Thursday, May 03, 2007

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live

(Above Title is a quote by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe)

I once knew a man who had all of the potential in the world. He was brilliant. He was focused. He was talented, charismatic, beautiful. He wanted to be a savior to everyone. I had never met anyone like him in my whole life. Nor had I ever met anyone so conflicted.

In the midst of his brilliance and ability to inspire, he hated himself. Perhaps not his entire self, but pieces. Essential pieces. Dare I say, God given pieces. It pained me to watch him torment himself with ideas about what he should be. Ideas based on other people's doctrines. Doctrines that no one - no human - had ever lived completely.

He held himself to an impossible standard. On some level I speculated that he thought it was romantic. The idea that he would aspire to something that seemed impossible, and in achieving it, it would be the most romantic thing he'd ever done. It was a painfully beautiful idea. One to which I could relate. Beating the odds, whether it be through winning the lottery or finding love with an unexpected partner, is always romantic.

The internal conflict was heartbreaking to watch. I knew I could do almost nothing. I had never felt that conflict between what my instincts and heart urged versus my chosen social contract. My beliefs had always been my own. I was very lucky that way. This beautiful man, who hated parts of himself, was so influenced by a man-made ideal that he fought the instincts that God had given to him.

He was one of the most devout believers that I had ever known, so it was shocking to me to see that the very place which was meant to be his refuge, caused him the most guilt and torment. The place which was supposed to bring peace, brought turmoil and judgment - not upon others - upon himself.

I wanted so badly to save him. I wanted so badly to save everyone who had ever struggled with this sort of thing. But the part that broke my heart more than anything was knowing that I couldn't do anything to guide these well-intentioned souls. These beautiful people, fighting to do the "right" thing and in essence, creating their own hell through their righteous intentions. (Perhaps that's what the old saying really meant?) Ultimately, I had to accept that I could not save anyone who fought with himself. Because this man constantly battled himself, he would never trust himself to do the right know how to live.