In the summer of that year he was left without any more excuses. His life was being led in a fashion that he could not defend, rationalize, substantiate or glorify. He had succumbed to the drudgery of every day, which, despite occasional outwardly thrills, seemed to more or less meander into a lake of ordinariness. The special ‘thing’ that makes the ‘stuff’ worth pursuing was missing. This he observed, not in a dysfunctional or morbid way, but more in a matter of fact fashion.
The shine of life was gone. What was lacking was multifold as always – but mostly it was the lack of clarity of getting somewhere. There, where? He had often asked himself this. Is there a place that one travels to and then sits back and pauses to take it all in, with deep satisfying breaths of one who has lived life fully?
The scene from The Godfather when Don Corleone sits in his chair on a hot New York summer day, slouching into it as the last of life gently escapes him…his grand child playing nearby, the warm sun enveloping him in now eternal sunshine. The head sags, the hat drops, the body falls, the dog yelps and the boy stops in his tracks.
At that moment the viewer sees the ending of a life lived fully, having experienced passion, lust, love, family, loss, death, violence, hatred, joy and ultimately peace.
That then was perhaps the human goal – the process of living life in a linear fashion. Birth, infancy childhood, adolescence, puberty, youth, adulthood, middle age and so on. The journey could then be reviewed, replayed, even re-imagined within selective memory. Accumulating memories, changing events, evolving relationships and the persistence of progeny, mark ones place in this world. That is what then is left behind, something so deeply personal and intimate that only a select few will ever know about it.
All this was not happening in such a standard progression for him. The intimacy of a deeply personal connection was missing. The deep connectedness with his own self was somehow evanescent. The lack was not of spirit but of the energy to recognize the spirit. Out of respect for his friends and family he slogged along, responding through memory and instinct now…often remembering the time when he was really happy, and then, transposing it into a present conversation.
Passion had been substituted by lust and thrill seeking. Energy was replaced by hyper activity and nervous intensity. Peace had been encapsulated by lethargy. Curiosity with ennui, and joy with pleasure.
This, then, was his living condition that summer. Nothing more was left to say, seek, express or emote. It had all been done before. Every day that he lived had been done before and nothing new seemed to come out of a new day. Day after day he was more familiar with how things would be.
He wanted to pull himself up with his bootstraps – focusing on the inevitable chasm that had to be covered – grasped and jumped and advanced upon. Let me tell you his story then. This is where I will relate to him as a boy, as a man as a child and as a human being. I don’t know if you will be able to see this distinction between him and me. But I see it and I sure as hell don’t want to believe that there is no reason for this identity dichotomy between him and me. He is there, where I see him tripping, quipping, falling, failing and scaling to amazing heights. He is also who I see as lusting, wanting, lacking, yearning and never really believing in himself. While I always do – always have and always will. That he is the one person that I can relate to, coach, govern, love and live in, through, with and for. I am the reason that he is but he will never know it. He shouldn’t. He is my shadow…my shadow refracted through the convexity and concavity of this life experience. Whereas I never change and never evolve and never become, he strives for change because without change there is no reason for his existence. Without change he may as well be still as a rock with the same life and living and reflection of and from me.
What are we saying here? Why can’t this story move forward? Why this stupendous suspense before it can even begin? What about this process makes me so self conscious that I have to build to it, to want to excuse myself to my audience before I can introduce myself?. Forgiveness before familiarity. Well, then that is what it is, I guess.
Okay, done it all. Nothing more to say before we begin. I will tell the story of him, as I see him.
Formula for Happiness
The whole process of finding fulfillment is complex because one always assumes that fulfillment can be quantified – measured in numbers and amounts. The number of days off work in a year, the number of close friendships, the number of dollars in the bank, the number of cars in my garage, the number of dates I went on last year, the number of days I did not fall sick this year and so on. By taking a measure of all of these, dumping them in a spreadsheet and wringing them through a number cruncher, I believe I can arrive at a score of Happiness and Fulfillment in my life. The formula may read something like this:
Happiness = Stuff/ My Identification with Stuff
The Western thought is that your Happiness is complete when the stuff that you have and your identification with it is complete – then it is a perfect 1. Any thing less is just a fraction of total possible happiness.
The Eastern method agrees that this is completely true. Your idea of happiness or success or fulfillment will be 1 if you completely identify with the Stuff. Stuff may not necessarily be materialistic but it is certainly deeply personal and the very basis of your identity. However, there is within this formula still the possibility of creating infinite happiness and that is when your Identification with Stuff becomes Zero.
Happiness then equals: Stuff/ Zero = Infinity
Limitless being is then realized. There is infinite joy and total liberation.
Second guessing Life
Why is this happening? What is the bigger message and meaning in all of this? Who is striving and seeking here? Why am I in this situation of need, want and dependency? Why can I not make sense of this completely – understand the bigger picture without feeling like I need to act, react, be and behave in a certain way to justify my state and status?
What is consuming my thoughts right now? Actually, interestingly enough, there is not as much emotional pain as I thought I would have. This is interesting and inspirational – I cannot feel that "I" thought that is the emotional center – feeling and reacting and responding to thought stimuli. I can, however, sense various thoughts that pass through the brain – scanning my world in quick frequent succession.
I can feel the analytical decision making thought that takes all this in – and then allows a feeling to seep through me or, based upon a thought and resultant feeling, allows a decision to be made for me to act upon. It is a crazy world. It is one I feel I have learned and won so many battles and then it is also one where I feel I have missed out on and lost in so many ways in life.
I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore. Where am I getting this inner strength from? Why do I feel that there will never be another moment that will make all of these moments anymore worthwhile than they already are? Why do I feel that based upon such events is how ones life is shaped, evaluated, determined and finally deemed to be a happy or unhappy one?
So, in this life – where am I? Am I happy? Am I waiting for happiness to strike me? Am I waiting for it to be bestowed upon me from someone from the outside? Will I ever feel complete without external acceptance and approval and appreciation and admiration? Will I ever find love? Will the love that I have found ever find me?