Life is exposure. Exposure is the contingency and constant stream of challenges in/of experience to the consistency of our identity and to the ground of our self. Hence the buffers. In order to insulate our fragile wholesomeoneness from these challenges we adopt buffers. As simple as that. Layers of self-deception that enfold us. Yes, think of onions.
We adopt a persona, a face that we are massively afraid to lose. Yet this face masks but an abyss, the source of all evil in us, humans. We are protective of a rigid self-image in spite of the fact that we are a magnificent stream of habits and skills and persistent but malleable adaptations and neuroassociations, a plastic biochemical architecture, a cascade of biosemiotic associations, and whatnot.
We adopt traditions. Alas, countless spineless people–self-righteous and indignant and hopelessly clueless-are held erect by the backbone of traditions. Which are arthritic, of course. Come on: traditions are mere foundations not definitive (cosmic) principles. Still, we all are dandily dangling from the strings of random memes. Chiuauas. We settle for sloppy. It figures, we are humans: a bunch of bitter brittle critters.
We become cynical, judgmental and highly critical and etc. Knee-jerkly. In order to establish a sense of distance. In essence, distance means safety and a vantage point whence we are able to control. You know: the remote-control way. Because distance means that we are not affected, not involved. Actually, this is the way we relate to family and close friends, not only to animals and plants. What is more, this is the way we relate to life as whole. And yet, weirdly enough, we are more than 80% water and 90% percent bacteria.
Close-up, we become detached and passive aggressive in regards to those closest to us. As intimacy deepens the inevitable contrasts/conflicts intensify – another challenge, another exposure. We stealthily deploy the subtle strategies of sulking, shouting, silence, whatever. Indeed, more often than not we are trying to instigate a sense of guilt or even shame in the other whose mode of being challenges ours. The other’s interests, values and concerns, and the other’s excitements and joys are felt as provocation. We don’t trust and don’t respect, we don’t share independence. We manipulate.
We become fatalistic. Subconsious beliefs drive us to create situations in which we have those beliefs reinforced. Consider jealousy or defeatism. Instead of thus dooming ourselves we could try and pull subconscious reactions and stress-responses into the orbit of our awareness. Couldn’t we. Giving space to a state of confused arrogance: this is what they sometimes call mindfulness meditation. It is easy to cling and to be a hysterical parasite of sorts. But how about forging (meaning and meaningful and novel connections). Being challenged. The body and the mind adapts to the inputs it perceives/is exposed to and we have the free will to choose which aspects of the manifold inputs we gear ourselves towards. Focusing.
We become introverted. Introversion ferments and enriches the soul, for sure, but if never liberated/exposed soon enough its rotting and decay sets in. Insights need exposure, they shan’t just fatten a sole embittered diabetic soul. The seeds need to be sown after they have grown. Typically, for fear of being dissed, the introverted shuns the sustained attention of others-instead of narrating he prefers the mode of commenting-but then crave it all the more. Here, excessive self-consciousness curbs the flow of all spontaneity (which is: graceful awkwardness).
We become sedentary. As if stand-by, in the mode of preparation, constantly getting ready: we idle. Idling is an idea(l)-driven style of being. Basically, it’s like inhabiting the safe haven of the crystalline palace of fancy and reflection. Because idling is about aboutness. It is the aesthetic modality: the tasting the taste of the experience. Lingering in the tense of present perfect. Hovering, hesitating. Needless to say, we also need to be away as much as about. We need to get and be caught in the actions of experience too. Yielding and tuning is as much important as withdrawing and controlling. Yin and yang.
We become lost in daydreams and fantasies where the given pales beside the gone and the not yet given. By necessity, intimacy (once again) dampens desire because it is (perceived) distance (once again) that motivation requires. As for the way distance sustains a kind of ‘tumescence’ think of the phenomenology of kissing: the taste of a tongue is sweet to the extent of its unfamiliarity. Yep, much rather than grasped upon the given is always (obliviously) relied upon or, more bluntly put, neglected. Fundamentally, our grasping is oriented towards the enchanting uncharted territories. Always, already.
And so on, and so forth… obsessed, possessive, compulsive, addicted, bored. Buried under an ever-crumbling and stifling facade of self-confidence. Or on top of poplars, popping pills.
I say chuck the buffers. Risk being less.
Don’t reach after it, just let it come to you.