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Living Without Expectations


DesertBob
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I am not on an overtly spiritual path these days, but as some here would say, even that's a spiritual path, so this philosophical topic seems appropriate here.

 

People say it's best to live without expectations. Easy to say (especially in the big picture perspective) but not so easy to pull off (especially in particular situations).

 

I have a couple of issues with this idea. First, let’s be honest. No one does anything without hoping for something out of the bargain — if only the opportunity to do something interesting and worthwhile. We buy a product or service with the expectation that it live up to its claims; we enter into relationships with a host of expectations based on implicit and explicit social contracts. And so on. I mean, come on.

 

Secondly, I find it difficult to understand how you can lack expectations and feel much of anything. What motivates people to change their environment for the better? Desire and expectations and hopes and dreams. Some call it passion.

 

When people talk about letting go of expectations, I think they are actually talking about letting go of preconceptions and being open to what ends up happening — but in doing so, they still have an expectation, which is that whatever they let go of will be replaced by something equivalent or better. That in letting go, their life will actually improve. Which is great, should it happen to — and believe me, I recognize that sometimes, we try too hard and care too much, and there can be at times a paradoxical effect where when you stop striving, and just let things flow, outcomes can improve. I’ve actually experienced that here and there. The less consequential a thing you are holding onto, the better it works. Often, we cling to silly things that don’t really matter anyway. But — some things matter to us. A lot.

 

And so, in the main, to the extent I truly no longer expect anything, I no longer look forward to anything in that area, other than to just letting life pass through me and do what it will. I don’t see this as an improvement; it’s simply an adaptation to substantial loss in certain areas of my life, that I have to accept. There’s nothing to be done about it and I can’t waste the energy pining away about it. This is like adjusting to the loss of an arm or a leg — it’s not going to grow back and there’s nothing else for it. My fiancee is in a similar situation; she describes her inner life as “numb”. We aren’t depressed; we function well; but we certainly are less than we once were. We have, in essence, just learned to live without a lot of what used to animate and inspire us.

 

So this whole Zen idea of letting go of desire and expectations just does not seem to me to be something to be sought after, so much as accepted as a necessity in some situations. Just my $0.02 plus inflation.

 

So … am I entirely missing the point? Anyone have better experiences (or better ideas)? I’m particularly interested in perspectives from people in or beyond the fifth decade of their lives, because beyond that point, you start to look at life differently, since your time remaining is less and less — not only overall, but even more so in terms of probable quality of life. And this influences your ability to rationalize away losses. Beyond a certain point, it becomes evident that there is not something better just around the next corner; and besides, the supply of new corners no longer seems infinite.

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I am not on an overtly spiritual path these days, but as some here would say, even that's a spiritual path, so this philosophical topic seems appropriate here.

 

People say it's best to live without expectations. Easy to say (especially in the big picture perspective) but not so easy to pull off (especially in particular situations).

 

I have a couple of issues with this idea. First, let’s be honest. No one does anything without hoping for something out of the bargain — if only the opportunity to do something interesting and worthwhile. We buy a product or service with the expectation that it live up to its claims; we enter into relationships with a host of expectations based on implicit and explicit social contracts. And so on. I mean, come on.

 

Secondly, I find it difficult to understand how you can lack expectations and feel much of anything. What motivates people to change their environment for the better? Desire and expectations and hopes and dreams. Some call it passion.

 

When people talk about letting go of expectations, I think they are actually talking about letting go of preconceptions and being open to what ends up happening — but in doing so, they still have an expectation, which is that whatever they let go of will be replaced by something equivalent or better. That in letting go, their life will actually improve. Which is great, should it happen to — and believe me, I recognize that sometimes, we try too hard and care too much, and there can be at times a paradoxical effect where when you stop striving, and just let things flow, outcomes can improve. I’ve actually experienced that here and there. The less consequential a thing you are holding onto, the better it works. Often, we cling to silly things that don’t really matter anyway. But — some things matter to us. A lot.

 

And so, in the main, to the extent I truly no longer expect anything, I no longer look forward to anything in that area, other than to just letting life pass through me and do what it will. I don’t see this as an improvement; it’s simply an adaptation to substantial loss in certain areas of my life, that I have to accept. There’s nothing to be done about it and I can’t waste the energy pining away about it. This is like adjusting to the loss of an arm or a leg — it’s not going to grow back and there’s nothing else for it. My fiancee is in a similar situation; she describes her inner life as “numb”. We aren’t depressed; we function well; but we certainly are less than we once were. We have, in essence, just learned to live without a lot of what used to animate and inspire us.

 

So this whole Zen idea of letting go of desire and expectations just does not seem to me to be something to be sought after, so much as accepted as a necessity in some situations. Just my $0.02 plus inflation.

 

So … am I entirely missing the point? Anyone have better experiences (or better ideas)? I’m particularly interested in perspectives from people in or beyond the fifth decade of their lives, because beyond that point, you start to look at life differently, since your time remaining is less and less — not only overall, but even more so in terms of probable quality of life. And this influences your ability to rationalize away losses. Beyond a certain point, it becomes evident that there is not something better just around the next corner; and besides, the supply of new corners no longer seems infinite.

