Thursday, May 25, 2017

Everything good is good

JJ Grey has a song, "Everything good is bad", and on some level I think most of us have felt this.  If you have been married a long time, the odds are overwhelming you have at least thought about infidelity.  JJ Grey himself--who I have seen, and who is a fantastic performer--is also, as they say, a "recovered" alcoholic.

At some point he could not stop himself, or, at any rate, he didn't, regularly.

I think there is such a thing as "self enabling".  In some cases, of course, there is some sycophant who secretly takes pleasure in your self sabotage, but I also think that only augments something already there.

Let us say as an example that you decide to give up cookies for one week.  White sugar, calories, self discipline, etc.

Two days in, the temptation becomes overwhelming, and some voice comes in your head and says "it's no big deal.  It's only a couple cookies".  We all know this little devil on the shoulder.  Or most of us do, in any event.  We all mostly get by, but fail often in small things.

What is this?

What I would suggest is this is poorly regulated biological drives, combined with insufficiently developed self calming capacity directed by the frontal cortex.

Our addictions--and addictions can be very, very small, like binge watching Netflix--connect our sense of self with our more primitive gut intelligence.  The gut is the energy behind everything nasty and everything good.  It is a primal force, which has to be channeled, and which is mostly, but not entirely, channeled by most modern Americans in positive ways.

Freud told us that sex was the primary drive.  But so many people are having so much sex, and it is not making their lives much better, and seems in a great many cases to be alienating them from themselves, and from others.

Given the current obesity epidemic, over and above the abysmal stupidity of the anti-fat movement, it is not hard to argue that as a culture we have switched from the sex drive to the gut drive, instinctively.  It is more primal, and better at helping at least immediate self regulation.  It, too, has a hunger, and unlike when we speak of "sexual hunger" this one is literal.  Gut imagery underlies much of our speech and thought.

"We", as emergent properties of the complex interaction of many nervous system inputs--which would in my view include spiritual inputs as well--have as our task moving from matter to spirit.

I would like to suggest that the main point of life on Earth is learning to choose the Good, which is to say what we choose from our higher Selves, and choose consistently, and do so calmly and reflectively.

When you DECIDE something, really decide it, the process is perhaps not easy, but is automatic.  You don't have to choose repeatedly.

For myself, I can imagine a world where sticking to a diet and exercise and work program is easy.  I decide what is good for me, and lose along the way that competing voice which tells me that this choice--like every other choice--has forgotten some other part of me which feels the need to make itself heard through what we call self sabotage.

Ponder this conception of self sabotage.  For me, I was watching a war in my dreams last night between the bad Transformers, and the good ones, led reasonably enough by Tony Stark.  I of course wanted the good ones to win, but as an adult in the waking light, I realize that the bad ones are me too.  They are parts of me trying to get a voice, and which having obtained a voice, will become allies.

The word integration is overused, but it certainly includes incorporating--look twice at that word--our own evil, with all the energy for good it held hostage.

I do believe there is a teleological element to life, that this world in some respects is a breeding ground for choosing beings.

And the point is not to punish evil doers, but to herd all of us gradually in the direction of good.  Without negative--and positive--feedback, the system does not work.

Here is a mantra I have decided to use for myself "Everything good is good".  You need this idea of goodness to support yourself in your own decisions.  The idea is invaluable.  Do you not think it has to compete with the idea that self denial is bad?  That we are basically animals characterized by anxiety in a herd much too large for us to compass, and that anything which meliorates any sense of unease for any period of time is defined, by our culture, wrongly, as "good", and perhaps even "god"?

These are some deep ideas.  I offer them to you in the hope they nurture your spirit.

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