Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wisdom from a boat car

The hermit comment on last night’s post has me thinking. It hits upon, in a very roundabout way, a question that has been bothering me recently. I’ll get to the point eventually; just know that this post might meander a little before I get there.

When I was in college my mom recommended that I read Thomas Merton. She remembered reading his work in college and I reminded her of him. That we tended to view the world in the same way. Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Thomas Merton he was a theologian who after growing up to be well educated and a bit of an artist he decided to give it all up to enter a Trappist monastery where he spent all of his days in quiet reflection. In the “never speaking” sense of the word quiet. Yes, my mom thought I would be better suited to live my life as a monk. She still might be right.

The reason for this was in part the fact that I am extremely comfortable being by myself and being alone with my thoughts. I’m not sure why this is the case. I grew up in a big family so it is not as if I spent much time alone as a kid mainly because there was no place to be alone. I always assume it is because I really was much smarter than my classmates so I would go off into my own dreamworld because I related to that better than the people around me. Being content with being alone is a wonderful thing.

However, the fact that being alone doesn’t bother me has resulted in one horrible side effect, which is that I am very unwilling to open myself up to anyone. This is more of what I thought of when I read the comment. There are two ways to be in this world (at least according to my binary mind). You can be open to life and its experiences or you can close yourself off to the world and become a hermit. Being a hermit allows you to control your existence and minimize the lows. Nothing too awful can happen to you because the only person who can hurt you is yourself. On the other hand, you never get those moments of euphoria, that brief glimpse of infinity when your heart just spins out of control. You have to open yourself up for that. True, this makes you vulnerable and people will hurt you in the worst ways imaginable but you will also feel alive. To me that seems to be worth the tradeoff.

Now I’ll sadly admit that I tend to keep myself closed off from the world. Maybe it is a fear of being hurt or discovering that people don’t like who I am or just not having the confidence to stand up and say this is me. I know that if I keep a low profile that no one will bother me and I can lead a calm, if not very exciting existence. And on the surface it is a very successful one. What is most interesting though is right now I am breaking out of my shell and opening up myself once more (in much the same way as I did exactly five years ago) and I have to ask myself why is this the case.

I think it is because the fact that I might be moving gives me the freedom to show myself. Somewhere in the back of my mind I know that if I meet someone here and they don’t like me I can go “Oh well, screw them. It’s not like I’ll ever see them again.” It’s like being on vacation. I’m just here temporarily until I find my next gig so I can be me. Maybe that’s why I’m more open in the blog as well. I’m not me here, I’m EC. I’m an entirely different person and it doesn’t bother me if someone hates EC.

What I’m hoping for is that I can keep this mindset of just being myself and seeing what happens going wherever I end up next in life. That I can stop caring what each individual person might think about me and apologizing for every mistake and perceived fault that I might have. To just go out and live life for once. And do you know the interesting thing? I’m not even sure if I am leaving. There’s nothing that doesn’t say that I can just find peace with myself in this physical spot. It actually might be an option. I would have never thought that months ago but that is what happens when you start being yourself.

There is a quote from the movie Waking Life that I love: “The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving.”Maybe that needs to be my motto from here on out. Keep thinking as if I will never see these people again (if it goes wrong) while knowing that a great future awaits (if it goes right). If I could do that on a daily basis I think my life would be much better off.

No comments: