About Me

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I'm Kyle, and I forget when I start my laundry. Also, I am a small human being and apparently a college student. I laugh a lot - usually in my brain, and usually when nobody else laughs. Oh, and I've probably consumed more Skittles than any other human being on planet earth.
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I'm a Human

Monday, November 12, 2012

I think I might be afraid.

Now let me tell you a story.

(I'll be brief)

(....I'll try to be brief)

(Let's just be honest here...I'm not very good at being brief)

I was sitting in a British literature class recently as we discussed a book entitled The Quiet American, and analyzed, as a class, the book's narrator and main character. Throughout the course of our discussion my thoughts kept returning to one particular passage from early on in the book, which gave us necessary insight if we were to understand the character. What's that? You want to read it? Well good, here it is.

"Why should I want to die when Phuong slept beside me every night? But I knew the answer to that question. From childhood I had never believed in permanence, and yet I had longed for it. Always I was afraid of losing happiness. This month, next year, Phuong would leave me. If not next year, in three years. Death was the only absolute value in my world. Lose life and one would lose nothing again forever. I envied those who could believe in a God, and I distrusted them. I felt they were keeping their courage up with a fable of the changeless and the permanent. Death was far more certain than God, and with death there would be no longer the daily possibility of love's dying. The nightmare of a future of boredom and indifference would lift. I could never have been a pacifist. To kill a man was surely to grant him an immeasurable benefit. Oh, yes, people always everywhere loved their enemies. It was their friends they preserved for pain and vacuity."

This passage stood out to me for a number of reasons, but mostly because it somehow sounded very familiar. And then it hit me - this character, in this passage, wasn't talking about himself - he was talking about me. Now, granted, there is nobody sleeping beside me every night (which is good...BYU housing frowns on that sort of thing), I don't have a particular desire to die (in fact, I kind of really like being alive), I have a very strong belief in God, and I don't usually find killing people to be very beneficial. But, despite all of that, I found that I can relate to the essence of the paragraph.

The man speaking in this paragraph is a man who claims to be indifferent, who constantly reminds the reader that he is simply an objective observer, a man who doesn't take sides. He tries to convince the reader, or really himself, that he is not emotionally attached or involved in anything going on around him. But here, perhaps accidentally, he confesses that this is not truly the case. He isn't objective (nobody is), he isn't indifferent, he does take sides and he does find himself emotionally invested. By claiming to be indifferent, by working to convince himself that he doesn't care, what he is really doing is trying to protect himself from loss and from pain.

And I can relate.

Although I typically refuse to admit it, I too am always afraid of losing happiness.

I am afraid of losing happiness.

This is a problem.

This is a problem because when I am afraid of losing something (happiness itself, or a source of happiness), I distance myself from it, thinking that somehow this added distance will make the loss easier to handle. This is a problem because I've unintentionally taught myself to live in such a way that my happiness, for the most part, is replaceable. This is a problem because I seek to convince myself that I don't care, that I too am an objective observer, and that I am not involved. This is a problem because instead of making decisions with the intent of increasing my level of happiness, I find myself making decisions simply to avoid decreasing my level of happiness.

I'm afraid of happiness, because I'm afraid of losing happiness.

I'm afraid to dream, because I'm afraid of unfulfilled dreams.

But really, it's not the happiness that I'm afraid of, and it's not even the loss of happiness. I'm afraid of being vulnerable. I'm afraid of the vulnerability that inevitably comes when placing a certain level of trust in another person. In an earlier post I mentioned wanting to feel vulnerable and safe at the same time, which is an honest desire, but I'm finding more and more that it is this feeling of safety, not vulnerability alone, that I seek. I dread the thought of vulnerability without an accompanying sense of safety. It scares me.

I can't fully explain this to you - although I really wish I could - if you haven't had a similar experience in your pursuit of happiness, then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about. And that's okay.

I also wish I could explain why I need to write all of this, but to be honest, I don't really know. I know I'm writing this for my benefit, but I don't have any solutions, so I don't know what all of this typing will accomplish. If you've survived this post up to this point I thank you - this is all a sort of strange moment of honesty coming from me. This is not an easy thing to talk about - it's very real and very personal, and those are two things I typically try to avoid.

While I don't have many answers, or many adequate explanations, I have learned a few things:

1. Happiness is not meant to simply be replaced. If you're living your life in such a way that your happiness is easily replaced, you'll one day find that the life you lead is not the life you need. Trust me.

2. Happiness without vulnerability, in many instances, is not complete happiness. As we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we open the door to happiness. As we open the door to happiness, because we are now vulnerable, we run the risk of disappointment and pain. It's complicated, isn't it?

3. We need to learn to trust, and we need to live in such a way that we can always be trusted.

I still feel like something is missing from this post - like this is just a big, incomplete thought, and really, it is. I know that I fear vulnerability, and I know that I enjoy happiness. I know that I try to protect myself from loss and from pain, and I know that by doing so I experience a different kind of loss and disappointment - missed opportunities, and what might have been.

And I know that life is good.

It's simple, really - I am a human, and sometimes it scares me.

"We're never so vulnerable than when we trust someone - but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy."

-Walter Anderson

Also, spiders. I'm afraid of spiders.

......Seriously though, they creep me out.


Erica Ellen said...

ladies, just because Kyle is scared of spiders doesn't mean he isn't willing to man up and kill a huge and ferocious black widow in the trunk of your car.

Anonymous said...

Super good posts on vulnerability..yours just reminded me of it. May stimulate some thought.

Kyle said...

Thank you dear anonymous person - those were great! It's always nice (and useful) to hear things from another person's perspective.

Also, folks, Erica Ellen speaks the truth. My fear of spiders basically turns me into some sort of ninja spider killer. Well..not..not a ninja spider killer, but a ninja killer of spiders...yeah.


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