Not So Mad
Updated: Jul 21, 2019
It seems to me that that last section was too angry.
So: How to be not so mad?
I know I do not want to be angry, and so I should just not be angry, right? As if the deciding a thing were the same as actually doing it, I would like my desire to just manifest a reality of me, un-angry. It is not so easy though, I think. I sense great danger in the pretending, in the confusing of seeming like a thing with being that thing.
Many of my favorite texts address this issue in one way or another. I would argue that Hamlet’s whole problem hinges on the distinction between being and seeming. Soren Kierkegaard says that the actions of a person doing what he thinks will get him what he wants, and one operating on faith might look exactly the same, but that they are fundamentally different as a result of the faithful one having moved through the universal, ethical mode of operating first.
T. S. Eliot, (who died before I was born, and yet breaks my heart fresh each time I read a line in Four Quartets), always says everything the best:
There are three conditions which often look alike/ Yet differ completely…Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment/ From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference… This is the use of memory:/ For liberation not less of love but expanding/ Of love beyond desire, and so liberation/ From the future as well as the past.
“This is the use of memory:/ For liberation.”
I was watched Ken Burns’ movie about the West the other day and an anecdote from a Native American man at the very end of the documentary stayed with me. He said that while meditating early one morning, the arc of the events and violations of whites to his people through the whole history and into the story of his own life brought him to the only logical conclusion that he should get and gun and go out shooting. Then he stood up and turned around and saw the moon and the morning star and realized he wanted to live and be happy and that his only choice was to forgive. What struck me even more than his comments up to this point, was that he said that forgiving is something he must work at everyday.
I made a painting of the moon and the morning star in 2009, called Unfixed Wish: CA 134.
At that time, I spent most of my time experiencing life from a vantage point a few feet above my body and a little to the left. Things were not going well.
The man in Burns’ picture had leagues more than me about which to be pissed. His solution, however is resounding, and resonates personally. Motivation to do the work comes (for me) from beauty, but the work to forgive is what provides the freedom. That works requires remembering, not the shutting of a door in order to pretend that things did not occur as they did, but a moving through the vast space of truth, unflinching, into clarity, and then finally grounded, and not so mad.