Thursday, December 9, 2010

There Is No

There is no end to the tasks and challenges life puts before you. No end until you end. If you believe that to unfuck your life is to live without those tasks and challenges then you are even more fucked than you know. What sort of life would that be anyway? What would occupy your time, your mind? How would you know who you were?

What possible purpose could there be to a life untasked, unchallenged by Life?

But I can hear your whining from here, "I've been challenged enough. Let someone else have a turn." "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen." And on and on ad nauseum.

Most of what troubles us is petty, vainglorious, the product of our fears. True and abiding trouble is rarer than our self-made woes and yet we treat all our trials as equals never realizing the differences between then, never sorting the wheat from the chaff, the shit from the shinola. We want to be rid of them all and refuse the necessary work of prioritizing, of discerning the differences between them, and by doing so we could unfuck ourselves by half. True trial always shames the small shit into oblivion.

* * *

In the medieval poem Parzival the story is told of a knight who joins Arthur's Court and goes on the Grail quest. He stumbles upon it, but fails to recognize it for what it is and so loses his one chance at it. He is cursed by the protectors of the Grail, yet he still does not know why. He spends the next several years alone, cut off from his wife, his home, still trying to find the Grail. Two great events happen that bring him back to the Grail. First, he meets a holy man who teaches him what the Grail was and Parzival begins to leave the world of Arthur's Court and its rules and propriety and instead moves into the world of the Grail. Yet he is still a knight and battles surround him. He slays many and toward the end of his search he meets his match - a Moor who is certain to kill him. Parzival's sword breaks and the Infidel refuses to kill him, finding no glory in such a victory. They sit together and learn they are half-brothers. Shortly thereafter Parzival finds the Grail, is made its protector and is reunited with his wife.

I mention this because it strikes me that all us fucked fuckers are like Parzival at the beginning of the story: clueless, strong, capable of great feats, but utterly lacking in insight, or self knowledge. Our lives take on the flavor of his wandering years - forever fighting and never getting any closer. Until we move out of the world of petty alliances and someone else's propriety and someone else's rules we are choked off from our complete self (see Spinoza, Proposition 15). But Parzival learns to separate shit from shinola when he abandons Arthur's world and enters the world of the Grail, meaning the spiritual rather than the economic world. But the task is not complete until he is. When sitting next to his half-brother, Feirefiz, he says, "I was against my own self."

If you are fucked it is because you are against your own self. You are fighting all the wrong battles assuming the flurry of activity somehow ennobles you. It doesn't. It fucks you. Life is forever questioning you, putting tasks and challenges in front of you. It wants to know if you are worthy of the Grail. If you were without these tasks you can be assured Life had its answer and found you wanting.

* * *

And there is this: once Parzival became the protector of the Grail his work had just begun.


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