Escapism and Avoidance

I will be using my own life as an example in this, not because I am self-obsessed but rather it might be useful.

There are many things in life which we try to run from, and reality is one of them. Perhaps yet another is our fate. But there are things which we cannot outpace forever. Sooner or later we have to face them and figure out what the fuck it is all about. We can try to shoe-horn our lives into some template or other, but sometimes it just doesn’t fit.

At school when I was about seventeen I did two general studies courses, one on Buddhism and the other on Rastafarianism. I also had a bit of thing about witchcraft and soon exhausted the local libraries. So back then I was interested in “alternative” things. There was parental pressure to do the sensible thing which would lead to a proper job and because I was pretty good at science that looked to be the way forward. I was also quite good at rugby and ended up as captain of the school second team. The captain of the first team, who played in the same position as me, was an above county standard player. He was a close friend of mine, but not as smart as me. He was also head boy. Behind his head boy was my strategic input.

I was a bit of a party animal, traditionally the captain of the seconds led all the drinking games. So, I fulfilled this role. The school wanted me to take Oxbridge entrance exams, but that interfered with my rugby training, so I dropped the preparation for these. And so, it happened that I started a chemistry degree. Because of my interest in all things Rasta I started using herb. I put aside all things spiritual and focussed on some hedonistic approach to life. It was only when the rigid structure of education fell away and I was doing a Ph.D. that I started to excel. I was getting papers and results, whilst getting pissed and stoned. I was running but I did not know what from. I used to joke that I would be dead by the age of thirty. It never occurred to me that this was an escapism and an avoidance.

By the time 1995 came around I had a lot of papers published (>30) and was in a semi-lectureship position at top university. I then sunk into depression and developed a suicidal ideation. I twigged that I had better do something otherwise my prediction about death would have become a reality. That which I had tried to outpace had caught up with me. So, I started therapy and looking into things alternative and “new age”.  I was pretty ill for 2-3 years but at the end of it I started getting in research monies and in 2000 I wrote a business plan which helped raise £5 million start-up funds from venture capital.

In a sense my prediction had been right. A part of me died and a newer version, Alan 2.0, was born. By now I was looking very deeply into alternative philosophies and I haven’t had a spliff since 2000. I tried one then, after a few months off, when there was a TV programme about Bob Marley on the TV. I puked my guts and that was the last.

Slowly, inexorably, a sense of reality started to take hold. I began to face my fears, my anxieties, which had been self-medicated away. Step by step, day by day, I stopped running from myself. What I could not work out was that I was in some way weird when compared to most; why and how come this was the case? I over-developed the chameleon aspect and in doing this, fitting in, I lost me. There have been quite a number of chrysalis stages since, as I shed one cloak after another.

The more I delved, the more at home I felt. It is one thing to have a theoretical understanding and quite another to apply.  I had some kind of a latent understanding of things which was awoken. It seemed to me that I was fated to go down this path of exploration and go a long, long way. It hasn’t helped me fit in, but it has helped me frame things. As a result, I have learned and assimilated much. I have always been a blotting paper of sorts.

What I am getting at is this shoe-horn thing. Many of us shoe horn ourselves or are shoe horned by others. It seems easy to go along with it. But we might be doing this to escape and avoid that which we are and that which we are meant to be doing. We may self-medicate to take the edge off. I’ll hazard a guess that there are many who self-medicate as a means of escapism and avoidance. The degree may vary, but the phenomenon is widespread. Rather than face what it is or what we may become, we self-medicate so as to lubricate the application of the shoe horn. We escape and avoid our potential because we may be fearful of it and the lack of social acceptance which may accompany it.

It takes a lot of guts to say no to the shoe horn. After that one still has to figure out what to do and where to go. We cannot run forever. And it is my experience that it can take going down the tubes, down the shitter, for us to wake up. Only when we stop running do we have a chance to take stock and face reality.

Having cued this up:

Am I running from something?

Am I trying to escape my fate?

Do I recognise this application of shoe-horn theme?

Do You Control Your Fate?

Many people have life goals and ambitions, which suggests that there is at least some attempt at controlling fate. So, they head off in the general direction of these, but unless you are unique, life has a habit of throwing in the odd spanner or two. Things don’t work out quite as they were planned to. Yet despite this we can persist in trying to get life on our own terms. Life, as a whole, is not entirely tractable to our desires and ambitions. Maybe it is all down to those other bastards who stop us and get in our way? Or maybe we simply were not meant to be going that way? Life can require detours from time to time. It sticks up a great big diversion sign and unless we follow these diversion signs we can get badly lost.

The idea that we are a puppet to fate, that it pulls our strings and we dance, is not a comforting idea to some. The more we resist the stronger the tug on the string.

