Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Gun Question

I have stated in the past here that I support the second amendment.  I wanted to make sure that this is clear at the beginning.

When I was young, before I started high school there was this thing called a seriel killer.  These were people like Bundy, Gacey and Manson.  They were a new phenomena,  This isn’t to say that this type of thing hadn’t happened in the passed.  It was just that it was so rare as to not be significant.  In the late 60s and early 70s it became significant.  It was a trend.  I suppose there are always predators in our midst.

It seems to me, I have no sources to quote here, that this type of crime began to fall off sometime in the 90s.  I always thought that the Vietnam war had something to do with it and it just took that long for the curse to work its way out.  That war was a war of aggression.  It was about control.  It was ugly and our military was largely conscript.  Of course that could be utter bullshit.  It just as easily could have been due to the presence of lead in the atmosphere.  You know, from leaded gasoline.

All of this is simply prelude.

Over the last two decades there has been a rise in this thing people and the media call Mass Shootings.  Again these acts happened before.  Back in the 80s it was called going postal.  These early shootings most often happened at work places.  Not that schools or churches were exempt.  They were just less common.  There were explanations at the time as to the whys of the event.  They were highly individualized.  It was unusual to hear the term disgruntled employee.  These crimes seemed to be rage related.  A final straw that broke the camels back incident.  I haven’t really researched this so I might be very wrong and or terribly biased.  For simplicity’s sake lets just say that these mass shootings were not only rarer but also different in nature.  This doesn’t excuse the incidents.  We are talking about degrees.  I am also letting you know that I have lived here in our fair country for some time.  I have memory, as faulty as it may be.

This trend in mass shootings over the last two decades though is different.  It seems to be hyper predatory.  Serial criminals were predatory too but their crimes were committed in private.  Their targets were vulnerable individuals like the elderly, those that lived alone, prostitutes, the inexperienced youth.  These were often the kind of individuals that would not be missed.  These new events that the media calls Mass Shootings are more like a spectacle.  Their target looks to be more often than not crowds.  These things are real attention grabbers.  Even those on the internet can’t help but to talk about them.  The targets are often schools, places of worships, night clubs, concerts and other public places where crowds gather.  They seemed to be designed to create panic during the incident and gather the most attention.  They look as if they are designed to cause the greatest possible fear among the citizenry and the media appears to amplify this effect.  The news coverage often describes so political motive or ascribes some type of mental health history.  That allows for the label of terrorism which may be true but I don’t understand it as such.  What effect are these killings hoping to achieve?

There would be a tendency for one at this point to drift into some Conspiracy Theory.  This is understandable as the crimes described are so hard to understand.

Some of these Mass Shootings are so frightening and disturbing to the public that the government must weigh in on them.  Some declare that there is need for more and stricter gun control.  Others insist that there is need for more funding to mental health services.  There is some arguing over which is more important, just enough arguing until some distraction comes along and the disaster disappears from the public consciousness until it happens again.  It seems as if this phenomena is beginning to be accepted as normal which I believe is what is referred to as normalization.  This is not to say that nothing has been done as some states have passed red flag laws.  Still this is nothing more than the treatment of a symptom.

I wonder about the Federal Government sometimes.  It seems to me that as a group, in the most general sense they are most afraid to do anything that would upset the domestic status quo.  That they want to do as little as possible other than cut taxes and increase military spending.  It feels as though their livelihood depends on doing as little as possible.  That actually following through on any statement about possible solutions to this problem might cost them in the next election.

I personally feel that both mental health and simply supplying enough cash to enforce all ready existing gun control regulations would be a good start.  These though only treat the symptoms.  I honestly think that we have not dealt with the cause.  There is this term, Gun Culture.  I don’t understand what it means.  I don’t know anyone that worships guns.  I haven’t heard of any gun holidays or parties you have to bring a gun to.   But the in film criticism there is the term Male Gaze.  That took me two years in which to gain some understanding.  Academics and the academically minded tend to speak in a code that leaves the rest of us out of the conversation.  It could be just a way of stating that we Americans are violent.  It could be that all people are violent by nature.

I don’t know.  Are we Americans violent?

Do we have the right to kill other people and if we as a group don’t have this right do some of us under certain circumstances have that right?  Well. women have the right to choose, at least in most states.  Is terminating a pregnancy violent?  I think in the simplest of terms it is taking a human life.  There fore I think it is violent.  I support a woman’s right to choose but I can also admit that it is a violent act.

