Friday, July 27, 2012

Tame Me

I am reading ‘The Little Prince’ and came across the statement in the book, “that which is essential is invisible to the eye.” Upon reading this I immediately flashed back to reading Leo Buscaglia in my early twenties. Now 41, I felt a twinge of nostalgia, connection, and regret…or something like regret.
                Nostalgia is a familiar feeling; the longing for the past but a past when the future was more open. Despite having learned Heidegger and the idea that each choice can render an infinite number of new choices, I can’t help but feel that the number of choices is limted…very limited. And so the pull of nostalgia is strong; it is almost as if freedom resides in nostalgia. This particular nostalgia was my early twenties…when I knew everything and nothing, when I was studying philosophy and psychology with a keen interest in the idea of self-actualization and connectedness.
                Spinoza was a pantheist. The words literally mean back to god, figuratively it refers to god as everything. (Note: the god in this case is nothing like the christian god but rather, Being with a capital `B’, the greater existence in which all existences (lower case being(s)) reside.) I was never a Spinozist as Dr. Hart termed it, but I feel like I did understand pantheism. The idea that resonated with me in Spinoza was the idea that everything is connected but what I did was morph his idea of connectedness, which I felt was a very material understanding, and apply it to self-actualization within an emotional/aesthetic arena. Don’t overthink it…if you’ve ever been moved by a piece of music or experienced the joy of loving another, then you understand this connectedness and where you are it/him/her fit in the world. When I came across those words last night I felt that connection…I could see myself reading Leo Buscaglia, feeling like a sponge soaking up everything that was coming my way, growing intellectually, and here I was more than twenty years later reading what is considered a children’s book and feeling quite ignorant of the ways of the world and more importantly, who I am and what I am supposed to be. A strange connection, your present ignorant self to your younger know-it-all (naïve) self, but a connection nonetheless.
                Alas, in bed, my wife next to me and my 8 month old son asleep in his crib, I felt like I should be more…I felt un-self-actualized…disconnected…from myself, full of doubt, waiting, passively waiting for that thing, to happen to me and not from me…waiting for fate instead of creating fate…for a fate to sate me to fulfill me…and consequently them? Does it work that way?
                If Woody Allen taught us anything with `Match Point’ it is that luck matters.

If I learned anything from evolutionary psychology and sociobiology, it is that man survives in groups and not alone. But can we be alone from luck? Is luck necessary for self-actualization? Can the masses, a la the satirical newspaper `The Onion’, trudge through another day while the few, the lucky few, thrive with a self-actualizing wind at their backs? For all the books out there, and all the Leo Buscaglias,  and the sages with pithy one-liners just waiting to pass it on, are they wrong? What if it can’t be taught? What if those who have it can’t tame it and throw a connection to me? Or you?

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