I run in two circles. They don’t overlap much, though I’m working on that. I have my family and friends, business colleagues and general acquaintances; the usual collection of people everyone builds up over a lifetime of interactions. Then I have my “Doomer” friends, people I’ve met through Dark Mountain, through my own blogging, and through meetings on the state of the world I’ve attended over the last few years. This group tend to live far away. Our interactions mediated by the internet. My relationships with you range from passing acquaintance to the tantalizing beginnings of strong friendships, but are all made tenuous by the impacts of distance. The day-to-day wear-and-tear dealing with the competition each of our proximate circles demands of us, as well as, the long-term precarious nature of having to rely on the luxury of instantaneous intercontinental communication which may come to an end at any time, leaving us without the current illusion of the easy possibility of intimacy or even just expedited communication.
I’ve likened this on-line effort to tapping away in hopes of hearing answering taps, like the stricken sailors on the S-4 beating out the state of their lives and hopes to a diver outside their sunken hull and a million miles away. Or to Dwight Tower’s mission in On the Beach, tracking down a signal from the North they all feared was lifeless. It’s natural to want to find connection and gain the solace of companionship in extremis.
Here’s where my thoughts have fallen today. How much do we tend to keep these two circles apart not only out of the difficulty we all – over here on this side – have in sharing our concerns with those around us; but because of the strange dynamic that may comfort us by keeping these two cohorts apart? Over here, we tend to decry the denial we find rampant in our “first worlds,” made up of our traditional circles. “If only they would break through!” we think. “Then everything would be so much better.”
I’m beginning to wonder whether we really mean it. Not that we don’t wish it were true, but that we also gain comfort from its not being the case. There is a frisson we all share, over here, that acts as a glue to hold us together. After all with the fragility of the long distance relationship always in mind, it is comforting to hold onto the idea that here is a special bond unavailable anywhere else. This is more or less obvious. What got me writing today was a glimmer of how its corollary may operate. What do we gain from not pushing too hard to get our traditional circles integrated into the world of our meditations on the consequences of our predicaments? This gets messy as soon as we open up the subject. – Now I know that many of you out there do have more integration, you spend significant “face-time” with others who share our concerns; but I would wager that we all can find some contact with the mechanisms I’m bringing up.
I would wager we’ve all spent time in that airless condition as someone has broached the subject of the “elephant in the room?” For me it has a nostalgia for the days of my childhood, either avoiding the recognition of someone’s heavy drinking, or the proximity of open violence if some assumption should be broached. I don’t think I’d be wrestling with the state of the world if it hadn’t been for my immersion in a life filled with double-binds where I had to get used to being “damned if I did….” After that, all of this is almost a relief, especially as it has allowed me to find you others with whom to share my concerns instead of remaining isolated in a private hell.
There is a perverse nostalgia generated by this dynamic. We are flirting with the edges of the old dangers and the way our new integrations have given us a renewed strength. Its like fiddling with a sore tooth, better yet, a loose baby tooth. We know we will be better off when it’s gone, yet the slight thrill and the sense of control we feel while we prolong this little agony gives us comfort. We are the only ones who “secretly know” how it’s going to turn out and that gives us a slight buzz of deniable superiority. Again these aspects are rather obvious. One new element has come to mind. What if we enjoy the haven of joining our less “aware” circles in their sphere of denial?
While we are with them, going through the motions of everyday life, acting “normal,” and making plans, and just enjoying each others company; we are free of the burden of our own awareness. Sure we would have greater rewards from more fully integrating our lives and raising the awareness of those close to us, but that takes a lot of work, and we tend to be pessimistic as to the results. I know whenever I’ve tried, I have not been able to find the right voice, or to even find the internal stability that lets me speak to you here. I regress into a tongue-tied fearful child, and that internal discomfort only adds to the difficulty and makes it harder and harder to try again after a failure. There is not only a haven in joining their denial even if only temporarily and partially. It frees us from having to take the tremendously difficult step of finding our own next level of maturity so that we can enter these archetypal scenes with all of our faculties intact.
This is already helping me gain that place to stand in relation to this challenge. Awareness of dynamics that have their way with us has always given me a better hold on how to respond to difficulty. Articulating these thoughts begins to put them into a perspective that allows me to see beyond the silly yet powerful sense of betrayal or potential loss, or the risk of breaking or loosening of important bonds through inadvertent flailing.
I’m off to see friends, I don’t have time to draw this out any further right now. I would like to hear how you feel about this, or any insights or experiences you have that would help us decipher this mechanism further.