Thursday 3 July 2014

How not to despair, despite...


It is quite easy - in theory. In principle the answer is not to pin one's hope of fulfilment on anything in this world and mortal life - but instead to set one's sights beyond it. Yet that in itself is insufficient - because to be unworldly is to render this life disposable - unnecessary; which is puzzling at best, and deeply dismaying at worst: so much so, as to overwhelm the intention to be next-worldly (or perhaps to hasten the transition by suicide).

There is no point in asking for a 'balanced' view, or a 'middle path' - there never is. Balance and moderation are (like impartiality) some things that are impossible of attainment (compromise is the worst of both worlds). To ask for balance or a media is simply to state that we have no idea what we are talking about - or where we are supposed to be going.

To travel hopefully is better than to arrive - is a phrase that strikes a chord in every heart; yet it too is a counsel of despair. The whole point is that, after a while, it becomes impossible to travel hopefully - especially when there is no hope of ever arriving.

For hope to become a reality we must live (and evaluate) from a centre within ourselves - but a centre which is in relation to what matters; we must live by some kind of fixed principle but always be in motion; we must always be in motion but toward some more-or-less-definite goal (or else we are merely adrift or in-reaction). The goal towards which we aspire must be attainable, and also inexhaustible: we must always be travelling towards it, and able to arrive at it, and yet always have more travelling to do.

On the one hand, we want to mobilise our heart, our deepest and best feelings; yet we do not want to be utterly dependant on having just the right feelings; because, after all, for most of the time (or at least some of the time) we do not have these feelings. It would, indeed, be nice to be able to continue despite whatever feelings we might have in the here and now - yet not at the cost of disconnecting our journey from our feelings (because then it would not really be our journey).

The gap is between knowing in general terms what to do, and doing it. This gap seems obvious when it comes to playing the piano ("all you need to do is put these fingers here, then here - now over here..") - and the answer is 1. Natural ability and 2. Practice...OK. But when it comes to Life? I am what I am - and what should I practice? Well, a teacher is needed to locate the centre from which to begin. But how do we know a teacher? It is obvious when someone can play the piano - not obvious that someone can Do Life.

Nonetheless, a teacher is needed - whether in the form of an actual person or as 'teach-yourself' guide...

The cure for despair involves a teacher - at least one. But even with a teacher, learning to Do Life is going to be even-harder than learning to play the piano, and you have to do it even though most of us are devoid of talent.

Clearly, then, we must expect mistakes - lots of them; and must tolerate mistakes - and this need for toleration of errors will go on a long, long time. We might as well get used to it. So long as we know, or can be brought to recognise, that mistakes are indeed mistakes - then the answer is just to get on with it; try not to make mistakes (as with the piano) - but recognise when we have played the tune wrongly - yet keep-going, don't miss a beat: play through the mistakes.


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