“Series SUW, Group 4, No. 1 Swan,” Hilma af Klint (1914-15, oil on canvas)
“If you lack the iron and the fuzz to take control of your own life, if you insist on leaving your fate to the gods, then the gods will repay your weakness by having a grin or two at your expense. Should you fail to pilot your own ship, don’t be surprised at what inappropriate port you find yourself docked. The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their central nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard . . . . The price of self-destiny is never cheap, and in certain situations it is unthinkable. But to achieve the marvelous, it is precisely the unthinkable that must be thought.”
8 thoughts on “”
Hi, I can’t figure out how to subscribe to comments on one post? So I never know when you have replied. So forgive me for coming and going so awkwardly.
For me, it is fear. I can feel it. It’s not that I don’t want to do more, see more, be more. I just can’t for some reason. I do have Chronic fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia and my life has been upended since 1990 when I became ill. But like you, I can’t count on my energy remaining constant, and I was terribly ill the first 10 years, then less so, and now that I am retired, I can feel pretty well if I don’t put any pressure on my body to perform (and if I sleep 9-10 hours every night). But I’ll take it – that and the pain relief that quitting work hes provided.
I think the opportunities that I could choose now would be very, very different than before, different than for a well person, and like you say in your new post, I have to come to grips with that. Maybe I have. Maybe that’s why I pass on opportunities that I know might cause my collapse again. Will come back tomorrow to reread your new post. I could have written it!
I have no idea how to suscribe to comments on a post, which is why my own commenting on other people’s blogs tends to come in clumps once a week.
With my chronic pain and fibromyalgia, I can really appreciate what you are saying. I just think that I need to allow myself to accept the reality that is my life now and stop acting as if everything is on hold. As for opportunities, we have to pick and choose, just as we pick and choose our battles.
I wanted to add, since I was too tired last night, that I have been reading about fear and our response to it. We all know “fight or flight” but we forget about “freeze.” Freeze is a fear response, instinctual for survival (deer in the headlights). I have been regarding my response to life in general as frozen on and off for more years than I can remember – probably since my mom died when I was young.
I have had this feeling that if I stay very quiet and still, nothing bad will happen to me. The book I’m reading points out that even though the freeze response evolved to protect us from predators (who refuse to eat dead meat, or maybe won’t see us if we are still enough) the same response won’t work when the predator is a large Mac truck… or cancer. But instinctual processes take place in our little brain, not our “reasonable” one.
So when I said that maybe our survival instincts keep us from accepting opportunities, etc, I am removing blame (I am not weak for not taking on the world). Now I need to find out how to manage the fear that causes the freeze so that some adventure is possible!
The freeze response is very apt. I have felt frozen for a while. I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling that I have lost control to something, whatever that something may be–fate, life, other people.
I have always been big on being in control, which is not necessarily a good thing. But as a result, I don’t know how to give up control or how to handle it when I lose control.
“The dull and prosaic will be granted adventures that will dice their central nervous systems like an onion, romantic dreamers will end up in the rope yard…”
Oh ouch! I suffer enough neurotic guilt about not being in control!
Re: “…self-destiny,” I have read widely as to whether or not this really exists. You already know I am not a think positive kind of person, but I am also a doubter about how much control we have in our lives. Not to say that we can’t step outside ourselves to take an objective look, but actual control? I am not so sure. I feel the forces of unseen conditions at work in my life. (Reading Viktor Frankl again, 30 years later.) What do you think? Do you think it’s a simple matter of will? What about circumstance?
Sorry, the quote bugs me. I guess I was just curious, do you believe it?
I found the quote to be very intriguing, which is why I posted it. Personally, I think that we have very little control in our lives. It’s not that religious predestination thing to which I’m referring, more that there are so many external factors constantly bombarding us. However . . . of course there is a however, I think that we all have moments of opportunity, and some of us seize them, and some of us don’t. I don’t think that I do, not nearly enough, which is probably my real reason for posting this. Someone said to me that I now had the opportunity to write, so I should write (I’m summarizing abundantly here). I know that I don’t seize the day, carpe diem, not in the ways that I really should. I tend to blame all of the external forces all of the time, when in fact I know that opportunities have presented themselves to me that I have just let slide by.
Does that answer your question, really? I’m not sure. I have that neurotic guilt going on as well, and being positive is hard for me. I love the little of Frankl that I’ve read, but probably should read more.
I hear you saying that you have the same feelings (sometimes) of self-doubt that you have done all you can to…what? to have the best life we can? That’s the only way I can put it. But the more I read about the mind, the more I believe that we may be highly evolved to NOT seize opportunities. We may have survival instincts that prevent us from those daring pursuits we crave but also help us go on and on without withering under life’s pressures. Just a thought in my latest readings about long term grief and post traumatic stress. We may be blaming or scolding ourselves for something that evolution gave us to survive. I guess I’m saying maybe we are frozen for a reason? I am going to let that sit awhile.
I’ve never considered that survival instincts might keep us from seizing opportunities. Perhaps for some of us, the instinct kicks in as protection, but I still cannot help but wonder where I would be if I would grab more opportunities, not necessarily big ones, just ones for which the time seems to be right, but I am afraid? distrustful? unsure about whether to go or to pass.