January 1, 2024: Hijacked: Time for a New Year

Beware the demon Pomposity.  Katharine Graham

Resentment is liking drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.  Nelson Mandela

“Teddy said it was a hat, So I put it on. Now dad is saying, “where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone?”  Shel Silverstein

A few swigs of shine might get you lit, but it doesn’t make you any brighter. Unknown

Abstract (yeah, these long “tomes” of mine):  Get hijacked by the demons Resentment, Gullibility, Inflammation, and their alpha, Pomposity, and dis-ease will follow. Hate is a warning sign of being on the wrong path, not a sign to gear-up. Perhaps we all have the notion so deeply embedded in both our genes and our memes that the solution to entanglement with these demons is to default to annihilation—the Phoenix Rising Syndrome.  The equation seems to be that “one ahh-shit, cancels ten attaboys.  What if the opposite of practicing good is to not practice hate?  Belief in practicing good is not a namby-pamby proposition as the actual sober practice (no insincerity) begets more good behavior—goodness is not forcing it, it is about emanating it.  There is no lasting solution, but there is a practice for each “season” of our joys and sorrows. And that practice not just for everyone else, I’m not exempt—as all of these posts are like “notes to myself.”

The Tome:  If Aldous Huxley was alive, I wonder if he would update his book, The Doors of Perception (which included a Heaven and Hell piece) to The Swords of Perception: Making Heaven a Hell and Hell a Heaven. Our signal detection ability, including our bullshit meter, have been hijacked by the demons Resentment, Gullibility, Inflammation, and their alpha, Pomposity.  And once again, we find ourselves in the midst of a potentially and exponentially greater “earthquake, I-quake, and we-quake” than we’ve previously been in—and we’ve been in some doozies.

The demon designation gets removed when there are positives about the rest of the above items: Pomposity could be fine if used to trick enemies. Resentment can be a positively motivating state if it moves one to explore its headwaters.  To the extent gullibility represents keeping one from closing off too soon, it is a positive—think the practice of “innocence before guilt.”  Inflammation can be a fine way to fight dis-ease.

But, the “demon” descriptor means negatives for each item.  We can clog up the bullshit meter and thereby the rest of our signal detection abilities when resentment leads the show.  Likewise if we keep gullibility online long after it’s obvious something or someone are up to no good, a clog will follow.  Do we allow the preceding to set fire to body and spirit—to create dis-ease?  Pomposity reigns when we actually believe in the nobility of our mis-direction. Even more inflammation follows.  No wonder the bullshit meter and compass heading are spinning all about. No discernable arrow of direction equals chaos.  A discernable direction to chaos equals chaos.

I am not holding forth from a pedestal.  I am not immune from anything in all of these posts. In fact, the posts represent reminder notes for me.

Long ago I learned it would be best to avoid poisoning myself.  Quantum leaps, I thought—and I began working on that. Get to another plane and the problems of the previous place are no more as there are different rules.  Then I learned that different planes have different problems. Essentially, Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradiso are fundamentally different “places” to reside, but they’re not exactly different planes—hell, limbo, and heaven are all on earth, for instance.  I learned that gullibility is not the same as smart innocence. I learned that being inflamed can also be a motivating self-starter.

Cycles do come back around and initial learning can be a shallow dive. Keep on learning and there becomes a universe of nuance. Nuance after nuance after nuance gets a bit scary—like residing in a rapid cycle of clarity/chaos/clarity/chaos. I learned to pick something and stick with it. Then I learned that can get sticky. Somewhere along the line my being became chaotic and my mind crazy trying to keep up.  Then I broke and all the chaos stopped.  I had learned there is peace in the spaces and the only kind of crazy was the kind I made for myself (“madness” is a different state).  Then I realized learning itself is about associations, many times formed and always seasoned by interpretation, sometimes for good, sometimes for naught.  Reason was a tough task-master, the heart a tightrope walk.  Joy and sorrow, like so many seeming dualities, are inseparable—one informing the other.

What I also did not learn so well is putting something into practice that works, does not mean the end it.  I seemed to have done all right, but seasons have a habit of coming ‘round. It isn’t just that our bodies get old, it’s also our thoughts and emotions that can grow stale. The bigger the circle, the longer it takes to realize it’s a circle. And so on.  Exhausting—a full-on muse-suck.

And here I am—for the moment anyway, though the future imagined and the past re-created (memory is always a bit ephemeral and often constructed) keep running through.  That alone makes it tough to find the resting spaces—the best of which are vibrant and safe as opposed to cave-dwelling avoidances.  I found myself resenting my stuck-ness, my isolation, my inability to well-weather the changes that just keep coming—all the perceived negatives.  My emotional gullibility remains at least in negotiations and certainly in intimate relationships.  How was it that I could even have a shred of pomposity?  But then I find I am wearing my troubles like a badge of honor.  Check out these scars and these experiences, they shout.

