A friend seeks contentment the heavenly way

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

Photography: Jorge Royan, Argentina

She was an oddly attractive young woman, gregarious and vivacious, amusingly unpredictable in her scatter-brained thought processes. Yet to chat with her could feel like being spun in a cement mixer, never certain which way was up or ever knowing when you might be disgorged to go off in a nonplussed silence – like her, mixed up, but not unpleasantly so.

At other times it was like trying to read Ulysses in a hurricane, or after a few too many gin and tonics, her monologue a flight of consciousness borne on a slipstream of vacuity. She’d rarely be able to end sentences; there was always something vital to add; and whilst meaning seemed promised, her turbulent fervour meant it was always lost along the way.

And getting lost was very much her thing. When she wasn’t adrift churning your brain with her vapid and vacuous inanities, she’d seek to lose herself in other ways. It was as if she was running away from the possibility of simplicity, instead losing herself in rabid mindlessness and scared she may be forced to face directly her own simple, alive presence.

Sex was another of her favoured routes to losing herself. Here, once again, she clambered into the cement mixer – churning, enfolding, collapsing, resurfacing, over and over. And once again she would find herself at last setting in silence – the emptiness of alienation and self-loathing. Powerless to dispel these feelings, she settled for God’s Plan B:

Get to heaven; not now of course, but when God chose. Only there might she finally rest content as the soul she was sure she possessed. There’d be no need to get lost any more; in heaven she’d finally dispel her fears, safely in God’s presence. All else had failed; that was her proof that this world was just a staging post, a stop-over to a final destination.

It’s was a great plan for her, because she could carry on pretty much as before, knowing that eventually all would be well. All it took was belief and a few minor behavioural adjustments. She got into a circle of believers whose groupthink was policed and bonded by a prayer leader cum show master. And there she relaxed in God’s merciful hands.

I could guess at my friend’s thinking, though it wouldn’t have been consciously known to her. She was fearful of the world, so she tried to lose herself in it. The mind is a great place to get lost – lost in thought. It needn’t be prayerful thinking – just words, imagery, sounds; anything will do. Keep churning it out and you’ll lose all sense of your own being.

And then you simply wait; lost to your own reality, yet in God’s waiting room. It doesn’t have to be Eastbourne or Palm Beach. You just do it in your own mind and body. Contentment must wait too as you’ve found you couldn’t will it into being. All you need is the belief that one day the waiting room vacates as your soul steps through the doors of heaven.

At some level, we all do this. We all have our own version of God’s Plan B. If we’re rational and not given to such flights of fancy, we invent our own little piece of heaven that’s somewhere along our chosen path. Like my friend, we too seek contentment. We may conceive of it differently – happiness, wealth, status, relationships – but it’s the same final objective.

And if like my friend, we find our plan isn’t working, we either come up with another one or seek to lose ourselves in the world. There’s a million ways to get lost, most of which come down to an incessant distraction. Industries exist to feed this need to get lost in distractedness: drugs, drink, sex, entertainment and a whole host of anodyne consumerist fads.

Whether we choose to get lost in distractedness, or plan a route to contentment, we’re always putting things off. We’re always saying that the immediacy of being present in life is not sufficient; it’s not going to bring contentment. Yet contentment is accepting what is, as what is. It’s accepting our own presence in any and all circumstances. That is all it is.

Do you see how simple that is? Nothing has to change, to ‘get better’, to ‘be more than’, or to ‘become other than’. It’s incredibly simple and immediate. It’s nothing to do with plans or Gods, with projections or heavens. It isn’t about seeking or believing. It isn’t ‘about’ anything other than the vital immediacy of your own undeniable presence as you.

25 thoughts on “A friend seeks contentment the heavenly way

    • How kind of you to look at this opening attempt of mine to write a monthly post Sonmi. I wasn’t too sure how to commence with this blog, so I wrote five little pieces about old and mainly former friends of mine as an experiment in short-form writing. Oh, I should say, they are not ‘former’ by dint of these same articles! We simply lost regular contact with each other many years ago, around about the time I became a troglodyte hermit. 😉

      I think the line you have quoted is true for most of us, at least for much of our lives. We create a sort of internal teleology; there’s some place we feel destined to arrive at that will somehow relieve of us of whatever subtle or gross dissatisfactions we currently perceive. Ironically, in creating this teleological path, we perpetuate our problems. We assume a complexity; and it’s as if our path must be convoluted if it’s to lead anywhere worthwhile.

      Sincere thanks and best wishes to you Sonmi; I am touched by your continued interest; truly I am.

      Hariod.

      • Every part of your blog flows to the next in a gentle sync. No matter how randomly I come in, or click on, it fits together perfectly. The skies are whirling for me at present, and I knew that coming here would help. And I was right. I’ll always come back Hariod, so long as you don’t turn out to be an axe murderer or a secret nazi *laughs* – thanks are received and returned.

        – Sonmi smiling upon a whirling Cloud.

        • I do so hope the current turbulence up there proves to be short-lived Sonmi. I feel as if I would like to help, though of course, I cannot. I am all out of facile platitudes currently, otherwise I would pass you a bagful and say ‘help yourself’.
          Still, you can send me coded messages at any time if you feel inclined so to do Sonmi; I will happily remain bemused, as I never was much of a one for deciphering, nor for wanting to intrude. And if you felt it might serve some purpose, at least you could find amusement in my oblique responses.