What about the death penalty?  Is that violent?  We can say that our death penalty is humane but that does not change the fact that it is a premeditated act of killing or murder.  We can agree murder is violent whether you support the death penalty or not.  I generally don’t support the death penalty but I also don”t actively work against it.  It is like I said with a woman’s right to choose, just because we agree with a policy we should still be able to be honest with ourselves.

Police related shootings are obviously not premeditated but they are violent.  I have felt for some time that the internet has been amplifying the number of police related killings.  That the reality is that they haven’t actually been increasing as a percentage of population.  I don’t know this.  I haven’t done the research.  It is just a feeling.  There is a problem with this feeling though.  The idea that the rate of police related homicides hasn’t increased.  That we simply didn’t know or if we did we didn’t care is alarming.

I think that it is safe to say that our military possesses the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction of any group or nation on God’s little green earth.  This fact is a statement about the intent to do something very violent.  Does that massive ever present arsenal create some unknown complex in our national sub conscious?

When we look at our governments foreign policy it is hard not to notice that we (in the national sense) tend to support groups and nations that are engaged in violent activity.  We ourselves, as recent history has shown, willfully engage in the use of military force to achieve our policy goals.  As I have said previously, the individual is free to take what ever position they feel strongest about, this is something like a democracy after all.  It appears to me that the state can easily engage in violence as it sees fit.

This is not the results of some scientific study.  This is just how things look from where I sit.  It is simply a statement of what appears to be obvious to me.  That we are a violent people.  Maybe all humans are violent but I have never lived any where else.  We can have a long conversation about how we got here, to this place.   We can look at the custom of the open hand whether it is over head, at the side or waving a greeting or farewell.  We even offer an open hand in friendship with a hand shake.  These motions, I have heard it said, are a sign that a person is not armed.  That they are vulnerable.  A handshake is an indication that both are unarmed and vulnerable.  I have always heard that this tradition comes from Europe but I can’t say that I know that to be so.  Simply put it is a tradition in my country, America.  The idea that there would be a need for such a thing indicates a wild and violent nature that is in the very least we subconsciously acknowledge.

Whether this violence is part of the nature we were born with or is a thing we have learned or even some combination of the two.  This though doesn’t matter for the point I am trying to make.  People, individuals, are complex beings.  The vast majority of our own minds are unknown to us.  There are impulses and influences that contribute to how we think and how we perceive the world and our role in it.  We often obscure the darker less pleasant aspects of our own self, our own motives.  In essence we lie to ourselves.  Sophisticated people can use this mental habit against us and mislead us.  This is rarely for our own benefit.

If we believe that we are the bestest, the brightest and the most free people, nation, group of individuals but we are not willing to look at the monster that lies with in then we are unaware.  We create monsters out of the others, those that are not ours who are otherwise just like us.  We build enemies out of rage and paper or stand in fear of shadows with gun in hand.  Being moral, even if it is just one moral is hard.  There is risk in such behavior.  Being moral means having less, less money, less food, less medical care, less security and less recognition.  It is a quiet thing.

In the very least, if we cannot admit that we are a violent people.  That this violence sometimes makes up our minds for us, decides our course of action, then maybe we aren’t grown up enough to own fire arms of any kind.

I find this conclusion uncomfortable as I have supported the second amendment my whole life.  I still support it, if we are adult enough to have the right.

I don’t know.  It just a thought.

Have a better than average day.

Giggler

Sometimes when I speak

the words come into the world easily

with clarity

Other times they hit the air in a rush like Jetsam

on a rushing river

and Yet again these statements seem to hit the atmosphere

like a meteor from Pluto

I find as I get older that it becomes more difficult to self censor

It could be a lack of energy

a weird exhaustion

or maybe I no longer care

I don’t think it maters

I’m just a squatter

on this rock

Strange as it maybe I find that I crave silence now more than ever

It was a learned thing

silence

My words out of place

out of step

drew narrowed eyed glances

side wise stares

there was something strange there in those others’ gazes

as if they beheld something alien or irritating

It’s me, I tell myself

my eyes my senses that are the foler

The trickster

Still I try to conform

to simple social norms

Over the years I have gotten better at it

Until

I relax

I speak

The words make sense to me

But for the listener, for the outside there is a shock

They seem as it they had been struck

by a board

the sudden realization

That the label really belongs where it has been stuck

That I am a giggler

I snuck through

camouflaged

But now with age

That thing that caused me ebaressment

that label of shame

now produces cosmic hilarity

I don’t know,

I guess you had to be there

 

Does Justified Equal Moral?

