The Urge to Start Over
by Antonio Dias
What I’m asking…
What I’m asking… is to fulfill the frustrated need I had as a child, to be able to trust, and receive without doubt, guidance and direction.
Guidance and direction I could accept as being in my best interest. This is probably the most important request I have after a childhood need unmet.
I always had to mediate between what I was told and what my instincts would accept. This, the basis for all of my binds.
I’ve internalized this struggle. I can’t trust my own guidance, or wants; and I get stuck. What the young boy I once was wants most is to feel trust.1
1 Lisboa, February 2002, a handwritten note scrawled across a commuter train schedule that I kept in my wallet for years after.
This may have been the first intimations of an insight that began to lead me out of a life-long depression.
I was drawn to this poem as I began to write this post. It seems that somewhere in the tension between “The Urge to Start Over” and this desire for Trust unmet there lurk insights related to how we continue to beat our heads against our predicament and find it difficult to see a way ahead.
Now, part of our predicament is that we continue to insist that we be able to see ahead! This insistence keeps us off-balance and trapped in time as we rush to stay ahead of the moment instead of living in the only time/space we have, now.
There is a great longing to start over. I don’t think I’m unique in this regard. I think we are all trapped in this longing in some form or other. The Reductivists dream/nightmare we are reaching the end of is founded on the notion of a tubula rasa, a blank slate on which we – more precisely our Egos – can draw what they like and call it reality. In this way, for all its protestations to the contrary, this “Age of Reason” has been a continuation of the “Age of Belief” it attempted to supplant. Both are mechanisms to replace reality with a dream.
But, however we come to such an insistence it is a pernicious form of violence. From out of this violence we do to the truth, and to our organism and its ways of finding and carving out meaning, come all the other forms of violence we surround our selves with. Our difficulties in recognizing this result from the depths of habit that have deadened us to the violence all around us and in which we are complicit. In this way, this condition reflects the lack of trust, the impossibility of trust, we feel within the world-view that holds us captive.
Hungering for blank slates, from “Year Zero!” That confident cry at the start of the French Revolution that now brings cringing memories of Pol Pot’s genocide – the reductio ad absurdum of that previous revolution. Through the whole “Sea to Shining Sea!” and “Purple Mountains Majesty” of American Exceptionalism and the New Frontier. They all seek to discount now and push us off into “The Future!” – that acceptable “Heaven” of atheists everywhere.
How easily we forget, or never bothered to learn, that the Futurists were protofascists and that in Fascism we have the purest expression of such desires. But, then again, we insist we can ignore whatever doesn’t suit us. Who cares what a bunch of artists thought anyway?
We fall back on habits of Triage. We look for ways in which we can cut and run. “If only we could revert our conditions to this point!” becomes just an upside down version of chasing after the Future. If the Future “exists” out of the violence we do to the present, these dreams of reversion “exist” in the same way.
We are immersed in this kind of thinking. It always fails because it is partial. It is partial and we refuse to accept that it is. In this refusal, in the refusal to accept that reality will always outstrip our capacities to encompass it within understanding, and that any concoction we throw together in the wish that it will convince us otherwise is a return to that primal violence that holds us in this trap.
Trust is on the other side of this divide.
The child begins to distrust not when bad things happen, but when those in a position to know better refuse to accept and actively hide from the fact that something bad has happened or is ongoing. The same thing is true within us and between us as adults. The same is at the bottom of the gulf between each of us in our atomized isolation and the societies that claim to exist for our own good.
How do we take this in? How do we act on this hunch? How do we integrate this insight into our lives?
This is a process. It requires that we be patient and persevering in equal measure. Patient, because to insist that change follows an insight is to practically insure that it won’t! Persevering, because we will in countless ways be coerced and cajoled into staying where we are within the toxic simulacra of comfort that is the deadening numbness of modern life.
These habits: our conditioning, our thoughts, and the ways in which we are accustomed to dealing with our feelings; these are all striving to maintain us where we are.
When dealing with trust, perhaps the greatest lesson is to come to the realization that it cannot be striven after. No one, least of all that broken child within, that kernel of the organism we could have been and that we need to revive and integrate into relationship with all that is, will ever begin to trust because someone is “trying” to win that trust! Here again we run into the futility of striving!
I keep returning to an inkling that has yet to be refuted and that continually finds reinforcement, that the simple act of witness may be the most powerful thing we can accomplish. Not because this is our “Destiny!” Or because it will lead to some desired result. But, because it is the most direct way to acknowledge and connect with all that we truly have, our attention and awareness and the world in which we find ourselves immersed.
We’ve spent how many thousands of years now rejecting this? Insisting that what we desire is more important than what is.
Changing this does not follow from the urge to start over.
Changing this requires that we abandon that urge.
For a drowning person to begin to swim they need to abandon the urge to will themselves out of the water.
To find one’s natural buoyancy one needs to let those waters close in over our heads.
Letting go is not surrender! It is a necessary first step to any continuation of life.
What lies between us and our natural buoyancy is our fear.
What holds us in fear is our lack of trust.
We cannot trust anyone who refuses to acknowledge the violence we are immersed in.
We cannot trust ourselves until we acknowledge that we are immersed in this violence and that we cannot wish our way out of it.
To move on we need to reject the urge to start over.
Paradox is how we most often perceive the order we cannot understand, the order we insist is “chaos!”
Turbulence is that kind of order. Turbulence is a characteristic of water in motion. Drowning is a rejection of such realities.
Swimming is an acceptance of turbulence as an aspect of that which provides us buoyancy. An ineradicable aspect of the way things are.
We have a choice. We may continue to reject our immersion in complexity beyond all understanding or we may be buoyed by it!
Trust leads us towards such buoyancy and urgency blocks our path.