real later, when I have time to think about it.

Well then. First of all, we are observing ourselves whether we want to or not; the question is whether we do it consciously (with some attention and mindfulness) or unconsciously (neurotically and under the perpetual threat of seeing, and hating, what we are.) One of my friends recently posted to Facebook, "I have low self-esteem, and I hate myself for it." Well, that's pretty much par for the course, isn't it?

Unless we see ourselves with some awareness, we are perpetually confronted with imposter syndrome; and we make ourselves constantly nervous. This is the source of an enormous amount of personal tension.

Paradoxically, in the midst of this insecurity, we construct a persona around the ego that thinks it's very, very important. I often have occasion to observe people with this issue; mostly type A (overachiever) personalities, incredibly accomplished, yet deeply insecure, conflicted, and delusional.

In a way, it's intriguing to realize that human beings, nearly to the last one, don't have any sense at all of themselves, and this massive construct of self-importance they have glued themselves to — a spiritual and psychological burden that is not only entirely unnecessary, and need never be carried, but is so transparent as to be easily seen through: the bigger it is, the more it is so.

Paradox number two: when one realizes one's own nothingness — a lesson that, in my own case, seems to be the whole point of my entire life, in one way or another — this absurd burden is slowly lifted.

One suddenly has permission to be everything that one is, good and bad, and inhabit it. It doesn't make a damned bit of difference, because the sum total of my value, relatively speaking, is nothing. I only have value in relationship to the higher forces that express themselves in me; and those aren't my forces either. Freedom means coming into service of those forces; so in a certain sense, surrender and bondage leads to freedom.

I'm not quite sure how to explain this and further, because I understand it seems a bit ridiculous to say so.

In any event, it's this question of our self-importance, and our inner character, that interests me. There is so much psychology, so much defense, and so little humanity built into the way most people meet one another, it puzzles me. When I interact with people, I am almost never interacting with the person; I am interacting with their defenses, which is what everyone seems to hold up in front of the world first.

It's like an iron shield...

people don't deal with one another from the feeling, the sensation of their humanity...

they deal with one another in a series of elaborate lies and defenses.

What is the point of all this?

Doesn't anyone realize we are all going to die?

It occurs to me that we might owe one another something a bit more sincere than this charade we all participate in.


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