Forget navel gazing. Find enlightenment, and joy, by looking outward.
Given my druthers I'd never have a hostile or ugly thought in my pretty little head; only rainbow flags, big-eyed brown and white babies, and those wee adorable hybrid cars would fill my every waking thought. I'd prance rather than stumble, chirp rather than snarl, bound gaily from one scrumptious endeavor to another. Like Snow White (Disney version, natch), I would magnetically draw robins and woodchucks to me; rather than kicking them and screaming in fear, I'd sing them a lilting song in my glass-shattering tremolo. Life would be good.
Okay, that's all just a big fat lie. You see how I am? What I mean is this: There are beautiful, moving things in this world and very often we get so caught up in tweaking our own miserable nipples that we forget to take a look around. I know, sweet pea, our particular suffering is pretty goddamned charming. Personally, I've spent at least 20 of the last 33 years being mesmerized by my unwholesome lust for neuroses, self-pity, angry hysterics, crappy self-inflicted consequences, and high-stakes melodrama. But lordhavemercy it gets old, doesn't it?
If the goal is to reach enlightenment, to evolve and ascend and all that, I think we should spend a whole lot less time dissecting our every individual 'issue,' stop weepily reporting to our support groups for something called 'validation,' stop viewing experiences as 'baggage,' and just shut our psychic yaps for a good long time. Let's look outward for a while, cast our gaze on something we never really knew existed or something we used to love but completely forgot about because we were too busy masturbating with our pain (or anger or bitterness or envy or garden variety messed-upness). Consider the lilies of the field, yeah? How they grow; they toil not, neither do they so on and so forth.
DON'T YOU FEEL better already? Your homework, and mine, is to keep looking. The world expands when you start to explore its ridiculous, amazing details. And it's really hard to be surly when you're investigating marmosets and moon trees. Trust me.
Reprinted from the indie cultural magazine Tablet (Jan. 2005). Subscriptions: $20/yr. (12 issues) from 1122 E. Pike #1435, Seattle, WA 98122; www.tabletmag.com