 

 

Does expecting something better make something better?

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Does expecting something better make something better?

Expectation has nothing in and of itself to do with how (un)satisfactory something currently is. For example, you may be in the perfect marriage or the perfect job, and a common human mistake is to extrapolate forward under the expectation that this situation is a given and will continue indefinitely.

 

A couple of generations ago, there was an unspoken social contract that said if you go to work for an employer and are diligent and devoted, you have a job for life and get to retire someday. In other words employers had as much of a commitment to you as you did to them, and neither side took it lightly. Since then there's been a transition to the current arrangement where employers made the mistake of deciding that employees are fungible commodities rather than repositories of business experience and knowledge, with the result that employees have decided that employers are fungible commodities, too, and change jobs and even careers like they change shirts -- a practice formerly frowned upon as "job-hopping". During this time, a lot of people on both sides operated under the old assumptions. The result was a lot of disillusionment and frustration.

 

So expectations are mixed up with assumptions.

 

Sometimes, particularly in the modern environment of change, one has to adjust expectations -- or you simply realize your expectations aren't realistic. I'm really just addressing situations where your fundamental expectations and hopes are realistic or at least understandable, and you have to adjust to them not being met anyway. Think in terms of someone structuring their lives around an assumption of at least mediocre health and average lifespan who then ends up with a debilitating chronic illness or injury and/or a death sentence of some kind.

 

Actually that example is almost too easy, because if you are surrounded by supportive and caring loved ones and a responsive society you can bear most anything. What's harder than that in many ways is being healthy and being alone or held at arm's length for some reason, which is closer to some of the situations I'm dealing with.

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Bob, I am the queen of high expectations! :rolleyes: I’ve brought about a lot of miserable ‘glumness’ in my life because of high expectations. I tend to be a very rigid person – I want things the way I want them to be. It’s always been a problem for me. It has caused me huge stress.

 

They say that expectations are preconceived resentments or disappointments. A disappointment is plainly a state of a sad mind-set or feeling of being let down, - a reaction of melancholy and frustration. When expectations don’t get met - it’s the fact that something that one was looking forward to, got ‘canceled’ in your anticipation of the event. The ‘event’ (or person) didn’t live up to our desires and now we are disillusioned.

 

I always have an assumption in my mind on how things should work out and I have been disappointed more times in my life than enough. I can become quite pessimistic in my attitude to protect my heart and mind from the anger of something not turning out the way I want it to.

 

I have found that eliminating expectation is not the answer to living free from the pain of disappointments because as you say - without expectation there is no hope and hope keeps us going. Not everything in life turns out the way one wants and expects, but that doesn’t mean one should not continue to try and bring about the best outcome.

 

I realized (late in life) that I just needed to be more adaptable. For me disappointment always results from thoughts and expectations being out of line with reality. Even when I prayed as a Christian for a sunny day for the picnic and I woke up to rain - I wasn’t facing the‘reality’ of how quickly the weather can change.

 

I have to constantly change my expectations to more realistic levels - the loved one can leave, bad weather can happen during vacations, a new material item can fall apart, an ‘imperfect’ person has let you down, you get let go from your job you thought you would have forever, the family can’t get along, and on and on and..........

 

I have to make sure my expectations are fair and reasonable now. I remind my ‘predetermined’ brain to give examination to that ‘expectation’ that I want, a final ‘reality check’.

 

I have found, although very hard to practice, that acceptance is the key to all my troubles. Change what I can and leave the stuff alone that I can’t. The good old serenity prayer! I need to redirect my focus on more positive things. I can only influence things to a certain degree. Dwelling on disappointments makes me into the most miserable person to be around. I can’t even stand myself!! I have to look immediately to a ‘new plan’ of action - like maybe how to have an indoor picnic when it’s raining outside!! It’s a habit worth getting into for me. I can save myself from a lot of negative feelings. They call this being a ‘stressmaster’!!

 

Maybe I’ll perfect this and graduate to this someday!! :grin:

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Its worthwhile to let go of desire and expectations. My expectations seem to run to the negative and this is probably a form of protection from being too disappointed when things don't work out. If my expectations are very high, wouldn't the suffering be greater if the event had a bad outcome? If things have a good outcome, then the relief and feeling of well being is greater because it isn't something I expected.

 

The spiritual life consists more of unlearning than learning. Letting the thoughts go, rather than clinging to them.

 

"To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare"- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

To be free of all kinds of concepts and ideas about outcomes in the future that most likely will never happen seems like a great thing to me. Through meditation and reflection I believe it is possible to become better at seeing how the mind works and being able to let these thoughts go.

 

You may wonder then what comes of determination to succeed and, as you say, inspiration. A lot of inspiration just comes about spontaneously, doesn't it? Often you will hear songwriters or artists say of their great works "it just came to me completely - words and music, and I don't know what I did right that day." They were not working at it, they were not thinking about it. It just came.

 

Determination to succeed at least enough to support oneself is certainly necessary. If something is necessary then the determination follows. A person doesn't have to be attached to this process, though. You simply decide, for example if you are unemployed or underemployed as I am- "I will continue to do interviews, look at job listings, and whatever else it takes to find a job to support myself." Then, let it go as far as outcome is concerned. Determination to do your best, and not fall into a negative or positive expectation. After all, its a fact that anything can happen. Death is always right around the corner.