Objective and Subjective are such strange phenomena.  They seem so simple, separate and obvious.  I vaguely remember when I started to become aware of the the way the two very different realms of reality began to bleed together and obfuscate each other.  It was a slow process and it had an element that I could only call seductive.  I think I was largely lucky and nothing more than that because I caught it before it caught me.

I began to have strange experiences when I was 13 years old.  I freshman was  high school when I started to see my first occasional shadows.  They came at times of severe stress generally when my family was having some kind of a problem.  Mom and Dad were going through a bad time in they’re relationship and they were fighting once or twice a week, sometimes more often.  I cannot ever remember these times resulting in violence b ut I do recall sitting in the shadows at the top of the front stairs to the second floor listening.  I rarely slept as it was.  These shadows started to appear late at night in my bedroom on the walls or ceiling.  They didn’t have any particular form although my mind was capable of seeing some kind of a shape.  The experience was intense, I was alone at night when it happened and it was frightening at first.  I told no one about these things.  Over time gear changed to curious and then finally I felt a strong urge to protect myself.

I was raised catholic and I remember praying to God for help, but God did not answer.  This caused my stress to increase.  I had been reading my school assignments.  I read some political books my mother had given me, books I still have and Pulp Fiction for leisure.  Feeling abandoned by God, the increased stress and the intense sense that I was under some sort of spiritual attack I decided to meditate.  In these meditations I went inward and started to listen to my own thoughts.  I also learned to feel and relax my body.  If I focused on anything it was to try astral projection but that never happened.  There was a part of me that truly believed that this was a spiritual phenomena and I still think it is easy to see why.  At the same time that another part of me thought that it had to be something else, something with a scientific explanation.  The spiritual aspect was extremely seductive.  It felt good to think their might be something extraordinary about me.  That’s the seduction and if it was true I wanted to understand it from what I took to be an objective point of view.  Thus my reading changed.  I started reading out side of school nonfiction, psychology, philosophy, physics, biology, mysticism and the occult.

I still kept this a secret but when I asked my Mother to find something for me, on any particular topic she would get it for me.  She was an RN but she had close friends that worked at NASA.  I didn’t ask often, which I regret now and I never told her why.  I think she knew something was going on but she didn’t ever press it.  I didn’t talk to my father or ask him for books and such because at the time he didn’t strike me as the type, a thing I also regret now the he too has passed.  At the time it struck me as the kind of thing one didn’t bring up in casual conversation.  I felt there might have been negative consequences.  IN retrospect I realize that this was an assumption.  It is true that ridicule was likely but not guaranteed.  It was at the age of fourteen that I first read General Relativity: A theory any man can Understand. I remember thinking that Einstein must have had a strange idea about what any man was, but I did take something away from the effort.  The World you live in is dependent on your perspective, your frame of reference.  The way the world looks, how it feels and smells is all dependent on your inner world.  Its more than attitude.  I fully realized that this wasn’t what Einstein meant by “frames of reference in motion.”  That’s just what I took from it.  Correct or incorrect it didn’t matter as the experiences began to fade and I became more relaxed.  By the time I graduated High School I only had memories of the original experiences left and you all know how funky memory can be.

My Mother always regretted that she didn’t try for medical school.  I remember her saying that she didn’t think it was possible as no one told her she could.  So she made sure to tell all three of us that we could do anything we wanted to do.  I feel to this day that she really believed that and so did I.  Its in this way that the pendulum swings from far on one side to way far on the other side.  Otherwise I was woefully unprepared for college.  I made the mistake of thinking it was just an extension of High School.  I also chose a hard science major, Physics and Chemistry.  My private readings had shifted more towards history and the Occult.  I had taken an interest in perception, with the physical senses.  I was taking psychology on the side because I was interested in it and was unaware of the fact that it wouldn’t count for any of my electives.  Like I said, unprepared.  That was the first blow to my world view.  How can Science be objective if the very tools we use to observe, our senses, are subjective in nature.  Nobody likes to hear that and sometime they get really offended when I bring it up in causal conversation.  I’ve been yelled at about it rather than given a constructive counter argument.  I must have struck a nerve.  I know I found it unsettling.

