broken eggshell

Before I get into this, yet another self-indulgent post, and drive most of my readers elsewhere, I wanted to tell you that, as poor as I am at responding to comments and e-mails, I read every single one, promptly and perhaps a bit obsessively. I should probably write fewer articles and correspond more, but I am who I am, so I probably won’t. But though I may not communicate it well, I am listening to you, dear readers. Don’t give up on me.

On a similar note, several readers have suggested that those that stumbleupon this blog currently get told (in the blog’s subtitle) what it’s about, but not why I write it, and that it’s a bit confusing and disorienting to those who come here to read a business article, say, then find a rant about economics, then a poem, and then an essay on environmentally responsible living. So I’ve added a second sentence to the blog’s subtitle, which I hope will make this blog’s purpose (and apparent incoherence) a bit more understandable.

And a caveat: This post is heavy, even grim. It’s autobiographical, and a partial explanation for my pessimism. If that rubs you the wrong way, then please don’t bother reading it. And if you do, keep the psychobabble and complaints to yourself. You’ve been warned.

I‘ve received a few e-mails lately that say I seem to be struggling on this blog to get past some obstacle, that I seem to be churning over a lot of the same ground, pushing myself to decide something, do something, take something in a new direction. As I’ve acknowledged, I have been under a lot of stress lately, but I don’t think the angst in recent posts can be attributed to that. Perhaps my recent habit of running 100 laps around the track in my back yard to end up substantially where I started is an allegory for my whole life. I’m a slow learner, making the same mistakes over and over until finally something makes it so obvious even I can’t fail to ‘get it’.

More than anything else I am impatient with myself, even more than I am impatient with the world. That’s futile, but that’s me. As you’ll know if you’ve hung around here much, I’m not a great believer in our capacity for self-improvement. Capacity for learning, yes, but not transcendence. I’m a cynic, but I think believing we can change ourselves is just self-delusion. We do what we must, and learning helps us discover what we must do. We can change what we do. We can even learn to expand our capacities, alter our perceptions and our conceptions. But that doesn’t change who we are. Each of us is, after all, a chemical stew, a bag of organisms self-organized for these organisms’ self-perpetuation, and which evolved their brain for that purpose as a commons, a collective communication and memory device. It is they, not ‘we’, who are in charge of who ‘we’ are.

I was going to write this post in the first person plural, about who we are and what our society (i.e. we, plural) has done to us. But I concluded that such a projection would be presumptuous. Who am I, a bag of organisms self-organized for their self-perpetuation, to presume to know who someone else ‘is’, or what our society has done to that person — to their bag of organisms? What I perceive as other people are, after all, merely figments of reality, pale, inadequate representations conjured up by my organisms’ brain to ‘make sense’ of their external world. We are all, in fact, utterly, terrifyingly alone. To presume to know anything about someone else is a preposterous arrogance.

So I am writing the rest of this instead in the first person singular, a smaller conceit. I have this intuitive suspicion that the rest of humanity is, mostly, as damaged as I am, but my evidence is purely circumstantial, subjective, unprovable.

In addition to being incessantly impatient, I am also sorry. Sorry for all the people I have hurt and disappointed. I have hurt people because I am, as I say in my blog bio, insensitive, and I have disappointed people mostly because I learn so slowly, I miss the point. I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t catch your meaning. “I am a child. I last a while”, as Neil Young put it. No stamina. Living in a dream world.

When I was young, I felt my emotional sensitivity slipping inexorably away, and I knew I would be, to all intents, emotionally dead before I reached the age of 25. I saw that death of emotion and sensitivity everywhere. ‘Old’ people made me shudder, pathetic, empty creatures hollowed out, zombies. Even in children I saw it being crushed, as they learned to play civilization’s brutalizing survival game. I watched children learn fear, learn to lie, learn to impose suffering on others, from insects to the weaker kids in the schoolyard. I watched as they became everybody else. I watched them become damaged, broken, and then die. And, not being strong, I died with them. I killed myself before they could get to me.