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I have found, although very hard to practice, that acceptance is the key to all my troubles. Change what I can and leave the stuff alone that I can’t. The good old serenity prayer! I need to redirect my focus on more positive things. I can only influence things to a certain degree. Dwelling on disappointments makes me into the most miserable person to be around. I can’t even stand myself!! I have to look immediately to a ‘new plan’ of action - like maybe how to have an indoor picnic when it’s raining outside!! It’s a habit worth getting into for me. I can save myself from a lot of negative feelings. They call this being a ‘stressmaster’!!

 

Maybe I’ll perfect this and graduate to this someday!! :grin:

How one defines "acceptance" is key, though. Mere mental assent produces only resignation. Acceptance in the sense you are talking about is free of resistance; it is acceptance with equanimity. It is being sanguine about it. In order to do that, you have to rationalize your losses. In a surprising number of cases you can revalue the loss, deciding that the previously unthinkable is not actually so bad after all. But losses that involve your non-negotiables take a lot longer to adjust to. Some people never adjust.

 

The fact that some things (a lot of things, actually -- arguably, even most things) are beyond our control seems oddly comforting to many, and I don't begrudge them that. To me, though, that is just part of the "why" behind various calamities. The fact the calamity was unavoidable allows me, perhaps, not to kick myself because I failed to do something I could have to prevent it, but it is a calamity nonetheless.

 

I don't "dwell" on these things as such ... they are just the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Often as not, I am successful at distracting myself from that gorilla, but I'm never completely unaware of it.

 

The only thing I have going for me is that the older I get, the less it matters. At some point, it's all over but the shouting, and you're not looking out on potentially decades of putting up with what your reality has become. This is as much the reason why the aged seem serene, as is any actual serenity they may possess. The secret joke is that beyond a certain point, even what matters doesn't matter.

 

Your concept of being more adaptable has much merit and I have certainly become less rigid in my thinking over the years. But I have often wondered, as I have adapted and reinvented myself, over, and over, and over, is where does it all end? At some point my life quit being my life and became some random set of happenstance that I am obliged to live out. It is, in effect, someone else's life, not mine. Hell, I never asked for my life in the first place, much less this alien thing that I now inhabit. I've "adapted" so much that I no longer recognize what I've adapted to and I have no sense of ownership. This puts me precariously close to not giving a fig about myself, my feelings, or my needs. Assuming I'm even still fully in touch with those things. You see what I mean? Surely, there must be a limit to all this somewhere. And if there isn't, life has become a total absurdity. I never thought it was a rational proposition in the first place -- but this? You've GOT to be kidding me. :-\\

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Its worthwhile to let go of desire and expectations. My expectations seem to run to the negative and this is probably a form of protection from being too disappointed when things don't work out. If my expectations are very high, wouldn't the suffering be greater if the event had a bad outcome? If things have a good outcome, then the relief and feeling of well being is greater because it isn't something I expected.

That has generally been my approach. Aim low, and be pleasantly surprised if your modest expectations are exceeded. I'm speaking more about the situation where even modest expectations go wanting. Just how frigging reasonable should I be? It reminds me of Dilbert saying, "I expect so little from life -- and boy, to do I get it."

The spiritual life consists more of unlearning than learning. Letting the thoughts go, rather than clinging to them.

 

"To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare"- Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

 

To be free of all kinds of concepts and ideas about outcomes in the future that most likely will never happen seems like a great thing to me. Through meditation and reflection I believe it is possible to become better at seeing how the mind works and being able to let these thoughts go.

 

You may wonder then what comes of determination to succeed and, as you say, inspiration. A lot of inspiration just comes about spontaneously, doesn't it?

I think for that spontaneity to come, it needs a safe place to gestate, one free of stress and want. People don't, for instance, create art on an empty stomach.

Determination to succeed at least enough to support oneself is certainly necessary. If something is necessary then the determination follows. A person doesn't have to be attached to this process, though. You simply decide, for example if you are unemployed or underemployed as I am- "I will continue to do interviews, look at job listings, and whatever else it takes to find a job to support myself." Then, let it go as far as outcome is concerned. Determination to do your best, and not fall into a negative or positive expectation. After all, its a fact that anything can happen. Death is always right around the corner.

I've always said that one's best is all anyone (including yourself!) can reasonably expect from you -- notwithstanding that some people expect more anyway. I'm glad to see you have bled some of the stress out of your job search situation and wish you all the best with it.

 

I wish you good outcomes because that is clearly more to be desired than unpleasant ones. I guess that means I have hopes. Hope does spring eternal ... it is both a blessing and a curse.

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Expect air. Then rejoice in every breath of it and all that you experience through it until you've breathed your last of it.

LOL well that might work for me provided I don't contract a breathing disorder or fly in a depressurizing airliner. Alas, some people can't even expect air. My wife couldn't breathe the air, it was essentially why she died.

 

Your statement however is interesting -- it assumes that simply existing is joyous. Personally, I find mere existence to be neither here nor there on a good day. On a bad day, it's a waste of perfectly good consciousness. I see breathing air as useful only if it's a means to some worthy end. You see breathing air as pointful in and of itself.

