Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Does it matter?

But seriously.  I’m sitting outside in the sun, hearing the church bells ring the hour.  Noon.  I’ve just had an early lunch (chick pea dahl) and have fed the dogs (not chick pea dahl).  And I’m sort of half thinking.  My thoughts are a mess these days, a total mess.  I keep retreating to meditation, to the place of no-thought, but then I wonder – should one always seek to escape?  To run away?  Isn’t it opting out?  Just another form of distraction, through no-distraction?

And meanwhile the world is so screwed up.  Or rather, we’ve screwed it up so badly.  Recently I have been re-reading books I read when I was young and, in particular, the ones that nudged my green sensibilities.  The ones that probably partly influenced my book Walker.  Shabono.  Ishmael.  Have you read Ishmael?  It doesn’t make for comfortable reading.   

And  then (this morning at the gym) I finished Liz Jensen’s The Uninvited.   It was a cheap Kindle download and I picked it up because I’d quite liked The Rapture and Louis Drax.  I’d wanted some mindless entertainment, some frivolous distraction but there again – those uncomfortable issues: our over-population, the non-sustainability of growth, our greed, our living so out of kilter with the rest of the planet… and despair washes over me.

And then I ponder – does it matter?  We are born. We live.  We die.  Like all animals.  Yet, unlike (as far as we know) other animals, we make up stories.  We call these stories things like ‘True Love’ and ‘Challenge’ and ‘Work ethic’ and 'Happy Families' and ‘A Good Life’ and ‘Personal Growth’.  Or maybe for some of us the only story is ‘Survival’.  It just depends on our circumstances and our personal bent.

‘You’d be happier in an ashram,’ Adrian often says to me.  Maybe he’s right.  But I’m not sure that an answer either – it’s just another story.  Probably there is no answer.  The thing is, nobody knows. 

I let my mind wander over the D.H. Lawrence story, The Man Who Loved Islands (my second favourite DHL story, after The Man Who Died).  Have you read it?  I haven’t revisited it for years.  But, as I remember, it reinforces the idea - you can’t run away.  No matter how I may fantasise about a simple life…a little hut…in the deep woods… on a shoreside…on an island even…I know it won’t solve anything. 
Should we be trying to save the world?  It’s tempting to say so but nothing is changed for sheer force of will, is it? You can't change people.  You can only change yourself.  Big changes will probably only come by internal change.  One person at a time.  Can we change enough?  In time?  Should we?  Who knows?  

And, really, does it matter?  Yes, I’m repeating myself…I told you, my wondering whirs around, a cloud of unknowing.  Does it matter?  Probably not.  But it’s still sad.   And now the church bell rings again.  The half hour.  And I'm just wandering in my mind out loud. 


Rob-bear said...

We cannot change people, but we can change circumstances, which may allow people to make their own changes. There is a lot we could work on, mostly our relationships with one another, even strangers across the world.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting
Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)

Anonymous said...

I don't know.
I'd love to run away. I often consider taking myself out of the picture totally, removing one source of damage to the world in one fell swoop. It's the logical conclusion once you go far enough down that path. One day I probably shall.
But in the meantime I do what I can, when I can. When the despair becomes irresistible, I do not know what I will do.
Sorry, can't make any helpful suggestions today.

Expat mum said...

Sometimes it does matter - depends on what you're doing. If you're chasing greener grasses and all things material, I don't believe any of that matters. But if you're helping to alleviate someone's sadness, poverty, etc. and helping find a balance, then yes, it matters.

I met someone a few years ago who said he'd spent a day in the previous week meditating for TEN hours straight, and all I could think was "Wow, that's quite self-centered."

Ashen said...

We're catching up - no man is an island - the bell tolls for thee -. People deal with what's happening in the world as best they can - fill their lives with frantic activity and silence the witness, act out their frustration by fighting causes of idiocy and injustice. The most sensitive people sink into a state of collective depression that is gaining momentum. To me this matters, because it draws attention to the psyche, and, potentially, the acknowledgement of inner work that energises a collective healing frequency.

Exmoorjane said...

@Bear - I'm still figuring this out...:)

@Viv - I hear you. xx

@EPM - Thing is, do you ever really know for sure you're doing the right thing? I know what you mean re the meditation. It does often feel a bit self-indulgent. :)

@Ashen - Oh, I hope so. I really do. Sometimes I believe...sometimes I just...sink.

Anne Wareham said...

We are animals, with particular strengths and limitations.

Including the desire to beat ourselves up about the way we've evolved and a tendency to good resolutions and to bullying other people into being 'better'...

And the planet will be quite happy without us. And manages to rub along with us too..

My answer is - no, it doesn't really matter but that's no reason for despair. Just a little compassion all round...