Or so say all the half-assed sages. Any idiot with a blog claiming to be a life coach or a spiritual warrior or some other shit can go on and on about what you need to get more or less of in order to be happy.
Lose weight. Do what you want and you’ll never work a day in your life. Self-love. Be yourself.
Blah, blah, blah.
If only it were so easy. As though this inescapable condition of humanity were able to be managed effectively and perfectly. But there is no cookie cutter for existence. There is no mold that works, or certainly not one that someone else has devised. If it worked for them, that is all it will ever do. It will not work for anyone else, not exactly. Not saying we’re all special snowflakes. We’re not. But even dog turds come in all shapes and sizes.
But they are right, without even realizing so. Life is about balance. It may be the core of both our collective and individual struggles. So, what is it that is being balanced?
As far as I can tell, it is between these two- reason and desire.
Specific, right? But I dare suggest that all things we come across break down between a choice of those. Not meaning totally to one side or the other. There can be both, or slightly more towards a particular side.
Anyway, let’s dig in.
So, reason. It is that thing that tells you to go home early from the bar. To stay with a secure job. In a secure relationship. It tells you to eat healthier and exercise. To call your mother. To get a full night’s sleep. To wash the dishes and floss your teeth.
Reason, often and tragically, is boring. You can dress it up any way you’d like. It needs no justification, for it is justification by definition. But boring as it might be, it keeps us alive. It keeps hands off the hot stove and prevents heart attacks. It has made our civilizations and societies. Reason is the spine of the world that separates us from the rest of the beasts and non-sentient beings on the planet.
Reason is a nice pair of khaki slacks. Dull and flat-assed.
Desire is taking the road trip with twenty-two dollars in your pocket. It is calling someone you probably shouldn’t, but want to. It is quitting your job and changing your name. It is having the second slice of cake. One more beer. Dropping the extra tab.
But don’t get all romantic on me now.
Desire is not all summer of love and self-fulfillment. It has caused overdoses and abusive relationships. It has cause theft, and murder, and rape. It has abandoned families and started lawsuits. It has destroyed countless friendships, ruined art and destroyed mind, body and spirit. It has started wars and genocides. It is jealousy and anger and lust. Desire is humanity at its most base. Most primitive.
So, a life of total desire is chaos.
And a life devoted to rationality is dull and unpoetic.
This sort of conundrum is what your online bro/bimbo life coach fails to recognize. Because if we all pursued the desires we hold in life, we’d all be damaged, damned or dead. I wish I could tell you to always follow your heart. To chase your dreams just as they are. I wish I could, but unlike the blogs with thousands upon thousands of followers and social media mongers- I aim to get towards some sort of truth. No matter how unpleasant.
But it was said at the start that it is about balance. And that such a balance could not be any easy thing to comprehend or commandeer. There are times when you should take a step back and think. And there are times to let go and be free. How to tell which is which is what we all wish to know, but never seem to get quite right.
Yet, we all aim for a good life. Whatever that might mean. I know I do. And in that pursuit, I have found that balance is not always a choice. I have had to give up on desire to survive. To succeed. And I have had to give up on reason to experience that which I could not otherwise.
I have been in love that could not be had and lost that which I did. And now, I find myself, yet again, wondering which way to go. The poetry in my soul knows what it wants. But my reason argues against even putting myself in the position.
And I have and have had dreams. Wild and outlandish. Grand and magnificent. Of all the things I will do in life, of my own importance and ability. But my life has already not gone the way I thought it would. The way I hoped. So, adjustments have been made. I’ve reasoned my way out of desires, in order to not see my ways as failure.
Perhaps, it is better that way. For if I pursued all the desire I’ve managed to dream up, I would likely be dead in a ditch. And if I listened to reason exclusively, I’d be more uninteresting than I could ever stand to be.
I know, I haven’t answered anything. I wasn’t aiming to do so. Because balance isn’t about answers. It’s about asking questions. It is about inquiry into why and what we do and why and how we do it.
So, I’ll go on. Doing my best, as best I can. I’ll keep that which is dear to me safe and secure, if possible. And I’ll try not to have my heart broken again. Or break another heart.
But if there is a chance, I might take it. I can endure a bit more damage, me thinks. For a night or two staying in to clean the apartment might make a life long enough to chase a few wants. And a few of the right moments with desire are better than a life of always making the safe decision.
Not saying that will work for you. I don’t know what will work for you. I don’t know if reading this does anything for you. I only know it does something for me. And the honesty in that is better than any well-dressed lie.