I read a book a couple of months ago by Robert Pirsig called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it, there is a discussion that takes place on what it is that constitutes a soul. In a rudimentary way, a soul is supposed to be the defining factor that makes up who you are. But after a revealing supposition, it’s determined that there isn’t anything that we can constitute as a soul. The example used was a motorcycle (of all things). Stripped down to it’s most minute components, no one stand alone cog, wheel, spoke, or cylinder on it’s own could be solely defined as the soul of a motorcycle. When applied to any other object, by definition, in it’s most empirical elements, no one element alone could make up the essence of anything.
This makes the utmost of sense when analyzed and applied to any object of importance or usage. But how does this apply to me and how I’m feeling? While I have no true insight as to the intent of the treatment my wife has inflicted upon me, the repercussions of the actions she has chosen to undertake have one defining element that I feel on a day to day basis; the calculated manner in which they are deconstructing every aspect of my life. We begin with the material world, my earthly possessions that were obtained with a life that we CHOSE to build together. From my singular perspective, her choice to use our family savings for shopping sprees, new credit cards and their associated statements being mailed to our place of business, and late night outings to who knows where, to me seem all calculated to bring upon my demise. Another perspective is that she is purely selfish and seeks only to fulfill her idea of happiness by spending money. Either way, the result, regardless of whether I choose to view her actions as a need to attain happiness or through a belief that she is cold-blooded, is that what I’ve spent time, energy, and life on is being dwindled away. When I look at how she calls her friends and gloats about her friend’s misguided ways of using men for their money, and the awe and laughter she achieves from their experiences, it chips away at my belief that we as humans are all inherently good. I have countless other examples all related to my self-esteem, my standing in life, etc., but I think you get the drift. With the stated examples, how is it that if no singular portion, memory, or personality trait is inherently the “soul” of who I am, why is it that the destruction of these components is so evident to the point where it is changing my illusory make up of who I am?
I would be lying if I said, each day as more and more of these experiences pile up, that I don’t find it harder to find laughter in each day. There is definitely a seed of resent that is populating my mental garden and it’s starting to be a huge pain in the ass to continue weeding it out, all based on faith that things will get better. To evaluate, and create an expectation based on faith is not a hope that I wish to see not met. And as far as expectations go, it’s been made evident that to have faith in them is utter foolishness.
Why is the dismantling of these things that made me the person who I believe I am or was, so important? I’ve read and studied that to forgive and let these things go is the path to the freedom that I seek. But I can’t let them go. It’s not the delusion that I call “Fudo/Steve” that I am seeking to hold onto. It’s the failure of the idea of “me” with respect to society, family, and to the moral idea of what it is to be happy that I’m holding onto. The act of failure is not one I fear; it’s the possibility that I won’t recover from failure that creates my daily anxiety, my quiet despair.
I know that one piece does not completely define who it is I am. But what I don’t know is if all of what I’ve come to believe is “me” is taken apart, will what remains still be considered anything at all?
I close with a saying that inspires and motivates, and at the same time creates doubt. A weird combination, I know. Kenny Shopsin, uber chef god in NYC, says this about humanity. In a nutshell, once you accept you’re a piece of shit, you start to see life for what it really is. When you know you’re a piece of shit, you don’t feel so bad for not being good all the time. If you go into things thinking that you’re the good guy, it’s like a new car that doesn’t have any scratches; it’s too much work making sure there aren’t any scratches.