Stunted Being and Prometheus Unbound

Posted by on 06.22.10 | 2 Comments
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From: The Freedom to Do Nothing — on Dave Pollard’s blog ‘how to save the world’

When you begin to get free, you will get depressed. It works like this: When you were three years old, if your parents weren’t too bad, you knew how to play spontaneously. Then you had to go to school, where everything you did was required. The worst thing is that even the fun activities, like singing songs and playing games, were commanded under threat of punishment. So even play got tied up in your mind with a control structure, and severed from the life inside you. If you were “rebellious”, you preserved the life inside you by connecting it to forbidden activities, which are usually forbidden for good reasons, and when your rebellion ended in suffering and failure, you figured the life inside you was not to be trusted. If you were “obedient”, you simply crushed the life inside you almost to death.

Freedom means you’re not punished for saying no. The most fundamental freedom is the freedom to do nothing. But when you get this freedom, after many years of activities that were forced, nothing is all you want to do. You might start projects that seem like the kind of thing you’re supposed to love doing, music or writing or art, and not finish because nobody is forcing you to finish and it’s not really what you want to do. It could take months, if you’re lucky, or more likely years, before you can build up the life inside you to an intensity where it can drive projects that you actually enjoy and finish, and then it will take more time before you build up enough skill that other people recognize your actions as valuable. –quote from Ran Prieur as part of Dave Pollard’s post on this topic. Highlights are mine.

Last evening in a study group on the Feminine Face of God, we got into an interesting debate about distraction. It’s my experience that most of my so-called life is a distraction. Distraction from seeing myself for who I really am. AND a distraction from looking at the void that is huge in my psyche. On my good days, the void is spaciousness and openness. On my darker days, the void is terrifying and ruthless, threatening me with the chains and suffering of Prometheus. Not that I embody Prometheus’ intelligence, courage or ethics, just his ever-living liver.

Prometheus having his liver eaten out by an eagle.
Painting by Jacob Jordaens, c. 1640

The debate in the group was around the darkness of my saying that I feel most of my life is a distraction while waiting to have small openings, small moments of light and understanding. While I do not wish to project my angst others, I do acknowledge the part pf me, and I can only assume part of others, that does not want to give the Void the time of day.

It is my experience that the Void is omnipresent and universal in the human experience.

What does a-voiding the Void have to do with doing nothing and Prometheus’s everlasting liver?

Freedom to do nothing has always terrified me, and put me on the edge of the Void. My life has been coalesced around being busy, productive, useful, part of community. None of that is bad, in fact it is all good. But my ability to do nothing, to be, has not been developed. It’s like a miniature appendage to my soul-self that has not grown with the rest of me. Doing nothing makes me antsy, anxious, perturbed. It makes me want to start a project, form an organization, start a revolution.

But the doing-ness of it all is starting to feel like Prometheus’s suffering. Will I ever be free? What is it all for? What if it is all a distraction? Would the moments of enlightenment that seem to be the rewards for years of distraction come more easily AND more quickly without all the distraction-doing?

My hope comes observing friends and elders who are making their way towards freedom, from watching my own internal formation and from Ran Prieur’s quote: It could take… years, before you can build up the life inside you to an intensity where it can drive projects that you actually enjoy and finish, and then it will take more time before you build up enough skill that other people recognize your actions as valuable.

And with all the spaciousness in front of me, I do know that being valuable is a good thing, even if it’s not the best thing and for sure it’s not the only thing. What I need is a good Heraculean miracle: one that would intercede with Zeus on my behalf and say something like, ‘She’s done enough. Unchain her.’

Maybe, then, I could also embody the epitaph hurled against Prometheus for befriending bloody humanity and stealing Fire to give to them, basically saying ‘no’ to the Gods’ embargo: “Prometheus gives humanity blind hope.”*

Meanwhile, my ‘Being Appendage’ is growing. I want to embody blind hope. I need do nothing as I prepare that gift.

*And then again, maybe it’s the struggle to be free that is my legacy: maybe the struggle gives the blind hope. I have to admit that I’m clueless, except for knowing that my Liver is about shot.

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