If you would have told me twenty years ago that I would be where I am now, I would not have believed you. Back then I had other plans albeit not fully formulated. If you had asked my erstwhile colleagues thirteen years ago, neither would they. But fate has me here, now, doing this and with an outbreak of gout in my foot. {I never had gout before my colectomy.}

All it can take is one little thing and a whole life pivots around it. We may imagine control, but there are these darned unexpected things, these turn up for the books. Many abhor this notion of predestination but as a concept it is not possible to verify or negate. {think about it} So we prefer to think we are in control.

Having cued this up:

Do you control your fate?

If so, to what extent do you have control?

How far does that control extend?

Fate and Dramatizations of the Soul

I’ll make a statement here to kick off:

It could be that you are pursuing a life that is out of touch with your fate. You might be pursuing a curriculum which has little to do with why you incarnated this time, and this may be why life isn’t working for you as well as it might. It seems to be a constant struggle and you feel out of sorts.

When we make some decisions about what to do with our lives, those decisions are rarely free of outside influence. Parental direction and social conditioning tends to point us in one direction. There is the joke about immigrant Indians either being doctors, lawyers or pharmacists. Here societal and parental “guidance” steers in a particular direction. Being sensible we may then train up and pursue a career which we then act out as a template for life ongoing. Whilst it is true that we have to earn a living, how we earn it may be little or nothing to do with our fate. The big, important part, may be missing. We could say that this is the icing on the cake, that which finishes a life and makes it all hang together. If we adopt too narrow a focus, that je ne sais quoi which makes life more complete, is missing.

To give an example, back when I was in pastoral care, I advised many student “scientists” who had dropped their music, because studying was hard, to pick up that instrument again. The feedback I got was that this had worked remarkably well in some cases. Even though they devoted some time to music, they felt better, and their studies improved. This is an example of a life tweak, which added some icing to the cake and made life as a whole, taste better. Even geeks can have a creative side which needs expressed.

But it may be that we have forced ourselves so far down a particular direction that there is no escape. We start to identify as a banker, a lawyer, a professor or a monk. But rather than this being our calling, our vocation, we are doing it because it seemed like a good idea at the time or for some other motivation, which may be to show off or appease parents. By the time we have a mortgage and 2.2 children it may be too late, we are trapped in a life which we have forced on ourselves. We have taken our mental shoe-horn and forced our foot into a shoe that does not fit. It is no wonder that our foot is uncomfortable and rather than change shoes we put plasters on the blisters. We may find that we are prone to complaining about these shoes. They may look nice, but they are the wrong size. They may have an expensive brand and be luxurious in design, but if the shoe doesn’t fit we can’t travel far in it.

If we pursue a general life-direction that is wrong with us our Soul may pull the plug, a nervous breakdown results. There is a conflict between our Soul and our will with all its investment. “You will be a banker, a lawyer, or else!” “No, this is not really for me!” If this “war” rages, we can become very ill indeed.

If you think carefully I have just outlined a new way of looking at some nervous breakdowns which may resonate partially with some who have had such a liberating experience.

One of the ways in which the Soul tries to get us “back on track” is by dramatizations of the Soul presented to us in dreams. By dreaming it suggests different things and changes our perspective. The Soul or Dreamer can become very insistent. There are many precedents for dreams and visions altering life directions and if one is exploratory in nature one might do something as seemingly absurd as follow our dreams. Here I mean real dreams and not self-generated ambitions which are often dressed as “dreams”. Our nocturnal dreams can be very vivid and if we have had a “whopper” of a dream we know. There is no denying it. These dramatizations of the Soul differ markedly from more mundane “psychological” dreams. They may even be reoccurring. They are our Soul trying desperately to get through to us, “listen buddy, this is what you need to be doing!”. In them we may see people who could help us, and/or alternate visions for our lives. It may seem uncomfortable to say to someone, “I had a dream with you in it last night” {especially if you are British} If this is true and not a chat-up line, what is so very wrong with this? Working with these dramatizations of the Soul is to start to cooperate at the Soular level and not the level of the often-petty self.

To get our lives back on track is not quite as straightforward as it might seem. There is a lot of resistance from the designer shoe, our foot is stuck therein in and is not easy to extract. It is not so nice to die of blisters. Sometimes it feels great to walk barefoot amongst the fresh grass of our fate, there may be thorns but that grass, it feels splendid between the toes.

Having cued this up:

How well does the current shoe of my life fit?

Does my life need a few tweaks or wholesale change?

Have I ever had a “whopper” of a dream?

If so, can I remember it now?

What if anything did I do about it?

