The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Feeling Alive

I’ve said on many occasions that, in the depths of my depression, I sought the meaning of life. But unable to discover it, I continued my sad existence.

Boy, was I confused! It wasn’t the meaning of life that I was looking for! It was a sense of aliveness...

Joseph Campbell defined for me what it is we so intensely strive for when he said that while it has always been believed that the fundamental search of human beings is for the meaning of life, what we are actually searching for, yearning for, is a feeling of aliveness. It was one of those ideas that catalyzed my own musings and intuitions.

Every child, before self-consciousness sets in, acts spontaneously, with total abandon and full involvement. If you spend any time around children, you know this. Everything interests them, they whirl around until they’re dizzy, run until they fall, paint wildly, sing unselfconsciously. We all felt like that once: we felt alive, we expressed it. But then life’s realities inevitably intruded: our parents didn’t always respond to our cry; the bottle was too hot or cold; we fell out of bed; there was screaming; there weren’t enough hugs; a new little sister came along too soon; we were laughed at. We became afraid, and we lost our sense of being fully alive, which we can only feel when we’re safe, not when we’re scared, vulnerable, threatened, defensive, inadequate. And we carried these feelings, and our ways of coping with them, to our relationships.

A feeling of aliveness is what we’re after with our cars and condos and boats and gourmet food, our designer clothes and recreational sex and skin flicks and skydiving, our deafening music and jogging and walks on the beach and TV and movies. Materialism, hedonism, greed, self-centeredness – all the hallmarks of the American way – are getting a bad name these days. Well, heaven knows it’s nothing to brag about, but I can only have sympathy for what all this compulsive activity really represents, which is that we live in a world, and in relationships, that don’t allow us to feel truly alive. And if we don’t feel alive, we feel like we’re going to die. So we do something, buy something, binge on something, take drugs, drink, run twenty miles, get laid, turn up the music.

- Keeping the Love You Find

Yes, that’s me! I became afraid of life. I lost that sense of aliveness that young children have. (Dear Lord, what happened to me in my childhood?!) I feel inadequate, insecure, defensive. Ensconced in the Fortress like a cocoon, my home is a gilded cage.

I’ve tried to feel alive by buying my way to it, with material goods, by watching movies, by riding my bike. And, still, I don’t feel alive. It’s literally driving me crazy!