“I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
Robert Frost epitaph quoting the last line from his poem “The Lesson for Today”
I am a bull in a china shop and I know it.
I have a lover’s quarrel with the world and I know it.
And, frankly, I like it. Some people suggest it is just being contrarian and others suggest it is ‘bull in a china shop’ living.
Maybe. Maybe to both.
But think about this. To me ‘bull in a china shop’ kind of implies that there is this random china shop and for some reason a bull wanders in <that bull would be me in this metaphor>. But – suppose it is actually the other way? Suppose you have a bull. The bull is … well … a bull. It lives its life. It’s content. It’s comfortable being a … well … a bull. Then Life comes along and builds a frickin’ china shop around it. Not just surrounded by fences but within a china shop – caged, contained, restrained, pick your word here – the bull is unable to move without breaking something. What does that mean? Simple normal everyday actions are now destructive. And yet … the bull is simply being a bull. Just being kind of what it was brought in this world to be.
I like turning it around this way <it makes me feel slightly better>. I like it because it permits me to quarrel with the world … and be in the right. Oh. Right being defined as being myself.
Regardless. If you accept the turned around thought I shared … well … this may surprise you but … acceptance becomes a key thought and mindset. Yeah. Acceptance.
I know that sounds odd because we are talking about possibly crashing around and breaking shit. But the thought is that if you are a bull you accept the reality of the world that is constraining the reality of you. Now. Please understand. Acceptance is not the decision to do nothing. Acceptance is simply acceptance. It is simply the intention to agree with reality. Accepting what is <and what is not>.
I say this even as a true Life contrarian … because I honestly can say that have never found a time where it was better to disagree with reality. It is always easier to agree with reality … and then start ‘doing.’ Acceptance simply means permitting the present to exist … no matter how painful. Which then leads me to the thought that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Acceptance suggests you eliminate the suffering aspect because … well … Life is what it is. Maybe painful … but not worth suffering over.
Anyway. Circling back to the bull <as in me>. Life is a china shop and … well … I can’t build a whole new shop for Life … I just have to learn how to live within it.
That is acceptance and acceptance that, in some odd way, makes Life bearable. I can keep moving and taking action. I can keep … well … quarreling with the world.
Even better? My actions are derived from an intent to ‘do’ … whatever that doing is … and with a recognition that I will probably break some shit <and have to pay for it> and not driven by some reactive sense of desperate avoidance to not break shit or be constantly aggravated with Life being a frickin’ china shop.
Now. You would tend to think that accepting the realness of reality is something we would do automatically.
This may sound obtuse … but in actually living it <this acceptance thing> … I can tell you that thinking this way is quite freeing. Because Life can be painful at times and, yet, I have also found that mostly it is painful only because you are in conflict with what Life seems to be demanding of you. So maybe if you can imagine that by accepting the pain as natural as just part of who you are and the choices you make – you actually limit the pain to such a level it is almost unnoticeable. Oh. In the cases in which the pain doesn’t recede? Well … you end up fighting back against Life a little bit. And I will note … in most cases you are simply fighting inertia. Inertia as in ‘the wrong type of acceptance.’ In fact … i am wrong .. its not acceptance … it is acquiescence <acquiescence as an overall societal default mechanism>. This is where people simply cease to fight against what they see as an inevitable outcome.
All that said. It seems like I am talking about some form of ignorance. And I am. In this case it is self ignorance. Ignorant with regard to self-awareness or just ignorant of reality <knowledge and facts and truth and shit like that>.
An ignorance of maybe our personal Life default mechanism. I imagine the real issue behind ignorance is … well … a natural irrationality. We humans like to think of ourselves as a smart thoughtful intuitive group.
In general … we are not.
A psychologist described how people are fairly good at predicting the outcome of elections based solely on photographs of the candidates. Well. This is slightly disturbing in that it suggests no matter how much we analyze what a person stands for that a significant part of our choice behavior falls back on some subconscious instinctual gut feeling … that are in many cases typically not rational.
Think you can change a friend’s mind about an important issue? Think again. Psychological research suggests the existence of something called the ‘backfire effect.’ This is when by simply mentioning facts that another person won’t like … it will cause ‘double down behavior’ on their original position.
Well. That sucks. No wonder all of us have some level of a ‘lover’s quarrel with the world.’
Anyway. This subconscious irrationality seems to reside in the fact that we people are really really good at utilizing an innate default mechanism … either too afraid or too oblivious to make major changes to our attitudes & beliefs. It is an unfortunate truth that it is part of our natural cultural DNA that we do a whole bunch of maintaining, rationalizing, procrastinating and reinforcing … suffice it to call it “embracing the status quo” type stuff.
Sorry to tell you, but, we don’t really do very much thinking about what’s really best for us and the possibly more drastic changes we might need to make to get there. We do some surface type thinking but not the real deep hard thinking.
