Being Free from Perturbation Pt. 2
It’s hard. It’s really hard. It doesn’t matter how strong you are or how many maxims you’ve told yourself–when it comes right down to it, many of us are fighting something inside us that we wish we weren’t. That we wish we could move past.
Maybe it was childhood trauma, maybe your parents didn’t love you all that much, maybe it’s your sexuality, maybe you can’t figure out why you’re so lazy. Maybe you don’t feel anything at all.
It’s a strange balance trying to struggle towards strength without relinquishing your humanness. We all fail. We all have buttons that people can push–that thumbscrew that we hope no one notices. You give yourself away to pickpockets when you check for your wallet; it means you have something worth stealing. We are the same way with vulnerabilities. We think we’re hiding them but reveal them in the process.
And the blessing: It is a process. The second dirty secret is that Cicero wrote his finest works in a fit of depression, alone in his country home, following the death of his daughter and a divorce. He did it as an utter hypocrite. By now you’ve seen some of my frenetic, crazy posts. The ones where I’m clearing struggling with something or trying to navigate the chasm between what I want to be and where I actually am. No question, I try to be as honest as possible here but you wouldn’t pick up on that socially. So what is your mask? What do you put up to compensate for where you feel lacking? Because unless you acknowledge it, you’re just living in an illusion and that very often comes crashing down. Tucker quotes Pericles a lot–something to the effect of “there is nothing wrong with poverty, only not doing something about it.”
I know for me, all I want to do is get to point where perturbation doesn’t control me; where the littlest thing doesn’t throw me off; where when I understand that a person shouldn’t affect me I actually don’t let them; where lulls are moments of relaxation instead of worry; where I am as calm as I am after a run, every second of everyday. And I am so far from this that it’s not even funny.
But when you fail–and you surely will: today, tomorrow and the week after–understand that it is a process. And to embark on that process is a journey required for enlightenment and happiness. “Who am I?” “What makes me act the way that I do?” It doesn’t matter what it is, or what you’re trying to “fix,” someone else has done it already and they’d love to talk to you about it. More than anything, don’t compare yourself to where you suspect other people are. Seneca the Stoic is widely considered to just be complete artifice–he mentored Nero for Christ’s sake. Chances are, they’re just pretending.
So back to the question: Can you be happy on the rack; tortured and bloody? Someone can, but I can’t, at least not today. But I’d like to be. I’d like to get to that point. Because really, if your happiness depends on how other people treat you and on the circumstances of life, you’ll find yourself in some dark, dark places. Like the point in your life where you cross streets and just pray for a car.
You don’t want that. No one does.
Whatever you’re after–if it’s influence like I am or solitude like Thoreau–none of it is going to matter if you can’t find tranquility. A thousand additions or a hundred subtractions, the core remains the same. And that has to be the focus of your efforts if you ever want to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can realize that now or you can wait until time is almost up; that is your call
But lastly, it’s just not fair to treat that journey as anything but a process. You can’t wake up tomorrow unbothered by things or free from a certain sadness, but you can, everyday, get a little closer to where you want to be. Each second you shave off from that is one you can spend enjoying yourself, un-enslaved to the tyranny of fate or circumstance, and actually be happy.
Hey, man. I really love your blog – it’s my favourite on Rudius by far (sharing, of course, a place with Robert Greene once he starts writing again). I look forward to your posts, and enjoy reading them. You’ve told me a lot about my own life, and helped me on my way to becoming who I want to be.
Keep writing, man. You’re doing an awesome job.
Greene is coming out with another book soon. I think it’s a collaboration with 50 Cent, but I could be wrong.
Given my druthers, I’ll take the book over the shorter pieces.
Reminds me of a couple years ago when I started to get into history, strategy, current events, etc more. There were countless subjects I wanted to understand better and just as many books I wanted to read and have the knowledge of. I spent so long just thinking about where to begin and how to start. Several times I would look back and realize that I hadn’t actually done a thing and I would get frustrated with myself.
Finally I just got a book and started reading. When I finished that I read something else and on and on. There is still an unlimited amount of things I want to learn about, but now I can look back and atleast be proud that I’ve started down the path.
The same thing has happened with other aspects of my life. I was happiest when I stopped just daydreaming and making excuses and actually started to do something, even if in small steps, towards my goal.
You don’t eat an elephant by looking at it…
Yes, the book is with 50. I am transcribing interviews for it as I type this. The blog should be happening again soon too.
Stick around. Thanks for the comment.
Bravo. Great post.
It’s nice to realize, at any age, that the process is more ultimately more fulfilling than the reward. It seems as though modern society emphasizes reward and gratification, both instant and otherwise, but doesn’t acknowledge that the path to happiness comes from long, hard work. Obviously one is more open to distraction and despair when their life is devoid of meaningful pursuit.
Best post of this type yet. This has all the introspectiveness of your crazy, frenetic posts but lacks their, well, craziness and freneticism. It’s well-written. You are clearer when you write in a thoughtful and calm tone. Yes, you actually are calmer here! Maybe you are getting better and better at being that way.
I think it’s interesting that you’re giving value to the journey; for some of us it is rewarding and for others it is damning.
I’m caught at the crux. I’ve had great rewarding times and rewarding times that were completely without worth. I’ve had damning times that were completely my own and those that found me.
We’re all creatures created by our own experiences but not all of those are good. What are your thoughts on bad experiences? I’ve been through my fair share and I can’t believe that they’re all worthwhile. I’ve struggled and pained for nothing before (and maybe I’m just not on the other side of those struggles yet) but I can’t see the ‘need’ for some of the hurts that life has to bring.
I think you’re brilliant not only in your writing but in your over-all world view and I’d love to see you address this.
I think most people like to see their lives in a vacuum. They think that once they pull themselves together to “do” certain things, they would step into a timeless space where everything would work themselves out. Time and time again, they’re disappointed to see how things are once they get “there.” They eventually burn out and give up.
I agree that the key is to see things as a process, to really just enjoy the journey while dangling the destination in your psyche.
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I’ve been checking out your blog every now and then, but this post convinced me to be a consistent reader. Awesome job, Ryan.