I started my collegiate journey at the local community college.  That was where I encountered the notion that we are only front of the mend aware of about 1% of all the information our Brain (?) processes.  Discomfort changed to fascination and curiosity, you know, the thing that killed the cat.  College was a more open environment.  There was always some one talking about the stranger things.  While I was at the community college I listened more than I spoke.  I tend to be more or less silent in new places until I get comfortable.  There was topics like Mysticism, the Occult and various subjects from the worlds of New Age and Paganism.  This would continue at main campus when I made the transition.  There I had a broader circle of friends, some old many new.  It was there that the shadows returned.  Maybe it was a stress reaction as the subject matter I was studying had increased in pace and difficulty.  It might have been that I was over complicating the whole mess.  It also could have been that I was undermining my subject matter subconsciously while I was trying to master it.  I can’t really say for sure.  The shadows though no longer inhabited the night, they now came out in the light, in crowds and in small groups.  I began to watch the people around me as these odd shadows crept across the floor.  I wanted to see if any of them noticed.  None of them ever seemed to or if they did they in now way acknowledged it, I though of it sort of like living right next to train tracks.  The first few days you can’t help but notice the trains as the pass, rattling the apartment and waking you in the middle of the night.  But in a short time you no longer notice.  I thought this might be the thing with the shadows.  Of course there was always the possibility it was some sort of mean trick or twisted practical joke.  There is danger in these types of thoughts, I understand it now but at the time it was truly a mystery. The shadows looked so real and I couldn’t figure out how they were being cast.

I was sleeping less and meditating more.  My mind was getting noising and fucking with me, causing me to react in ways I didn’t understand and didn’t like.  I felt I had to get on top of this thing before it got on top of me.  So the meditations became about quieting my mind.  I was looking for something Carlos Castaneda called internal dialog.  The mind talks to itself it seems, not that unusual of a concept I thought.  I found myself in a small experimental group.  I was gently nagged into it.  We started with the Ouija Board and moved on to ghost hunting and other stuff.  I was the baby sitter, for the most part, watching to be sure things didn’t to far out of hand.  Emotions and moods can run high and become unpredictable in these types of circumstances.  A lot of baffling, weird and frightening stuff happened.  Now I wonder if I unwitting contributed to it.   Shadows became things, demons mostly.  I started hearing things.  Voices and clear words.  There was no murmuring and whispering to start, just voices, some familiar, some not, almost all of them unpleasant.  One might say the the occult experimental group and the change in the visions and the appearance of voices are some how connected.  I can understand that.  There was something about these visions though that was different, they had a two dimensional quality like a movie.  That didn’t change the way my body reacted to them.  The same physiological sensations as if one is surprised or about to be attacked or even shot at.

The things about running head long into one’s limitations is that the experience is most profound when the individual doesn’t believe thy have any limitations.  The experience can be crippling.  Needless to say college and I filed for divorce.  The hallucinations and voices only became louder and more present.   Even people I knew, except for two, would change, growing horns or taking on a demonic visage.  I would begin to worry that I had said or done the wrong thing and upset people.  I did seek treatment.

People tend to project onto other people their own experience, their own frame of reference of world view.  I became aware of this by accident, I guess.  Along with the increased psychotic symptoms there was also a growing, burning rage.  I was keenly aware that I might hurt some one and I didn’t want to do that.  It was becoming very difficult to baffle that surge of energy.  Part of me felt that the person about to take the brunt of it deserved it, they had it coming.  My mind had constructed the argument all based on several assumptions about their motives and their moral inclination, whether they were good or bad.  It was my realization that these assumptions might be wrong, they were assumptions after all, beliefs shouldn’t be confused with facts.  That baffled the rage and gave me the time to deal with it.  I still paid a price, high blood pressure.

It is uncomfortable, but true.  We all drink the Kool Aide.  Often we don’t even know its Kool Aide and can’t discern who’s is filling our cup.  That is the nature of the drink.  IN a time with the reemergence or various ists and isms, though the on fringes it is good to be aware of the certainty that comes with that cup of Kool Aide.  Humanity suffers from a terrible form of moral relativism.  We understand that a action is immoral, such as beating some one or killing them.  We all get this.  Yet that damn Kool Aide helps to create an illusion of some great threat, a threat that must be confronted violently.  This logic often has an appeal to vanity and fear.  Once the point of view sets up like concrete then the actor is justified.  If an opponent used the same tactic then its is simply more proof of their villainy.  Dynamics like this have a way of becoming self perpetuating.

