Poverty

Why is it that most of us go on seeking more even when we already have enough? Where does this sense of impoverishment come from? Most of us have our basic needs met in our lives and, at least, a few luxuries besides. Yet deep within ourselves, we feel poor.

I am not speaking of merely financial impoverishment. Ah, no. This inner sensation of poverty oftentimes afflicts those who are rich most of all. For those things that are of true value are things money can’t buy. When a person has enough money, yet says he is unhappy, how many of us scoff at his complaints? How can one take a rich person seriously when he says he feels poor? Alas, we have such an obscure, rudimentary understanding of the state of poverty that engulfs the human soul.

Do we truly imagine that wealth makes one’s soul or spirit richer? It’s rather baffling, one must admit, that we are still surprised when people who are rich and famous commit suicide and/or become addicted to things that ultimately destroy their lives. What little understanding others might have provided them with is generally replaced by envy over their material possessions, affluent lifestyle, and celebrity status. These people are the elect ones — the ones who “have it all.” But are they?

There have been so many writers, musicians, and artists, whose understanding of this poverty of the human soul has come through their work. Those who are not intuitive enough to feel the personal pain behind these creations merely attribute them to brilliance or innovativeness. But brilliance does not give one the ability to reach inside oneself and express the impoverishment within. And although innovativeness may influence the way a person expresses his inner poverty, it is not what enables him to admit it and share it with others.

It is vulnerability that gives one the ability to open one’s heart and soul. Yet this very vulnerability often seems to increase the sense of poverty in one’s soul. It is far easier to surround one’s soul with walls so that the emptiness within is never seen. That which cannot be affirmed by others is often denied by ourselves. But these walls, however formidable they may seem to be, are rarely impenetrable. There are people and events in one’s life that temporarily break down the walls and, during these times, the poverty in a person’s soul is laid bare for all to see. And it is in such moments that it also becomes the most real to us, for only when we are forced to admit something are we compelled to deny it.

If we are brave, we find a way to use the times of genuine vulnerability to achieve a deeper understanding of ourselves. Yet such courage is not common, particularly since it involves pulling off the proverbial social mask one wears. Granted, getting in touch with our inner poverty is our only chance of ever diminishing it, but many of us would prefer to cover it up as best we can so that we can continue to deny it — even to ourselves.

Or, perhaps, it is to ourselves that we are least inclined to admit it.

~Sascha

This essay and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2012 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved.

~Seeing~

Seeing — true seeing — is done with the soul, not with the eyes. For we can look at someone and imagine we see him or her when all we see is his or her outer shell. Inside everything, all that is, there are complexities that cannot be fathomed with the eyes. Can our eyes look into another person’s heart? Can we read another person’s thoughts simply by looking at him? No. And there are thousands, possibly millions of things that we look at each day; yet, we do not see most of them.

This casual glancing is something we have become so accustomed to that we apply it to everything — that is, to people as well. To a certain extent, looking is more pleasant than seeing as it requires much less effort on our part. We are not called upon to imagine or conjecture when we merely look. It would be rather akin to reading the summary of a book instead of reading the book itself. A few details of what we look at may be so obvious to the eyes that one cannot help but notice them; but, anything that isn’t plainly obvious eludes us.

Even life itself is something that we oftentimes only see the appearance of. Some of us look at our lives with such a casual glance that only that which we cannot avoid noticing is a reality to us. Yet sadly, that which one blatantly acknowledges is often that which is least significant. We speak of looking within to understand ourselves, but what good is merely looking if we fail to see?

The world encourages us to race through life rather than savoring every moment. When we do take time for being instead of merely doing, others may well regard us as lazy. After all, what could be more slothful than doing absolutely nothing at all? Isn’t activity supposed to be at the core of living? Isn’t our life supposed to be mapped out, planned, managed as one might manage a corporation? Staying busy is what we must do. We must run to and fro all the time, remaining in constant motion. Otherwise we might have time to see ourselves, our lives, and the world around us. We might become aware of the dissatisfaction within us. And how would we cope with it once we came face to face with it?

