what’s left now

March 1, 2011

Page One

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…why is it so important to think the same things… [that others think]
                                                ~~~  sartre
 

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The title of this book comes from the thinking of Martin Heidegger, an existentialist who came up with this idea of being toward death. I didn’t read this straight out of Heidegger himself, but in a book that was discussing his crucial idea.

Being toward death, stated succinctly, boils down to this: We are all going to die. And the best thing we can do with our time to live is to do so in a way that will give us a sense of meaning and purpose. Meaning and purpose will be different things to different people. We each define these things for ourselves.

When I read about this, I realized that Heidegger had defined in philosophical terms what I’d been trying to do in my bungling way since I was a kid: trying to immerse myself in the things that gave me a sense of meaning and purpose, and also pleasure and accomplishment. I say trying because I was always to one degree or another thwarted in my efforts. Children are always thwarted in doing just what they want, anyway. And I suppose teenagers are still getting a certain amount of thwarting going on. But even in to my twenties, and thirties, and on to this day, I’ve always had both circumstances and other people thwarting my drives to live my way, as myself. This happens to others too, often, as in my case, for their entire lives. We don’t hear a great deal about such lives because amerikans crave the success story, the happy-ending story, the don’t-let-anything-get-in-your-way story. Those attitudes work and succeed for some people, maybe for a whole lot of people, but they absolutely do not hold true for everyone.

The elements that I chose from the vast amount there is to choose from, elements that gave me my senses of meaning, purpose, pleasure, and enjoyment, were these: animals, above all else; human family; creative pursuits; learning; nature; music. It’s all just about gone now. When the animals were taken, many other huge pieces of my self were taken with them, as if most of what I knew as me has now been surgically excised.

I have one animal now, new since the destruction of my life. One animal for a person like me is like giving one dollar to a person who has to pay one hundred dollars in rent. Not viable. Not enough to sustain. And I write online. Everything else that filled me all my life has become mostly impossible since those animals were taken. I write, I walk, and I dote on my guinea pig. That’s it. That’s all. That is a tiny fraction of the individual I used to be. And this shadow that I now am, this fraction, marches toward death without the fulfillment of all the past pursuits. Just about devoid of any sense of meaning in my days, purpose in my days, love and sharing in my days. This book is for me, I think, a compare and contrast, a memoire of a dead self and the ashes left behind. An explicaton, for myself, of precisely how much was ravaged.

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read…    lucked out…   lifelines…

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2011-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

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