Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two (aghrivaine) wrote,
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash: Pick Two
aghrivaine

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Lessons

"Everything happens for a reason" is something I often hear, and I confess - perhaps have often even said. But when I get right down to it, I don't believe it. I don't believe that there's a guiding force behind everything that happens. My feelings on God and religion are even murkier - the problem of a world full of suffering as the creation of a loving God has always troubled me. Ontologically speaking, there must be some reason for the sui genesis creation of the universe - but is that Prime Mover necessarily divine? Monism holds more appeal and makes more sense - that everything is one thing, and that one thing a part of everything seems to be reflected not just in our experience of the world, but also in some of its basic functioning - gravity affects everything everywhere. Matter and energy ultimately become interchangeable.

Would a monistic universe necessarily have some intent behind it? I think not - and indeed, there could even be a God, in the sense of a spiritus humanitas, or even as a universal gestalt - a God that is benevolent in nature, but constrained by the realities of the monistic universe. Well, I digress - my point is, ultimately I do not believe that things happen for a reason, just that things happen. I do believe in the divine, but I don't believe the divine is so obsessed with our quotidian existence that it has much of a plan for us. Things happen. The only meaning behind those things is what I choose to impart. I can only be sure of my own ignorance of the meaning of things - and that ignorance is itself enough to answer many epistomological questions. I do not know, and I can not know - so I have to make do with what I've got - perception and reason.

Never the less, when a series of things happens which seem to have a common theme, that seem to have some greater lesson behind them, I am tempted to believe in a guiding force. Of course, I am also equally inclined to think that there are things happening to me all the time, and the only time I notice a connection between them is when that connection is itself something which I am attempting to understand - because it's on my mind, I see it in the things around me, but it was there all along. (Which further suggests that I should be more all about trying to find good fortune and frequent vigorous fucking, rather than all this philosophical folderol, but hey - my mental self-discipline is limited.)

So what I've been "learning" lately - whether it's by the design of Aslan, or my own increasing perception - is how risky it is to trust other people, and how basically unreliable they are. I've put myself out there, so to speak, quite a bit in the recent past - and been if not universally, than nearly so, let down. It's distressing and depressing by turns - until I turn it over in my mind dispassionately. Don't think of the angstiness and disappointment... instead, realize that it means that I have become very self-reliant. I'm much less of a procrastinator than I used to be, a lot more productive - and most importantly, much more adept at managing my own mood. When I rely only on myself, I rarely let myself down. (It happens though, believe me!) Counting on someone else - whether it's for something big or something trivial - is a risk. If they fail to come through, not only has whatever I counted on them for not happened - but I often end up taking it personally and feeling hurt. Better, easier, and more effective to simply not count on anyone for anything.

But that's an impossible standard, isn't it? No man is an island, and all that. So that's what's turning over in my head lately - to what degree should I trust others, even when they've failed to live up to that trust? In talking with The Hobbit a while ago, we brought up Game Theory suggests that human interactions end up with the most generally positive outcome if we always treat others just as they treated us in our last interaction, starting from a positoin of trust. In other words - I'll extend trust and generosity to you until you do something untrustworthy or selfish. Thereafter, I will make decisions in regards to you in my own best interest - until such time as you "switch back" to a less selfish interaction with me. The problem with that model is that it fails to take into account both errors in communication and the self-sustaining nature of negative interactions. As humans we're inclined to remember slights more than favors - and deeply inclined to miscommunicate. Maybe I failed to let you know how important something was, so you didn't realize the stakes - having bad information, you made a less than optimal choice. Or maybe if I continue to slight you, we'll never get past it. Best, therefore - to occasionally extend the benefit of a doubt to individuals, to allow for those things. Learning when the benefit of the doubt is warranted is certainly difficult, and I suppose what I'm grappling with right now.

One thing's for sure - in LA, I'll find more selfish people than otherwise. Maybe I'll end up with fewer friends, but I suppose that also means the ones I do have will be that much more extraordinary. That stereotype doesn't necessarily hold true always though - there are some very dependable folks out here, and naturally, some flakes back there. Maybe this has been a very high-falutin' way to say that I've been feeling somewhat misanthropic lately, and recent experiences have born out that feeling. I wish life came with an instruction manual.
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