There was a time when I believed that if everyone would just settle down and try and talk to each other that this friction could be eliminated.  I was young and Idealistic.  Through dealing with the hallucinations I realized that some things or people will simply resort to violence.  There will be no discourse.  It is impossible for me to tell who will be and who will not.  I am at an impasse.  What to do in such a situation?  Resist Violence with violence and risk becoming that which you fight.  React peaceably and passively and run the risk of being crushed under foot.  It will either be just a short period of a few years Nothing at all.  or the beginning  in a shift in the moods of populations everywhere.

When I called out to the divine in my youth I felt I got no answer, He or she, didn’t come, didn’t appear in my heart.  I had always assumed that I had been abandoned.  Maybe I have.  Or, Maybe the Divine came to my aid.  Just not in a way that I could see or feel.  I don’t know how I managed to navigate all that.   We human’s so desperately crave objective validation.  If it was just luck I think I’ve blown probabilities out the window, not that my thoughts on the subject matter all that much.

In the end its simple faith, not in a book, or a place or a gender.  The Divine is alien to us.  I don’t know how it works,  I don’t know what it is.  It simply is.  I try to listen for the sound of it.  I make the effort to treat each person as an unknown until I know them.  Respect is nothing more than simple manners.  It is not torture, it doesn’t take extra effort.  You just have to slow down and try and see clear and straight.  So if you feel the current begin to drag you in a new direction remember to taste the Kool aide before you drink  We may not be able to change the world but we can change the way we interact with it.

If you got all the way to here, I thank you and hope that it wasn’t too difficult of a read.

Have a better than average day.

Able to Reason or Reasonable?

Civilized is a term that is often used to describe a people or nation.  There are terms used that reflect on these notions of civilization such as deplorables.  It is hard for an outsider such as myself not to notice what human beings are capable of and what they have accomplished.  We have built a world, the world of people.  This world of people lies inside a greater natural world.  The human world is so vast, at least from my seat, that its takes us a great deal of effort and a great distance of travel to finally find these human free natural spaces.  I much enjoy those natural spaces and I have found after spending some time, usually week to weeks, that when I find my way back to the human world I see and feel the technical comforts with new eyes and new hands.  It is strange how I have to be away for a time to truly appreciate the wonders civilized humans have created.

If we take a moment and think about it there is only amazement at what has been accomplished.  The Stone canyons of the great cities, mass transportation by rail or wheel on time most of the time.  The machine coughs up currency when you ask for it, as long as you have enough available in your account.  Flip a switch and on comes a light.  Hot water is delivered to your sink or shower by some invisible entity.  Busy people heading about their day all running on the same clock.

Amazing.

We can fix on the negative and the crumbling and lose sight of the wonders around us.  The mind is a powerful and strange thing.  Obviously these wonders were accomplished by planners, bosses and laborers, various skills in specialized sets.  The educated have a tendency to undervalue skilled labor, I know I used to do it.  Now I simply marvel at the skill with either numbers or trowel and hammer and wonder where all such knowledge came from.  I hold the strange opinion that all this skill and knowledge has been generated by people.  As I said the mind is an amazing thing.

Logic or the ability to think rationally is one of those things our minds allow us to do.  People can rationalize about any situation, It can be a coping mechanism or a tool for destruction.  I watch some dark documentaries on You Tube from crimes like serial rape or murder to coverage of this or that war along with news,  Lots of people hurt or grieving visibly over the loss of the loved one(s) in very much the same way.  Whether by a mass shooter, a serial killer, a 2000 pound block bluster or a hellfire missile.   I am left wondering how these victims would react to each other even across national lines.

Are we still capable of seeing each other as people.

sometimes I think we do, that’s why so few of us can look over the pond at the horrors great countries are inflicting on the world.  That we avoid staring unblinking at the pain an suffering in the world.  What can one person with little means do anyway?