I watched the adults, oblivious to all this, apparently already dead but still going through the motions, still pretending to feel, like those who have lost limbs still claim to feel something in the empty space where the limb once was. Not a takeover by emotionless aliens, just a slow decline, a gradual loss, a compensation. I never wanted to fall that far. I wanted to die physically long before I reached that sad state.

My friends at the time, of course, thought this was seriously deranged, and outrageously judgemental. One of them went so far as to say I was simply projecting my own growing emotional debility and insensitivity on others, and that it was I, not them, who needed help. He said that I had isolated myself from my feelings as a defence mechanism, and had masked and excused that isolation with the pretension of intellectual superiority.

At that time I was in love, far more deeply in love than I had ever been or probably have since. It was a desperate and consuming love. I attempted to cache all my remaining emotion in her, and, to some extent she did the same. We wound a cocoon around ourselves to try to keep all the hurt inflicted by the rest of the world away.

It was a brilliant fiction. I had invented, in her, the personification of all the ideals left in my heart. We would escape together. We would transcend this brutal and beaten world. We would save each other.

What a horrible burden to impose on another person! She did her best, as the object of my fierce and impossible affection, to live up to this expectation. I am not sure what she wanted or expected of me in return. I was too deluded by my invention of her to pay much attention to the real her, or her needs and desires.

I am sorry for what I did to her, for how I let her down. I am sorry for what I did to all the others I have hurt and let down out of reckless insensitivity and uncompromising idealism. I should be made to wear a hazard warning around my neck.

I still haven’t learned. I still expect too much of myself. Always over-promising and under-delivering. Not very becoming. What I do now, if I were honest with myself, is just filling the emptiness, passing the time. Having gone through the emotions, now I am just numbly going through the motions. I am the Dead Shaman, still reciting the words whose meaning I have long ago forgotten.

I keep having this dream where I meet a young woman, pretty, athletic, eyes wet with tears of pain and love and longing, who persuades me that the best possible life consists of making love all the time, stretching it out so it fills every waking moment, until time and space lose their meaning. In the dream we never get bored of this; indeed, it feeds on itself so we want more and more. This is, of course, my subconscious re-enactment of the cocoon. The Box. Everything else has died, but the dream, the ideal, lives on, relentless. Pure madness.

I’m convinced we were not meant to live the way we live in this pathetic, civilized society. Somehow I know this, instinctively, but I just keep playing along, dreaming of a way out, and doing what I must. Going around and around, repeating the same mistakes, playing a role in the movie that is my life, though I am now no more really alive than the images on the movie screen. Such brilliant self-delusion. I have become a figment of my own reality.

I watch myself perform, as if I were still, really, here. But if you stop making believe with me, buying the illusion, just for a moment, and look closely, you can see — look! — all that is there is an emptyshell.

Graphic is from the website of Synergy Communications, a UK company.

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28 Responses to Damaged

  1. kerry says:

    Dave,You know as well as I that self-deprecation isn’t the answer. We use the royal “we” because we know that anything that we are capable of feeling, no matter how bright or how dark… someone else, somewhere, sometime is feeling it too. That doesn’t mean we are defined by it. It is simply how we feel in any given moment. Sharing that honestly, without an exclusive “I”, is not the equivalent of insensitivity. If a reader is offended by what they read, then it is their own insensitivity that is the barrier, not yours. Saying “I” as opposed to “we” creates the illusion that we are, in fact, alone. But we are all connected on an emotional level. If someone doesn’t identify with an honest emotion that someone else has expressed, then they are either blocking their ability to feel or have yet to reach a point of experiential knowledge with regards that particular emotion. But WE are all capable of the same feelings – just on different days and at different stages of our lives. Within that “we” is the “I” from which we see…not the other way around.Love and respect always.

