May 5th, 2012

Heart of Darkness

Pinwheel


My girlfriend was wrong. Or at least, I was beginning to think so. I was sure that logically apathy had to be experienced to be best understood. So I sunk into it. Not from a nihilistic aspect - just because one may believe that life has no meaning or value doesn't mean they are apathetic about it - its actually quite freeing and the opposite has a tendency to occur. So why the apathy? This is what I sought out. And let me express how difficult it is writing (a feat in itself when feeling entirely unmotivated) logically on a feeling in which lends itself to unmotivated hopelessness. I did find a quote by John Dos Passos which suggests the cure for apathy is comprehension. My life this last year or so has been consumed with understanding the motivations and intents of myself, and of others, most of whom cannot explain either to me. If comprehension fixes apathy, I would appear to have a long, long way to go if I can't get the answers I need.

I am hoping however, that by writing it out and examining all the pieces, I will be able to surmount this entirely foreign phenomenon.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's (a contemporary of Abraham Maslov) illustration of mental states as compared to challenge and skill levels, I was quite surprised to have found myself living nearly fully within a state of arousal - in which everything I do I find stimulating. By this same token, what I am apparently feeling is not apathy at all. I was feeling overwhelmingly frustrated. And its no wonder I did not or could not recognize it as such as I am rarely subjected to it.

So why frustration?

Unlike those less attuned to themselves, who think that whatever is happening to them at that moment is the cause, I knew that the cause of my discontent was far more reaching. I was also surprised to find frustration missing on Csikszentmihalyi's illustration, for surely that too is a state wedged between challenge and skill?

[Frustration is] perceived resistance to the fulfillment of individual will. Internal frustration may arise from challenges in fulfilling personal goals and desires, instinctual drives and needs, or dealing with perceived deficiencies.

Frustration therefore is a byproduct of high challenges without the skillset to cope with them, and that is on the chart. I am frustrated, yes, but only because I am anxious. Despite attempting to catalog these feelings of abject hopelessness I am also having to feel them. As an empiricist I find the experience fascinating! I am also in a lot of pain. It hurts to feel, and I despise weakness in myself.

So why anxiety?

This one I've learned in part from my wife's doctor who discussed stressors. Lack of emotion is only one of the definitions of apathy. Another is the suppression of them. There have been a lot of changes this past year and regardless of intent or outcome, change can be stressful - even good change, and I have had plenty of both. I wonder if I have reached the point where my own suppression of emotion due to numerous stressors is starting to manifest itself? I feel I am going to have to let it go, or find another short-term coping mechanism.

This of course always begs the question, "What is it I want?"

I want to live unconstrained with knowledge sought and freely exchanged. I want to eradicate greed and teach my children there is no right or wrong just motivation and intent and behavior. I want to express myself without being misunderstood and I want to understand others once they first understand themselves. I want them to ask questions and be curious about everything while allowing me the same freedoms. I want us all to apply what we've learned and fulfill our lives. I want to discuss these things day and night until I get it all figured out.

In short, I want everything.

Who doesn't?