A super-dear friend of mine, with whom I’ve been a soul-mate and “brain-lover” (as we have labeled it) over the many years we have known and interacted with each other, has been caught up in a whirlpool of ambient negativity and misfortunes. Over the past 6+ years, I have watched as the personality I cherished began to wither, deteriorate, and crumble leaving what appeared to be a quivering, lost soul without matter, direction or agency.
Her recent living has consisted of underpaid and unfulfilling jobs in companies staffed by petty, small-minded, and sometimes downright evil humans; she has lost half of her retirement fund in the economic “down-turn”; and has contended with the usual stresses of trying to live within an capitalist system as a thriving component of its eco-unfriendly machinery as well as the deteriorating physical condition of her ex-husband (the status of “ex” being a decision made because medical insurance was cheaper if they weren’t married), and other interpersonal conflicts, confusions, and compromises. She has found supportive love and companionship to keep her afloat, supplying her with what her mind and mien could absorb to hang onto her eroding humanity. And she’s about to turn 60.
A couple days ago, I got an email from her: she has decided to semi-retire and get certified as a sommelière. Then yesterday, I got another email written in pure poetry positively radiating the positive and expressing a soul freshly cleansed of the corruption of mundane corrosion. She has returned from a death caused by allowing oneself — one’s mind and soul — to be consumed and absorbed by worry and want.
What’s more, she exudes contentedness.
There was a period in my life where living — or what passed for living beyond that of a plant — was prolonged by really small jobs, sleeping in my car, and the kindness of strangers. When conditions improved only enough where I wasn’t so dependent upon kindness, I found myself enjoying Life given only what I had and with what was within my means. Working then at a Plaid Pantry (like a 7-11), I studied more logic and had philosophical discussions with a “homeless” guy who had domicile in the form of a tent pitched in the woods not far from the store. I discovered that he was only “homeless” in the sense that he had no formal address, and he enjoyed a life he purposely nurtured by carefully scheduled dumpster diving behind large super-markets that tossed out unspoiled, 1-day-expired goods. He was free, except from needing to sustain his organism, which he did in accordance with Nature as part of an ecosystem modified by mankind. He was an astrophysicist who couldn’t have looked more like a bum if Hollywood had made him up and who was writing a treatise on the topic of the cooling of the sun relative to Biblical prophecy.
We, the “bum” and I, were so content! And within that contentedness, I found myself — as in, I became conscious of being — happy.
At this point I realized that there are two types of “happiness”:
- A conditional sort of happy where things are going your way, where the status quo is progressing along a track of or maintaining your indulgence (or your indulgence’s indulgence of you). It’s a “happiness” that is generated and contrived. It is fragile, succumbing easily to changes in circumstance or the specter of a circumstance.
- A happiness that is a natural by-product of not-wanting and being present; where “need” conserves its elemental meaning, not one contextualized by goals whose only substance is desire and the value we put on obtaining, winning, or achieving.
The second one seems pure and self-sustaining in the sense that its presence is organic, not a manufactured end in itself. It can grow to include more of living by one’s merely establishing goals and then looking for or facilitating opportunities to make decisions that support a progression without contracting the disease of frustration. You avoid frustration — the feeling that can arise when something comes between you and an objective — by accepting that what is, is … for now … but an “is” that can be coaxed to transpiring differently with simple, neutral consistency (what we might also consider determination).
My dear friend is, by stepping outside the machine, experiencing something that transcends what most religions cannot teach through dogma, or what science can only achieve through medication: a transcendence beyond the wall of thought-form prisons that are conjured by prejudicious, unevaluated values. Surpassing this wall, one “sees” with neutral consciousness both the wall and how it artificially carves out “truth” and “reality” — like the walls of Disneyland — from what really simply is. She is seeing true right and wrong, a type of enlightenment that is common on deathbeds or with lots and lots of meditation. She is recognizing the right and wrong paths she blazed and manifested by the tread of her choices, choices of what to value and how to obtain…what she learned to want.
Of course, the first thing one ascribes to “right and wrong” is the moral and religious. But the “moral” sense is really only an extension of more basic definitions: something is judged “right” if it is believed to support or result in conclusions, a state, or a specific end; it is “wrong” if it is believed to detract or cause deviation from reaching its predetermined end. Very little in what we think of as “inevitable” simply happens, but rather it comes about from a combination of “stuff” that may or may not contribute, in varying quantities that may or may not affect other stuff, to arriving at an “end”.
The organic type of happiness that she electronically shared may have only been a glimpse for her of choices that are more “right” for her — and that can easily be derailed if the “right” becomes a new goal around which she attaches thought-forms and obscures the real path she desires. Frustration will reemerge and will re-spawn when “right and wrong” become more important and prominent than what is.
My brain-lover is content right now; and now I can be happy with her, not just for her. She is happy because her soul is happy. And I am happy that she and her soul are back.