Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Awful Truth

This is a revelation… No that’s not true. This is something I’ve known for a long time that I’m going to finally admit. It’s very important, very sad, and is the driving force behind project Exodus.

When I think about my performance this quarter, and really since winter quarter, I come to one conclusion. I’m going to do okay. I won’t be doing very well, but I won’t be failing. I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing a lot of my life. I’ll be gliding along on natural intelligence. I don’t do much work. I do a little more then I have to, and it’s not right. It’s not right because when I look at what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of doing there’s a gap.

So why. Why is it that I’m not living up to my potential? I’ve given a lot bullshit reasons in the past. They were all reasons that looked good and sounded great because they were little issues that I could deal with in a quick way. I could then ignore the fact that removing that issue didn’t actually solve the problem and move on to my next self delusion. Quitting WoW didn’t help me. I actually quit gaming altogether for two weeks and that didn’t help me. All of the things I’ve done which were supposed to be the solution could be described as “Removing a distraction.” And every time I’ve removed a distraction I’ve created a new one, and it’s important that I created it, because it shows that this isn’t the outside world hindering me, this is me hindering me.

The problem is internal. I’m not motivated, I’m conflicted, and I’m not sure where I’m going. The first comes from the last two, which are essentially the same thing. I have a great inner conflict between my goal of attaining transcendence, and all of the goals that take place in the material world. You can’t have both, you really can’t. That was the lesson we learned from the hermit who predicted Siddhartha would attain the state of Buddha. He came down from the mountains and told the king and his eight year old son “If you son stays in the castle he will be a great and powerful ruler, but if he leaves it and takes up the life of an ascetic he will become enlightened and be a great teacher.” The king tried to keep him in the castle and, that’s not the point, the point is that I can’t have both. I have these dreams of material success that just don’t jibe with the drive of my soul.

This is the first of two tangents. I never used the word Jibe until there was a big argument between Rabbi Weiss and Mr. Dow on stage with microphones during on ma’amad. Second tangent impending.

One of the strange things in human history is that every human culture has had religion. Many people claim that this is because humans needed something to answer the big questions. Stuff like “What happens after I die” and “Where does that big ball of fire go to at night.” I think they’re wrong. There are people born everywhere with an innate religious drive. People who know internally that there is something out there, people who seek knowledge of it, and seek to teach others of it.

I am one of those people.

I’m also a scientist.

I think I may also be a warrior.

See what I mean by conflicted? Warrior blends unusually well with the other two, but I have the issue that I can’t ignore my own spirituality. I actually don’t have any clash between science and religion, this is because my religion is willing to say things like “I’m not sure, but I have several theories,” and “In the end this whole thing is faith.” The reason there’s conflict between the two is because I have to choose whether or not I’m going to stay in the castle.

If this were an audio recording there would be a long break and several sighs here. I’m hesitant to say this next thing.

I’m thinking my path probably lies outside of the castle. Science tempts me because I feel like I could do a lot more things that would be measurable success, but I know at the core of my being that I would mark my own accomplishments to be greater if I chose to dedicate myself to my religious quests.

The thought occurs “Max, you’ve done fairly well at doing both up until now.” Up until now I’ve been a dependent. It’s true that I’m still in my larval phase, but I’m at the tail end of the larval phase where I’m no long in symbiosis with my host organism, but am rather in the chrysalis that is college. I still rely on them to support me, but I’m separate and will soon emerge from my hapless victim’s ribcage as a fully formed Alien.

What? You thought I was making a butterfly reference? Aliens bitch, Aliens.

If I take the path of science, in this case represented by an engineering degree, I’ll be making that commitment. As much as I hate to say this your job does, in a very large way, define you. If my life revolves around science it will be that which I pursue, and I don’t like that.

If I don’t take the path of science then I give up on guaranteed material success. While yes it’s possible for me to make a good deal of money as an artist, or a journalist, or a mystic it’s far from guaranteed. With an EE or Bio-E degree I can get a good paying job. It’s not even that science doesn’t interest me, it does, but I feel like I have a higher calling.

It’s really a shame that I don’t submit to any organized religion because then I could just become clergy and this would be over and done with. It’s a shame I don’t have anyone I’m considering marrying, because I have a vow that if I ever do decide to raise a family, which isn’t in my current plan but could happen, I’m going to convert to Judaism. Out of all the organized religions it’s the one that I like best. Buddhism is good, but Judaism is a religion that encourages you to learn, the question, and to seek knowledge. Besides, at the higher levels of Judaism you get all the grand revelations Buddhism gives. It’s one of the things I like about Judaism, for an average Joe who lives in the material world Judaism offers a great set of ethical and practical guidelines. For someone who seeks out higher truth Judaism offers that as well, but doesn’t force it on you like Buddhism does. There’s enough there for it to help you at whatever level of religiousness you are.

Anyway that’s why I’m conflicted. I haven’t made any decision yet, but you can see the issue I have. I’ve made sure to include the words “I think” and “probably” to make sure I’m not making a commitment of any kind here.

That conflict holds me back, but I also have a general lack of motivation. I hesitate to say this as well, but I think I may be clinically depressed. I exhibit a lot of the signs of it, I have a family history of it, and it would make sense given my condition. Unfortunately this would mean that I’d be given another set of mind altering pills. I’m okay with Concerta. I’ve done a lot of experiments with them, and I’ve concluded that they don’t alter my emotional or mental state. They really don’t do anything I couldn’t get through caffeine; they just do it more effectively with fewer drawbacks. Anti-depressants change your emotional state. I will not take a medication to cure an emotional problem. Hah, cure, that’s completely the wrong word to use. This is an example of fighting the symptoms and not the disease, or what I usually refer to as removing the problem without solving it. I lump anti-depressants into the same school of thought as cutting off ones arm to remove finger pain. This pool also has such noted things as every non ironic use of the phrase “talk to the hand” and the entirety of Reaganomics.

Tangent again. A great family guy quote comes when an unnamed character, someone I would call an NPC, describes the purpose of the Young Republicans club as “We help those that already have the means to help themselves.” So true.

Anyway. I might be clinically depressed, I need to deal with that, and despite what I’ve been told and will write on my psych final in 23 hours I think it can be cured through introspection and thought. I’m already taking modified speed I don’t need to be on modified ecstasy as well.


Anonymous Kevo said...

Maybe a vision quest could do you good too?...or a long hike in the woods?

8:35 PM  

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