There is so much we can find to amuse ourselves, joyful and giddy persons that we are, and it occurs to me that much of my own personal Rustichello-esque rage is related to how often I deny myself permission to actually be amused. I am deeply familiar with the practice of failing to give oneself permission to do anything until it becomes an unbearable denial and thence an urgent matter of self assertion.
But it sucks, it is a weighty Atlas pose that always drags me down. And when it does the tone of our household gets down into the mucky dirty material of resentment. I have not ever liked this tone or my role in it, either in terms of actually sublimating my resentments or not quite managing to sublimate my resentments. Either which way it is a conflicted position, and one can either elect to take the self imposed bruises of tethering or share them out amongst the tethers.
This is not a method I can work with anymore, it seems a bit juvenile: more than a little like when Sputnik lashes out at the driver when she’s carsick. It is not a workable life to pursue the quest of the penitent, that is a lonely and solo practice of living which involves endlessly not having conversations with those who I adore.
To shutdown all else beyond the multitudinous obligations is to teach my girls that the self is completely unimportant; that desire is ultimately unmanageable; and that gifts not given are more valuable than those given.
So as an individual it is necessary to give oneself permission to be amused, to have fun, to feel the joy and giddiness, to dream strange and misshapen things. Then the question becomes one about whether dreams have traction, what the weight of those dreams might be if there is an opportunity to think about them.
Obviously the Test Cricketer, Guitarist, Prime Minister version of dreaming is not weighty. Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse? Probably, as ever dreams of vainglory are embarrassing with ever greater tinges of crimson as the years pass. I feel no great career urges except the one to run and run very far. No dreams there. I have no wish for more kids. I have no wish for greater material wealth, I have more than I need.
I would like to have more sex and do more drugs: but (a little regretfully) these dreams are more reprises of a nineteen year old Rustichello than manifestations of current urges. Perhaps I just would have liked to have had more sex and done more drugs when I was nineteen.
I can’t help but think of David Foster Wallace’s occasional address that he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005, here’s the key part:
“the world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing”
And there we have it, real freedom. Of course you’ve got to give yourself permission: you’ve got to choose that kind of freedom.