 

Yesterday I was driving down the street and I genuinely tried to take pleasure in the sunlight coming down through the trees. It's pretty, I'll confess. Reason enough to do everything I did to get through yesterday, though? Reason enough to do without everything I did without? Reason enough to deal with the current crop of threats and insults to my peace of mind and that of the people I care about? For me, those other things make a mockery of sunlight in the trees. I suppose that is my fundamental problem -- an inability to compartmentalize and wander off to some Happy Place™ where I can get away from it all. Perhaps it is a side effect of my ability to synthesize and integrate in my professional life. I see connections between everything in a system. I spend my day rooting out things that work against sustainable, holistic function.

 

I suppose it seems that if I treated the systems I'm responsible for like I treat life, I would never compile or run a program because of the knowledge it's less than optimal. But that doesn't quite capture what is going on. Life is far more random and consequential than any software environment. And my life is far more personal than life in general. Also far less amenable to tinkering. You can't change unsatisfactory relationships like you change garments. You can't fix other people's faulty perceptions, only your own. And that's just two examples.

 

I think everyone tries to make sense of their existence and I have never made sense of mine. The twin practical problems I face are that I find life (1) incomprehensible and (2) exhausting. Lately I fight this battle by trying to convince myself that my limited time on this earth has no actual value after all, so that I don't have to care that it's always being pissed away and thwarted. But then I run into the problem of finding motivation in such an environment. Finding meaning has never been my strong suit as it was.

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I expect people to value my soul the way I value theirs. That is always my first mistake.

OMG -- what. you. said. Boy, does that hit the nail on the head.

 

Someone said, "the hardest lesson in life is that other people have only their own kind of love to give -- not ours". How utterly true.

 

The problem, for me, then becomes, that I am far too understanding of other people's point of view. I have compassion, I see it their way, and make allowances, and then, in the best case scenario, my needs simply don't get met. In the worst case scenario, the fuckers walk all over me.

 

Sometimes I think I live on an alien planet full of people for whom up is down and down is up. Even when I meet someone who sees a lot of things the way I do, there always seems to be some fatal fly in the ointment that means we have to agree to do without something we both really need from the relationship.

 

On the other hand I've tried the go-it-alone, hermit thang and that doesn't fly for me, either. I have this sick need for people in my life to give it meaning, but then they leach the meaning back out of it by not being able to deal with me as I am or allowing me to fully know them as they are. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

 

Sometimes it's little things. I juggle a pair of prescription glasses, one regular and one sunglasses. I do this because my fiancee can't abide continuously variable lenses. She has the notion they make people who wear them look creepy. So if I don't want to be creepy to this important person in my life I have to either disabuse her of this notion or constantly fumble in my pocket for another pair of glasses as I go in and out of buildings or just squint in the sun. Pick your poison, none of them are particularly pleasant prospects. So it goes, even with the people you are close to.

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That has generally been my approach. Aim low, and be pleasantly surprised if your modest expectations are exceeded. I'm speaking more about the situation where even modest expectations go wanting. Just how frigging reasonable should I be? It reminds me of Dilbert saying, "I expect so little from life -- and boy, to do I get it."

 

The Dilbert saying is not really what I am saying. If you expect a lot from life, are you necessarily going to get it? If you don't, isn't it worse? Dilbert seems to me to be saying "If you expect a lot, you will get it". Isn't that the meaning?

 

I am saying things often happen spontaneously that you could never anticipate, for good or for bad.

 

I think for that spontaneity to come, it needs a safe place to gestate, one free of stress and want. People don't, for instance, create art on an empty stomach.

 

I can't agree. If you look at the lives of some artists and musicians you will see that their living conditions were very bad-- take writers Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft for example, who both lived in poverty. It is quite amazing they were able to achieve anything at all, much less stories we still read today. However, I can't be sure they had the spontaneous inspiration I was talking about or if they just had a driving need to create.

 

I've always said that one's best is all anyone (including yourself!) can reasonably expect from you -- notwithstanding that some people expect more anyway. I'm glad to see you have bled some of the stress out of your job search situation and wish you all the best with it.

 

I wish you good outcomes because that is clearly more to be desired than unpleasant ones. I guess that means I have hopes. Hope does spring eternal ... it is both a blessing and a curse.

 

Thank you Bob, I appreciate that. I agree that hope can be both a blessing and a curse. That is very true.

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The Dilbert saying is not really what I am saying. If you expect a lot from life, are you necessarily going to get it? If you don't, isn't it worse? Dilbert seems to me to be saying "If you expect a lot, you will get it". Isn't that the meaning?

