A ramble and exploration, containing some some hard “truths,” this is by NO means a fun essay. Nor is it me claiming that this is the ONLY interpretation, and hard, fast and certain facts.
My Mom died recently.
She was a prisoner of her life. Things happened to her that she could never have anticipated, or explained. Looked at from one perspective none of it was her fault, looked at from another, everything was. As far as we know, none of us ask to be born. But once we are here, we all have to find our way through, we all have to find ways to deal with the many challenges of being on earth.
Life does not come with an instruction manual. What instructions we do get, we get from other humans. Parents, religion, schools, bosses. We do, for the most part what we are told, just as our parents did, just as our priests did, just as our teachers did, just as our bosses did. Our lives are handed down to us, we are told who we are and what to do by other humans….humans who have no idea, other than what others have told them, what to do.
These people can teach us not to make the mistakes thy have made, they tell us not just what TO do, but what not to do. The things they tell us not to do are considered to be mistakes. The things they tell us TO do are thought to lead to successful lives. But of course, success has many and very, very varied definitions. But there are two main ones. Wealth and/or happiness.
Our greatest teachers are supposed to be our parents. In the traditional American life, based on patriarchal traditions of child rearing, we receive most of our life training and instruction, especially in the early years, from our mothers.
My mother was never, in the years that I knew her, happy. Or wealthy. Neither from what I understand, was her mother. Both of them in fact, were lifelong depressives who were in fact miserable and who in fact, spent their lives making other people miserable….before sinking even further into dementia. In remembering Mom, one person who knew her nearly all of her life called her “the Typhoid Mary of Self-Pity.”
If we look around us, at all the other humans, and at the pain and suffering and, frankly, idiocy of other humans….well, really….who the fuck are they to tell us anything. Who are they to define success? Who are they to teach us?
Buddha said, Life Is Suffering.
And boy was he right.
We come unwillingly into this world, blinking and screaming and unaware. We are blank slates. With no memory of a God who loves us, or of lessons learned in past lifetimes, or if we have, no memory of agreeing to come here to work of Karma or consciously embracing Jesus Christ so as to be saved. We are blank slates, blank slates to be written upon by the pain and suffering of a painful and suffering world. We are in fact, MOSTLY taught not how to be ‘successful,’ but how to suffer and be in pain.
Look around at this mess of a world, at the mess that all the humans of the past have made of this gift of a planet. THESE are the people we are supposed to learn from and emulate?