  2. Barry Vornbrock says:

    Hi Dave. There’s now gentle way to say this… I disagree with this keystone in your post: “I think believing we can change ourselves is just self-delusion.”You’ve mentioned an inability to ‘figure’ out how to meditate. Not sure I’ve got the words right but hope the gist. My experience of mediatation includes being able to change who I am fundamentally. Research demonstrates that meditation can, and does, alter nerual pathways — encouraging different ones to grow or shrink. So that is change and it comes from meditation. If you want me to dig it up, I’ll be glad to do so.How to meditate? Do it. Keep doing it. Invest in loss — “it didn’t go the way I thought it would.” Loose that thought, it went the way it did which is exactly how it was supposed to go. Imagine peeling an onion layer by tiny layer. Lots of crying, blurry eyes and unclear seeing. Meditation. Eventually you reach the core and discover a plant capable of sprouting. Nurture that plant. The journey at that point is all about change.Are you still an onion? Perhaps. We aren’t as simple as my metaphor. ‘Nough words. I have hope for you — grab on! Invest in loss.Hugs and love,Barry

  3. Jordan Mechano says:

    Dave, you have always been profoundly honest with your readers (who may or may not be continuous readers) and I don’t think there’s any reason to change. With whatever ghastly words I can string together from our broken language, I’m sorry that you feel so down. It may be that we are what we are, but in only five or six years I’ve gone to not caring much about the world to dabbling in deep ecology and primitivism (though I’m still only a thinker–maybe even just a reader). My point is there is always room for us to be what we strive for, and knowing that you eventually want to live in a world vastly different from ours, I firmly believe that you’ll make it. I hope to someday as well. You’ve been a strong inspiration for me. Your original essay was what got me thinking about the pains of our earth, and what needs to be done. I appreciate your work here, and your willingness to be vulnerable. I’m taking acting training, and one of the important lessons we learned was that nothing happens with your partner(s) unless you’re willing to be vulnerable. That’s why your work works to damn well. Thanks. And I see much more than just a shell. Much, much more.

  4. laodan says:

    Dave, You are writing well but, as I wrote already earlier on this comment page, I feel that you are inhabited by an existential contradiction that bite after bite is eating away your own self.You write: “I’m convinced we were not meant to live the way we live in this pathetic, civilized society. Somehow I know this, instinctively, but I just keep playing along, dreaming of a way out, and doing what I must. Going around and around, repeating the same mistakes, playing a role in the movie that is my life, though I am now no more really alive than the images on the movie screen. Such brilliant self-delusion. I have become a figment of my own reality”.Reality is simply that we were not meant to live this way or another way and reality is also that societies were not meant to be like this or like that. Reality is what is out there and what you make out of it or what you don’t make out of it. Your belief that “we were not meant to live the way we live in this pathetic, civilized society” leads you to abdicate… surviving “going around and around” without fully living what you believe in and what you like. As a regular reader since mid 2004 I sense that you are conflicted. On one side is your past life in the system and on the other are your “dreaming of a way out” of the system and your dreaming of a way in this inaccessible animist paradise… I’m always amazed at this dancing on your blog from your business papers to your signature essays on “how to save the world” and vice versa. Those are two worlds that are irreconciliable. There is an incompatibility between those two and it poisons your life. You can’t be with your brain in animism and with your body in a business consultancy office. I agree with Barry that we can change how we are in a fundamental way but society we can’t change… society will change after it suffers hard enough a blow. There is no contradiction here only a slight difficulty in being oneself. If society can’t change I still can change my own way in the fashion of my dream about how society should be. Let go societal conventions, dream your way and, walk your talk. Yours. Laodan

  5. Karen M says:

    Personally, I think what you are experiencing is soooo widespread (what Rifkin refers to as a worldview… see my comment in your next post), that most of the time we aren’t even aware of it. Thank god for drugs, and gourmet foods, and TV & video games and brain candy, and all of that other crap! (Not really…) That you are aware of it actually belies your self-proclaimed lack of sensitivity. I don’t think it’s as bad in other cultures, though, because they expect life to have some sadness in it and they make room for people to grieve, encourage it even. Americans don’t/can’t accept that things can’t always be wonderful. (I’m including Canadians in this generalization, tho’ to a lesser degree, thus your continued sensitivity.) To jump to the chase… if GWB had only been allowed to grieve his younger sister’s death, we might have been able to avoid much of the past six years. Of course, if that were the case, he probably would not have been elected (so to speak) either. If our culture then (early ’50’s) had been one that allowed grief, we wouldn’t have had to go through this nightmare. (I really hope that didn’t come across as just a bunch of psychobabble; it just feels like common sense to me.)I do come here to be challenged and then go away to figure out how to incorporate even one new insight– usually, you have so many– into my own reflections.

