Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ramparts

The circumstances in which we find ourselves may not be the outcome of who we are, but rather consist of whatever amount of compromise we have accepted within relations that we don't control.

Subsequently, many of us make the mistake of declaring "This is who I am" and attach a sense of self-worth to our success in doing it.

Men seem to suffer from this problem especially, so tightly-bound is the male identity to an occupation, whereas women are enjoined to see things from multiple roles. The retired man deflates without the identity he sustained through his association with external power; the young man drifts without direction for want of a "real" career.

Who we are as individuals must never be lost in the mire of circumstances, but advanced as a response to them. To accept something less than we would like is a choice to go on living, but to only know ourselves within its bounds is to forget the act of being alive.

1 comment:

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Yep.

Often I have heard women lament the rules and roles that "society" places upon them -- to look like a "model," to be a "supermom," etc.

There was a time I used to mock those sentiments, until I decided to switch away from my first, more traditional "career" to a very non-traditional line of work. At that point I started feeling the social standards and/or expectations, such as high achievement, "breadwinner," provider, and... going back toward your prior post... leader.

The social expectations and obligations are there by dint of what our peers, our friends, our acquaintances, our co-workers, our family do, or say. And the ways people are rewarded with salary/pay, perks, privileges for the various choices they make, in labor and in extra-employment life -- these rewards tell us what "society" values.

If I had to guess at why so many people exhaust intellectual, labor and existential energies in acts, positions, or employment that may seem destructive, deceitful, or improperly selfish, I am inclined to think it's because they look around themselves and see what is "paying" in 2010.

And this, instead of looking inside themselves, and asking: what feels right, what is consistent with my true values, if I allow myself to not be influenced by what "society" allows, promotes, suggests, endorses.