I began this post trying to walk through my psychology, attempting to think through some of the internal conflicts that have brought me down this week. This is an emergent of simply asking a question and seeing where it takes me. I’m interested in what it means to lay myself bear with no intention except to be self-revealing, and to explore my inner terrain. Maybe you will relate, or maybe this will be an exhibition of having an inferior feeling function.
I want to build an inner foundation, or organize my experience around the elements of a “good” life– financial clarity, relationships, and engaging work. Relationships seem to be the element that cause the most suffering, though. I am sensitive to the idea that if I lose the people from my past, then as it currently stands, I have no relationships to rely upon. I somehow equate history with trust, and trust in relationships as a way of being comfortable within my life. These are problems I don’t like to admit. Although I strive to form new relationships, the potential for positive relations in the future is in some way dependent on the past. I’m fixated on the idea that if something goes wrong with the relationships I already have, then I’m less equipped to navigate current and future relationships. If previous entanglements suddenly break down, they were built on flawed assumptions, and this must be a sign that I’ve missed some critical information and therefore lack a strong perceptual system to lead me into the future.
But I also keep thinking, I am all I have. My relationships are always susceptible to abrupt endings because there is so little I know about the interiors of others. In the school of life video, “Why We Are Faded To Be Lonely” Alain de Botton discusses the idea that loneliness is an inevitable side effect of being a complex and sensitive human being. It’s unlikely we will meet someone EXACTLY like us, capable of anticipating our every need, and this sets us up for a low-grade, interminable sense of isolation, even if it seems to lessen in select instances. It is, of course, possible that an extraordinarily like-minded person could have passed us on the street yesterday, or that they currently live in Amsterdam and will die tomorrow, or maybe they were born in Prague in 1918, but due to the limitations of time and space, as well as the structure of daily life (i.e. the pervasive tendency to simply pretend we don’t see the people with whom we share trains, buses and library bathrooms) the likelihood that the people who could connect with us on the deepest possible level is not necessarily high. I am trying to build my own foundation. One built on relationships is going to be perpetually unstable, no matter how long they’ve existed or how seemingly trust worthy they are. All I ever have is my mind and its contents.
A main factor in my chronic loneliness is the constant search for subtext within social contexts, usually at the expense of immediate, concrete details. Although my focus on understanding the hidden thoughts and feelings of those around me occasionally helps me avoid conflict, most of the time it creates an excessive screening for how much of my authenticity is safe to reveal at any given instance. The question becomes- is it better to make predictions as to the thoughts of another and use this information to mitigate potential moments of disconnection? Or does it make sense to simply embrace authenticity, and assume that anything happens as a result is better than what happens on the basis of cautiously navigated falsehood? To put this another way: is it better to experience solitude as a side effect of having been authentic? Or to carefully assess how much authenticity will be within the bounds of acceptability and act from there? My sense is that if I know that I’m never going to fully understand anyone, and no one will ever fully understand me, it makes more sense to display what is actually within me. Even if none of my connections are ever satisfying on the deepest possible level, instances of connection that occur based on complete openness would likely satisfy more than those that are fractured and dulled by restraint.