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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Girl, Interrupted

The space between sanity and insanity is a simple, small step - a slip, rather. Just one tiny fraction of a thought that takes you and throws you full-force into a decision most people make in their childhood. The decision is this: 

No matter what we've seen, no matter what we've been through, we're all going to face the same choice - to either accept life for what it is - not what it should be, or sink into our own minds and be swallowed up by it to escape the pain. Can I accept life - and everyone in it - for who and what they are? Or must they be held to a standard of the way things "should be"?

As long as one is seeing the world through a "what it should be" set of lenses, they can never be happy. Whether it is looking toward the future or behind them at the past, or even at a set of circumstances that never existed before in history and probably never will... No matter what, if you are holding life - or love - to a standard beyond which it truly exists, you will be unhappy, tortured. "Crazy" is simply the place where we meet that decision face-to-face, and we stay there until we know which we're going to choose. This is the point where we are "interrupted".

Some people face the choice and deal with its consequences sooner than others - some don't wait until they've hit "crazy" like I did. Some even achieve this as children, and never struggle with the decision at all.


Sanity is the same as love. Love is the same as sanity. It isn't tangible, but it is real. It is dynamic - it changes with each passing hour, and requires the same two things:

  1. The decision to do it (to love someone, or to be sane - which is, in my opinion, to be present in life), and
  2. Acceptance of something for exactly what it is, without the need to change it or be angry with it for what it consists of.
 Life brings me pain. Society brings me pain. Knowledge of the state of the world around me brings me pain. I cannot see what the world really is and not suffer for it. Or should I say, I have not yet seen the world without feeling its pain.

Does that mean I am crazy? Or have I just not chosen to accept it for what it is yet?

Freedom from the pain I'm referring to requires the same thing as freedom from the pain love brings. You can achieve freedom from both through pure, unconditional acceptance of what the world (or who the one you love) is. 

We are brought up to believe anything is possible - if you don't like things as they are, change them! While this is true and has its place, it creates a belief that change is possible where it often isn't, and the suffering of others (or ourselves) - and our inability to stop it or alter it - sometimes cripples us.

Acceptance of the planet and its inhabitants as what they are, without need to change them or go forward or backward in time, is freedom from that pain. 

This is a choice, and sanity - or more importantly, insanity - is not a fixed condition. You may choose which side you're on, and no one can do it for you.

This is the source of my insanity. Which, was never insanity at all.

3 comments:

  1. Aubrey - These words you've written, and the thoughts behind them, are some of the wisest thoughts and words I've ever had the privilege to read. It took me 50+ years to understand these truths. I congratulate you for understanding them in half that time.

    Now, a challenge to you . . . explain how we can maintain the attitude of acceptance for people and things being what they ARE, not necessarily what we want them to be, . . . while also understanding the equal truth that we can change who we are . . . to become better than we currently are . . . while still loving and accepting others for who they are and us for who we currently are.

    Dad

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  2. Someday I'll figure out how to do that. Haha! And when I do, I'll definitely be writing about it. :)

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  3. OK, Aubs . . . as you know, my mind tends to examine the extremes of situations . . . searching for where a particular idea, philosophy, or principle STOPS being true. After I examine and identify where something STOPS being true, then I can rest assured that I know where that principle or idea is valid and where it is not. So, here's one more thing to think about (which I'm quite sure you've already spent plenty of time thinking about, but I want to voice it anyway) . . .

    You're right, happiness is not possible without the ability to accept the way things are . . . that line defines one end of a spectrum of choices we each face. But, how do you define where the moral line is that you cannot allow others (individuals or nations) to cross without you being required by your own set of moral values to stand up and say, "This is so wrong that I cannot sit idly by and allow you to continue doing [insert a particular wrong here]?" For instance, if we knew it was happening, would it be right for us to sit idly by while the Nazis murdered 6,000,000 people . . . saying to ourselves, "That's just the way they are, and we can't change the way they are, so if we are going to be happy we'll just have to accept them for who they are."

    I don't expect you to be able to verbalize where the lines are, but I do want to challenge you to think about where they are. Where each of us places these two lines is the truest indicator of our character. If we are too critical of others our character is flawed . . . if we are too lenient toward real moral wrongs our character is flawed.

    If we live in the space that exists between the lines which properly define each end of this spectrum (what we can accept without criticizing at one end and what we cannot allow to happen at the other end) . . . we are happy.

    This is the essence of the moral crisis that is currently besetting our nation and how we, as a people, answer these questions will determine whether our nation survives and flourishes or is destroyed like many other nations that preceded us. Right now, our nation does not know where that upper line is. Our moral values are being destroyed by people who have no upper limit to what they will accept and what they will not accept. In the USA today, almost all actions taken by individuals are being granted moral validity, just because someone wants to do them and anyone who stands up and says, "These things are morally wrong!" is branded as a bigot and a hatemonger.

    In the 58 years that I have been alive I have seen the upper line of what is acceptable move so far that it is obvious that, for the majority of US citizens that line will soon disappear, unless they are willing to start examining whether or not they even have an upper limit and then making themselves set a limit to what they will and will not tolerate.

    It's a question that is worth giving some serious thought to.

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