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Making magic

  • 6th Apr, 2005 at 11:03 PM
You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
— J.M.S.

At the gym this morning, I started chatting with Gideon, the guy who runs his own recording studio. Somewhere through the conversation, out of the blue, he mentioned that he had been pondering spirituality.

That's not what I expected coming out of a rational guy like him, so I asked him why. He explained: recently, life has been treating him really well. Things just seem to work out right and stuff falls into place like magic. And that got me thinking.

I know a lot of people who are depressed, or are at least borderline so. Where they think that the world is out to get them, or that nothing ever goes right, or that when things start getting better life kicks them in the kneecaps again. And here's Gideon who claims that he had to get over a couple of hurdles but doors kept on opening for him. He was almost convinced it was magic, which is how he suddenly understood how people could be spiritual. Now I know that the world is unfeeling and hostile to basically everybody so there had to be a decent explanation as to why both realities are valid.

The only one I could come up with is that it's mostly in the mind. Gideon said that it just seemed that opportunities were there for the taking, and he's right! Every day there are little things I know I can do to make my life better and all I have to do is commit. But whenever I get upset, I get a sort of tunnel vision where I can only see the next step. And when I'm only looking at my own feet, it's really easy to walk into walls.

It's like white-water kayaking. There are all these rocks in the way and the current is forcing you down the river of time. No turning back. But if you keep your head up, you can see the obstacles and steer around them. If you're really good, you can see the easiest path through a stretch up ahead. However, if you're unable to see more than a day ahead of you, you're bound to run into things all the time. And bottom out. And sink.

Now I don't know how this observation solves anybody's problem, because I don't have a depressive personality. So even though tragedy befalls me, I know it's only temporary and eventually I become functional again. I don't know how to communicate the ability to just push past the sadness so that vision is clear again: how to make your own magic. But I wish I did.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
7th Apr, 2005 07:04 (UTC)
I don't mean to be pissy about this reflect post, but it sounds to me like Gideon is using exactly the same mindest as the depressed people are. If everything goes right in your life, and you conclude that it's going right for a reason, you become spiritual. If everything goes wrong in your life, and you think *that's* for a reason, you become depressed.

I think either is self-delusion.

And I really wish life were fair. Then the awful things that happened to me could be corrected and prevented.
7th Apr, 2005 12:04 (UTC)
Well, from what I can tell, Gideon doesn't actually believe that it is spiritual. But he is using a similar mindset, yes. The polar inverse of depression.

But the thing with this kind of mood is that this self-delusion is useful. And since we delude ourselves each day anyway, why not entertain a useful one?
7th Apr, 2005 19:48 (UTC)

Because I consider the removal of self-delusion more important than feeling good.

I don't expect others to. And perhaps I'm unwise for having these values. But I do.
8th Apr, 2005 07:40 (UTC)
I guess that depends on your definition of spiritual. I tend to be basically rational (in the strict sense of the word, as you put it). But, I have a friend who is very Roman Catholic - she's working on her doctorate in theology. She told me that she considers me more spiritual than some of her religious friends, because I consider spiritual matters.

I was shocked when I first read, Now I know that the world is unfeeling and hostile to basically everybody..., but as I read the rest of the sentence, ...so there had to be a decent explanation as to why both realities are valid. I had to agree. The first part of sentence does sound sort of depressive, but that is often the way of truth. It isn't actually depressive, it's realistic. It is a choice, what kind of mood that will put a person in.

I find this a very interesting post and I think I will post some more of my thoughts on this subject in my own journal.
7th Apr, 2005 10:29 (UTC)
"That's not what I expected coming out of a rational guy like him"

Is spirituality irrational? Why?

"Now I know that the world is unfeeling and hostile to basically everybody"

I'm very surprised to hear this. You say you don't have a depressive personality, but this sounds very bleak.. and it isn't what I see at all. Although I admit that I'm deliriously happy most of the time, and it doesn't seem like that's normal either... unfortunately.

I have also spent a lot of time with people who are depressed. It can be very difficult not to adopt that personality; it's quite contagious (the personality, not depression itself). I'm glad you know how to keep your head up and move forward. As far as I can tell, it's impossible to truly communicate this "ability", to those who suffer from depression... But we can certainly be there to try and support them as much as we can; lighten the burden for a while. We have to.

One of the reasons christianity makes sense to me, is that it -acknowledges- human suffering. I guess I don't 'make my own magic', but I think it comes from somewhere else. *shrug* Anyway, I'm interested in your thoughts. I have to agree with spider88 though, life-being-spontaneously-good-for-a-while seems like the wrong reason to develop spirituality... but that's for your friend to decide.
7th Apr, 2005 12:14 (UTC)
Is spirituality irrational? Why?

I'm using rationality in a very strict sense here. Spirituality falls in the realm of faith, not in the realm of reason. I don't put a lot of value in rationality, it's just an uncommon attribute. I certainly didn't mean "rational" like most people do: "sane."</p>

As far as I can tell, it's impossible to truly communicate this "ability", to those who suffer from depression... But we can certainly be there to try and support them as much as we can; lighten the burden for a while. We have to.

I do the latter rather frequently, but it gets pretty tiring hearing the same things over and over again. And the wonky thing is when they know that what they are saying isn't consistent, but they can't help but believe. I have a lot of trouble with that kind of mental gymnastics.
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7th Apr, 2005 12:08 (UTC)
Also, I don't like the view that the (physical) world is unfeeling and hostile.
It just is, and by default, has a tendency to disorder.

Well, I think this is an ambiguity in my wording that you're disagreeing with. I agree with you that it exists, but I'm noting the following:

It is unfeeling because I do not believe that your global environment has any sympathy for you in particular.

It is hostile because the world does not allow you to sit around, do nothing, and survive. If you do this: in a city or in nature, you will soon die.
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7th Apr, 2005 12:41 (UTC)
This is easy to explain. Locally, the universe may have many properties like kindness and compassion, if you consider a human being as a very miniscule part of the universe.

But on a more cosmic sense, individuals are pretty much insignificant.
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7th Apr, 2005 18:03 (UTC)
For most people, the universe is really their circle of acquaintances, their job, their school, their family. And then throw in everything else, which takes up a tiny fraction of their consciousness.

This is because people don't regularly subject themselves to the Total Perspective Vortex and tend to prefer the illusion that they are the centre of the universe.
7th Apr, 2005 12:08 (UTC)
*HUGE KISSES* This post was just what I needed today.
7th Apr, 2005 12:17 (UTC)
You're welcome!
7th Apr, 2005 17:57 (UTC)
I firmly believe that we make our own reality, both figuratively and literally (frankly, I'm not even sure there's a difference :)

Some people are uncomfortable talking about magic and spirituality. But it still works if one insists on sticking to what a high school science teacher would call "rational."

Your attitude determines your response to stimuli, and your ability to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. A "positive" hopeful outlook will always give you more options. "Chance favors the prepared mind" as funos says.

I think that it helps to have a goal in any undertaking. If you let the obstacles grab too much of your focus, you'll never get anywhere.

> It's like white-water kayaking.

Good metaphor. Ever watch the movie Water Walker? With whatshisname, the master canoeist. That guy is so graceful he seems precognitive, knowing just what to do where, changing every seemingly impassible waterfall into just a bit of extra momentum to get him where he's going.

The river isn't "good" or "bad." He doesn't get angry at it when things get rough; he makes himself a part of it.

7th Apr, 2005 21:57 (UTC)
Thank you. I like your post. It's good to read something positive.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )