Monday, November 16, 2009
We all are...
I find it so interesting how different two brothers can be, even raised similarly in the same family. My brother Allison was describing the differences between his two very young sons, and I asked him if he saw any similarities between them and us when we were that age. He said in his reply email that he couldn't see any obvious similarities, but added half-jokingly that he and I were skewed and damaged by the events of our childhood until we were 30. This, to me, pointed out the differences between us.
For instance, I see skewing and damage as inevitable results of being born self-conscious human beings. Whereas he seems to idealize the state of childhood somewhat and believe that if it weren't for the damage done to us as children, we would all be better people.
I think we'd just be fucked up in different ways.
I think being human is to be fucked up, that is to say wounded, conditioned by early traumas, stuck in the past, etc. There are different flavors and intensities for sure, but we're all, in my view, everyone of us, wounded, groping, overly something, underly something, not fully alive, all fucked up.
Great joy is possible, of course: the pleasure of living a creative life and loving nature and other people (all of which I experienced all through my childhood and still do), but I think we mostly miss the mark by a pretty good measure. I just see damage as so inextricably part of being human. I've never met anyone in my life who wasn't damaged in some core way. Life is damaging to all living things and ends up killing us in the end. To me, the task of existence is to connect with life and express myself as best I can in spite of whatever inevitable damage has occured. Preventing it seems mostly impossible. In fact, tons of damage gets done by people trying not to do damage. I would even go so far as to say: To have children is to damage them.
(I have a song about this on my new album, Flow More~Force Less, called "Scarred For Life". It's on my site under Musical Recordings. Other relevant songs, also on the new album, are "Grateful For The Shovel" and "I Don't Care What You Call Me".)
I hardly ever focus on what was done to me, or how I was damaged. I only want to touch life as fully as I can with whatever parts of me feel alive and functioning. True, I did a lot of work on myself, my body and its capacities when I was younger, to wake up as many parts of me as I could that felt asleep, but basically, with a few exceptions, the changes I made were modest. I'm still basically the same person I always was, I've just learned a few things, tossed a few patterns, and done as much of what I wanted to do as I could.
I've had a lot of pleasure in this damaged body, much more it seems to me, than many other people I've met who seem much less damaged in the standard sense. Then I look a little closer and I see that their joys are different from mine, that they value different abilities, and that they're as alive as I am, just doing different things.
Everyone seems obsessed to me. Seriously obsessed. Everyone. We're just obsessed with different things. We tend to look at other people's obsessions and call them "sick" or "obsessive" as though they had a disease and we're fine. But I have never met a single person who wasn't obsessed with something. Sometimes it wasn't obvious, but everyone seems to have something they can't say "No" to, something they "have" to do. In my view, it makes us all equal. We're all obsessive nut cases. Some are just more visible, or honest, or sneaky, or dangerous, or transparent, or legal, or societally approved of at the moment. I'm much more forgiving when I see other people this way. And much more alert.
I might be wrong here, but I think this fundamental fatalism of mine about damage, is a place where my brother and I are not very alike. Another difference, as I see it, is that he tends to express his opinions as though they were facts, as though what he's seeing is how things are. He has great confidence in his perceptions and opinions. I tend to express my opinions as opinions, because I think we're all, myself included, groping around and have no real idea where we are or what's happening. I have a limited confidence in my perceptions because I see perception itself as inherently inaccurate. I do have unlimited faith and confidence in the part of me that knows what feels right and what doesn't. I obey that all the time and my ground is most solid when I just report this, as in "Your song didn't work for me" vs. "Your song was bad.".
I think things out, I analyze like anyone else, I see a certain world out there, I have opinions that I express as facts too, but what I keep coming back to over and over is: I just have a point of view and it's probably mostly wrong. My certainty is constantly falling away, and I find myself less and less drawn to categorizing damage. I find myself more and more focused on what feels right to do right now. That, and questions like, Who can help me?, Who can I help?, and, Who should I stay the hell away from?
In these comparisons, I don't feel critical or judgmental, at least not that I'm aware of. They're just ways that we seem different to me. Like his kids are different from each other. Is it biology? Wired in? Is it a result of their experiences? Some complex interaction of the two? Who the hell really knows?