Thursday, January 20

Being and Nothingness

What is your earliest memeory of being? Not the memory as a child in a crib, or going off to kindergarten. I mean the moment when you recognized being part of something bigger than yourself. I was five, hurrying home at sunset because I was afraid of the dark of night. I rememebr thinking about good and evil. If the devil was the personifcation of evil I reasonsed, then there had to be a God who was the personifcation of good. Goodness preotected you, kept you safe. Looking at the colors of sunset, it gave me comfort knowing there was something to counter the fear of darkness and the unknown. Even now when I go outside-no longer afraid of the dark- and look up at the sky at all those stars there is a feeling of being part of something beyond my little ego.

Only now I’m not so sure that I’m a needed part of that something bigger. I’ve been questioning my purpose in life as I pass fifty and I’m not finding any answers. Maybe I’m just one of the too many physically broken, non functioning people existing in an overpopulated world. It’s tragic line of thinking but that’s what goes on in inside my head day after day as I try to figure out what I’m doing here besides taking up room.

I’m not alone, look at any support group for people who are chronically depressed, suicidal or have simply given up and you will see a mass of quiet desperation. Is it fair to ask the stronger to support the weaker? Major religions and such tell us we should help those in need but Darwin’s survival of the fittest does not bode well for those of us who can barely manage living from day to day.

The heartache of poverty adds to the whole dismal business of survival. It limits opportunity, it drains you of energy, it’s stressful, it’s humilitaing. It’s galling to ask for financial aid of one sort or another. People say forget your pride and ask for help but everyone wants to be productive, to be capable of supporting themselves, to contribute to society. When you can’t for any number of reasons it seems perfectly reasonable to be judged as worthless.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. If I have nothing of value, if I require the assistance of others to live, then why am I still here? What purpose do I have if I'm not contributing to the world? Survival is questionable.

When you get to an age where you can’t produce children, aren’t fit for manual labor or have anything to contribute to society what good are you anymore? I have been told relentlessly that you must be productive and useful, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, work hard, contribute to society. That Puritan work ethic is what built this country. I believe in earning one’s pay with honest labor but I have come to realize, despite years of effort I have gained little of it. Any financial support I had was largely through the generosity of others, inheritance mostly.

I’m a rusty car sitting in the backyard with weeds growing up around me and the sense of loss is unbearable. I’ve done nothing that counts and that’s right up there with being loved, as important. So the bank of despair accumulates each day as I flail about trying to matter. My friends and family assure me I do, but I look at their lives and see them rich with achievement. Mine looks small and self indulgent. Children, family, relationships, industry, wealth, a diploma on the wall, a trophy on the shelf; these are things we value as worthy.

I got a degree in art but found no vocation in it. I got a black belt in martial arts but don’t teach. I write but it all goes in a drawer unread. I have a mind rich with ideas, but it has no outlet.

So I beg social services to support me because of my inability to make my way in the world. I stare at the walls and wonder what I’m doing here. I hate being a burden to anyone. I am caught between the endless struggle of being worthy or trying to short circuit the survival instinct and undo the weight of nothingness.

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