Over the course my recent literary reclusion, I’ve remained true to form in the exploration of any science prone to lend itself to personal cultivation. This past week, I ventured into the world of Intermittent Fasting and found it to be a dietary methodology that will be of great use in my effort to physically maintain. Currently, I’m finding the concept of well-being to be a dominant theme of thought relative to self, as well as others. Subconsciously, we all tend to harbor a dichotomous measure of concern regarding our own welfare, and that of those with whom we are acquainted. That being said, I’m fascinated by the frequency with which imbalance arises between the emphasis we place on one side of the duality versus the other. Simply put, there are some people who are “selfless” to a fault, and, conversely, there are those who are exceedingly “selfish.” Advancing the build a step further, consider how often you actually ask someone…“How are you doing?” Although this question stands as a staple in the lexicon of pleasantry exchange, if analyzed more deeply it can function as a powerful probe into the mental, physical, and or emotional state of the person to whom it’s posed. I’d dare to say that more often than not the response will be some canned version of “I’m fine,” but what about those instances that yield a more detailed and morbid answer?
Take a moment to reflect on a situation in which you ran into someone you hadn’t seen in a while and asked them something to the effect of “so what’s been goin’ on?” only to find that you ripped the top off of a Pandora’s Box filled with tragedy and misfortune. Outwardly you might be saying “wow, I’m sorry to hear that” or the more cliche’d “well, it gets greater later,” while inwardly you’re thinking “damn that’s fucked up!!!” It ultimately begs the question…how much do we really care about how someone is doing? Personally, I think the fact that we can step on a conversational landmine simply by greeting someone according to a social norm is a beautiful thing. That potentiality represents the nexus where reality and fantasy crash violently into one another. Most people live in a perpetual delusion in which things will generally be “swell” as long as they keep a positive outlook, don’t say anything that’s politically incorrect, and remain locked in the secure confines of their personal bubble. When something bad does happen they just chalk it up to “God’s will” or life’s whim. In my judgement, this is where the root of our society’s degeneration lies. We’re so deathly afraid of anything that’s difficult, unpleasant, confrontational, or reminiscent of an obstacle, that if we can’t deny or run from such a thing we’ll find some way to rationalize it’s dismissal. This is why people avoid conversation about religion, race, and politics. What a mentally weak statement about the spirit of the day it is when three of the most important aspects of the human experience constitute subjects that are off limits…it’s fuckin’ pathetic to put it lightly.
The overarching question is how did we arrive at this state of being? Here’s my theory. I think it’s a byproduct of fallout from some of the key flashpoints in our history ie. the civil rights & women’s liberation movements, advances in the area of gay rights, ever-increasing media scrutiny, and philosophical shifts in psychology. In our country’s effort to establish equality and tolerate diversity we’ve actually become more fixated on our differences than our similarities in this sense…social injustice whether legitimate or “perceived” is a powerful cloak for an ulterior motive. As such, overzealous policing of language and writing allows people of various races, sexual persuasions, etc. to bolster their political standing and engender fear of said group’s wrath. As a result, resentment arises and no relationships of substance are forged. This sentiment distills down from the group dynamic to the individual resulting in an overwhelmingly myopic perspective of life. You become the center of the universe and are virtually oblivious to the trials and tribulations of even those who are closest to you. Get this, it doesn’t stop there. For many, the next stage involves neglect of their own issues. This is how we wind up with people living well into adulthood before they finally realize they’re mentally ill, even though a multiplicity of signs manifested themselves earlier in life. Instead of digging deeper into these thoughts and feelings we ignore them until they explode out of us and wreak havoc.
I’m sure, at this point, you’re wondering what the endgame for this piece is. My intention is to encourage you to focus on “the glass” that represents how you and yours are really doing. Develop a perpetual awareness of whether it’s half full or half empty and live accordingly. When you identify malfunction in a given dimension of either your well-being, or that of someone close to you don’t ignore it, do something about it. It’s tremendously important that we keep our fingers on the pulse of those to whom we are close. You won’t be able to help unless you probe for problems even at the risk of un-nerving someone. My best friend returned to the essence from cancer before I ever knew he had it. Mind you, there were some extenuating circumstances that mightily facilitated this lack of awareness on my part, but the point still shines through. If that can happen, imagine the variety of other difficulties a person could be facing unbeknownst to their loved ones.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t implore you to actually study human nature, tendency, and the mind. In so doing, you’ll have a better grasp of what’s normal versus what represents cause for alarm. Additionally, you’ll become all the more capable of psychoanalyzing the people with whom you come in contact, as well as your self. One of the most ground-breaking realizations that the learned among us arrive at is that you’re not as weird or abnormal as you may think you are. “Pop-psychology” has people self diagnosing themselves with everything from OCD, to ADD when oftentimes, one is just quirky. Am I asserting that these disorders don’t exist? Emphatically no, I’m just saying that manifesting certain pronounced characteristics or behavior patterns at a moderate level doesn’t always equate to mental illness. Among the other benefits this type of study can yield are methods which can be woven into your daily living that will help you enhance your ability to deal with stress, overcome obstacles, and generally meet and defeat life’s challenges. In closing, never lose sight of the state of the glass…