Sunday 30 September 2007

Finding Meaning in Life

My mother isn't one to give compliments lightly.
In fact, I can't think of many that she has given out.
But I can think of one.
And perhaps, the rarity of it, made it special to me.

It was over a year ago.
'I cannot even begin to comprehend what you have been through- but you must have something about you, some inner reserves to have come through all you went through, without bitterness and without being broken.
Which is why it's so sad that otherwise, you are so weak-willed, feckless and- useless.'

Backhanded compliment maybe, but fair.

I'm lucky now. Life is good. But it hasn't always been.
And if I find myself alone for any length of time- my flatmate has gone on holiday- I get intimidated by the empty flat.

Maybe I should explain a little. I really didn't do a great job of my early twenties, really. I went through a sequence of events, pretty much due to my own failings, which just wasn't the sort of sequence of events anyone wants to live through.

And it didn't break me.
In a sense it made me stronger.
But at a price.

It forced me into having to adopt an existence where I could never relax, or drop my guard for an instant. Where I was always looking over my shoulder, always watching my back, always having to watch situations.

The Adrenalin never truly stopped pumping.
And I lived like that for a long time.

It was a nasty life to live, really. The dance of the Quick and the Dead.
And when you come through smiling, when you get your life back to normal, when you can breathe again, you feel invincible.

You know yourself. And you know NOTHING can break you.
People see it in you.
Because in a physical sense, you no longer have fear.

You can face anyone down eye to eye.

But that doesn't mean you have no fear. The side of life you have seen, means that life to you, just can not be the same as it is to most people.
My adrenalin never really stops pumping.

Emotions are a luxury, and sometimes you have to disconnect them just to survive.
But how do you reconnect them?

You are now fully programmed to survive ANYTHING alone.
Fully programmed to distrust everyone.

You don't need anyone.

Except, in a real sense you do. Now you are through all that, you don't want to think about it anymore. Your life was ruined, and somehow you salvaged at least some of it.

And no, you wouldn't really know if this, if you met me. I'm outgoing, friendly, chatty- though I say it myself, I do come across as a nice person in real life.
People come to me asking for favours, knowing I'll do my best. People like being around me, because in many ways I am quite open.
I make an effort with people, because I do genuinely like people.

And people find it easy to let me in. In ways that sometimes, I wish they wouldn't.
People- especially if they know the stuff I've been through- see me as being able to carry their troubles.
The number of people who, on casual acquiantance tell me the shocking things they have endured in their lives, using me as a shoulder to cry on, can be very draining.

Because you see, I just can't return the favour.
I just really CAN'T let people in.
Except for a tiny circle of people.

And almost everyone else, I protect myself against.
But my flatmate sees me with my guard down, as does The Baker.

Sitting cross legged on the sofa, talking about how I feel.
Striving desperately to find some purpose, something beyond the next pay packet, the next blues game, the next party.

Because you see, somewhere along the way, I stopped caring. I survived by stopping caring.
I have suppressed my own feelings for so long, I have absolutely no idea what they are any more.
Except feeling high and feeling low.
Today is a feeling low day.

Mainly because I'm home alone.

But there is something over the last six months that has awakened me.
Because whilst I lost interest in myself a few years ago, I gained interest in something else.
When I wrote off my future, I took more interest in the future of the world.

Blogging has enabled me to come to terms with the fact that now, I only really have one aim in life.
To try and understand it.
As in Life, the Universe and Everything.

And maybe, understand the things wrong with our society.
So that wasted lives like mine don't have to happen one day.

And the rest, to me, has just become peripheral.

There isn't anything else I really want.

Crushed is not my raison d'etre, but it plays a part in giving me some level of satisfaction.

As Descartes said 'I think, therefore I am.'


Anonymous said...

I find some similarities between us Mr Ingsoc - I am trying to find meaning in life as well - and like you I find it hard to let people get close to me. I use humour to deflect deeper feelings - and like you as well I am mainly feeling low today. I have no idea by the way as to how I am rated as a political blog! Its baffling..

Anonymous said...

Why not look at things that are RIGHT in society rather than what is 'wrong' ? Build on reinforcing that. For the most part people do a marvelous job in the West. Ordinary people have been lifted out of abject poverty and routine conflict. Civil liberties are far better than they once were and we generally rub along well together. To rip it up and start again - as you seem to propose in earlier posts - seems a very dangerous path to take.

As for past hurt - many of us are damaged in some way or another. You're by no means alone there.