  6. Dave, as an almost-always-reader (I get the RSS feed), I think there’s too little Nietzsche in your reading. Unlike what most people think, he was, like you, trying to find a way out of nihilism. It’s amazing how similar you two talk. He said he would not rejoice with the crowd, that loneliness was his destiny. He wanted to become what he was.He too believed he couldn’t do it. He kept saying he did what he must. He died thinking he had failed. Maybe he failed, since most people consider him a nihilist. I think he only failed to acknowledge his success. And you’re walking the same path.Forget the others, become what you are! Stop paying so much attention to your readers.

  7. Julia says:

    When I opened your page today, I saw the title “Damaged”, the broken egg and a small part of what seemd to be a feather. While I was rolling the page down, I thought that you were going to be saying that after the damage, after the broken egg, when you believe everything is lost, you have a new born, full of life chick.I am sure you didnt choose that picture for no reason. There is a chick somewhere. Where is the chick, Dave?Don´t give up on us,Namaste

  8. Niran Sabanathan says:

    Dave, I have appreciated your writing, honesty and deep comitment to finding a better way to live. I look forward to reading your blog because I know you will present an idea in a new way or bring to my attention some excellent reading material. As for frustration, disapointment and true change. The first step to real change and learning is to accept what is and not what we want it to be (more psychobabble???) After 30 years of living trapped in the same mental prision, effectively sheilding me from any real emotion except anger rage, personal satisfaction, I can start to see the light after some deep (guided) meditation practice. It is not a big change on the outside, but I am not mentally beating myself down or running away form the world that I see. Not a big change; I talk a little more softly , the anger simmers but doesn’t reach a full boil because I fully know it is there. Little changes and baby steps. I may never become the person I really want to be but I hope I am incrementally closer today than I was yesterday and if I am not I hope that I can see why and maybe change that. So I think as individuals and as a species we can change but the timeframe may need to be altered from years to deacades and decades to generations. Does the earth have this time ? – probably not the earth as we know it, but the only thing I can do today is compost my banana peels.

  9. Mariella says:

    Hmmm…. I don´t get it Dave… So far I have always perceived from your writing, not only in the way you write but in what you say, that you are a well integrated person with brain, heart and body….. and that you are able to perceive the existance of the others, as equals… and that you like who you are… so, maybe, this could only be “me” creating a fiction character out of you…. but it made me wonder…¿What are this fantasies, of who we would like to be, made of? .. ¿What are the beliefs that rule those fantasies? ..¿If we could suddenly turn into that person, would we like it? ……………….One of the most important differences between moderns and non moderns is that moderns want to change the world to make it fit to their expectations, while non moderns change themselves to fit better into the world….. So, what do you mean by this? …”We can even learn to expand our capacities, alter our perceptions and our conceptions. But that doesn’t change who we are”.

  10. Mariella says:

    ……….imagine you recieve as your birthday present a “Brand New Brain” empty of content for you to program it as you wish…. your chance to be what you want… ¿will you change it? ….¿With other perceptions and conceptions and learnings.. will you still be who you are?

  11. zach says:

    Psychobabble!? Hmmf! I hope that was directed at me :) So here’s some religous babble instead:”If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven” [John 3:5]”You don’t have to die, really, physically. All you have to do is die spiritually and be reborn to a larger way of living.” -Joseph CampbellTo bad your a nihlist, aethesist… Are you? Personally, just my opinion, I really disagree with the people who are saying keep at it (your blog?) especially if this blog is just to prop up your ego. And in the existential sense I suppose we are alone, but you’re not alone in your feelings on this.

