Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Bill, Please

My wife, daughter and I were out earlier this evening for a curry at a local Indian Restaurant. We all love Indian food, and there is something about the whole aesthetic of Indian restaurants that creates a relaxing ambience that compliments the wonderful and diverse flavours of the foods.

None of us were very talkative this evening. My wife is on a slow-down after a very hectic couple of months at work, leaving her in that state of mind I find myself in after school ends for the summer break – that whole sense of not knowing what to do with one's self and feeling a bit down as things enter a brief lull. My daughter was also feeling a bit under the weather, and therefore not her usual chatty six year old self. As for me, I don't tend to talk outwardly much outside of work, and tend to be in my head most of the time.

This evening was no exception.

At this particular restaurant, there are wonderful little booths which provide relative privacy behind opaque curtains. You can see other people in the booths around you, so it's more of a cozy feeling with the subdued lighting than one of harsh isolation. When we arrived, there were two older ladies sitting in the booth beside us, and you could hear their conversation floating through the thin fabric when your attention decided to take notice. About half way through our dinner, these ladies finished their meal, paid their bill and were on their way. The waiter cleared and re-set the table and, shortly afterward, I could hear him initiating the usual introduction of a host – the welcome, asking for drink orders and engaging in a small bit of conversation- with a new group of younger ladies, bubbling as people do when youthful and beginning a dinner out with friends.

There was something profound that I was observing of all this – perhaps something I can not relay with any effectiveness – that caused me to feel that the transition of the people, the ritual greetings and conversations, was rather metaphorical for life; all these lives going on around us, some touching us directly, others, indirectly. Relationships are similar to restaurants as people come into our lives, and then carry on their way – either as our dinner companions or simply people that we take notice of around us. We know boundless intimacy and friendship for people, as lovers, friends and companions, and, eventually, these things fade to memory as new people come into our lives. I am amazed at how such closeness can dissolve, despite that all feelings are temporary and fleeting. Emotions are temporary states of feeling, but people, physical embodiments that contain a core context or essence that remains throughout one's existence.

I feel that I am not doing this justice here, and acknowledge that this is a feeling largely initiated through the train of thought that I have been contemplating as of late. If not in a similar mindset, I can see how these ideas might not register.

I am becoming more of a recluse, yet there is a sense of loneliness that conflicts with my desire for solitude. There are so many people with whom I've shared intense closeness throughout my life, but very few remain an active part. Perhaps we tend to idealise others and then grow disillusioned. I am contented with my life, but there is still a sense of struggle within and notions of ideals. Perhaps this is a cultural issue. I have witnessed the pubs of Ireland and England first hand, and experienced the wonderful social aspects of Slovak and Viennese cafes. We don't have this sense of socialisation in the suburban sprawl of Canadian cities. We are a closed door society who, when beyond our 20's, tend to work all week, take our children to their soccer and hockey games in the evenings and on weekends, and basically crash in front of the television at the days end. True it would be difficult to inspire many people to go out to a local café on a dark and frigid January weeknight in Canada. Essentially, we all tend to drift away from one another after our proverbial deserts.

I'm presently reading Orhan Pamuk's "Snow", and there is a quotation that really resonated within me that fits with the theme I am rambling on about:

"It's because I'm solitary that I can't believe in God. And because I can't believe in God, I can't escape my solitude."

This statement truly describes both my spiritual and social struggle throughout the years. My sense of being solitary is largely due to disenfranchisement with much of the world around me. In my quest for substance, I have ended up denying myself much. The same applies to faith. I accept, in the words of Keats, that "beauty is truth and truth, beauty", but struggle to transcend this from an aesthetic perception into one of faith. Everything is as temporary as the metaphor of a meal in a restaurant. I believe in the teachings of The Dhammapada and the Bhagavad Gita as the way to live my life, and believe equally that each act of good and compassion that I do will change the world. I cannot bring myself to believe that the world will ever be transformed entirely, and thus my desire for solitude and inability for faith. It is a conundrum that has, as stated earlier, given me a sense of joyful contentment as well as melancholic loneliness and desire for qualitative sensual experiences (and I am not stating this in a sexual context, but, rather, in the framework of all that is "beauty"). While happy for each life that has touched my own and made me who I am, it is perhaps the nostalgic strings of attachment which cause my pangs and reinforce what the Buddha stated about attachment being the root cause of all suffering. Hence the difficulty of reading great thoughts and contrasting this into the habituation of them in one's life. Thus life is a practice with ever-changing menu surrounded by a decor that is ever-altering, alone on the journey, regardless of our temporary companions. In the end, this does not make me so sad, as all things are as they are and I am that I am.


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