Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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ways out, ways in

"And she's clinging to the nearest passer-by
And said: "I've lost control again".
And she gave away the secrets of her past
And said "I've lost control again."
And she turned to me
And took me by the hand
And said "I've lost control again"
And how I'll never know just why
Or understand
She said: I've lost control again"
---Ian Curtis

I find that self-confidence poses such a tremendous challenge.
Self-doubt looms like one of those cobras on the Discovery Channel, hypnotizing one of those cute rodents; inexplicably, it becomes impossible to fight, and high hopes turn to entree status in short order.

I think that self-confidence is an under-appreciated quality.
But the faux self-confidence of motivational seminars and sales pitches rarely carries me far in life. I find that I spend a lot of my life trying to avoid dross and inauthenticity. I don't mind marketing myself, but I want to market only myself, not that trait I perceive will impress someone with me.

I love spirographs. The pen or pencil point goes into the hole, the plastic 'graph' spirals about, and something odd and wonderful emerges. But sometimes in real life, the spirals wind in, like a broken Slinky. It's all there, somehow, but it's all bent, and not quite right.

I think that the problem sometimes lies in the wrong kind of selflessness and the wrong kind of selfishness. Selflessness should not mean self-abnegation, as nothing can get done without some baseline belief that one can do something. Life matters. One defines how one will make it work. Selflessness as a quality of conscious surrender of one's own best interest for a higher good makes perfect sense; this is a noble act. But selflessness as one more way to act out despair is so pointless, so devoid of grace. Assuming poverty as a matter of resource allocation is one thing, but poverty as a "selfless" act of self-flagellation is another thing altogether.

Similarly, excessive selfishness is a vice. But a sense of self--this is what I wish to do, this is what I need to exist, this is how I will get there--this sense is essential.
Who said that it's a rule that nothing can be achieved, so why bother? It's so self-defeating to put one's dreams in towers which can never be scaled. If one is freed of the necessity for compromise, then one can rest on the laurel impossibility of one's dreams. I believe in compromising, but in compromsing with faith that the goals are worthy.

I distrust people who suggest that dreams always come true. They have not read their history; they have not visited Skid Row. They have not even glanced in the eyes of the person at the mall. But although dreams fail and die before our eyes daily, dreams are one ingredient of accomplishing things. A failed dream, earnestly sought, can feed a soul; a dream abandoned merely rots one.

I think that in my life, the thing that has happened far too often is that I've defined my dream as unachievable, and then never worked to get it. But quashing one's dreams at concept stage can be so stunting. Calvin Coolidge, of all people, said "All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work". The question, I suppose, is how to trust myself to know what is worth working toward. I must believe in myself.

During the past few years, I make a conscious effort to try things I suspect I am not good at doing. My law firm is now nearly three years old, and I find I have learned to market my services well. Once I fancied myself unable to market anything. I wrote a novel in ten days as part of, because I thought it was important to set an impossible goal outside my skill set and do it. The novel is not any grand read, but the sense of accomplishment is nonetheless worthwhile. I still intend to print it up, as I have this ambition to be listed on with a bad work of sci fi. I recorded an album, participated in mail art, and am now haltingly working on starting a chess club out of this same spirit--go, do, experiment, trust myself.

I don't have any particular skill or finesse at much of what I do for fun. I am no great charmer. I am no great aquarist. I am no great fisherman. I have to raise succulents, because they are all I am good at, other than perhaps terrariums. I play chess a fair bit above average, but not with any great skill. My poetry is pedestrian, written not to impress but to connect. I hike short hikes, and take bad pictures. But I trust myself to be myself, and that matters to me, somehow.
But I don't worry about talent. I just try to trust and grow.

Lately, I think it would be great fun to meet a number of my LJ friends. I know that I am not prepossessing in any way, really. I'm just a sometimes wordy, physically overweight and unimpressive, mildly eccentric, largely boring kinda okay nice-ish pseudo-intellectual dreamer kind of guy. But I am not worried about that. I somehow feel that connection with others is not about whether people found me fascinating, but whether I can commune with friends. Friendship requires a baseline confidence, I think. With many of my LJ friends, I feel a baseline trust that I know something about them, even if I know few of the actual details of their lives.

I think that the paralysis before the cobra devours one is not a time when all is lost. I think that one can awake from the paralysis. But my antidotes are all shamefully simple.
I don't believe that the deus ex machina descends onto the stage; I believe that the voice within speaks.

What does it say? Why, it says: "You can escape. But you must believe. You must hope. You must have faith. You must work".
There is no promise of Paradise, no guarantee of success.
There is only no other choice than to try.

Faith, hope, love...the greatest being love. So goes the formula. I believe in that formula. But though love may be the greatest, faith and hope are very important, too. I believe that the way to gain control is to feel a faith that things can work and a hope that kills the cobra. I want to stand before all my inward cobras, free of their spell.
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