I’ve come to this conclusion:  The Actor (any given individual) is always justified in their own mind for any Action they (any given individual) are about to undertake.  This is called rationalization.  There is a logic to it even though it may be inscrutable to an outsider.  I came to this conclusion when thinking about serial killers, captains of industry and leaders of nations.  When I strip away the position, the authority an look at the act itself, the level of premeditation, the tools used, the people affected and the penalty, if any.  I find my self at an impasse.  Obviously some people can kill massive numbers with out any real consequence.  How can this be?  All I can figure is how the individual and the people around them think about the act, the whys and wherefores.

IN other words how they rationalize it .  As earlier stated.

The Actor is always justified in their own mind about the action they are going to undertake.

When I was younger it was easier to think about these things and make a judgement.  Over time the net of judgment widened and then became tangled.  My Grandfather was right.  The older I get the more I realize how little I actually know.  Everything comes into question.  I am riddled with doubt and aware that I have so few facts.

So what is there that I can do?

I do one simple thing.  I try and practice mental hygiene and use care to keep the way I think anchored and try and stay aware of the people in the world around me.  Stay conscious of the consequences.  I often find this exhausting.  But is is necessary because I have been close to a terrible action in the past.  That time I was doubly lucky as no one got hurt and I didn’t get locked up.  I don’t want that situation to arise in my mind again.

This process can be exhausting.

I have a reason for writing this thing but it slipped away about a quarter of the way through the process.  Win some lose some, I guess.  I hope this is of some use and if not…

have a better thsn average day anyway.

Think About it?

We will all loose and we all will be lost.  It is an existential question.  The terrible limitation on our little mortal lives.

We all know this to be true.

I have heard it said, more often in movies and stories than in real live conversations that no one wants to die alone.  The reality, I think, is that we all do.  Though there may be people around us who care or whom we care about and possibly that we all start to travel this road as a group, in the end it is a journey that we take alone.  It is the same way that we cone into the world.  There are people there when we finish but we still take the voyage by ourselves, even in the case of twins.  These processes produce in us a great unknowing.  We know that we came from some place and we suspect we are going someplace, possibly the same place, but these regions are beyond our reckoning as a group at the very least.  As an individual one or many of us may have has some experience that causes us to know or believe we know something of one of these places or possibly both.  This is individual knowledge and this knowledge is difficult to translate into the shared reality, that is the nature of the Mystical Experience.  This is why I hold various ancient religious text within a narrow gaze.  What ever experiences generated said text have been lost to the efforts of other more scheming individuals,.  This topic is about as popular as death and politics.  But it is important none the less for us living today.

We remain silent on these things mostly as rooted in them is the most powerful fear any human, except the foolhardy, experiences, the fear of the unknown.  Our defense is to ignore.  Humans with certain noteworthy exceptions, myself included, possess an amazing power hidden in their ability to concentrate, to focus.  They can ignore so profoundly as to blot conscious knowledge from their minds.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it is still there like a great stone wheel slowly grinding toward us from behind.  We cannot out run it and we cannot hide from it.  We do the only thing we can, we ignore it.  The result is a creeping stress.

Add on top of this the stress of every day life as most of us experience and it becomes easy to see why people are getting sicker and sicker.

I have no idea what if anything can be done about it.  Even if something can be done will the greedy powers that be take the time to even consider it?

We shall have to see.

I’ve said it before and I will say it  now.  We each have to find that thing we love and make time for it, be it thing, hobby, place or person.  The only other suggestion is spend as much time as you can in the moment, after all we have only a few and it is best not to waste them.

Have a better than average day.

Nostalgia

My mind’s wandering wondering eye

Find’s its attention fixed

on dusty archives of life’s long lived lies

Memories’ faded photographs

tales, legends and lore as nothing is ever quite as it seems

countless voices like an over crowded aviary

clutter your thoughts

grandmother, father

grandfather, mother

brothers, sisters, friends and others

viewed through the warped lens of the moment

the foreshadowing of youth’s promised failures

you cannot know then what you know now

you can’t go home

you must make home where you are

find your place in the sun

or the moon

what ever that means

Yet another Adjustment

There is a beginning to these things and this beginning is a type of back story or an ethic if you prefer.   At its heart it the idea of a great quest.  A Great Quest is a concept one might encounter in a common novel of the fantasy variety.  I an sure that it occurs in other places as well but I have no examples that stand out in the front of my mind.