Anonymous said...

or as Iam now conditioned to say

Had some of that myself,
Kev is (as usual) right)
you have to look for the good things, sift through enough shit and occassionaly you find a diamond.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Well I was going to tell you my sad story but now I won't.

Many of us have awful stories to tell: mine was as a late teen, when my world fell apart and it took some years to get it on track.

You are capable of making strong personal connections, since you have done so.

Let me tell you that in life you will have many acquaintances but you will make very few true deep friendships that allow you to show vulnerability. You have made a good start. In time others will happen, but the numbers will not huge.

Most of us are like you, wearing a mask,hoping for acceptance from those we meet but longing for a deeper connection, not knowing how to make it. Remember a lot of them are not even worth the trying when it all comes down to it.

Most people are not comfortable alone. That too is a rare gift, that one is comfortable with oneself. Again we use TV or music or reading escapist books to avoid feeling uncomfortable when we are physically alone.

Too bad your mother didn't stop after the first sentence. Maybe this was a reflection of her upbringing. Always a but to follow the compliment.
Sorry Crushed, too long I know!

Anonymous said...

Electro-Kevin is profoundly right. Mr H too. At least, we in the West
remain largely free in choosing which of the directions we will take: goals or values are not imposed on us. The anti-Freudian psychotherapist Erich Fromm argued that man makes his life meaningful by living productively, and by using his powers of love and reason to their fullest capacity.In his own words,
"There is no meaning to life except the meaning man gives his life by the unfolding of his powers".
I think you'd benefit from taking a look at Fromm's work, Mr Crushed.

Anonymous said...

On replying your comment on my blog, for a moment I thought of Erich Fromm.
Well, so be it now, the more as it somehow fits to your post's title: "The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his power."
So, let it be!
A "golden October" to you and everybody else. :)

Anonymous said...

Mr Stan
maybe I should become a philosopher

This Fromm wanker got paid for that?
Fucking hell!

I can come up with far better whilst wanking in the bath and reading the daily mail.
cunts probably a hoodie.

Anonymous said...

Mutley- Superficially, I'm very easy to get close to. Possibly TOO easy, which creates problems for me, especially with members of the opposite sex, because they can't understand why I suddenly put the barriers up.

I have just discovered I forgot to pay the council tax- I have a demand for £941. Oops!

Yes, some surprises all round in the list, I think.

E-K- Mainly because I have first hand experience of the truly nasty side of our society. It really is truly appalling.
I look at what a truly amazing species we are and our capacity for Love, and I look at how warped some of the outcomes of our way of life are.

I know what the consequences for others are of the relatively pleasant existence I enjoy are, and to be honest, I can never really quite lose site of it.

Hitch- Well, yes, you see, I think I have those diamonds- nice little flat, my CDs, my books around me, great flatmate, job I enjoy, close friends who look after me.

Which is why I feel protective of what I have.

jmb- Interesting the point you make there about my mothers upbringing.
Yes, my mother had a bad upbringing, which meant she was a very distant mother herself.

I realise now, that a large part of my commitmentphobia is linked to this.

I find it very easy to form personal connections- its just I get worried when they cross a boundary.
When they see behind the mask, as you say.

Stan- Yes, I would agree with that I think.
It's finding a way to do that. I really don't know what it is, but it bugs me and keeps me awake at night.

Sean- It seems Mr Fromm is the voice of fate, tonight.
But maybe the true meaning of life is letting go of self.

This is what I have started to think.
If you can obliterate self, you can see reality for what it is.

Anonymous said...

I thin kI have inklings of your past now CBI.

The thing in life is to understand but to immerse onselef in it too; it is not going to happen again. Letting is float by and looking to the future is a terrible waste.

The NOW is important, what you are doing right now matters; not the flighty thoughts of where we may be in years hence.

Anonymous said...

Number 42

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry you went through such a bad time and I actually think that's a very nice compliment from your mother. Sometimes it is necessary to shut others out , when we are very fragile ourselves, to survive - but only for a while. And you are not really doing this, Crushed, for you have said quite early in the post that you don't like being alone for long. I can understand what blogging has given you and your desire to understand the universe. And you will make as much sense of it as any of us...

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. You write things that I can relate to and I wonder if infact we all are just that little bit terrified.
My adrenalin is always pumping as well and I wish for the way I used to be when I never gave fear a second thought.

But you are very human and this comes through in your writing.

Wishing ya well.

Anonymous said...

