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The world breaks everyone (musings)

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering …

— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics, via Wikipedia on Kintsugi. C.f., also here

The world will break you

Hypothesis: Each of us has a blind spot in the gear we use to live our lives. Either you do not mess with the world enough and thus lead a somewhat dull life, or eventually you will meet you nemesis: you get badly stuck (trauma-level stuck).

As children we learn to live our lives. We observe our parents, our broader relatives, people around. We absorb their ways of problem solving, relationship management, way to introspect, seeing ourselves in the world. We tend to think others are like us. We live our lives and it works well. Actually very well most of the time. We get confirmed that our ways of seeing the world are right.

As we move through it, the world poses new and new challenges. You sort out your work life, career, family stuff, relationships, we fail, sometimes more, sometimes less, we succeed a lot too, we go on. We hone our abilities to live.

Then cracks start to appear. But we know how to move on, we are professionals of our lives. We step on the gas pedal and push through because we know how to do this. More of the good stuff will solve it, right?

Until not. I postulate that beyond certain intensity of “living” eventually, we get stuck. You hit a wall. That’s when the world will break you. It is not a question of if, but when.

Those that will not break it kills

I tend to think that it is inevitable that you eventually crash. It is futile to try to avoid it. You are fooling yourself if you think you can.

What matters is what you do during and after the crash. Will you break, or will it kill you? Getting killed metaphorically means to remain stuck and unhappy for the rest of your days (or at least long-term). If you break and have an ability to put yourself back together, though, you not only survive, but you get stronger along the fracture lines. Those who can have the ability to renew, reinvent themselves. Perhaps even more than once. It just hurts a lot. Always. That’s life.

Get ready

So what can we do to get ready for the crash? Remember, you can’t avoid it, you only can get ready for what comes afterwards. What can we do to prepare our children for their own crash day which will eventually come?

If we knew, we wouldn’t get into crashes in the first place, right? We wouldn’t have a blind spot. But the definition of a blind spot is just that: it’s there and you don’t even know about it. And when somebody tells you, you ignore them, because you know better anyway. Until it’s too late. Life.

But perhaps there are clues about things which can be done to get ready.

If you are a part of inertial system, you cannot say anything about whether it moves, or not. You need and external observer for that.

Being introspective helps. Avoidance kills. Especially avoidance of your own emotions. Seeking external observers helps even more. Letting people in helps. Keeping people out leads to a kill more often than not (I believe). Acceptance helps. Especially that of oneself. Single-mindedness and pushing through tends to kill too. Rich and vibrant social fabric of friendships helps. Isolation tends to do the opposite. Resilience helps. Knowing that failure is part of life helps. Perfectionism and high standards tends towards the opposite. Optimism helps a lot. Negative thinking most of the time not so much.

Self-healing is a difficult thing. Yet, exciting.

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