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just
2003-12-15 - 9:54 p.m.

I feel like… my existence isn’t really justified. What is it that I do, exactly?

Today I woke up, quite late as per usual. I read a bit of a book, an academic book, that I felt little about one way or the other. It seemed correct but not especially interesting. I got out of bed, went and did stuff on the internet for a bit. Bought the paper, read some of it. Paced up and down trying to think of what to do next. Decided to cycle around the bay; I cycled around the bay. Watched some crap on TV. Went back to bed with the intention of reading some more. Thought instead. Got up again…

…I feel low. It wasn’t that long ago that I had a rich and vibrant social life, a “group” in which I had quite a central part. Now… now I have friends, but they all seem to be somehow scatterred. One’s up north, another’s in Japan, the others… I don’t know, they’re people who I see but I don’t feel like I can just drop in unannounced. There have to be plans, there has to be a context… it has to be for a reason.

See, this is what I mean about justification. I’m not sure that my existence is justified, but then, what’s the context in which I would be justifying myself? To whom would I be trying to justify myself?

And what’s the “I”, what’s the “self” that I would be trying to justify, anyway? I mean, the material substance of which I am made is eternal… matter can be neither created nor destroyed. It’s not in the form of “me” because “I” decided that it should be; this pattern of atoms is the consequence of millions of years of cause and effect. I am, as Thich Nhat Hanh would put it, a wonderful manifestation. And a temporary one; too. These particles cannot be destroyed, only their configurations can be altered. They will spend some time in the configuration that makes them part of “me”, and then they will spend some time in other configurations.

So is it the configuration itself I want to justify? Again, to what judge? Who is judging me? What entitles them to judge me?

Is it the people who suffer less than me that I fear, or the people who suffer more?

Both. I fear the people who suffer less, because they have achieved what I have not; if they know peace, they are closer to the secret than I am. But I fear those who suffer more, too; they are earning their place here on earth in a way that I am not. They receive through sufferring what I receive through dumb luck.

There’s something that Durkheim says that has some quite… that has some consequences that I think are worth thinking about. I’m paraphrasing of course, and I don’t know where from, but anyway. He says, solitariness will drive you mad. Anyone spending more than a few weeks in total solitude will go insane. Except, he says, this rule does not seem to apply to monks, who spend long periods of time in solitude, going through rituals and praying to their god. They do not go mad, he says, because they do not feel themselves to be alone; since God is always with them, they do not suffer the pangs of loneliness in the way that the non-believer would.

The point is that belief in God has a real effect. See? It means that… it means that belief changes the nature of the experience of solitude.

I don’t know how to put it… I can’t find the words. I feel low, and tired.

-

“Only once place where I could

Go to be understood” – Dan Bern


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