Thursday, November 11, 2010

people are strang(ers)


"the search for an ideal mate is in reality a quest for alienated facets of the self. we shape an image of our unrealized self and then project it onto another person"

Why is it that we often find ourselves surprised by other peoples' behaviours? After 'knowing' someone for years, whether knowing them in a romantic or a platonic way, they do something that sparks one of the following common phrases: "that is so unlike him/her", "how out of character".

It appears as though we are constantly trying to reach consistency in our lives. Consistent money flow, consistent creativity, consistent spontaneity, consistent relationships, etc. And I think we also seek consistency in others.

Instead of loving a person for everything they are, good and bad, people tend to love only for the good. And worse, you tend to love yourself only for the good and despise yourself when you're not exactly who you want to be.

These particular lyrics in a song by Fleet Foxes always speak to me, " I'm turning myself to a demon / I don't know what I have done / I'm turning myself to a demon." It's true that at times I find that I am very capable of turning into a monster, demonizing others, or demonizing myself. I tend to write a lot about morality, and I find that perhaps it's possible for us to try too hard to be perfect human beings. We should perhaps not be so hard on ourselves when we haven't become exactly who we want to become. And we will probably never become our ideal selves.

Abraham Maslow came up with this theory called the "hierarchy of needs." Essentially, we as humans have certain needs that need to be fulfilled. And the very highest need that we strive for is what he calls self-actualization, or what I like to call the Hollywood Ending. If there was a movie playing of your life, and the assumption is that it will end happily ever after, at the end, you've reached self-actualization - all your dreams have come true, you have found 'the one', your career is where you want it, you are at the peak of your creativity, you hold no prejudices, don't hold back, and are completely content with yourself and the world. And there's an epic soundtrack to boot.

I think Maslow's definitely onto something...I think people do strive for this. But does it exist? And does striving for self-actualization only cause disappointment? What about resentment?

We start to resent others for what they have and we don't. They have a better career. They have a steady relationship. They are more creative. We hold people in such high regard, and then when they disappoint us, when lovers and friends disappoint us, we believe it's their fault. Because we believe in perfection, we set ourselves up for disappointment?

When someone you respect does something bad, it's considered "out of character" But is it? Or is it part of their character? Perhaps it's more realistic to assume that "it", this demon-like behaviour, is part of all of us. That there are probably very few people who claim to feel self-actualized. We are all trying to get there, and that we should begin to see people and ourselves for who they and we are. Flawed. After all, Eve ate the apple, and Adam was dumb enough (or just human enough) to follow suit. Our entire existence in terms of mythology is based upon imperfection and attempting to overcome imperfection. And about one third of us looks up to a guy who was able to walk on water. Talk about high standards.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive to be better people, because if we didn't have a vision for something better we wouldn't have hope, and we wouldn't have hope, well, to be frank, we'd be fucked.

I guess the bottom line is, let's believe in ourselves and our friends, but let's also keep our cool if either of us or both of us screw us over.

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