Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Goodness grace us

I watched two geckoes fighting on the window. At first, I thought they were fighting very slowly but I soon realised that one was mounting the other. The female didn't seem to be enjoying it.

The male gecko was missing most of one of his forelegs. It hadn't prevented him from passing on his genes. At least, I was hoping it hadn't. I don't know what the hit rate is for a gecko. But it seemed a fine metaphor. He had been damaged but it wasn't enough to make him unfit to reproduce.

I am not really drawing any conclusions from it. I am useless myself. I see no point to me at all. I am sitting in my basement, home alone for the next couple of days, and of course I start to think about my life, and what it is. Or whether it is. Sometimes I think about whether being good is something you are or something people think you are. If it is something people think you are, are you obliged to be what they think is good? If so, I'm shit out of luck. I'm not sure anyone thinks I'm good and they're probably right.

I'm probably not alone in thinking I'd be good if it wasn't for... You fill in whatever you think it is that's stopping you from considering yourself a good person. If the list runs for more than a page, you're just no damned good. It's easy to see your bad points though. A list of your good points... well, there's the problem. What is a good point? I think it returns us to asking whether good is good for others or just good. I might say, it's good to be honest. But if the world doesn't appreciate honesty, what good is it?

Am I saying what's the good of being good in a bad world? Yes, I am. I've always tried to be good, to do the right thing (the right thing by my lights, not necessarily the right thing if you took a vote), but judging those things in the abstract means that you must ignore outcomes. One of the failings of the utilitarian worldview, I always thought, was that it more or less demanded that the individual always consider the common good above their own, which, while it might be admirable, would tend to make life rather unrewarding, in most senses of that word. However, the opposite is not appealing either, although I've never quite been able to work out why. Why would it not be acceptable to me morally to pursue my own good to the detriment of everyone's around me? I think it's an interesting question. A judicious balance of the two is a tenable aim, I'd have thought, but it's not easy. Recently, I've had to consider deeply how to balance differing goods, and I've failed miserably in doing so in a way that made me happy. Probably that's because of two things: first, that I judged what would be good for others without considering their own view on it, so that I did what I thought was right instead of what they considered right (which meant that I did good in a bad situation, the value of which I'm pondering here); second, that I simply could not do what others thought would be good for them, because I so clearly feel it would be bad for me. I am far from being able to be completely self-sacrificing. It bothers me, because what am I that I believe I would find peace in self-abnegation but cannot do it? Still, some people are fucking hard to please! And if you are trying to balance good as you see it with good as others see it, it's a real problem if the others involved are not doing it the same. I've encountered deep selfishness, which destroyed a relationship in one case and has made another close to unbearable.

I know, I could do more. I need to do more. I'm aware of my limitations. But you have to ask yourself sometimes: are the people who are so keen to remind you of your limitations just not willing to begin looking at their own? And if they are not, and you will not move beyond simply reckoning it's their fault you're where you are, how can you move on from that?

And I need to do less. The desire to be giving can be catastrophic when others do not want what you have to give. I recognise that you need to be able to listen more closely to what they want. But the problem is, for any of us, that part of what you want is what you want to give!

***

Ultimately, I see a glimpse of the path to contentment, and I cannot step onto it. I couldn't even say why. Being self-destructive makes me unhappy, but I have a long record of taking only the least constructive path, of not even thinking about the outcomes of what I did, indulging the moment and suffering for it. Mostly, I can put that down to fear. Why don't I write novels? I'm too afraid of a poor reception. What a fuckwit! I would say if it were anyone else. Just do it and live with it, you twat. But it's easier to know what's good for others than what's good for yourself. And fear is addictive. It becomes a useful shield. I become able to hide everything, so well that I can't even be sure there was anything in the first place.

I can hear a little voice, saying "self pity will do you no good". Yeah but I'm so fucking good at it. I never found anything else I could excel at the way I do that. I shouldn't have said that. I know that I have been overly concerned with my image lately because I worry that people will read my blog and later be vicious about things that I don't care about, and I will feel embarrassed for them. I want to be a facilitator of feeling good about the world.

I suppose I am feeling that way because I want to be attractive. I want more in my life. I want to touch and be touched, and not to feel that I am encased in ice, talking to myself, my words bouncing from the walls of a cell I built to keep me safe from the world I want to touch me. But somehow I do not know how or what, or if I do, but I don't, why keep telling myself I do when I don't know how? Why pretend that I know but just can't when the truth is more likely that I never knew and never will?

***

But did you never feel, did you never ask, why could I not step the infinitely small distance between worlds into one in which I and you were just slightly different enough for it to have worked? The world in which good for me and good for you were just that iota closer together?

I know. I know. Change is possible. It only feels as though it is not. It only feels as though someone else decided on my lines and I'm stuck with them. I could awake tomorrow and shed the chrysalis and we could all free ourselves from our lives, the cages we are calling our lives.

1 Comments:

At 1:14 am, OpenID brimminglacunae said...

Just do it and live with it, you twat. Change is possible x
#teamawesome

 

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