We are who we are.
Great piece Brian. It is very nuanced and thought-provoking.
For a while now I have been somewhat leaning towards to the idea everything has both good and bad in it - as represented by the ying yang symbol. So things are never just bad or good they are always both. Bad things like suffering and hardship afford us opportunities to grow. And good things like new advances in science or tech that lead to more human flourishing will also bring about - often unforeseen - bad consequences as well.
And so, if I accept that idea (which I do, at least, in part) the question for me becomes - why label anything good or bad? I mean, if everything has all things in it, then, maybe a part of mess lies in that we are defining specific situations and not seeing them in their broader interconnected context...
Just an idea your piece promoted me to share.
And by the way - I have an unread copy of infinite jest on my shelf that I keep swearing to myself I’m gonna get around to one of these days haha.
Welcome back 🌸
I’m with you in the human experience enigma. Allowing the experience to help me grow through it and trusting God (the Universe, the divine) to guide me every step of the way. Embracing the only thing we know for sure... everything change. In the end we are incredibly lucky - at least the way I see it - to even have the opportunity to be alive.
Really loved this. I am sure I will come back to read it again.
Do you mind if I leave this here?
(Dostoevsky's Underground Man and lofty suffering--similar to your exploration of meaningful vs meaningless suffering.)
Your relationship to writing is fascinating. Mine is nothing like that. The way you talk about becoming obsessed with writing is sort of like the way I am with anything else. I recently started a project completely unrelated to writing and it was exactly like the way you were describing the way you can become obsessed with writing, I was spending all my time on it, thinking about it all the time, losing sleep, failing to pay attention to my fiancee while she was talking to me. For me, writing is almost always more like the cure, if I can just get myself to do it.
I really like what you said about seeing things clearly enough to be able to stay neutral. That really resonates, and honestly the whole piece, even though it's not exactly uplifting, it's cathartic. For a long time I had what you might call a "toxic positivity" type outlook. I remember reading Pinker's Enlightenment Now while I was a freshman in college or something and firmly believing that basically everything is great. Then, of course, that starts to break down. Lately I've been noticing an upswell of cynicism and pessimism taking over. For whatever reason it's like we want to believe everything is one way or the other. But I think you have it right. It's good to reminded that it's all very complex, there is good and bad and bad in good.
So, thank you for writing this. I hope you keep publishing here, even if it's infrequent. I added Symbols & Rituals to my recs, because I hope more people find it.