I engaged in a flurry of activity at the beginning researching on the Internet: watching videos, reading books, reading articles, looking at old school records and putting this blog together - in order to make sense of it all. That initial flurry of activity of meaning-making has slowed - the tempo has reduced, but the activity has not diminished in depth. Like a jigsaw puzzle, I began to piece together questions and fragments of my life that I always wondered about - e.g. "Why did I feel that way? Why did I fail? Why does that memory stick out to me? Why did I feel ashamed then? How did I screw that relationship up?"
Since then I have had so many ah-ha moments, it began to seem like a game show. With my reading and thinking, I'm beginning to tie the neuroscience and the biochemistry together with the psychodynamics, the interpersonal and developmental psychological factors that intimately formed the substrate within which I grew and within which I suffered.
An old estranged friend of mine told me once in a moment of despair that "life is hard". I was initially puzzled - he was 17 and in my mind too young to realize that then but then I remember agreeing with him because I had only just recognized that fact deeply just a short time prior to him telling me.
Life is hard. Life is hard when you're engaged in relationships and engaged in work and family and lost in our physical bodies and lost in this materialistic culture, bombarded by television, bombarded by advertisements - each telling us what is right and what is wrong, how to behave in order to fit in, and where to spend your money - your only worth. There are a myriad of self-help books, of business books telling you how to succeed and make friends, boiling down life into a viscous jelly of aphorisms, of historical quotes, of cherry-picked folk psychological utterances. And yet life is more the unknown than the known.
Now I know I grew up in a safe country, in a life of privilege, so I'm not complaining too much - but I'm trying to see things from a relative point of view. Life was hard and full of suffering for me.
In high school I read the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe's 1958 novel "Things Fall Apart", the title taken from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". I think all my life up to now I've been in the strangest Newtonian state of flux whereby my life was always falling apart but not so much that I couldn't keep my head above water at least most of the time. Sure I failed here and I failed there - kicked out of university for a year, broken relationships, lost jobs, lost friends, lost lovers, lost trust, lost self, drugs, booze, risky behavior - how do you know how to fix something if all you see is broken around you?
Well I know now. While I still have old habits and I still fall apart in places, I think that's okay. Because now I can confidently say that things fall apart now out of habit and not out of undiscovered and impenetrable compulsions, or that things fall apart because I haven't learned a new way. I know I can learn new ways - and am learning new ways. I know I can reinforce new habits, extinguish old habits, and wear new ruts into the clay soil of my pathways into a new living.
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