  12. Ben says:

    hey dave, you are investing your time and energy in these posts (and i really appreciate most of them, because of the unique view YOU communicate) and whatever you do (discussing with your readers, responding to comments, or just reading them) it’s on you to decide what is best for you. That’s all.I definitely appreciate that your weblog exists… so I accept the choice of you, the author, to go about everything related to this blog however you want it.This probably won’t keep me from telling you, when I believe in another solution to a problem you pointed to, but then it’s just a discussion and never personal. So keep up the good work, man.to your post: i do not think it’s important if we were meant to live in this society. we do. i do not think that there’s a way out (& move on a mountain or to the seaside & rule myself out of this world) that would make me truly and deeply happy. I try to find my path within the society, because only then I understand what my fellow men and women feel (& need) and I can maybe help them with some insights.that’s actually what you already do!

  13. Haig says:

    Excuse the tautology, but reality is what it is. It wasn’t supposed to be one way or the other. So you can’t say society wasn’t supposed to be this way or that way, however, you can say society can be better or worse some other ways judged by some form of measurement such as individual freedom/happiness or suffering. You can further say that the consensus among most human beings relating to those measurements is to maximize freedom/happines and minimize suffering. This at all doesn’t mean it should be as such, but simply can be and wanted by most people. The bravest thing one can do is to face reality the way it is and accept it. By accepting reality I don’t mean for you to stop trying to make it better, but to stop believing that it ‘should’ be better. Such thinking makes people (usually the more sensitive and intelligent) fall into the false dichotomy that reality should be one way when it is not. One particular corollary to this is to accept human beings for what they are and not what they should be. When you say people are ‘damaged’ you’re implying that they need to be fixed. By fixed maybe you mean for people to think more selflessly, less greedy, more compassionate, more authentic, whatever. But altering those attributes isn’t fixing, its changing. Humanity isn’t broken, it ‘is what it is’. Now there is a tension resulting from the inherent contradiction between human nature and culture. We evolved built-in instincts that sometimes undermine the learned-in social behavior, but neither one is right or wrong. If you can let go of believing things should be one way, and instead accept things the way they are, you might actually free youself to change things for the better…instead of fixing them.

  14. Marty says:

    Something like Adrienne Rich said, “I called you on the phone to tell you to be kinder to yourself. You were there but wouldn’t hear me.”Since I believe that I’ve on some level created you, it hurts me when you starve yourself. Since I love you without knowing you, you have profound worth–at least in my world. So that lover you dream of who is making endless love with you…she is here in me and all of those who have chosen to write to you.It’s indifference that is the worst sin.

  15. Evan says:

    I believe that you(and everyone else for that matter)are the person that you are meant to be and like Michaelangelo you must chip away at the marble to reveal the David beneath(not intentionally going for the cheese factor here). I was so caught up in the ladder climbing, money grabbing artifice for so long that I couldn’t see the reality even though I was brought up by a tree-hugger. It took 9/11 and some profound soul searching in California and yes, it did involve a lot of running(I’m a marathoner) to bring about an all-encompassing change. I sold everything I owned and planned a cross-country marathon. I planned to do a marathon a day until I reached the east coast. Life happened to me and altered my plans, but I couldn’t give up the idea that we all have to give up the “artifice”. Society’s addiction to the artificial is what is killing us and this planet. It’s all so fake right down to our sweeteners. I met my husband in 2002 and we took an unguided tour of Prince William sound in a kayak. We took only what would fit in a kayak and for two luxurious nights out of 5, we stayed in a very rustic cabin with no amenities other than a woodstove, the rest were spent in a tent. I had the biggest shift in my life when I realized that I could do with so little and I was my happiest when I had no possessions. When we returned, we began the process of selling our 3600 sq. foot home, I quit my job and became a personal trainer, my husband left his employer and struck out on his own. We are building our home as we have the money to do so. We have rainwater collection. We are making green choices and raising our daughter with a different set of values than we grew up with. Each day, we are becomming the people we are and are meant to be. Will our choices save this world? No, I don’t think so, but at least we won’t be contributing to the greed, destruction and artifice. We struggle each day to reduce our impact on our earth and honestly I can’t think of any purchase that I have ever made that has given me as much pleasure as looking at an untouched landscape or feeling the warmth of the sun or the earth below my feet. When I was in college, a boyfriend said that he could be happiest with the simplest things- a baked potato. I thought he was nuts, my plan was to go after the money. Dave, I think dis-satifaction is a good thing. We all know something is wrong with the state of things here. I get overwhelmed when I think of the big picture, but I know even small changes will make a difference. Every purchase we make now is a thoughtful one. We are aware of waste and packaging and we spend a little more to lessen our impact. A mind steeped in illusion is a difficult nut to crack and there are so many that cling to the illusion that I don’t expect a large-scale improvement. I found your blog when I searched for “green” lifestyles. I wanted to see how many of us are out there. I thank you for offering so many thought-provoking essays. Many will say keep writing, but do it only if you see the value in it for yourself. For my part, I hope you continue. Take care.