I’ve been “sitting” with a recapitulation, which is not at all a new practice (an ongoing practice since I was in my late teens).  It’s a tough “sit”—as I keep finding my anger, my love, my gullibility, my “toughness,” my resentment, my “successes” all a sign of “lacking.” I’m ashamed about assumptions unexamined that led to behaviors resulting in hurting others (love, children, “pets”—what a terribly misleading term—and so many other mis-takes).  And even in the reveal, is pomposity rearing its demon head again?

There are two movies called Miracle on 34th Street (1947 and 1994), both about how the belief and practice of goodness, results in goodness manifested.  While the story vehicle was about belief in Christmas and Santa Claus, the real point was simply about believing in doing good.  While belief can be a damnable proposition, the notion of doing good is attainable.  And the really good news, is it’s attainable immediately, though it seems like a question of sustainability in the long-run.  However, even if good will is about the short-run, it can spread quickly and yet leave a feeling of doing right—a lot sweeter than the bitterness of doing dreadful things. So doing good doesn’t have to last forever—as it likely will not.  But lasting forever is a poor excuse for waiting to do something good.

For me anyway, the first place to start doing good, is with myself (it can happen in other ways), as in the aspects I resent and the parts of me that did no good. It is as though all “demon” behaviors lead back to the headwaters of myself and my inabilities. It is an avoidance in my healing if I project the “demon” in me onto others.  To hate, to resent, to find gullibility in others is to create a pandemic of inflammation that does no good, short of changing pandemic-days into doing good.  Will everybody do so?  Maybe in a moment of consensus, but mostly it’s not likely.  Do we always have to do good?  Exhausting and unrealistic—but what if the opposite of practicing goodness is to not practice hate?  Just give it all a rest when it becomes too much—goodness is not forcing it, it is about emanating it. However, beware the demon pomposity—the kind where I am also arrogant if I take on all the responsibility for all that goes on, good or bad.  Sometimes it is not my individual fault.  Sometimes it is other headwaters starting the demon-flood.  What is doing good then?  Not hate—otherwise I can fall into the trap of relishing that the spotlight now moves to some other “villain.”  We do not have to celebrate wildly the crucifixion of another or of ourselves—we can celebrate wildly the return of good behaviors.

Yes, I’m forgoing an operational definition of doing good, but on some level, most of us know what good behavior is, what it feels like, and what it does.  When not knowing what good really is, is when we’re truly lost. That condition does not mean zero recoverability, it just gets harder the more we buy into resentment, gullibility, inflammation, and pomposity.  I would argue that hate is a warning sign of being on the wrong path, not a sign to gear-up.

It’s a tough sit, recapitulation. Remembering is a kind of journey down a rabbit hole.  Blame is like an apology manifested in words only—if blame doesn’t stop anything, it does no good.  Guess what behavior that spreads?  I’m not cavalier about forgiving myself. I’m certainly not presently successful in fully forgiving myself.  So I isolate a lot—it limits my exposure.  For me, it is better to learn ugly alone and come back out of isolation when at least a bit of discipline and freedom have been accomplished. I would like it if the process was easier, but it is not.  It never has been for me. But relaxing the clamp always feels good. And when I’m used to living rooted in blame, it is tough to find new digs. However, accepting blame when it fits and rejecting it when it doesn’t, however bumpy the ride, is to breathe more fully.

Perhaps we all have the notion so deeply embedded in both our genes and our memes, that the solution to entanglement is to default to annihilation—the Phoenix Rising Syndrome.  It’s bad enough to do it to ourselves.  It doesn’t make it easier on us when we do it to others.  After all, we have been in the blame and annihilation game since the dawn of humanity—and to no avail. Yes, we have done lots of good—no question. But the equation seems to be that “one ahh-shit, cancels ten attaboys.”  I am one of the ones that needs to flip the equation—once again.  Learning and forgetting are strange bed-companions. And I have forgotten I’ve forgotten.

So I’ve been back at flipping the equation, deciding to get a jump-start before the New Year. A New Year is as good an excuse as any to exercise the agency I have and to do so in a good way—not to leave a legacy or climb the ladder to the head of the podium, but just to do some real good.  If nothing else, to do real good by not doing real bad.  After all, it seems to be my life and my death—my stewardship, even if I’m not in charge of all that goes on.  In recalling my errors, I’d do well to remember there is good in me—there is in all of us.  The shmuck of past-me will remain, but hopefully will return a lot less in the future.  The good of past-me needs the space to do good now and in the future and that means dumping the demons that argue so believably that I’m justified in wielding the swords of perception to upend everything and in the process, make hell a heaven and heaven a hell.  That will not teach me or us how to right the ship, it never has.  It is simply no good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.