Living in a neurotic world

How does one keep their wits about in a neurotic world? All lives have their troubles, but it seems to me that the notion of suffering in solitude, with grace and dignity, has gone entirely out of fashion. Instead of internalizing their aches and pains and perhaps growing stronger as a result of that slow deliberation, people seem hellbent on infecting the world’s consciousness with their misery. How much of this is genuine, how much of it a puling cry for attention, who knows? To be sure, mental illness is nothing to be scoffed at; its origins are generally traceable all the way back to the earliest stages of a child’s development, right from when it hasn’t achieved a sense of identity, through incipient individuation and the separation anxiety manifested as it strikes ever farther out from its parents to consummate that burgeoning identity. When one really thinks about it, parenting emerges akin to walking a virtual tightrope; the slightest tug in the wrong direction at the wrong time, and one risks foisting an insufferable brat onto humanity’s collective head.

But does this absolve the individual of all responsibility for how he conducts himself? Can he go along his way happily souring the milk of the world’s weal, all so he can gain the temporary satisfaction of being heard and pitied like a member of some endangered species? Far from it. There are many instances of people with less than ideal upbringings who nevertheless, somewhere along the way, also developed a keen sense of introspection and the ability to arrest the needier aspects of their personalities. How can such a person be anything but revulsed when confronted with the swarms of crybabies prevalent today? When someone has never expected solicitude from the world for the hurts in their life, when they have achieved relative equanimity on the other end of the tunnel, can they be beholden to feeling even a smidgen of sympathy for these killjoys? Are they Christ strung up on a cross to willingly bear the burden of another’s sickness and emotional ineptitude?

An individual I was once close to had remarked, “But ODB, you have no problems in your life!“. For the longest time, I took that as a sort of indictment, as tokens of my very own neurosis, those being a lack of empathy for another’s suffering, an extremely low threshold for drama, and a general refusal to take stock of my situation in life. But it eventually dawned on me that it wasn’t my immaturity that was the issue; it was their inability to subsume their sorrows, real or make-believe, within a greater love, of any kind, with any degree of sincerity and consistency. And that is the key when you don’t really have any problems in life, at least none worth moping around in bed like so much dead weight on green earth, in other words, in the curious parlance of this time, when you’re too “privileged” to give a fuck: the only way to withstand the constant barrage of negativity is by distancing yourself from these professional ravagers of optimism, these pathological anhedonists, and their polemics and pity-plays. Rather, develop a routine, retain context, but most importantly invest your time and energy in something you simply love better.

 

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