We have been taught that nothing can cure our dissatisfaction inside. Thus, to stay consciously blind to it seems to be the only reasonable alternative. But what does blindness give us? A temporary escape from ourselves and life? Perhaps, some of us lack the courage to confront things as we might have to if we truly saw them as they are. Maybe our illusions seem to be the only light in the darkness of our discontent. But if this light remains intangible, of what use is it?

Illusions may give us comfort but they will never give us truth. In fact, more often than not, they cast a  veil over the truth. And when the veil is removed — not by us but by life — we feel as if part of us has been destroyed. But has it?  If we were able to overcome the fear and the need for security that led us to create the illusions in the first place, would we not finally be able to see not only ourselves but everyone and everything else as well?

Those of us who continue to look without seeing are blind. But it is we who have blinded ourselves. Even if an outside force leads us to the point where we can merely glance at things, we are still the only ones who can alter this. For we are the only ones who have our particular set of eyes through which we can see the amazing world around us — if, that is, we choose to.

~Sascha

 

This essay and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2012 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved.

~Love, Reexamined~

Love as an idea may exist in the abstract, but as a reality it does not exist. For love is not based within the framework of thought, though it can, in its truest and most lasting form, be an act of the will. There is, however, a difficulty in viewing love as an act of the will. In doing so, we seem to disregard all the romance and sentimentality that are associated with it. And truly, what could be less romantic than thinking of love as a decision?

We are the first to agree with the popular adage that everything in life is a choice. But to consider love as a choice seems almost blasphemous. Is it not something sacred, something divinely inspired? Well yes, it can indeed be divinely inspired, but it is the act of falling in love that we speak of when we talk of divine inspiration. Being in love is something entirely different. For to be in love implies a prolonged attachment to someone. However, the process of falling in love can end almost as soon as it began.

Where there is no recognized difference between falling in love and being in love, two people may believe that the lack of overwhelming passion and exuberance that was part of the former indicates that the latter is without depth or worth. Just as it is easy to mistake lust for love, it is also easy to mistake the process of falling out of love and into being in love with the end of love. At the same time, the process of falling in love can be mistaken for much more than it is. It can seem to be life-changing, but the alterations it brings into one’s life are transitory, at best. It reaches the heights of emotion with a rapidity that seems miraculous and makes one feel as if the world one lives in has come alive again.

In reality, a void within oneself has been filled — a loneliness and longing to escape one’s everyday existence into something magical, almost surreal. We imagine that the euphoria will last forever, and the person we love seems to be an angel or a dream sent down from heaven to fulfill our deepest needs. But another person cannot fulfill needs that are our own, and, in expecting them to do so, the process of falling in love will come to a halt, usually quite suddenly. Then, we will look around and ask ourselves, ‘What was I thinking?’

Yet if the process of falling in love makes a smooth transition into being in love, these doubts do not exist. For though being in love does not flow with the same fervor that falling in love does, it is the only experience through which a person can truly be transformed. But the state of  being in love takes time and patience to develop, and these are things that the world encourages us to forget. If we meet someone whom we think might be our ideal, we leap into the unknown, often falling in love in a very short time — a few days or even a few hours. In our minds this is real. Yet, alas, what we are in love with is not the ideal but only our image of the ideal.

How is this image created? By piecing together parts of the possible ideal that match up with our fantasies and disregarding those parts that don’t. We have created our beloved ourselves. He or she does not really exist. And although this discovery may happen gradually or quickly, when the realization comes about, we feel not only devastated but also betrayed. Instead of understanding that we betrayed ourselves by creating an illusion, we blame the other person for failing to be all that we hoped and imagined. As the process happens again and again, we begin to question love itself. If love exists, why doesn’t it ever seem to last? And why do people who have been married for two decades or more stay together when there no longer seems to be obvious passion or amorous excitement between them?

The answer is simple. We have confused the process of falling in love with being in love. We have confused feeling with an act of the will. We have deceived ourselves into imagining that the euphoria and bliss that falling in love brings must be present in every form of love.

~Sascha

This essay and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2012 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved.