unchosen places

Part of the onus of our age is the idea that we have full agency over almost every part of our lives. If you don't like where you live, move. If you don't like your job, change it. And so drones that popular tune.
But part of what I think we need to work on are exactly those parts of ourselves beyond the spheres of ready comprehension, to solve part of the riddle of "our lot" and to step out of it, into the universal. Odysseus found that when he went to Hades, he lost his memory. Perhaps this is like those challenging experiences one can sometimes fail at until one has mastered the lesson: one will forget the divine in one's character, and take on that sullied garment worn by petty social circumstance. If we love very much the people around us, it is hard not to want to share that garment. One learns different forms of togetherness. Sometimes the most loving participation is to be present, but to take nothing.
Odysseus regained his memory through sacral ritual. I think this is an accurate model; one needs to take on greater meaning to be cured from that which has wiped one's mind clean of the kinds of memories we will want to hold on to at the end of our lives. It takes a lot of work to make those memories, especially because life is so full of paradoxes, and because some things are not what they seem. My dear reverend from my first boarding school used to say, evil can only take on an appearance, like a film being projected on a screen - yet it can appear so real. However, one is to remember that it is just a projection, not anything essential.
What is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only the heart that can see rightly, says the Little Prince. People who look like friends can betray you, and the friend that looked so challenging turns out to be the one who would sacrifice their own well being for your own. These are hard lessons. But they have all been written about in spiritual works.

I am beginning to wonder if life isn't, simply put, our attempt to work for those experiences that make us want to be alive. For if it is true that without memories, we die, then is it not more true that if we have good memories, we will live beyond our context?
But here, I must return to the problem of the limitations to our agency, as human beings - for such experiences do not come easily. Gadamer addressed this so beautifully when he wrote of language that it is "a totality in which we have our place which we haven't chosen". There is something to be said for unchosen context. Some are born wealthy, some are born with the kinds of problems where mere survival is an achievement in itself. We enter into our own forest of symbols: some with loving parents, some taught to be mistrustful, so for the latter, it is a world of achievement if they do not pass on entirely the burden they began with.
There are many things we don't choose in life. What is up to us is how we order those situations, and whether we can bring beauty to them. I remember realising in one of my first jobs that even though all of my coworkers were so much older than me, it was up to me to be the bigger person. I remember thinking, "Just because they act pettily does not mean that I should act that way, too, because it is making me miserable. So I have to rise above it."
Philosophically speaking, we could say that part of the human problem is that we enter into something that has already begun. We are not at the beginning, and yet we are to participate. So, it is fruitless to hold firm to certain principles, the kind for which people harm each other, and the kind that are fundamental, for fundamental means primary; original. Our creativity is activated in how we accommodate our principles to the matter at hand. This is not as complicated as it seems if one remembers one can either choose fear or love.
So, the question is not so much about where we are, but what we are doing with ourselves. I remember ten years ago not quite understanding this, and being told, "No matter where you go, you will still have to face yourself." The unchosen place is where we start in ourselves.

Elements: paper: mellowmint; little dots, shadow cut,
cloud and paint graphics: Animus.

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