Monday, July 14, 2008
GETTING TO … OR HAVING TO
If there’s ever been a fulcrum fine enough to find a balance for the dynamic between gratitude and resentment, I’ve never run across it. The threshold between opposites usually reveals their resolution like the third leg of a tripod for stability on all terrain, but this particular slice of life seems insistent on being an either/or deal. It certainly defines a basic characteristic to my actions since fulfilling my last promise twenty-four years ago, but this is the first time I’ve thought to question my immediate obedience to keeping myself glad to exist; preferring to be happy. It seems so obvious that it is a wonder anyone would choose to resent their existence. But then, no one chooses to be miserable. Resentment comes on the heels of surrendering our freedom to choose by placing blind faith in authority to know better than one’s own experience may show, be they teachers, preachers or political leachers whose certainty about the unknown leads the trusting to make promises about a fantasy future where nothing ever changes from the moment the promise freezes time. Once one has employed the prosthetic of faith based knowledge, even the freedom to make up one's own mind for oneself can appear to be a "have to" chore to be resented.
I have often pondered Aleister Crowley’s declaration, “Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law.” The ultimate sense of this prohibition of prohibition is that chaos, nature’s way of constant change, requires the spontaneity of unrestricted choice to maintain harmony by adapting ourselves to its unpredictable variations. Only failure to recognize this can account for the atrocities committed upon nature and each other to suit our exceptionally spoiled, and growing more so every day, selves.
Once Crowley’s law is violated by anyone prohibiting choice for themselves or others the compulsion breeds resentment no matter how sweet the sentiment. I have often suspected that the motivation for pre-emptive commitment to prohibition is a fear of buckling under the terrible, imagined reality of the theoretical situation looming out there in the future one “has to” face. Or, worse, the reverse; promises made in the heat of the moment manipulating gratitude with a hasty tasty token of undying sincerity replete with a hangover of “have to”s all the mourning’s down the road.
None of this is to say one shouldn’t feel responsible for the effect of one’s actions on others, but the degree to which such actions are gratuitous rather than an expected due makes all the difference in the flavor of ones reliability. Western civilization is built upon the rubble made of the cultures it demolished for not accepting promises never intended to be kept. Growing up in such an environment has taught me to concentrate on matters before me in the here and now where lies are useless in the face of the obvious. My experience has proven me ready for anything when my hands aren’t tied by my past and I get to live my life as I see fit.
Are you getting to live your life, or having to?