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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.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
blanchemains
Mar. 26th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
Wow. You do have a lot on your mind today, don't you? Interesting stuff, though.

My personal view of God is that the "God is Love" and "Jesus Provides" crowd have it a little wrong. What we have been provided with is a beating heart and a planet to live on. (Not a small thing, in my opinion, BTW.) The world runs by certain rules, which can be harsh. It just sucks when you're the bug and not the windshield. And my controversial views on the Bible aside, the Ten Commandments do give a fairly good guideline for getting through everyday life with a minimum of hassles, if we would all just follow them.

My personal experience with people in LA is that certain professions (mostly creative)lend themselves to flakiness. I love my actor friends, but I also understand that they may or may not do as they say they will or show up for stuff. *shrugs* It's a free form sort of life, I guess.

Trusting people? I ALWAYS fall into that trap. Someday I really must stop it. But was it Reagan who said "Trust. But verify."?
aghrivaine
Mar. 26th, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC)
It was indeed Reagan. His best bon mot ever, I'd say.
thelastmehina
Mar. 27th, 2007 12:25 am (UTC)
I am reminded of a quote by Marcus from Babylon 5. I can't remember the specifics, but it pretty much goes that he believes that there is no Reason for Everything or Answer to the Great Why - and he takes quite a bit of comfort knowing that all the bad things that happen to him are not the result of his bad karma or bad things he's done, but just an amoral, uncaring and random universe at work.

That being said, I understand somewhere where you're coming from. I got burned by some pretty choice people in the past. As a result, I worked to develop my intuitive sense, to give me a good idea as to whether or not a person was an asshole or trustworthy within about ten minutes. So far, it's worked out pretty well
aghrivaine
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
An excellent quote, and it was on my mind when I was thinking this through. The converse is, though - I really am stupidly lucky. And evidently I haven't done anything to deserve that, either.
misskitty14
Mar. 27th, 2007 07:28 am (UTC)
t always kills me when a kid dies (or something of that unfortunate, out-of-order ilk happens) and some asshole says, 'it's part of a plan.' what a bullshit, asenine thing to say. The kid ran into the street, and got squashed by a semi. There was, in fact, a complete lack of plan at work there. Our world is chaos, and to pretend otherwise is deluding yourself. I have been trying to do less of that lately.

The only one you can alays count on IS yourself. Make peace with that, and people letting you down won't botherr you so much. Accept that life is pain, and suddenly it is all easier to bear. Shit... who said that? Somebody smarter than me.
aghrivaine
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
Shit... who said that? Somebody smarter than me.

That's Buddha's first Noble Truth. :)
catrionamacnair
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
The problem with life's instuction manual is that it only comes in Japanese, with an English translation done by a Korean who lives in France.

I'll not argue religion with you, especially since it would come down to 'well, your arguments are better than mine, but things happen for a reason anyway and the Gods exist even though some things would make more sense if they didn't'. So.. well, all I can try is to light a candle and pray a complaint to the Divine Entity responsible for the Fair Distribution of Good Karma and Awesome Times. Something is quite amiss there in your case imho.

Wish I could send you some unharmed trust. All the best.
aghrivaine
Mar. 27th, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC)
Something is quite amiss there in your case imho.</i>
Oh not at all! I'm stupendously lucky! I live on the beach, with a great job, exciting things to do. Cute cat. The whole big thing! I've gotten far more than my fair share of good luck!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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