          There’s no need to wonder if I harbour any dark secrets about myself Sonmi. My axe-wielding days are long gone, but then I would say that wouldn’t I? I do understand what you mean though; who knows what lurks behind the avatars we so freely engage with in this pixelated world? What has surprised me, is that everyone coming here to date has been so incredibly civil and supportive. This was somewhat against my expectation; I had imagined that if I had any readers at all, I would be lucky to get a 60/40 mix of positive and negative. And as to the blogs I visit, which are many, only two so far have proven to have authors with what one might euphemistically call ‘issues’. It seems the world largely responds in kind; so I do my little bit to help ensure that things run smoothly.

          I am still concerned about your turbulence Sonmi. 😦 I will send you a little metta* in the morning.

          * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mett%C4%81

          • Thank you, I really do appreciate all you have written Hariod. ‘Metta’ sounds lovely *smiles and pulls that mouth from a sad face to a smiling one too*. I’ll be back and capable of carrying on with my. . . I’d say ‘mission’ but that sounds all too religious – then again I am reminded by it of one of my favourite books: ‘Illusions – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah’ by Richard Bach. In it he says, and I have always liked this – “This is a test to see if your mission in this life is complete, if you are alive, it isn’t.” Closer to the mark I’d say though is another quote – “Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.” We are all that too. ❤

            – Sonmi sailing upon the Cloud

  1. Interesting article. What we should encourage today is spirituality without belief and spirituality without supernaturalism. Ive blogged about this on my blog in more detail. 😉

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to read this article and for responding to it; I greatly appreciate both. Do please let me have a link to the article you mention as I would be most interested to read it. I too have a piece along the lines you advocate if you would care to view it: http://wp.me/p4wkZJ-9D

      Thank you once again, and pleased to make your acquaintance.

      Hariod.

  2. “She was fearful of the world, so she tried to lose herself in it.”

    Beautiful observation, I used to be very much like this, and sometimes can still be but am way more aware when it’s happening. Now, when I am around people like this, I give them my undivided presence and compassion. A lot of the time they get to un-jumble themselves without any help; it’s so gorgeous to watch and afterwards they look extremely relieved, even though nothing has happened.

    Stillness.

    • I am delighted that you picked up on that sentence, as it is the sort of thing that is perhaps easily passed over; yet I think there is more than a grain of truth in there for certain character types, or so it would appear to me.

      I love that you say “nothing has happened” within the context that you do. You point to a silent transmission of something that can only be referred to as ‘something’. Or perhaps, yes, a glimpse of stillness.

      Many thanks for giving this your attention and for your interesting comment also, truly.

    • Thank you so much for casting your knowing eyes over this early offering of mine. This was a first attempt at writing in short form, perhaps not an altogether successful one, and I like to think my writing here at this blog has evolved a little over the past year, or at least that there’s hope for that in future.

      Yes, the woman I describe in this piece is indeed something of a tortured soul, and although we became somewhat distanced both as friends and geographically in recent years, I do know that she continues to lose herself in the ways I describe here. Still, à chacun sa propre personnalité, and I am no exception of course.

      Many thanks for your interest and kind reflection.

  3. I think I may do something rather similar to your friend. I don’t mean waiting for God to make everything okay, of course, but I do tend to get distracted from the here and now by focusing on a hoped-for future. Sex, drink, drugs and consumerist fads don’t really feature in this, but WordPress posts attracting 500,000 likes do sometimes make an appearance in my wilder fantasies.

    • I never get many ‘likes’ actually, Bun, but on posts in the past year I’ve attracted plenty of comment, it seems. When I began blogging a couple of years ago I read somewhere that Facebook was a great way to attract a readership, though I’ve never done any kind of Social Media, unless blogging itself counts as such? Do you promote via Social Media, or attract your readership within the blogosphere, may I ask?

      • I’m on Twitter and Facebook, but I find both of them very difficult to use effectively. Up to now, my main promotional strategy has been to try to write the funniest posts I can and keep my fingers crossed that the quality is sufficient to attract readers.

        I guess you could say I’ve been taking marketing tips from Ralph Waldo Emerson and hoping that the world will beat a path to my door.

        Sadly, the technique has only been partially successful. People do call in at the blog from time to time, but most of them just want to buy a better mousetrap.

        • I have quite an eclectic gathering here, and I often find myself skipping between differing modes of communication in a bid to get on the same wavelengths. I suppose the gamut runs from a few serious academics at one end, right through to some slightly woo-types at the other. I am in the middle – bewildered for the most part. Oh, and poets too, lots and lots of poets. I never knew the blogosphere attracted so many.

          • You’re certainly right about the range of bloggers out there. In fact, this is one of the things I find most interesting about WordPress. I think it’s a very healthy thing to have a chance to see the world through the eyes of other people.

            I tried Twitter for a while, but I quickly discovered that the Twitterati tend to self-select into groups of like-minded individuals, who then become more and more extreme in their opinions as a result.

            With only 140 characters to play with, the emphasis is very much on insults and point scoring. I was almost as terrified of the people who agreed with me as I was of the ones who didn’t.

            • I certainly agree with you, Bun, on the point you make about how interesting it is to be able to delve into the perspectives of other, similarly ordinary, citizens. That’s something the mainstream media offers only through online newspaper editions in below-the-line comments, but where the views tend largely to either reflect the political leanings of the newspaper itself, and so we get a kind of narrow groupthink, or the inevitable trolling and contrarianism that is often so disingenuous in nature.

              I find the blogosphere offers more breathing space for us to set our stall out, to be less soundbite’ish, and to have a wander within the other’s mindset at their own place if we choose so to do, interacting for the purposes of clarification if we feel inclined. I’m so glad I never got involved in Twitter, based on what you say, and the only Twitter accounts I ever look at are Gillian Tett of the FT, and Paul Mason, the political author and broadcaster. Obviously there will be hundreds of interesting ones, but time, and the limitations of the medium you point to, mean I limit myself as I do.

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