Actually, that wasn't the context. He meant that he demands as little as possible from people and from life, and doesn't even get the little he asks for and needs. Sometimes the more aggressive or manipulative people around him get more because they take it for themselves in various ways. I totally relate to that. A good example: my grown daughter is a very different personality from me, and in the past has gotten more from me than I have to give because she knows how to extort it and feels entitled to do so. Which is pretty much how her biological mother operated in the world. I've learned to stand up to both of them but feel very put upon to have to do so as I find it exhausting and it makes me want to not have anything to do with them. People who purport to care about you should not impose that. I haven't had anything to do with her mother in twenty years, but I can't exactly abandon my daughter, even if in some ways she is a self-absorbed shit. It's incumbent upon me to remain open to her, to a degree, and so we circle each other warily, probably until the bitter end. Can I do this? Sure. Does it at all resemble my original vision for her, me, or us? Certainly not. Is the relationship, on balance, for me, a millstone around my neck? Pretty much. Every pending interaction with her pretty much fills me with dread. I can lance the boil now and then, at great cost, and obtain some relief, but it's always temporary because it's fed by a fundamental character flaw in her that no one but her can do anything about. And it's possible even she has no real power over it. Certain circuitry cabinets in her brain probably aren't plugged in.

I think for that spontaneity to come, it needs a safe place to gestate, one free of stress and want. People don't, for instance, create art on an empty stomach.

I can't agree. If you look at the lives of some artists and musicians you will see that their living conditions were very bad-- take writers Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft for example, who both lived in poverty. It is quite amazing they were able to achieve anything at all, much less stories we still read today. However, I can't be sure they had the spontaneous inspiration I was talking about or if they just had a driving need to create.

It's true that some of my own best writing has arisen out of my pain. Most great comedy comes out of the comedian's personal suffering. I get that. But creativity is by and large way up the hierarchy of needs, after things like breathing, eating, and the like. Without a clear mind and spirit and a certain minimum of distraction, I don't see how you can reliably create.

 

The other thing we don't know about, say, Poe, is how much more he might have done if he hadn't been such a tortured soul. Or if, at least, the torture was mostly in his past. The fact that he was a towering creative genius allowed him to create where others would have not, but that doesn't mean it was all in his best interest.

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Bob, I can relate to so much of your writings.Just had to write more.

 

Once upon a time, I thought I would grow up in a functional family, meet the man of my dreams, be treated like a princess for the rest of my life, would find a full time job where I was really happy and made a good paycheck. My wonderful husband would also contribute to it all and we would own the home with the white picket fence, go to Florida every year, retire at 50 with lots of savings, and live happily ever after, blah, blah, blah..........There would be no divorce, no poverty, no dysfunction of any kind - nothing like that in my life! That's how much of 'la-la' land I lived in.

 

When I was a little girl, and everybody (for a short time) made my life quite fun - I just thought the rest of my life would be like this. I thought we were born to be happy. When 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' started to really fight, and I mean fight - I knew life for me was going to be a battle. I was depressed at 9 years old when my 'daddy' left us.

 

There went my fairy tale......... Started with us being poor as a teenager and on it went.............

 

Came to jesus at 20 thinking he would turn the whole goddamn thing around.............Never happened for 35 years......

 

If I could share my whole life story with you, it would be a hundred pages of making it - losing it - making it - losing it.............To make a 56 year story short, I was once very successful almost to the point of 'rich' and I have also stood in a food bank lineup in my adult life.

 

Right up to 3, years ago, I received another chance at happiness, but ended up being so let down that I had to fight for my life. I had long given up my belief that a personal god would intercede for me. I know I'm on my own to make myself 'happy.' This bit of life left, is mine to live and fight for and I am doing everything in my power to enjoy it. If I gotta be here - I might as well try to enjoy. No more fairy tales for me. No 'lotto' wins.... gotta work till the day I die....... gotta put up with all the people in the world.... gotta do the housework, errands everyday, and no fucking god to rescue my sorry ass.......'It is what it is' (as the old saying goes).... but I am trying, so hard to make the best of it.

 

Life is not easy. (hasn't been for me) I am trying to simplify my life right now.Trying to get rid of the junk and clutter that makes life harder. Tyring to work a little less, trying to not be so hard on myself for all the failures. Trying to enjoy the few people who are in it, trying to be a good person. To a certain degree, I am being more true to myself right now, than I ever have. If I was 100% true to myself, I'd get on a bus and get the hell out of 'dodge' tomorrow, but that would hurt too many people and I won't do that. So here I am, doing everything to try and accept life on life's terms. Life among the animals.......Some days are better than others.:shrug: I've learned that too. I'm 56, almost 57, smoker all my life - may not be here for much longer, who knows? But I know one thing for sure - at this point, I do not want to be miserable anymore. I got a book under my bed that I wrote 10 years ago, 16 chapters. I called it, ''Born To Be Alive''. It's my whole life story and if I pay attention to what I wrote, I would try to live as 'fully' as I could till I suck in my last breath.

 

This is what I am trying to do.I just relate to so much of what you have to say and I guess I just felt the need to share this with the world today. Got no answers....... this is the best I know how to do. Thanks for letting me 'rant'. :grin: I will say once again - this site has 'saved' me so much. If it went dead tomorrow - I would land up in the hospital with a nervous breakdown!!! That's how much this site means to me. I have learned so much about myself through all the posts that you guys make. You have become my greatest friends. I know - we're like brothers and sisters sometimes - we don't always agree, a little fightin' every now and again - but all in all - people are here for ya. That' means the world to me. Best of everything to you.....Sincerely......