As me be walking along the lifes path me notices that there be a mutitude of cracks and fissures in the pavement.
No matter where me foot falls took me and at all points of the compass, never once did me view a unblemished trail. Of course me thought that this were me own personal road and that the flaws that rent the pathway were mine alone.
Later as Me stomped along, me understood that the road were built by all who travel upon it and although it might be broken in some places one may still use it to stroll, saunter, trot or gallop towards the next intersection.

That life be exaulting and pernicious can be expressed by all who enter into it.
Your scars, not yer thoughts, are proof that you live. Do not believe that by disconnecting yourself and setting up a wall of defence from the world around is a means of protection.
Quite the opposite; it is a nail in the coffin lid. It only makes you harder and more brittle and therefore all the easier to shatter.

Stay Stompy

Anonymous said...

It's hard learning to feel again. I don't think I've quite got the hang of it either. I haven't gotten close to anyone in years. It's harder to tear down self made walls than it is to break through the ones inflicted upon you.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As for understanding the universe I can but wonder in awe:

Anonymous said...

I was a cop for five years remember, Crushed ???

I also worked inner London commuter trains for 8 years with drunks and yardie gangsters ...

Yup - some of society is shitty, but MOST of it isn't or else we'd all be in real trouble.

Anonymous said...

I do come across as a nice person in real life.

So does that mean you are not really a nice guy?

Have to say, I just loved your post. It was so vulnerable, yet so powerful – a contradiction for sure, but aren’t we all a lil’ bit of everything all rolled into one? That’s just the thing, even if you are strong and can take care of yourself, once ine a while it would be nice to be able to let your guard down and let someone else take care of you.

But I dunno… I suppose I somehow am like you – yet somehow miles behind… still trying to figure out what it’s all about, taking one step at a time

Anonymous said...

Think a comment for Jeremy came here by mistake, Crushed.

Anonymous said...

Your post was amazing...very touching. We can all relate to it someway, we all went through bad times but the only difference between us is that we all dealt with them in a differt way.
I don't think you did a bad job, you wanted your space and your time alone,you had that. Many people who go through what you've been through, distance themself from people from ALL people, they become very bitter and sometimes hateful, you didn't, thats whats important.
I'm really happy you were introduced to the blogosphere and you found a purpose in blogging:)
We all blog for a reason, you seem to have found your reason and found yourself too along the way.
best wishes

Anonymous said...

no matter how gey this sounds... in the end, we must accept and love ourselves. for this to truly happen, i think we need purpose and follow a path of doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

This post is one that makes me think. I understand a little; when I was young, I always wanted simple stuff, like perhaps to go for a school outing, or go to a friend's house.. or even to watch X-files which used to be on every Wednesday night. And my dad would always say no, or manage to spoil it with his complaining somehow. After awhile I learnt what you did (just in a simpler way; you've gone through much more than me), "If you don't care, they can't hurt you." So we care less... but in doing so, we do live less and love less too (but yes, it protects from hurt). You've made it so far... I still believe that God has something special in store for you, just around the corner (so you can't see it yet)... (yes, you can see I'm in this mood 'cos I've just found something special around my corner ;-)). Hmmm... and the thought that arises is that you have so many blessings (your looks, your charm etc) to thank God for... so be happy... ! (And being a Catholic, you'll have heard this before - 'God loves you' :-) )

Anonymous said...

Carnival- If asked where I will be in ten years time, there are two possible answers I hope for.

One is in the same flat, same job, same flatmate, same life.

The other is- well- unrealistic, but worth fighting for.

Jeremy- Now there is something about that I saw somewhere, there is some foeld where 42 IS significant, but I forget where.

Welshcakes- Yes, but its a funny paradox.
On the one hand, I need the persitant buzz of people around me in a superficial sense- for example, yesterday I left the flat pretty much hourly, for one reason or other.

On the other hand, the list of people who I allow to see me sans chirpiness is limited. And I don't like the idea of adding to the list.

Betty- For me thr terror is quite different, it's being twigged.

Basically, most human interaction is based on a bluff- eye contact.

I'm good with it. It makes me a good salesman, it makes me good in social situations, it makes people like and trust me, it makes women think I'm MUCH more attractive and self assured than I am, it means I have never been in a fight, or sufferered physical violence, even in tough surroundings.

The front I present to the world is bloogdu good.

The terror for me, is people seeing beyond that.

Monster- In a sense, yes, my flatmate will tell you that. I CAN be turned into a gibbering little boy, in certain circumstances. Very few, but it's possible.
Those circumstances being, if I think my comfort zone is under threat.

