Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conscious Worldview

Even though I live in a different frame of reality today, I remember the moment it dawned on me that life was empty and basically hopeless. It was a grey day just after OSU spring break of 1990 in Columbus, Ohio, and I was feeling blue. Hung over! 19! I think it was after I had that night (when my roommates were out of town) of drunken loud crying and deep despairing all alone, humiliated after a night out at the bars. Usually I did have fun, but not this time. It was about a guy who I had admired since freshman year. Now we were sophomores and he had been alone (without girlfriend) at a party during the break, and I just didn't ask questions... I couldn't really think because I was into him being into me. So we had fun during the break, but then on that night she was back. He had treated me like I was special, almost a girlfriend I thought, and I was hopeful. And so that night I had seen him and he didn't seem to really recognize me (he had recommend the show we were at: Laughing Hyenas) and she wondered why I had come over. So it hurt. And I felt bad because I didn't know at first because I had not asked and didn't want to know; I basically had wanted what someone else had--what looked like a perfect relationship. They were so cute and cool, with great music taste. Okay, I was shallow. And I was ashamed.

Around that time at Mean Mr. Mustards, my favorite bar of those days, I had been hearing a lot of a song with lyrics that said, "birth school work death" over and over. So on that wet grey day I realized that those words were an accurate representation of life's trajectory, and that I had been born and would be through with school pretty soon, so all I had left was work and death and "that sucked"-- to use the parlance of the times.

"Since a worldview is a lens through which to view the world, if the lens negates or trivializes the world, this clouds one's awareness of and action within the world."

-Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, 'The Passionate Mind Revisited' from the first page of the introduction.

So when I was 19 and I decided that "life sucked" I was trivializing life. I made a choice that devalued experience. It is hard to live this way, but it is a strategy to avoid pain and responsibility.

It is good that a person's worldview can change. Mine certainly has (and continues to). It has not been a quick process, but the value is beyond measure. And I credit yoga for supporting me as I have moved into a life of appreciation, richness of experience, and hope. Life doesn't suck.

I think I am creating my worldview with every thought and every action. It is an alive thing. I can think and do in the direction of hope if I choose to, and I do.


Jenn said...

Thanks goodness for changing worldviews. Hope is grand and so is life. Wondering if you grew up in Ohio? I grew up in a small town between Cleveland and Columbus! :)

Brooks Hall said...

Hey Jenn! I lived in East Liverpool, Ohio from ages 7 to 17.

Bob Weisenberg said...

Great writing, Brooks.

As you may be aware, Yoga has it's own version of "birth-school-work-death", going back to ancient times. It goes something like this:




4)Retire to focus on spiritual development

As you can see this is far more hopeful paradigm!

I particularly like it because I am personally deeply into stage 4, and I'm happy to find a tradition that actually celebrates my newfound passion for spirituality.

Bob Weisenberg

Anonymous said...

I've just been doing a bunch of transcribing - of a lecture my Guru gave on the Dark Night of the Soul.

Honestly, its one of the best things I've done recently. Its such an amazing teaching, with so many pithy seeds of wisdom.

What I couldn't help but think of this small part of the lecture while reading this(paraphrased):

The first time the Dark Night of the Soul hits (and its hardly just one night) brings on the knowledge that life is empty and meaningless. In fact, we are meaning making machines and we assign values to those meanings.

Where to from here? Well, we need to realise that life is *not* valueless. There is inherent value in this universe, and the next phase of the process is to discover how those values or virtues play out for you in this lifetime...

To me, death would mean the cessation of grow and ability to change my world view.

Brooks Hall said...

Bob W: Thanks for the comparison to the four yogic stages! How good that you are happy about the stage you are in!

Svasti: Thanks for your comment. It puts more light on the subject at hand. 'The Dark Night of the Soul' is a stage for a developing soul with a changing worldview. Coming to terms with the emptiness is a step--it might ne better than never having exerienced that angle on reality given the growth opportunity. I'm not living a life I value because someone told me about, I'm doing it because I've discovered that I care deeply.