Predestination and Destiny

“Wannabe”

Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.
So, tell me what you want, what you really really want.
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.
So, tell me what you want, what you really really want.
I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna—, I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig, ah.

If you want my future forget my past.
If you wanna get with me better make it fast.
Now don’t go wasting my precious time.
Get your act together, we could be just fine.

Spice Girls
———————–

On this issue of predestination are you with the Spice Girls on this one, in that all your wants should be fulfilled?

Or do you sense that the hand of destiny may have at least a small part in your life?

The Spice “ethos” is not uncommon in our materialistic times.

If predestination is complete then this afternoon, I am here, exactly as I am meant to be, how it has always been destined for me. It was foreseeable that I would have selected this quotation and how you react / respond to this post, is already predestined. This is a part of my destiny, where destiny is the summation of fates over all lifetimes. All my previous lifetimes have led me exactly here. All of yours have led you here. Neither of us had any choice in the matter. It is a con-sequence of the eternal now. This now being eternal, cannot be changed, there is only now, and it stretches causally forward and is but the ongoing effect of causes of the pasts. This is some freaky shit to get your head around.

I incarnated with a second-ray soul which means that I am of the elephant dreaming class. Thus, have I been through all my incarnations, it is a part of my destiny. However, each lifetime I have a different fate, the nature of my personality vehicle changes, but the core is the same, albeit evolving on that ray.

Most think of destiny within the context of a single lifetime and not the destiny over all lifetimes, which might be ultimately to return to the source, the “point” of origination, which gave rise to the second ray causal vehicle which each lifetime caused a new personality vehicle to agglomerate. Before birth my Soul gets a copy of Auto Trader and selects a vehicle, at the end of the life the vehicle is taken to the scrapyard and disposed of.

This kind of pan-lifetimes thinking is not, I would guess, all that normal. If one has an inkling that reincarnation is true, it might be wise to adopt such thinking.

Having cued this up:

Has anything in my life happened to me which felt predestined?

Did I have choice or was that an illusion?

Am I a wannabe?

Hamartia – ἁμαρτία

Hamartia –  ἁμαρτία

“The term hamartia derives from the Greek ἁμαρτία, from ἁμαρτάνειν hamartánein, which means “to miss the mark” or “to err”. It is most often associated with Greek tragedy, although it is also used in Christian theology.

Hamartia as it pertains to dramatic literature was first used by Aristotle in his Poetics. In tragedy, hamartia is commonly understood to refer to the protagonist’s error or tragic flaw that leads to a chain of plot actions culminating in a reversal of their good fortune to bad.

What qualifies as the error or flaw can include an error resulting from ignorance, an error of judgement, a flaw in character, or a wrongdoing. The spectrum of meanings has invited debate among critics and scholars and different interpretations among dramatists.”

—————————-

What did I miss, what am I missing, what did I fail to see or do?

Yesterday I was speaking a little about fate and unlike Neo most of us don’t get to be meet “The Oracle” and get freaked out by her. Yet this notion of fate is pretty common, the extent to which it is taken seriously varies, and people refer to it conversationally. “We were fated to meet. He/she is my soul mate. That fateful night.” Fate is a part of the collective consciousness. Some of us, like me, are a little fatalistic, others are more deterministic and causal. I could spend ages trying to figure out what caused my cancer or relax and say it was fated. If it comes back it is fated, so to do. The extreme of fatalism is recklessness but it can get rid of shit loads of unnecessary worrying. So maybe a healthy balance, where fate offsets fear and paranoia, is a healthy one. Some measure of fate makes life easier to bear, that is unless you are a control freak, in which case fate will have you shitting bricks.

If this notion of fate has some credence in your mind then it is possible to miss the mark, not meet your fate, at least temporarily. We can try to avoid our fate or escape it. But because it is fated then it has an ultimate inevitability. It is not if but when, at best we can delay its manifestation. But the longer we put stuff off the worse it becomes, not only do we have to face “it” but we waste large amounts of time worrying about it.

I mentioned these once in a lifetime things and there are certain circumstances which occur once in a lifetime. Should we fail at a nexus like this, that possibility will never present again. We could miss it entirely, not see it and that possibility passes swiftly out of the realms of possibility and into never again. To be dramatic it becomes a tragedy. Were we fated to miss? Or, did we not seize that which fate offered? We might have been fated to have this once in a lifetime opportunity and depending upon our readiness we can either move forward or wait for the next lifetime. If we are arrogant and lazy we might take it for granted that said opportunity will come again. Our attitude may change things, the fates may say; “look at this person, so full of themselves, let’s alter the course of his / her fate. They squandered so they no longer warrant or deserve. We can offer this to someone else.”

