Certainty is the cage that keeps us safe from curiosity. I've been released from the cage. I am the songbird and I am flying for the window. I know it's closed but I plan on breaking through. – Charlie Coté, Jr. (1987-2005)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why chimes with anxiety, or let's put the fun back in dysfunctional

We want explanations for the inherent chaos of life, to be certain, for reassurance. Don't we? I need you to agree with me here, being the fragile person that I am in such a hard world.

So why do we act, think, or feel a certain way? Why do certain things happen? Why are we here, for that matter? We all want to know.  Why does this yen for certainty makes us anxious? Well, because...

... see, I look for a story to fit the facts (as I perceive them), and it makes sense, to me. There's a logic, and that's what I want, sense in a senseless world, or so it seems. I need a reason.

Read any newspaper and you'll get them, reasons, but are they reasonable? Maybe they're the essential fictions that keep us going, that get us out of bed each day. But maybe we're just kidding ourselves. Call me Cleopatra, the Queen of De Nile.

None of this seems particularly alarming, unless of course your reasons clash with mine. Then it's time for battle, because (there I go again), if you're right, then maybe I'm wrong. That makes me anxious. So I'll argue, attack, erect a defense, react, withdraw, and judge.  

That's good. 
                        No, that's bad. 

That's right. 

                       No. Wrong.

Again, I'm telling you my story, maybe it's yours as well, a story that makes the world work, or better yet, play, whichever you prefer (the former if you're part WASP* like me). Maybe this story upsets you, conflicts with your view of the world. Maybe you think I'm wrong.

But listen. Please, listen. Why can't you listen? Why can't you understand?

Now there's a visceral word: under-stand. Support me. Hold me up. Carry me. Hold this. (I can't tell you all the times I've asked my wife to do this. Honey, hold this. Picture her eyes rolling.)

What is required for you to understand me, and me you?


Rather than give a more detailed answer for you (more story), let's have a discussion. Wow, that word sounds serious. Dis and cuss. Maybe converse is better. Wait, con and verse, as in versus. All that sounds so contentious (con and tense). How about dialogue? Oops. Die and log. Let's just talk.

Your turn. Go.

*White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Think Protestant Work Ethic.


Ken said...

Hey Cleopatra,

What's to talk about? Life is beautiful, but it's also chaotic (just like those pretty waves now gracing your blog). We are pressed under and then tossed back up, floating serenely along with the current before getting pummeled by a rough wave.

So yeah, we make stories that explain the world.

WE make the stories. The world doesn't make the stories, because the world doesn't care. We need the stories for ourselves.

We MAKE the stories. The world doesn't make them for us. We have to craft them. It's hard work making a story that makes some sense out of the senseless world.

We make the STORIES. They are just stories, they aren't reality. We made them. Made them up. Made them up out of thin air. Out of our hopes and dreams and desires. Hopes and dreams and desires need a narrative. Narratives provide reasons.

But why? Why do we need reasons? Because (?) we are reasonable creatures. We reason. It's what we do. The world is not reasonable, we we provide the reasons.

But is that reasonable? How can we make reasons up out of nothing? Is this circular logic? (Logic?? what's that?)

We make up stories because they work. There's an ethic for you.

Okay, your turn again. Or someone else's. This really isn't a dialogue, it's a polylogue.

Barbara said...

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
Robert McCloskey quote

Charles Coté is a poet and said...

How Do You Help Other Couples?
Shrink’s Wife Wonders

What she said he’d said, he hadn’t heard.
It’s usual; no reason to despair.
To see it any other way’s absurd.

Unlike him, she always hears each word
he says, and thus is right to say, Look there,
at what you’ve said.  But he hadn’t heard.

What he wanted was some pain transferred
to her for what she’d put him through.  Not fair
to see it any other way? Absurd?

She knows she told him once, then twice, a third
time, and more, yet still he couldn’t care
exactly what she said he’d said; he hadn’t heard.

But any time he tried, it only stirred
a holy war, and then she’d cry, How dare
you see it all your way. That’s absurd!

Yes, what’s clear to her, to him is blurred.
No way to make it easier to bear.
To see it any other way’s absurd,
for what she said he’d said, he hadn’t heard.