 

Bob, Here's a post I got going a while back - you may or may not have read it, but some very interesting points were brought forth on this very topic.........

 

http://www.ex-christ...__hl__pessimism

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I expect people to value my soul the way I value theirs. That is always my first mistake.

OMG -- what. you. said. Boy, does that hit the nail on the head.

 

Someone said, "the hardest lesson in life is that other people have only their own kind of love to give -- not ours". How utterly true.

 

The problem, for me, then becomes, that I am far too understanding of other people's point of view. I have compassion, I see it their way, and make allowances, and then, in the best case scenario, my needs simply don't get met. In the worst case scenario, the fuckers walk all over me.

 

Sometimes I think I live on an alien planet full of people for whom up is down and down is up. Even when I meet someone who sees a lot of things the way I do, there always seems to be some fatal fly in the ointment that means we have to agree to do without something we both really need from the relationship.

 

On the other hand I've tried the go-it-alone, hermit thang and that doesn't fly for me, either. I have this sick need for people in my life to give it meaning, but then they leach the meaning back out of it by not being able to deal with me as I am or allowing me to fully know them as they are. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

 

Sometimes it's little things. I juggle a pair of prescription glasses, one regular and one sunglasses. I do this because my fiancee can't abide continuously variable lenses. She has the notion they make people who wear them look creepy. So if I don't want to be creepy to this important person in my life I have to either disabuse her of this notion or constantly fumble in my pocket for another pair of glasses as I go in and out of buildings or just squint in the sun. Pick your poison, none of them are particularly pleasant prospects. So it goes, even with the people you are close to.

 

Geez Bob, you sound as exhausted as I am, for all the same reasons. As much as the hermit thing is probably the safest path for me, its a pretty lonely one, but then so is that part where I keep looking for my tribe but there just isn't one.

 

The variable lenses are creepy because they are grey instead of brown and have the magical ability to zap all the colour out of one's face and make one look like a zombie. That is why I still have two pairs. Still, I would go with what YOU want. She doesn't have to wear them :) Can't please all of the people all of the time.

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Bob, I can relate to so much of your writings. Just had to write more.

Always a pleasure Margee. I appreciate your thoughtful and intelligent take on things.

 

I haven't really read Schopenhauer, whom you mention in your cited post. Sounds like I should catch up on him. Although his outlook sounds even gloomier than mine, if that's possible!

 

I am not so sure that it's all that unreasonable to wish to grow up in a functional, intact family, to share your adult life with someone who feels at least in important ways like a soulmate, and to do work that you enjoy while not starving or chronically ill.

 

It's not that these things are inherently unreasonable to want and to value. I think they are actually the birthright of every human being, and we should work to make life more rather than less like that. To make existence less harmful and capricious and more secure and peaceful. Problem is, human society has not evolved nearly that far and won't in our lifetimes or our children's lifetimes, so we're obliged to make do with whatever we end up with, which unfortunately includes the niggling suspicion that even with a few more millennia of evolution, human society may not improve that much.

 

I have grown weary of rationalizing my existence with various "it could be worse" comparisons to people who are poorer, sicker, or dumber than me. Yes, I have a lot of advantages. I live in the wealthiest and most technologically advanced civilization in the history of mankind. I've never known poverty or want, not even to the extent of standing in line a the welfare office. I've got decent health, now at least. Although there's not much redundancy or sense of real security in it, I do have a system of a few people who love and care about me in meaningful ways. I have a great career in a hot field. This doesn't mean I'm obligated to find this compelling, just because it's better than 99% of my fellow men. The problem isn't that I'm ungrateful, it's that life sucks so fundamentally that I suspect if I were all-knowing that I could count on 10 fingers the people who currently walk this earth whose lives are truly compelling. And most of them are probably brain-damaged. Life is pretty compelling right now for our little Puggle that I just took for a walk in the park, but that's because she's neutered, fed, and exercised, and that's all she needs. I need a little more than that. So shoot me! :-\\

 

That said, I am reduced to being happy many days with being fed and exercised, except that I've never enjoyed exercise, I don't get to eat nearly as much as I want, and as for that other thing -- it's not feasible for me to be neutered, other than metaphorically speaking!

 

Enough of this ... I, too, appreciate being able to vent a bit. At least someone listened and understands. That counts for more than you know.

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The variable lenses are creepy because they are grey instead of brown and have the magical ability to zap all the colour out of one's face and make one look like a zombie. That is why I still have two pairs. Still, I would go with what YOU want. She doesn't have to wear them :) Can't please all of the people all of the time.

I used to weigh a lot more and after I dropped below a certain weight I noticed people treating me much better. It's not like I was overtly mistreated when I was heavyset, it was just evident by contrast that I had been discriminated against and marginalized over something as superficial as my weight and body shape. I was stunned at this revelation -- I'd been disgusting people for years without knowing it. I vowed never to give people an excuse to judge me for that ever again.

 

It's similar with the glasses thing. If she's thinking it, the only reason I know it is because she is close enough to me and cares enough about me to mention it. There must be a certain percentage of other people with the same idea -- and you just proved that point. How many people think I'm creepy? No sense giving them the ammo. It's bad for business.