Otherwise my defences are pretty solid.

Oestrebunny- Well, I have people as close as I want them, as in can trust implicitly. And can talk to candidly.

I think we just have to accept who we are and what has made us.
And accept that some routes to happinesss can't be ours any more.

E-K- Cheers for the links.

But there's a hell of lot of human debris churned out by our society.
The levels of heroin addiction and sex abuse that you must have had first hand experience of as a copper, must have said to you all is not right in this society.

Crashie- Deep inside, yes. I do look after those close to me very well, anyone would agree.
But I have quite a ruthless streak as well, hidden between those two layers.

As for being taken care of, well I am, by my flatmate. Thr crucial point here I suppose, is that everything is in my name alone, so I don't feel threatened.

James- I am confused...
I shall toddle off now to Corporate Presenter to fathom this out..

Anonymous said...

Kizzie- You make an interesting point.
Myself and the Baker had a VERY long discussion on New Years Eve, which was basically my confessional really of some of the crap I've had to do.

Receiving his simple statement 'I don't think you could have handled any of it any better.' was almost like absolution from God, to me.

You CAN become hateful, if you let herself. There's much to hate.
But hate is pretty useless- it can onlu EVER destroy. The only thing hate is Aston Villa.

In fact with me, the reverse was true, in a sense. I try not to dislike or judge anyone.
I actually do want to like everybody, because I really have realised how true Christ's message is.

Raffi- Ah, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

Problem is, the right thing may not always be the easy thing. The right thing may cause pain to someone, short term.

Which is why, to REALLY be good, you HAVE to be slightly ruthless.

Again, something I only twigged in the last couple of years, dealing with people who refused to be helped.

Eve- For long my 'gifts' were a curse. My father actually told me that straight, when I was a teenager- that people like me just took short term, easy solutions simply because they COULD.

I didn't listen.

That tendancy is still in me, but I understand it better and take into account that I need to watch my own impulsive bahaviour.

Odd you mention my Catholicism- JP2 died, when I was going through some of the worst.
I had always like Cardinal Ratzinger's theology, but dared not hope, he'd be chosen.
When he was, it was almost (to me), an ultimate sign of hope for mankind- which included me.

Anonymous said...

Crikey - Ratzinger is mankinds hope???? Not for me hes not..

Anonymous said...

It is an odd thing how people can be so blind to the walls you put up when they have let their own down.

This was a profoundly sad post to me, though, for some reason. It felt very honest and connected with me for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I don't let anybody in. Not right in. And I have a wall around my heart that is very rarely cracked.

Anonymous said...

You know the zen way of thought is that we spend most of our lives in a state of sleep. Like a walking sleep. The goal is to acheive a wakeful state if only for a short period of time. I lived with someone for over 10 years and when we broke up it was devastating to say the least. I lived alone for about 1 year. I found that once home I was ok with being alone but I would get this feeling of dread every afternoon around 4pm just knowing I was going home to an empty house. I moved my cousin in about a year ago and it was the best move I ever made. She is good company and it feels nice knowing someone cares about you enough to go looking for you if you don't come home.We are so differnt though it is a wonder we get along so well. She is a very conservative Republican country music,pickup driving tomboy and I am a bleeding heart liberal Democrathard rock loving pagan woman.

Anonymous said...

Mutley- I should probably clarify.
When I go to MASS (admittedly not as often as I should), I like to feel comfortable. It is the ritual aspect that comforts me- the sense that one is participating in a ritual that Jesus himself taught.
Religion is one of the few areas where I am very traditional.

Princess- The hard thing for people to get, is that IF you do drop your barriers, they are priveleged.
But it is only to show them what lies behind. It's not an invitation to come in, and never will be.

You can only really trust people who understand that.

I hardly see my Gran these days, though I care about her more than any other family member. Because I just can't handle her concern for me. I'm sorry to say, I won't trust her with my home phone number.

Liz- My closest friend is the closest it gets, but we have always been close.
I find it easy to like, even to love, and am generally considered quite tactile- I have no problem hugging a mate when they come into the pub, or show up on Friday night.

My heart, I can give. Not my soul though.

Poody- That sounds a bit like me and my flatmate, I think we complement eachother.
She is sensible, calm, patient, but open and warm.

But also naive, trusting, innocent in some ways.

But she has a very calming effect on me, because she just seems to understand.
If I don't want to talk all night, she won't push it.

That means a lot. Just knowing someone is in the other room.
We both sleep with our doors open.