  16. Patry says:

    Ironically, only the most sensitive kind of person could have written this. (The truly insensitive aren’t aware how much they hurt others, and they certainly don’t apologize for it.)I, like so many others, have learned so much here. We need people like you to tell us how to save the world. Even if it can’t be saved.

  17. Mike says:

    I thought Dave was describing my life. When I was a child, I thought that there must be some terrible secret that was told to folks when they reached a certain age, maybe 21 or 33, and that this is what made them dead inside.

  18. Mariella says:

    ….. I also have this empty shell feeling.. I also like to play with this kind of nihilistic perception, where i can step aside from sense and watch… for me this are usually pre creative moments…. maybe they respond to a moment where none of my known metaphores work…. so this empty shell is the room, free of meanings, where something new (new=something unknown to me) can begin to take shape…. I enjoy this moments…. ¿Do you enjoy yours?

  19. For starters the living world doesn

  20. David Parkinson says:

    Once again, thank you for your (brutal) honesty and ability to face the bad things without flinching. It feels as though something big is brewing inside you; I hope that its emergence isn’t too painful. At any rate, I empathize as best I can (meaning: without being fully aware of all the minutiae of your situation/biography/emotional ecology/etc.), and I hope that you find the strength to get through this and find out what you’re learning. Your words are resonating pretty heavily with some of us out here, so bear in mind that you’re tapping into something big and important. Something that needs to be said; something that needs to be heard and understood. Thank you.

  21. kara says:

    I read this quote every once in awhile. Keeps me grounded.

  22. Haig says:

    PS: reading your writing on topics such as this post put the songs ‘Indifference’ by Pearl Jam and ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules in my head. I’d include those two songs on a soundtrack of your blog.

  23. Dave, it’s better to be “Always over-promising and under-delivering” than never promising, never delivering. What shows clearly in your post is that you care how you do as a person. If only more people did. I also think as young people we all go through that image of the “old” as empty shells. That’s normal, and thankfully most of us grow up and realize it’s absolutely not true. But then again some do allow themselves to become shells through lack of effort in life. Perhaps you sensed that back then, in someone. Their own feeling that they hadn’t done enough. As for meditation, I think the key is to realize you’ll never do it perfectly. It’s a process, not a goal. It does help us to change, or at least become more in touch with our truer, whole selves, at a much deeper level. But there are various forms of meditation, and maybe you didn’t find the right one for you. You mentioned in another post that you’ve been running. Physical exertion can be its own form of meditation. (Not my favorite, but you have to find what works for you.) I also want to add that I don’t read the business stuff so much, but I do read the rest, and I’m glad you skip around. Makes for that “opening a present” feeling when I click over to your blog. What will it be today . . . ?

  24. Alvin says:

    You have many good comments Dave, and I think it’s a wonderful blessing you can learn from (I’ve learnt loads just from reading them).In the Western esoteric tradition, there’s a belief that our best self (some call it the unconscious Self, some the Holy Guardian Angel), when we meet it, would appear as the most beautiful and attractive person of the opposite sex we could ever imagine, and I think there’s a lot to be learnt from in this powerful image.If you’re seeing a version of this self constantly in your dreams, perhaps it’s a sign your unconscious mind needs you to hear.

