Get a Grip
“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd—The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world's existence. All these half-tones of the soul's consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”
Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935)
When I first read this quote, I thought, how dark, how sad, but the next moment I laughed, because it so captures the human condition. “If only...” is the mantra of human existence. We invent scenarios of how things should be, and then we long for them. We imagine that we actually know what was supposed to happen, what should have happened, and how things would be now if they had happened. All this angst is the dark side of the idealism that goes with having gotten something we do want. “Oh, now, things will go back to the way they were, the way they're supposed to be,” we say. “Now that this has happened, everything will work out exactly right.” All of these thoughts, emotions, and desires neglect one thing—the way things actually are. Think about how much psychic energy we spend wishing and wanting what is not reality.
We humans are endlessly fascinating. Don't you wonder whether lions lie around the savanna thinking, “Aw, man, I wish I were prettier. Maybe I'd be the alpha lioness, if only I didn't have these fat thighs.” Or, “If only I could run as fast as Gerald, over there, I'll bet the lionesses would take notice.” No, they just deal with what is. “Get that lame wildebeest, so the cubs can eat.” Only humans make up stories inside their heads and then believe them enough to long, and yearn, and feel miserable about them.
That's who we are, that's how we're made. The trick is to keep reality in sight, to realize that what we're doing is existing inside our heads. At some point, we have to move beyond wishing and longing for what isn't, and grab hold of what is. We have to come out of our daze of yearning, and realize that if we want something, we have to get up on our feet and work for it. That's practical spirituality, y'all.
In the Spirit,