028: Reader Mailbag (II)

Season One Jul 6, 2020

I got great replies to "Life is a Jumble".

Sharing some excerpts below.


I think narratives change wherever one finds oneself in life. And who one tells the story to. Depends on the audience. And when the story is told.

My narrative takes many forms. At different times of my life.

What story do you want?
The "phoenix rising from the ashes" one? The “poor me” one? The "biggest accomplishment"?  “Mother”, “Grandmother”, “the jigsaw puzzle”? “The adventurer” or “the historian"?

This is such a timely quote.
Love your Mom’s quote and watercolors.  I’m glad you listened to your Mom, instead of in one ear and out the other.

My life, on the other hand, is quite boring.  No real life lessons to pass on.

Of course, she’s right: We start with a jumble, and life is about turning that jumble into a happy - at least partially realized - plan.

Over the years, I’ve always had a plan. Not always exactly the same one, but one that morphed (think of the astronomer searching for new galaxies, or for the meaning of redshifts).

Perhaps a consequence of being 93, my life seems less oriented by personal plans.  But it’s still good to watch the beauty of the stars, even though others are making the discoveries.
I think about this too - the inclination to create narrative, linearity, meaning.

Often it feels like our thinking relies on shortcuts or devices to achieve the certainty we crave - binaries, fuzzy causation stories, generous applications of the transitive property.

There is a theme in modern lit: About the stuff of life not actually conforming to (or becoming) the stuff of narrative without there being some middle step. The storymaking/storylearning human mind is so powerful (and survival-related) that the middle step seems as simple as breathing.

But with increased attention/self-awareness - introspection, therapy, mindfulness practices, psychedelics etc - this can be somewhat decoupled and revealed as a deliberate, if unconscious, act of erecting a scaffolding to support a self-knowledge and general worldview. A "wrangling of the emotions"... Both the inner- and outer-world being ordered and understood as a sort of ouroboros demarcating our fears, beliefs, desires.

It crashes into the struggle for objectivity too... A struggle that the present era seems to have conceded.

The paintings are awesome. The squirrel looks like a beatnik talking about Marxism over coffee and cigarettes.


I always like hearing from you :)

📬

hi@thefirejar.com