Thursday, August 11, 2011

From the front lines of midlife

It's been a summer of change.

I spent my life so far in the pursuit of "truth." I wanted to know the real from the manufactured. I wanted to know whether there was a big-G-god or gods or angels, and if there was life after death. What was human nature? Why did people act cruelly and selfishly? How could I manifest in the world and in myself the potential I saw in the 60s?

I had a desperate need to know, not only because I knew early on that my parents were clueless, but because I wanted to be good and do what was right. Right for the world and for myself. And in order to be good and do right, I had to know what was, objectively, ultimately real and true.

This summer, I changed. Now, I know that there's nothing to know. Reality just is. Whether it was created on purpose or randomly, it was created and now it just is. There's nothing to know. There's no right or wrong in the objective and ultimate, great and mysterious Everything. Everything just is. Once I saw that, the pursuit of truth that was the  purpose and meaning of my life just . . . disappeared.

I sent an email to my friends that some of you got, with a page torn from my sketchbook, in which I stated these ideas and then asked, "Why be good?" I was surprised to get many thoughtful answers. And many of those told me that the writer had come to the same conclusion at some point and had decided to choose the good. This is the existentialist answer. Of course, it begs the question of what is good, which may be answered in myriad ways.

Summer is coming to an end. I have a few trips to take and I know I'll learn things while I'm in other places, but it doesn't matter, not really. My art doesn't matter. This blog doesn't matter. One friend told me that it's our relationships that matter, and I sure as hell feel love for my beloved Jack and my kids and my friends this summer. I feel that love so deeply sometimes, it's like my heart's gonna burst. Does love matter when nothing else does? And if love matters, then does art matter? Do I simply choose to live as if my choices matter?


Aron said...

I think the old chestnut, "To thine own self be true" is a good one. You can't ever know if you're going to be an artist who either makes lots of money after they've died or just well remembered by the history. You've just got to make art, if that is your calling that speaks to your own life and those around you. It's just as likely you'll be forgotten and no one will remember you. But what does that got to do with you?

puny human said...

Ah, yes. Sage advice. Or as Charlie said when I asked him whether it was worth doing art, "What else are you going to do until you die? Sit around and twiddle your thumbs?" But I also should clarify that I'm not depressed or unhappy about this change. I'm adjusting. I'm even fascinated. I'm enjoying life's pleasures while I'm hashing this out with my little brain-based intelligence, so it takes time. But they are interesting questions, don't you think? And isn't it a blessing to be able to ask them? This, too, is a midlife point of view, I think. As always, thanks for your comments, Aron!

masterymistery said...

Yes, the mind is simultaneously the Great Obstacle and the Great Facilitator.

Delighted to see the David Bohm quote in the sidebar. Have you read his "holographic universe and the implicate order"? amazing stuff.

masterymistery at
cosmic rapture

puny human said...

Yes, true about Mind. I think of it as humanity's special mode of intelligence, and also the source of a great deal of human stupidity. We're on the same page. I haven't read Bohm . . . that science stuff is so hard for me . . . but I've read popularizations of his work. Think I could get through "Holographic Universe?" Maybe I should try.

masterymistery said...

RE "Holographic Universe" it is heavy going in parts (I just skipped over those parts!) but there's still a lot of content that a non-physicist can engage with.

Anonymous said...

Its a liberating experience isn't it? I am glad you have had such a moving summer.