Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Reflective Oblivion

There are many spirits, both light and dark.  We should, therefore, be prepared to accept the view that spirit is not absolute, but something relative that needs completing and perfecting through life.

This morning, my Swedish friend (yes, I can have Danish blood and put aside the old prejudices and have Swedish friends), Fred, asked for expressions for a dull, ordinary person.  I came up with the adjectives "dull" "banal" "drab" "bland".  For a fleeting moment of low self worth I thought to myself of myself, because, well, that's how I have been known to see myself.  This temporary low opinion was perhaps bolstered by the truly miserable weather at the moment, no rain, no sun - just a dull, bleak grey sky, devoid of colour, expression, or emotion.  Ideal breeding ground for my SAD in other words.  That aside, this thought was only momentary and brief because, no matter how badly I feel about myself, I don't think I could ever be accused of being "dull" "banal" "drab" "bland" nor "ordinary", and if I am, well it's by people who don't, won't, or will refuse to understand me.

In turn, this led me to thinking of a conversation I was having last night with Heidi, my Finnish friend. Contrary to popular belief not all my friends are Scandinavian; this is not an instance of "birds of a feather flock together" - well certainly not consciously.  I thoroughly enjoy my lengthy conversations with her; English is not her first language, and all too often she worries that her English is "clumsy" (her words).  Yet I really enjoy it when we catch up; it's never a case of "How you are?" "I'm quite fine, and you?", etc...  Our conversations can be silly, fun, yet at the same time can turn out to be serious and profound.  Heidi has gone through a lot in her life so far, but she doesn't seem to have lost her joie de vivre -  despite adversity trying it's damnedest at times to do so.  I find our conversations to be beautiful and honest; they transcend the occasional misspelling, banality, or wrong tense being used.  Her English is spoken from the heart, not from Fowler's Modern English (and it's eons ahead of my Finnish!!)  We were talking last night about sides to people's personalities and I was saying how all people in my life seem to see different sides to me and my being.  She promptly threw the names of various friends and acquaintances at me of  people which I or we have talked about, and asked which and what side(s) they saw of me, and I told her what I believed them to see. 

Recently I was told that part of my "charm" is the fact that I am direct with people, and try not to paint a picture of me as being something that I am not.  I guess some people are disconcerted by this idea; the norm being to paint a wonderful enlightened well rounded individual upon first meeting, and as time progresses the cracks and flaws to start to show through; but always in the hope that the person will like you just the same despite these flaws.  And that this is one's humanity starting to shine through.  Apparently I don't do that.  I let people see most of my being and who I am from the outset.  Admittedly I probably tailor myself to fit in to an extent with the person I am interacting with so as to find common ground and share interests, enthusiasm, knowledge, or whatever.  But I am still myself...  Hopefully I no longer feel the need to wear masks or pretend to be something I am not, I just am.

Talking to Neville about a month ago he said to me at one point that he didn't feel he knew me anymore.  Neville has known me for many years through good times and bad times.  I am the first to admit I have changed from the person whom he first met.  When he first met me I was sheltered, skinny (29 inch waist), shy, stressed, nervous and extremely introverted with little sense of self confidence.  I also had other traits I am even less proud of but I feel that enough of a a picture has been painted of me as the insecure 21 year old that I was.  I have expanded my knowledge, I am not as innocent and naive as I once was, and my waist has gone up and down.  I have changed, I don't feel the need to hide, to pretend, to not be any more.  Yes, I am more set in my ways, although I still am continuing to expand my mind, knowledge, interests, passions.  I try not to make the same mistakes I once did, yet I no longer admonish myself to the extent that I once did for making those fatal errors of judgment.  To quote Jung:-  Error is just as important a condition of life's progress as truth. 

Look in the mirror and you will see just the one reflection (in my case it is admittedly one that has changed in various ways over the years), but I feel that my soul, mind and being have altered.  That said, some of the fundamental traits are still there.  I may well be set in my ways but I do enjoy to expand my repertoire of knowledge and to further grow intellectually and spiritually.  Well, actually, that isn't entirely true, there are days when I wish I had a more simplistic outlook on life, as I feel jealous at times of those who don't feel the need to grow and can just settle for "simple pleasures" or see their lives/interests in black and white.  I am not talking of the minimalist existence as portrayed in Bertold Brecht's "How Fortunate the Man with None" (later sung by Brendan Perry of The Dead Can Dance).  To quote the opening stanzas:-

You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him
And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It's wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.

Upon reading and hearing these words, one cannot help but think and reflect.  The words speak of having none yet the "none" appears to that of gnosis or sophia, i.e. an absence of knowledge, understanding, wisdom.  Though these attributes may appear a curse at times, I feel I should be grateful that I am imbued with such qualities.  Though once again, I suppose if I wasn't aware of such gifts then I would be none the wiser.  With that in mind, I think someone who doesn't possess intelligence and wisdom is somehow aware of the fact, to a greater or lesser extent.  This feeling will either manifest itself in a form of paranoia, where there will be a sense of either others discussing them either front of them or behind their back, or else they will display simple indifference to the fact.  I suppose that is where I am jealous, of those who are indifferent or unaware or the contempt others may have for them, and this acts as self defense to protect themselves against any self-contempt which they might harbour. Again to quote Jung: If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool. 

So what does this make me?  It makes me just that - me; and no one else.  Despite being not always understood, or categorized or branded by others, rightly or wrongly, I still will endeavor to retain my identity and individuality.  The lack of self worth has mostly arisen from external forces, and of those, a significant number of which have been beyond my control or of others misconception (despite my bravest attempts to rectify otherwise) of who I am, internally and externally.  I can only hope that some will hope to see beyond and discover more than so many have ignored, forgotten, disregarded or simply not appreciated.

Maybe too much thinking is a dangerous thing.  I will close with the words of Dylan Thomas.

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

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