 

Let me tell you a secret -- I've always thought sunglasses to be creepy and I creep myself out when I see myself in the mirror with them on! The only difference is that I know there's no actual reality to it. Other people tend to have visceral reactions to unexamined ideas and never really try to be rational about it. For one thing, for me the creepiness doesn't extend to women, only to men. Who knows, maybe as an infant I was startled by a man with dark glasses. Anyway the gender specificity is a good thing because my fiancee's trademark is a pair of Ray-Bans either on her face or in her hair at all times. Probably what she fails to realize is that she isn't nearly as near-sighted as me so she can just push those damn things up into her hair and do without glasses altogether for most purposes. She has a pair of reading glasses by the computer and that's it.

 

And as for her not having to wear them -- she doesn't have to wear them but she has to look at them. We men aren't fools. What is a dispassionate suggestion today always becomes a pet peeve tomorrow. I might just as well refuse to brush and floss as to insist on wearing my photogray lenses.

 

Not that this is a Big Deal ... it's simply illustrative of the things relationships inevitably get barnacled with. After awhile you have a list of 436 things you have to remember in order to keep the peace. What appeals in my current relationship is the list seems to hover around a much more manageable number, like 50 or so. Near as I can tell, that's exceptional.

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That said, I am reduced to being happy many days with being fed and exercised, except that I've never enjoyed exercise, I don't get to eat nearly as much as I want, Enough of this ... I, too, appreciate being able to vent a bit. At least someone listened and understands. That counts for more than you know.

 

.......this is it Bob - why in the hell would we refuse the chips and dip for a goddamn carrot stick. Isn't life hard enough?

 

There is something wrong with us!! :shrug:

 

I'm goin' on a binge tonight - fuck it!! :vent:

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.......this is it Bob - why in the hell would we refuse the chips and dip for a goddamn carrot stick. Isn't life hard enough?

 

There is something wrong with us!! :shrug:

 

I'm goin' on a binge tonight - fuck it!! :vent:

*chuckle* ... well I mostly avoid chips and dip because it goes straight to my waistline, which concerns me less and less for appearances sake, but I am a borderline Type 2 diabetic and don't need more trouble in life than I've already got. That said, I fully intend to make a pilgrimage to Dairy Queen tonight in search of a medium Oreo Blizzard in your honor. Fuck it, indeed :-)

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I just turned 40 and have been enjoying this thread. Hope no one minds me interjecting here. I have come to realize that there is no way I will ever accomplish all the different things that interest me. I would have to say that darn near everything I thought I would be at my age, has been shot all to hell. To me, the only book of the Bible that might be inspired is Ecclesiastes. It states that enjoying your food is one of the good things to do, since there is no meaning in life. So eat up!!!

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Expect air. Then rejoice in every breath of it and all that you experience through it until you've breathed your last of it.

Your statement however is interesting -- it assumes that simply existing is joyous. Personally, I find mere existence to be neither here nor there on a good day. On a bad day, it's a waste of perfectly good consciousness. I see breathing air as useful only if it's a means to some worthy end. You see breathing air as pointful in and of itself.

Interesting. It's really not just mere existence, which I would equate with just being a functional organism and nothing more. It's completely about a fully conscious awareness of being alive as opposed to either an ignorance of it or a complete obscurity of it. If the conscious mind sees beyond the immediate effects of the body, than existence is not tied to that. The struggle is the body pulling the mind down into itself, making the body the master of it.

 

Yesterday I was driving down the street and I genuinely tried to take pleasure in the sunlight coming down through the trees. It's pretty, I'll confess. Reason enough to do everything I did to get through yesterday, though? Reason enough to do without everything I did without?

What the sunset can represent, yes. You are that sunset.

 

Reason enough to deal with the current crop of threats and insults to my peace of mind and that of the people I care about? For me, those other things make a mockery of sunlight in the trees.

To me, those things are not the world, try as much as they do to become that.

 

I suppose that is my fundamental problem -- an inability to compartmentalize and wander off to some Happy Place™ where I can get away from it all.

I know well what you mean by the term compartmentalize. But I think what I'm talking about Bob goes much beyond that. It is the core, the arc, the substance of how we live. It is the pervading mind through we which we see, understand, and experience all things. As I listen to you, you seem to have that yourself which leaves you with these sorts of puzzlement you express. To me it's obvious it not setting well for you. Something wants more. I'm not preaching anything here, but what your express speaks pretty clearly to me. It's not what you would choose.

 

Perhaps it is a side effect of my ability to synthesize and integrate in my professional life. I see connections between everything in a system. I spend my day rooting out things that work against sustainable, holistic function.

One thing that might help is to start with the recognition of personality types. The sort of work you do suits that personality type. Why you got involved in fundamentalism must have suited something to that as well. How our personalities are suited to look at the world will influence the choices we make and the beliefs we gravitate to. All I am saying is that to understand these are personality characteristics allows us to stand back a bit from them to see reality a bit more objectively. Keep going in standing back from it, to the point you see yourself as yet one more color in that rainbow, not the ground of it.

 

I think everyone tries to make sense of their existence and I have never made sense of mine.

