Most feelings seem like wild carnivores that ambush you, jump out of the bushes, seize you in their jaws, carry you off, and consume you till there’s nothing left. Stillness is not like that. Stillness is like a rare flower, easily overlooked; but, if you find it, you’ll want to collect and grow it in your garden. Continue reading
I once knew a woman who had a pet snake. It was a beautiful snake; but, when she took it to the park, it wouldn’t catch frisbees. When she sat with it on the couch, it didn’t feel soft to pet. When people came to the door, it wouldn’t bark.
The woman had a beautiful snake, but she wanted a dog. Continue reading
Imagine an ordinary city bus. It stops and passengers get onboard. Every passenger changes the atmosphere of the bus. If it’s a grieving old lady, she reminds everyone of loss. If young lovers get on board, the whole bus smiles a little because they’re happy. If a thug gets on, looking for a fight, everyone gets ready for a fight. No matter who gets on, the bus still follows its route, and everyone gets off when they’re ready to leave.
Now imagine that, instead of going to the back and finding a seat, every new passenger sat where the driver belonged and drove the bus to where he wants to go, regardless of the route. The grieving old lady would take everyone to the cemetery; the young lovers to their love nest; and the thug would take everyone to a fight. No one else’s destination would matter.
The bus is a metaphor for you and the passengers are your feelings. That’s what it’s like when every new feeling you get takes over and drives you where it wants to go. Continue reading
When someone exerts power over you, they’ve turned you into a thing. Taken to the extreme, power turns you into a literal thing, a corpse. A step or two short, power turns you into an abstraction, a number, or an instrument with no will or dignity of your own.
When you’re not a thing, you count. You’re human. Your life has meaning and consequence. When you’re a human, you’re an end in yourself, not to be used, worn out, and cast aside. Much of life is not like that. You’re just another number, crushed under the wheels of circumstance without a thought about who you are.
Power, taken to the extreme, will kill; but it doesn’t need to kill to have an effect. Power’s ability to kill, reduce you into an outright thing, hangs over your head, ready to strike at any moment, which is to say, every moment. Power can turn you into an object under its control, into a thing while you’re still alive. It’s not easy to be a thing while you’re still alive. There’s no room for any impulse of your own. You’re a slave and must do the bidding of your master.
Here’s the part that people miss, though: power turns the powerful into things, too. Power may crush the powerless; but it intoxicates the powerful. The truth is, you don’t possess power; power possesses you. The human race is not divided up into the powerless and the powerful. Everyone has death hanging over their heads. Absolute power is not possible. Even the powerful must worry about a revolt. And when the possibility of being turned into a thing is there, it’s made you powerless, already. Continue reading
It’s one thing to be unhappy when things don’t go your way. But sometimes you can’t find the good in anything. You seem to love to find something to complain about.
We could call this feeling being grouchy, grumpy, critical, crabby, miserable, mean, ornery, bad-tempered, negative, perverse, depressed, or cantankerous; but I’m not happy with any of those words. Oh, all right; let’s just call it cranky.
If you ever want to know what it feels like to be cranky, just go without sleeping or eating longer than you should and then interact with people who are acting kind, considerate, and scintillating. You won’t be able to tolerate those people. You’ll treat them like crap. That’s the feeling, but that’s not really what I’m talking about; because, in that case, you’re in need of sleep or food. I’m talking about when nothing is wrong, but you’re unhappy, anyway. Continue reading
Of all the feelings, love is perhaps the most complicated and the least likely to be summarized in a single blog post. Therefore, I’m not even going to try. What I will do, however, is show you the difference between true love and narcissism. Continue reading
If you spend any time thumbing through Facebook or Twitter, listening to talk radio, or watching the news, you’d agree we’re in the age of outrage. It doesn’t take long, going through any of those media before you’ll see someone who’s outraged about something, or outrageous. Soon, you will get outraged about something, yourself.
As an emotion, outrage is obviously related to rage and, by that route, is also associated with anger, frustration, and indignation. All the feelings in that family serve to alert you that there is an injustice afoot and you need to do something about it. Compared to its relations, outrage is, well, more outrageous. It means you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. When peasants appear at the castle with torches and pitchforks, ready to burn the place down, they are outraged. Outrage appears to be an essential ingredient in popular, if not mob, rule.
Outrage is also what you feel when you caught your husband cheating and have all kinds of names to call him. It’s characterized by feeling of moral superiority and a willingness to express yourself freely, in no uncertain terms, and to not quit doing so until you’ve completely said your piece.
Having felt outrage many times, I perfectly understand the impulse to give yourself in to its mixed pleasures. On one hand, it’s not a pleasant thing to need to be outraged; on the other hand, it feels good to get something off your chest. But what I really want to know is, does outrage work? Is it an efficient method of effecting change? Continue reading