Wednesday, November 12, 2008

our saving graces

I left Van Hise today feeling restless and stressed. I let my feet carry me toward the lake.

I let the fog in the air fog the hurtful details of my situation, and I let the branches above me protect me from the unceasing poison arrows falling from the sky. I let my body collapse on the moist dirt and leaves, put my face to the ground and took in the wet smell. I let my tears join the rain, taking my emotions with them into the ground, into the roots, into the trees.

Eventually I sat up, propped my back against a trunk, and looked out over the still lake blending into the foggy sky. This is all I want. This is all I need. There is so much beauty here, and so much love.

I struggle with putting my overarching perspective on the human condition into logical form. But as I sat by the lake today I pulled out a notebook, and gave it a try.....

Before humans evolved, animals never needed a sense of beauty or a love that extended beyond themselves and their family. It was all they could do to keep living. There was no room in their minds for anything besides survival, or anyone besides themselves and their family. The desire to survive, the most basic animal desire, always translated to attaining more, because that more was always necessary for survival.

When humans evolved so that there was extra room, they used that room to figure out how to create more room. Though humans stopped needing more, they didn't stop wanting it. With survival squared away, desires turned toward immortality. With the absense of nature's tensions and reliefs, reliefs were found in artificial tensions. Humans set up systems of belief which provided a path to immortality, and artificial tensions and reliefs.

Within every system of belief, there are symbols which represent needs. In most systems today, those needs all revolve around attaining more of something. Many systems create the need for more money. Almost every system creates the need for more time alive. Religious systems create the need for more goodness. Our systems also create the need for more education, more memories, more experiences. By trying to fulfill these "needs," we set up a situation of tension for ourselves. When we succeed in fulfilling them, we feel the relief we want so bad. We also feel, more subconciously, that we are defeating the trappings of our animal body and desires by attaining these symbols which give us a feeling of a higher mind-- an immortal mind.

It is perfectly natural for us to need to set up symbols of need; we would find no reason to live without them. And it is impossible to suppress our natural need to need. However, so long as the needs we create continue to be ones which bring us more, our need for need will ruin us. It will not be long before we bring our species to its own demise.

So, we must find another source for our artificial needs. I believe that our only way out of self-destruction is to find a system of belief in which the greatest symbols of need are beauty and love. If instead of needing more things, more experiences, more time, we can "need" beauty and love, we can fulfill our basic needs and spend our extra time enjoying beauty and making sure the people around us are meeting their basic needs too.

Beauty and love are our saving graces as humans. Our minds bring us a lot of trouble. Our minds perturb us with fantasies and philosophies that are forever trapped in earthly animal bodies, leaving us confused with desires and purposes we don't understand. But with its vices, our minds bring two things that can save us from all of it: appreciation for beauty and love. If we can appreciate beauty and love, we can live out the extra tension and relief we crave through them-- through music, sex, art, excercise, sharing, dance, aid. If we can channel our confused desires and purposes into beauty and love, we can ensure that everyone's basic needs are met and that everyone has a way of creating and meeting extra artificial needs without having a negative affect on the world around them.

I don't know how we'll get to that point. And I don't know if we'll ever even have the chance to get to that point. But having a vision of that world in my head makes life easier. And even if humanity as a whole never makes it there, appreciating the beauty and love in my own life makes me happier.

As I was leaving the lake, I passed a woman on the phone. "The lake is so beautiful right now," she said into her cell. "The sky is really foggy and the lake is so still. It's amazing." I couldn't stop the smile spreading across my face. That's the key.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how to express my appreciation for this post.
It's so beautiful and thoughtful!
Did you take those photos? I love the last one the most.

Rory said...

aw, thanks archana!
i did take the photos, on lakeshore path. it's so beautiful it's hard to mess up a photo.
p.s. i saw who just wrote on your wall ;) -- guess i'll be meeting him after all! yesssssssss

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh..
I thought that I just got over him too... and then BAM!!!
I freaked out for about 5 seconds with my roommate...

Don't expect too much in terms of dignity in character though :(