So what does this mean? If you don’t quarrel with the world on occasion you simply let Life dictate your life.
By the way. Please note the ‘love’ in the quarrel thought.
Does that mean I like it unchanged? Absolutely not. I want to change things and attitudes and behaviors and therefore I have a lover’s quarrel.
Maybe I am crazy. Maybe it comes down to a crazy personal attitude:
“Do I dare … dare disturb the universe?”
Whoa. Disturbing the universe. Quarreling with Life on occasion. That’s … well … crazy.
I tend to think it is fairly typical for us to feel like something is missing or unsettled in our lives. I know I do on occasion. I also think it is fairly typical that even though we feel that way … at any given time … the idea of making any type of major change will tend to seem out of the question. I know I do on occasion.
I tend to believe it is is because you believe you are … well … what you’ve been doing this whole time. I know I do on occasion.
I tend to believe we recognize that something missing and yet we make no real meaningful change <for a variety of good and not so good reasons>.
Well. This paradox, which is actually quite natural in our attitudes & behavior, kind of makes the entire thought of continuing with the way things are <maintain the status quo> seem a little absurd. The fact is you are naturally disturbing the universe – at least your own universe. Identity is not static, it is fluid.
You are constantly becoming a new version of yourself – a different person. Yeah. Dramatic changes may actually be necessary to realign with ‘the world.’ In fact what you feel is ‘missing’ may simply a reflection of the fact that your new version is out of sync with the world and Life. In my words, you are quarreling with the world for the wrong reasons. I say all this psychological mumbo jumbo because this takes some self awareness. It certainly takes battling self ignorance. And inevitably this takes into account self doubt and <by the way> self doubt exists in everyone.
Because if you don’t care about your ‘output’ <however output is manifested in your daily life … including your actions> being good … and are okay that being bad is just fine … self-doubt has nothing to attach itself to.
Ok. All that said.
Quarreling with the world.
Disturbing the universe.
We humans ignore all sorts of things that don’t fit our conceptual structures <heads and how we think>. Quarreling is often simply natural chafing against paradigms. And paradigms are a reflection of the defaults we fall into. Some psychologist suggested that paradigm shifts in human societies aren’t made incrementally, but rather in great leaps:
During the period of normal science, the failure of a result to conform to the paradigm is seen not as refuting the paradigm, but as the mistake of the researcher. As anomalous results build up, science reaches a crisis, at which point a new paradigm, which subsumes the old results along with the anomalous results into one framework, is accepted. This is termed revolutionary science.
This negates the truth value of any given idea — but simultaneously demands adjustments of the most dissonant “truth”. Adjustments can employ tactics such as appeals to spiritual beliefs, peer pressure, neglect or diminishing of significance (and vice versa), discrediting a source or messenger, reliance upon tradition, appeal to authority, etc.
Well. Those words also apply to us … people .. not just research.
… demands adjustments of the most dissonant “truth.”
Wow. That’s us people. We need a crisis of anomalous data before we accept change. Therefore … dramatic changes are not just quarrels with the world but arguments. Heated debates.
I imagine my unending quarrel with the world is one that many have. Some are simply more vocal than others … some get tired more easily than others in the quarrel.
I also imagine just to keep my sanity that I embrace the thought that maybe it is simply part of who I am that I see myself freed of what may often be seen as natural boundaries all with the hope to someday reach a larger vision of possibilities. I certainly do not seek to imply simple optimism or a some utopia to be arrived at in the distant future. It is simply the journey to something better.
Better than what is today.
Maybe I quarrel with the world because today’s world can be a harsh and difficult one scattered with cruel weather surrounding character and soul. And I accept the pain as I sometimes stumble down a path can be strewn with ruins of what was and outdated cultural monuments.
I like to think I reject the past and embrace the past at exactly the same time.
“Beyond the wall another wall, on the wall stopped dead one sentinel.”
I accept the walls.
I accept the sentinels who stand watch over the status quo.
I accept the china shop.
Maybe I just like to think of it as larger with new freshly painted walls. And maybe I simply am quarreling with the dead sentinels standing upon the walls.
I have a lovers quarrel with the world.
I do the best that I can.
I take solace in something Augusten Burroughs said:
I am flawed … I have good intentions … and I will quarrel with the world.
Look. I know that the world, itself, is a good ‘quarreler.’
It challenges, tries to push you down and sometimes makes you feel like there is no hope.
No hope for being better. No hope for change.
In acceptance I find some type of courage <not sure that is the right word> to defeat these feelings.
I am flawed. But I know I have a good intentions. I know I am a bull and I don’t particularly like someone tried to build a china shop around me.
All that said, well, I have a lover’s quarrel with the world.
Originally posted 2014