Now as I have perhaps illustrated it is very easy to get caught up in massive internal dialogue about fate and we can like a dog, go around and round chasing our tails. In this respect mind isn’t much use. Feeling however can often cut through dog-tail mind. As an aside do you recognise dog-tail mind?

But there is an unmistakable feeling that goes with having fucked up badly, it hits you in the gut like a punch from a heavyweight boxer. Your body knows. Maybe you do something shitty and it kicks off a whole train of events, or maybe you screw up a relationship by your behaviours and actions. Bang! There is now no going back. You have failed to see something, missed and otherwise screwed up. Dog-tail mind kicks in and you try to make sense or add post hoc justifications by the dozen. But the feeling remains, it is unmistakeable. You have missed a possibility, provided to you by fate. The exact same one may never manifest again but a thematically similar circumstance might. There is no reversibility, all you can hope for is for a second bite at a similar cherry. These gut punches from fate may, if we allow them, teach us and teach us profoundly. If we are complacent and overly fatalistic, we might say, “it was just one of those things”. The feeling however allows us to differentiate import from not so important. It is not mind, it is feeling.

We have been presented with a fateful moment and missed.

Having cued this up:

Do I recognise this description of fateful moments?

Have I had any?

At how many of them did I miss?

Fate and Control

Whilst I am on the subject of fate; what exactly has brought you here to this blog? What chain of circumstances had you stumble upon it? Or if you are here for less benign reasons, are you in control of all the minutiae that led you here?

Do you perhaps think that you had any choice in the matter?

Or were you led here by your karma, yours and mine?

Do we have joint karma to work out? Might we have an overlapping fate? Am I a part of your evolving fate? And if so, how might we evolve that fate together?

Perhaps it was fated that I should sit here this snowy evening with an open can of Stella and ask you these profound questions?

Or maybe it is all just coincidence?

Who can say for sure?

Are you really in control of your fate, your destiny?

Those Pivotal Moments

One of the benefits of having done a thorough whole-life recapitulation is that you get to see those pivotal moments around which life changes or rather starts to change dramatically. This makes you more alert and generally less complacent. It also shows just what a huge role selective perception plays in all of our lives.

Life can change totally around things that take only seconds or minutes to do. We may in those moments plant a seed which later grows into something, or a tiny thing can be the straw which broke the camel’s back. We might chance our hand and get into something dodgy, we might find God. We could meet someone who changes our outlook, or a book could fall off a bookshelf in front of us in a book shop. {This actually happened to me with the I Ching, it “jumped” off the shelf and onto the floor.} We cannot know beforehand the extent of change started at these pivotal moments, it might be very large and fast, or slow and evolving. Life can change with a single ‘phone call or blood in the stools. That certainty we imagine is not so certain. If I had gotten two more marks in my degree I would not have taken the Ph.D. place I did, and my entire life would have been different. There may have been thematic similarities as per fate, but the players, the actors on the stage of my life, would have been different.

Many do not like this notion of fate, it implies that we are not in control and that there is no choice. But somehow all those pivotal moments point us, they nudge us, they are a hand on our tillers. If we need to tack, we get tacked. If this notion of fate be true, then we cannot avoid it. We can either surf with our fate or struggle against it. One of these is more comfortable and intelligent that the other.

These pivotal moments are the points, the fulcrum around which the force of fate is brought to bear. There is an applied torque and things change. Our life direction is altered around the pivot.

There is another type of pivotal moment which is door-like. Suddenly out of nowhere a door opens and we are beckoned to walk through to a new chapter or a corridor we are walking along has a door at the end which slams shut. If we don’t walk through the open-door type, we may never know, and the door only stays open for so long. Failure to take the door-possibility leads to a sense of loss. If it is a door slamming case, then we have to look around for another door whilst acknowledging that the universe does not want us heading along that corridor any longer. This happened in the mark situation I mentioned earlier. I would have stayed at UCL and done a Ph.D. there but the universe pointed me elsewhere.

Unless we are alert we may miss these pivotal moments time and again or make the wrong choices at the pivot. If we are fated the same or similar situation occurs again until such time as we gather sufficient courage to do what we are fated to do. The more we struggle against our fate the harder it becomes, we learn irrespective of cooperation with or struggle against our fate. The method of learning is different. Some of these pivots are once in a lifetime and the choice never comes again. Failure at these has a very long and far-reaching impact ongoing.

Fate, in my eyes, is the lesson-plan for each given life. It is the true curriculum which we have intended for ourselves. Fate is the sum or integral over all our karma.

Having cued this up:

How many pivotal moments have there been in my life?

Was the resultant change wholesale?

How many of these moments might I have missed?

What would I say my overarching fate in this lifetime is?

What does it look like and how is it evolving?

What are the key life lessons that I need to learn?