A great quest can be as simple as a journey through dangerous country or saving the princesses from a band of highwaymen and it can be very complicated like building an empire, discovering some long lost artifact or rediscovering some bit of knowledge that has been long lost. All of these are similar themes that run through many a story but the idea itself is not that foreign to our daily lives in a non fantastic context.  It is important to note that the Great Quest is not limited to fiction.  There are Great Quests that happen here and now in our shared reality, maybe not as glamorous as rescuing the princess but great none the less.

For instance, going for a higher education beyond a Bachelors for the sole purpose of gaining insight into a thing that is otherwise incomprehensible to you.  This could take a life time and odds are their isn’t a weekly paycheck in it for you, not that you can’t turn that knowledge into cold hard cash its just that the process is different.  A cashless journey to a far distant land and staying for a year, a life time or somewhere in between, even raising a family and keeping said family together is a Great Quest.  For myself the Great quest was knowledge, it was the world I wanted to understand, the human condition and why reality was the way that it was.  This great quest had two lines of attack, one the hard sciences and the second, the occult and mysticism.

Now that I think of it that probably should have been my first warning there that odd combination of seemingly incompatible fields of study.  To me though it made perfect sense as I had extrapolated them from a quote attributed to Carl Gustave Jung, “Psychology and physics are facets of the same concept.”  To me it seemed only natural to infer that Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, the Occult and Mysticism were all facets of the same concept, in this case human consciousness or humanity itself if you like.  Of course there will be time management issues but I felt as I slept very little that I should be able to manage.  I had contingency plans if something got derailed or if funding dried up or even if I needed to transfer schools in mid stream.  What I didn’t have contingency plans for was failure.

It has been said, by my Action Theory Professor that one cannot plan to fail.  One might argue that a contingency plan is a way of dealing with failure but I think these plans are for foreseeable obstacles and away of planning to succeed.  The Great quest is very much like a horse pulling a load.  Horses in this case often wear blinders.  These are used to keep the horse from being spooked by the various happenings around he or she.  People on the great quest also wear blinders in this case allowing them to concentrate full energy on the goal before them.  The down side to this is that when an event comes out of left field you don’t see it until just a fraction of a second before it makes contact.  This spells disaster and that disaster, in my case, was a mental breakdown.

I distinctly remember the sensation that all of that knowledge in Calculus, Wave Mechanics, Differential equations and Organic Chemistry stood like a house of cards built on shifting sands and when it collapsed it took a great deal more with it.  I was aware that I wasn’t going to be able to proceed into the Masters program right away, that I would need experience so that I might reinforce and strengthen the shaky knowledge I already had but at no point did I think I was crazy.  The thought never crossed my mind.  I entered the work force with out my degree thinking that in time I could go back and finish, the thought of collapse still hadn’t crossed my mind.  The hardest thing was the realization that the goal I had been working on since the age of 12 was now unobtainable.  That all that time and effort had made little or no difference and that not all problems could be overcome or goals achieved through nothing more than hard work.  Reaching this realization though would take some years.  I just couldn’t keep from continuing the act of pounding my head against the wall.  I think it was those blinders that kept me from grasping the reality of the situation more quickly.  In a weird way it was like suddenly finding yourself in prison, through no fault of your own and in this case the bars of the prison were your own mind.

What to do?

Everything had changed.

Rage was beginning to build.

I could plop down in front of a television and booze it up until I died.  Lots of people do that or something a kin to this each year in these days of late.  This is not new, people have been drinking themselves to death forever it seems, now its prescription drugs.  The difference is just the age.  I had to redefine myself.  I had to give up the great quest and turn it it into a hobby of sorts, something of a passing fancy I could dip into on rare occasion.  But that was only part of the solution, I also had to find something to do with myself, something I enjoyed.  This was very difficult.

In reality it comes down to how we define ourselves.  Many of us define our self by the Great Quest, or possibly a job description and even that we are a parent or wife or husband, when we lose this key definition, an idea so deeply entrenched in our minds and for so long that we aren’t even aware it is there.  It is a large part of who we are.  When this is gone it puts us at a loss.  We have a definition of ourselves that has been removed from our existence.  Finding a new direction is practically impossible without first realizing that underlying definition.

I can’t tell anyone how to do this, I don’t think there is an expert out there that can.  This is one of those instances where our individuality is most apparent.  We are peculiar beings.  In the end all I can do is point out that it needs to be done but I have no idea where the guideposts are or what they say.

To anyone going through something like this all I can do is wish you God Speed.  The only advice is introspection and perseverance.  The only wish…

Have a better than average day.