one of the standard remedies for personal misery is love. the recipient of an absolute love cannot be miserable as all faults are redeemed by loves magic eyes – Milan Kundera
I don’t know if in M. Kundera’s eyes I am the lover or the lovee. The beauty of M. Kundera’s works are you draw sympathy, empathy, admiration and desposition for each character because they each draw upon your own supposed experiences in ways you may not be willing to otherwise sympathize, empathize, admire and despise. Only the shallowest of souls are willing to only partake in a singular self-analysis and those are typically the ones who most rebel against his most central of messages.
To whom I am…
Who Am I?
In Milan’s depiction I portray myself as his quintessential character as I am any post-romantic’s full of self-evident flaws yet desirable none-the-less incessantly able to exploit my flaws and yet still fulfill some level of success. I should be noted that I didn’t say what the flaws are or the successes were just that they were acknowledged and exploited. Is there a part of me that sees this a predictable and inherently a bit debilitating in nature? Sure. Could I do better? Should I do more? Maybe.
But, what is better? What is more?
Is my whole life my career? My apartment or my town? My routines? My lover? My past experience?
Life is, more than in-and-of itself, more than the some of it’s parts. We cannot be who we are if we are not, in fact, who we are.
So, how does one’s self define who they are?
Milan’s belief though all my readings of his works seems to be that the culmination of our existence becomes who we are as he reflects it in his portrait of his characters as they take shape through a novel. I believe it is our actions that define who we are, our deeds, our doings. Not what we believe, not what we feel, not what we want. It is what we do, what we conceive, what we accomplish that is the reality of our beings. It’s more than I am who I say I am – It is I am what I have done.
The past was, in part, still dictating the present in unhealthy ways, still being challenged by the individuality of man, be it by their gender, or gender identification, their race or ethnicity, their political belief, their religion or creed, their sexuality, class or caste, and so on… Just because those things continue to be problems though doesn’t stop the need for society, and the individuals that make it up, to continue to challenge them with resolution.
Thus, the past being the definition of who we once were appears, on face value to be who we are. But today’s action is not necessarily predicated on yesterday’s. We might be creatures of habit but that doesn’t preclude us from change.
So what does this mean for me?
I want to, rather, need to challenge myself and the world around me. Own my past but not be dictated by it. Plan for a future that isn’t self-defined by the past alone. Identifying problems is not complaining it is plotting for success.
But what is succeeding? Is yelling intellectually at one another succeeding? Is a brighter argument a better argument? If we throw a verbal punch at the end of a brilliant statement any less of a punch?
Honestly, I don’t want to have to justify that kind of fighting. It is “smarter” than others? The weapon is words? The biting edge isn’t a knife it’s a metaphor and it inflicts the same cutting damage. That doesn’t make it any better. We aren’t “fighting smarter” and we aren’t fighting better, we are just being smarter assess…drawing the wrong bits up from our pasts and exploiting them for what we expect can be future benefit by winning the present fight.
We carry our past as an expectation to our future in general.
We carry our past.
Past is yesterday. Last week. Last month. Last…whatever. Past is not just time though, it is the long distance identity we may, or may not, acknowledge. If we are clinging to yest-moment forever, wholeheartedly, tomorrow is self-defined as nothing. We sacrifice it at the cost of the predication that everything is defined by the past.
As individuals, in modern identities we struggle to and strive for our identity. We struggle with it based on our race or ethnicity, sexual preference or sexual identity, religion or creed, class or caste or whatever begin to self destructively divide us from our family, friends, ideology or otherwise create human divides…we use society to self-define, as if the cumulative identity is some conglomeration of our individual, personal ones. It’s no wonder we struggle then. Society has a strange way of homogenizing individuality, particularly when it comes to the interpreting of our past or having a vision of progress and the future.
One cannot say, I wish to the future if their wish is grounded in the past. The past typically dislikes the prospect of the future replacing it…
Far too often we allow the past to dictate our future. Repeating the mistakes of it. Relying blindly on the positives of it assuming they should work again. If we truly learned from it though, we wouldn’t be doomed to repeat it.
I hope I have learned from it. I am trying to. It’s a life long journey to synthesize every lesson to be learned, to extrapolate something useful from every experience. To in turn view the present and plan for the future while simply being respectful of what the past has to offer in advice. I strive for that now in planning a marriage, not a wedding. There’s a lot in my past… but there’s a lot in my future too.
She says she hates the clutter, it makes her exhausted and overwhelmed to see… I get that. Clutter makes me overwhelmed too. Right now, it is not just the clutter of stuff in our completely undersized apartment, it is the emotional and psychological clutter we are exhausted and overwhelmed by. It is our complex past’s piled up all over our current relationship. It is the ordeals we have put one another through in getting to this day.
So, over the weekend I once again cleaned. If I lived alone there wouldn’t be this kind of clutter. Everything would have it’s place and the little piles of everything everywhere would be much easier to ignore because they would inherently make sense to me. That goes for the physical stuff I had to find a home for as well as some of the emotional and psychological clutter that I needed to dust off and put back in its place too. It was sitting out. An eyesore in our relationship. Cluttering our communication, our intimacy, our combined enlightenment.
Was I successful?
Putting the past’s scars away in an effort to better live in the present and work toward the future is, as I mentioned, a lifelong endevour. We met when both of us were coming from pretty miserable places and we’ve come together in our lives as each of us were working through miserable places. That misery may have defined who we were then but it doesn’t have to define who we will become. That’s what we are constantly working toward … a common goal of mutually defined existence that breaks the bad cycles of what our pasts were, embraces the present we have in front of us and allows us to create our future together.
The kitchen is cleaner. Things are more organized and less cluttered. We can cook again with ease. The next step is applying that same reorganization to the rest of our clutter and be redeemed by loves magic eyes.