But you continue to try. That I can see. Existential crisis followed by existential release. It makes no sense from your set of eyes. You need new eyes! :)

 

The twin practical problems I face are that I find life (1) incomprehensible and (2) exhausting.

Then quit it! Fall backward in the Abyss.

 

Lately I fight this battle by trying to convince myself that my limited time on this earth has no actual value after all, so that I don't have to care that it's always being pissed away and thwarted.

Oh fuck, just stop it Bob! :) Fall to rise. I hate to say it, die to live. It's about awakening. It's about release.

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[Oh fuck, just stop it Bob! :) Fall to rise. I hate to say it, die to live. It's about awakening. It's about release.

 

Again, I think this has a lot to do with personality types. Melancholy personality types will never have new eyes. We want the world the way we know it COULD be, not the way it is. Not everyone is capable of pushing away the thousand little assualts that come every day. It IS exhausting.

 

For some of us life is endured, not enjoyed and I really don't think there is a whole hell of a lot we can do about it.

 

 

 

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[Oh fuck, just stop it Bob! :) Fall to rise. I hate to say it, die to live. It's about awakening. It's about release.

 

Again, I think this has a lot to do with personality types. Melancholy personality types will never have new eyes. We want the world the way we know it COULD be, not the way it is. Not everyone is capable of pushing away the thousand little assualts that come every day. It IS exhausting.

 

For some of us life is endured, not enjoyed and I really don't think there is a whole hell of a lot we can do about it.

I'm not so sure of that. Why do you think I relate so strongly to Bob? You say 'melancholy', and I know that well. Who I am today is the other side of all of that. It's complicated to explain, but believe me I understand the sentiments.

 

This sort of thing was born out of that: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/24645-very-early-piano-work/page__p__382462__fromsearch__1#entry382462

 

As well as this: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/10097-a-sample-of-my-works/page__p__192410__fromsearch__1#entry192410

 

And this: http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/24283-my-piano-work/page__p__379130__fromsearch__1#entry379130

 

plus myriad more of this and other creative works reaching out to find some connection to this world. Yeah, I understand this. More deeply than I could possibly say in words.

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... But I have often wondered, as I have adapted and reinvented myself, over, and over, and over, is where does it all end? At some point my life quit being my life and became some random set of happenstance that I am obliged to live out. It is, in effect, someone else's life, not mine. Hell, I never asked for my life in the first place, much less this alien thing that I now inhabit. I've "adapted" so much that I no longer recognize what I've adapted to and I have no sense of ownership. This puts me precariously close to not giving a fig about myself, my feelings, or my needs. Assuming I'm even still fully in touch with those things. You see what I mean? Surely, there must be a limit to all this somewhere. And if there isn't, life has become a total absurdity. I never thought it was a rational proposition in the first place -- but this? You've GOT to be kidding me. :-\\

 

For what its worth DesertBob, I've been up against these notions fifty-two of the sixty-four years of my existence!

 

I often wonder what "process" (if that is what one would call it) allows for a reconnection with the naturally occurring salubrious experiences I expect to exist in life?

 

Am I wrong in thinking that the learned expectation of relief in the future enhances the ability to tolerate more intense affect in the midst of the stressful moment? Is relief too much to expect? Is a simple satisfaction with my life out of the question?

 

I too have "adapted!" It's a hollow victory! For me to "adapt" was one result of my "understanding." To end up with a psychological explanation for problems that remain unchanged is what psychotherapy calls the "booby prize."

On the other hand, catharsis without cognition (understanding) does not result in integration either.

 

Can I "reshape" my brain? Regain salubrious experiences and know, at least,"relief?" It "ain't" easy but it is possible!

 

The rapid (implicit or unconscious) networks of emotion shape our understanding of the world microseconds before we become aware of our perception. Through simmilar mechanisms, our past experiences create our expectations for the future. Implicit, unconscious memories, created in dysfunctional situations years before, can repeatedly lead us to re-create unsuccessful but familiar patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior.

Thus, our perception of the world is a creation based on past experience.

 

The "uncanny" elements we know for experience arise ether when repressed childhood complexes are revived by some impression, or when primitive beliefs that have been "surmounted"appear to once again confirmed.

--Sigmund Freud

 

Take a look at the research and clinical experience that support the existence of the brain's multiple memory systems, each with its own domains of learning, neural architecture, development, and developmental timetable.

 

I'm sixty-four and plagued "by the meaning of it all," but the smell of moist air before a summer thunderstorm still brings expectations of relief form parched grass, cracked soil and a weary "heart."

 

I've shed most of my youthful expectations but the relief that silence and peace bring still abide in the depths of my being! The total absurdity of it all matters little. And when the flow of life stops, it will only mean that I can't hold another drop of life!

 

The insanity has lessened! The brain can be sculpted!

 

saner

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I expect people to value my soul the way I value theirs. That is always my first mistake.

 

I just thought this was very interesting since it is so different from the way I view other people. I never, from at least age 13, have thought, much less expected, other people would value me in any way. When I perceive that they might, this is always almost like a shock- its suspicious- and I never like too much attention paid to me.

 

I can't say that I "value" most people except in the general way that I think life is valuable. Certainly I value my parents and others that have helped me. Mostly, I have never wanted to hurt anyone.

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