There is a pain to growing up, a hurt inherent to not knowing how to ease the woes that accompany a given life.
Woes arising from the truths we dare not face; our identity naturally in opposition to anything that threatens our core underlying beliefs about who we are.
These core beliefs are typically unconscious, childlike assumptions about life, formed at in early age in order to allow us to understand our families, thus becoming our blueprint for navigating the world at large.
This is why childhood patterns of anguish persist throughout adult life. Our guiding stories – paticularly in regards to relationships, and generally from a gender correlative view – in turn become our very limited and incorrect assumptions. It’s as if our parents are the unconscious, assumptive benchmark by which we judge everyone else – for better or for worse.
And from an evolutionary and anthropological standpoint this no doubt equipped us with a set of intutive assumptions about our kin, by which we could cohesively assimilate into primitive, tribal, or village cultures – essentially the world that humans knew for tens of thousands of years before the relatively recent development of modern, high-density societies.
Only, today, instead of a few hundred, interrelated realities intersecting, we’ve got tens of thousands in a given city, all with their own homegrown beliefs about how people are supposed to be. And if you grew up in an average middle class family, with relatively neurotypical parents who instilled fairly vanilla values into you, this might not be so terrible, for you are apt to follow a fairly typical life path, and assimilate healthily into a world that needs more accountants, realtors, or whatever you end up doing; however, if you grew up like I did, which is to say the typical childhood of a writer, painter, or whatever oddity life has made you, well then, your woes are apt to be much grander – at least in your own eyes – for life is a little more difficult for those whose values do not center primarily around fitting in. The artist has world views that often oppose reality entirely, or values which fall into direct opposition to society’s priorities. Read enough ‘great’ writers, and you will see this truth time and time again, both in their characters and in the lives of the writers themselves.
This is why the artist is such a tortured soul. It’s his values that torture him; he is a misanthrope – a castaway from his own people – he worships different Gods, which is to say he cares naught for the trappings of society, and if he does, then he secretely detests what he lacks the courage to renounce.
Story of my twenties; so rife were the last five years with torment; I lived as one does who lacks ample courage to be completely true to himself; in a word, I was miserable.
I spent the last five years trying to escape my woes, afraid to face what I could not, opting instead to cling to my innocence, as if my idealism were the Jedi force by which the world would magically conform to my view of it (This is a fantastic recipe for self-pity, by the way).
Ironically, our futile attempts to deny or escape the truths we find ugliest only strengthen their presence in our lives, proving the adage that, what we resists persists.
I’ve quoted it a dozen times, and I again lay the words out like a blanket on the grass:
Until we make the unconscious conscious, it will direct our life and we will call it fate. – C.G. Jung
The unconscious, repressed truths we feel incabable of accepting posess us, directing our fate back to them in a grotesque paradox. But it’s through the same inescapable and utterly painful truths that we become whole, mature, actualized adults.
For me this has culminated in a coexistence between my ideals and reality.
To quote Jung’s protege, Marie Louis Von Franz:
If we can stay with the tension of
opposites long enough —sustain it,
be true to it—we can sometimes
become vessels within which the
divine opposites come together and
give birth to a new reality.
Which, after years of the unuterable. and inescapable truths I fought to deny kicking the absolute shit out of me, I am finally managing to do; for, my beliefs are in almost all aspects directly oppositional to reality. If I did not posess the learning I do, I surely would have found the chasm between my soul and reality too great, and would likely have killed myself. But, having the balm of art, philosophy, shamanism, and psychology, I have tended my wounds and in the process kept my head.
My soul intact, my heart whole – my spirit resilient – I am ready to dive into the gulf, to live between the hard facts of life and the comforts of my beliefs, refusing to again sacrifice one for the other at the expense of myself.
Wonderfully, at this same time, I am reconnecting to my childhood dreams in a very realistic, almost magical way. I do not want to say too much – for I desire to go about my plans quietly – but it is as if I am becoming who I was meant to be, who I dreamed of becoming. The priviledge of a lifetime, as Joseph Campbell said about being who you are.
The depth I have as a man and as a writer has been hard won, but it would be completely false for me to say my life hasn’t been guided by something greater than myself. And if I had let the world shape my values I simply wouldn’t be who I am, which is an individual – in the most rugged and impractical sense.
Have your life society. Get fucked. Swipe right all day. Keep up with the
I am going to keep on following my intuition, my heart, my G-d, my dreams, my passions, and my purpose.
And that is the difference between you and I.
Reached a truce at truth
Let go after thirty years of youth
Feared the cost
Clung to notions,
In oceans of debauch
Feared for naught
As a youth,
Thought my family was the bad of the lot