  25. Dave Pollard says:

    Well, what can I say. I’m overwhelmed at these kind comments and insightful thoughts, and I’ve spent a lot of time digesting them. Just a few thoughts:1. I’m delighted that so many have seen the point of this post, that civilization wreaks such damage on us (some of us, anyway, well, me, anyway) that we get desensitized, become somehow less than human. That is a bitter pill to swallow, one that, I think, artists are especially aware of.2. Where is the chick? Well, the feather was actually the symbol of our representation of reality, a ‘figment of reality’. The chick is Gaia, and the point, I guess, is that she isn’t in the picture. Wish the symbolism were more upbeat, but there it is.3. As for our inability to change ‘who we are’. Trying to avoid a semantic debate here, because this is important. My point is that ‘we’ are not in control of who we are. Most of who we are is subconscious, programmed, instinctive. Yes, we can change our capacities (i.e. learn), our conceptions (i.e. beliefs) and perceptions (i.e. how we ‘see’ things). I don’t belittle that ability to change, I am just asserting that those changes don’t determine or alter who we ‘are’. We ‘are’ this chemical soup in service of the cells and organs that ‘invented’ (evolved) us for their benefit. One of my great Aha! moments of my life was accepting that I cannot, we cannot save or change the world or human society, that we are not its masters, that no one is in control. The corollary, which is perhaps much harder to accept, is that we cannot change ourselves either, we are not masters of, or in control of, our own personal ‘ecosystem’ anymore than we are in control of the global ecosystem. That is very sobering, but I increasingly believe it to be true. We can learn, but we cannot improve or master who we are. As infuriating as this is to spiritualists and humanists, I do not see any evidence that humans are capable of ‘self-enlightenment’. We cannot save ourselves from the death that civilization, with the best of intentions, inflicts on us from a young age, any more than we can save our world from the death that civilization is inflicting on Gaia, on all life on Earth. But then, I can only speak for my own particular bag of organisms, who have taught me this, apparently, for my own good. Your bag of organisms’ experience may differ ;-) [continued below]

  26. Dave Pollard says:

    More thoughts:4. I didn’t say society wasn’t meant to be this way, I said we (human species) weren’t meant to live this way. We evolved biologically to live a simple, joyful, healthy, incredibly aware, sensuous, relatively clever subsistence life, free from struggle and suffering and fear. To rescue us from population crash when faced with the extinction of large mammals and the ice age, we invented civilization, with the best of intentions, and we have been suffering in its prison ever since. The idea was great, we just didn’t have what it took to execute it properly.5. Damn. Just reading your comments again and I’m really blown away. Please be reassured (or disillusioned) that while I’ve faced depression and coped with grief most of my life, I am not especially burdened by it. I’ve learned to live with it. I am actually liberated by these learnings, freed to some extent from the prison by the realization that it *is* a prison, and that there is no way out. Make the best of it and dig a few more miles of underground trench for the next generation. Somehow it’s always better to know the truth. And I don’t think I can hold a candle to the brilliant fast learners and artists and scientists and others who are authentically at the Edge and have been there for years. It is impossible, perhaps, to *really* be Too Far Ahead. And I salute those who are Further Ahead Yet, and who probably have the wisdom not to blather on about it.Thank you, everyone.

  27. theresa says:

    It was sad to read this post after not having been reading your blog as often as before. There doesn’t seem to be anything new here that you haven’t said before. That doesn’t mean a reader cannot discover new things by rereading some of your posts that were a little out of her reach before. It can’t be much fun for the writer to keep repeating the same theme without coming to a solution to the problem or developing the idea a little more. Maybe it is time for a sabbatical from blogging? Most people allow themselves a break once in a while and working on writing that is never going to be seen by anyone but the writer can be quite enriching. Just a suggestion. Surely all the same readers will still come back afterwards, and, speaking for myself anyway, with a renewed interest.

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