Friday, June 11, 2010

Myth of the Golden Age

Sometimes, when I sit here with a heap of aches and pains and the usual problems, I start fantasizing about another world, in another time, when things were fine, where everything was better than the present world. I dream about a time when things were not so difficult and it was easier to be happy, when air was pure and water unpolluted.

Sometimes I feel like jumping up and rushing down the street in search of the perfect cup of coffee, in some cafe where people used to meet long ago in friendliness. I think of places where I had a good time and would like to return, in order to hopefully recapture the good feeling. To get away from the pain of here and now, I would like to return to some pleasant world I remember. Memory casts a glow around another place of another time.

Of course, irritation is everywhere, even in the past. One might reduce gross levels of disturbance, but there’s always some discomfort. The very act of breathing, or being in a body, with heartbeat, digestive and nervous systems involves pain. One has no choice but to breathe or die. If something obstructs breathing, for example, pollution or tiny airborne properties, one would experience suffocation.

If one could return to a place glowing with pleasant memories, to a time when things were fine, if one could go back, one might be disappointed. The food at the restaurant maybe doesn’t taste so good the second visit as it did the first visit. If one could travel back in time to a so-called golden age, one would likely find just as much suffering then as now. Back then, probably people predicted or yearned for a glorious future. The promised glory part of the future turned out to be not so glorious .

It helps to see through the games of desire. A child will try to fool a parent. But the observant parent soon catches on. Similarly, with a little introspection, or reflection, one could watch how thoughts lead one down the garden path. Thoughts build and create momentum, tinged with emotion and appetite. Thoughts become like a con-artist charlatan, promising happiness if one would just hand over some money. One might notice how wishful thinking crashes on the rocks. Rather than give in to the restless itch, the sudden urge to lash out in anger, or the attempt to satiate an insatiable craving, one might pause a moment and take a look at what’s going on in one’s mind. Of course, the desire might be so intense; one feels powerless to resist.

Some people are powerless over alcohol, as they say in A.A., but this doesn’t mean one is doomed to eternal intoxication. There are ways to overcome destructive urges or instincts. Before overcoming harmful behaviors, one needs to be aware of what’s going on, how the mind is constantly being fooled. So many illusions, if I do A I will obtain B. Or one is deluded into thinking that with C one could possess the entire alphabet. Instead of getting satisfaction, one often ends up with unpleasant or damaging consequences. After an episode of wild drunkenness, Edgar woke up in jail, ashamed, bewildered and with broken ribs. After having a fling with a co-worker, Jane ended up with a difficult and expensive divorce. She felt alone and forsaken, bitter and disillusioned.

I write this homily during a state of restlessness and desire. I dream about being in a land of eternal delight, of beautiful sensations and aesthetic perfection. Time to stop daydreaming and get to work. This is the best place and the best time. Quit fantasizing about something better and deal with what's happening now. Of course, I know it won't be easy. It's not easy.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Don't worry, brother, we're all in this together.

I have found that not thinking about anything, past or future and just being in the Here and Now, enjoying whatever is around me, brings much peace and bliss.

I wish you to be well and happy!