This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization/It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away/Your love will be/Safe with me
-Re: Stacks; Bon Iver
I hate people having a good time
I’m told I need to know myself. I even had a pastor, in the midst of a very difficult, emotional decision, ask me, “Jerry, would you say that you know who you are?” I said, “Yes.” He wasn’t convinced. I’m told that to know yourself is a sign of real maturity. It’s a sign that I’m growing in understanding of how the world works. Because if you know yourself, you’re never lost. And we all hate being lost. Right?
From the more educated, I’m told introspection is the way of truth. Sit. Ponder your heart. Discover your own faults, errors, and gifts - your own wretchedness as well as your own greatness. If one does this correctly, life and life to the full is to be found. This seems simple enough. I mean anyone can wake up at 6:00 am, go and sit in the park and ponder his heart while watching the sunrise.
I’m not so sure this is what it’s all about. When I sit and think (which I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this) I only have two responses to such inward thoughts, such introspection. One, I’m often struck with a great sense of pride. I’m doing alright I tell myself. In fact, I lose all sense of surprise that things occasionally work out for me in life - after all, I deserve it. I am who I am. And it’s very good. Although, oftentimes another thought slips into my head.
I realize quite the opposite of my own greatness. I realize my own wretchedness. I see a self-serving machine at work, striving to satisfy some cosmic desire deep in my soul. I see a heart motivated by the satisfaction of being elevated to a pedestal time and time again. At this realization, I leap from whatever heights I or others have elevated me to. For I know what I’m afraid to let the rest of the world know. I’m small. I’m broken. I’m running on fumes. I’m barely hanging on. That I don’t have my act together.
Pride and Despair. Two constants in a life of inconstancy. What’s the answer? Surely to live the good life one must know his own faults and be ready to repent of them - to ask forgiveness. Certainly the most frustrating people are those who refuse to see their own faults. Here’s the answer:
Extrospection: the consideration and observation of things external to the self.
What if all my self-knowledge was based on a reflection of another? What if I knew myself through the lens of another. Pride would dissipate. I would know anything good in me would have been seen through the elevation of another. Despair would flee. For I would know security and satisfaction were to be found outside of myself - not internally.
I’m calling myself to know myself through extrospection, through the contemplation of One who is outside of me. The One who can rightly say, “I am who I am.”
Make no mistake about it. What else does it mean to be Superintendent, Chancellor, Chief Justice, but to enjoy a position in which a great number of people come every morning from all parts and do not leave them a single hour of the day to think about themselves? When they are in disgrace, sent off to their country houses, where they lack neither wealth nor servants to meet their needs, they infallibly become miserable and dejected because no one stops them thinking about themselves.
I’ve never been to Los Angeles. Not sure if I’ll ever get to go there. I should think I would probably like to at some point or another. Regardless of this fact, I find it quite interesting that someone would write a song about a city as a savior, a healer, and a companion. If you haven’t watched the video at this point, you should. Take it in. Contemplate at the images present alongside the lyrics. Observe the emotion - the joy, the angst, the disappointment, the anger, the sorrow, the romance, and the passion. Observe all the spectrum of human emotion and experience. Observe the beauty of the city, of the country around the city.
Have you ever considered why humanity might be drawn to the idea of a city? Some would say it’s economically advantageous. Some say it’s because small towns suck. Perhaps it’s because something of what we’re striving for as a people, as humanity is wrapped up in what is embodied in the idea of a city. A city shows diversity, it smacks of accomplishment and progress; a city is a refuge, and a home; a city is the focal point of the arts, of beauty. Perhaps what we’re striving for is the perfect city.
The reality is no such city exists; the longing of our hearts for a home, a permanent place, doesn’t exist now. Until it does, every city will simply be a stage act, a farce, waiting to be plunged into the sea by some massive earthquake. The curtain will fall on the city and everyone will leave, or flee, disappointed, hurt that their home could not protect them or provide them the desires of their hearts. The city built on the foundation of human passion, desire, yearning and work can never satisfy the heart; it will always be found wanting.
So to a city we pilgrim. Hoping the curtain on this act will fall and a new city will be found. One built on the magnification, not of self, but of Other.
2 Days. And the Taper Blues are here in full swing. Come on legs, snap out of it!