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June 5, 2014

Today I had what you might call a dark afternoon of the soul. It was a really hard day. I was bitter, emotional, angry. I lashed out at everyone and everything. There was no compassion or patience, just unbearable frustration. Worst day I’ve had in a long time. Part of it was my job. Another was something more, something deeper within. A midlife crisis, perhaps?

I’m getting old. I don’t have a very fulfilling career, and it doesn’t pay very well, either. I don’t have any worldly goals or passions, so I don’t really have a direction to go in. I like to work, but it’s hard finding a decent job these days without a college degree (especially a rewarding one that pays well). I like learning, but I’m hesitant to put myself into tens of thousands of dollars of debt pursuing an education designed to make me more marketable rather than a better person.

The world seems so contradictory to me; you either have to be a participate or a renunciate. There’s no middle ground, really. You’re expected to study what you need to get a job, then work until you’re old and grey, life being more of a soul-sucking experience than an enriching one. My heart yearns for something more, but the world crushes those dreams with an invisible hand; and religious monasticism seems more and more the only escape. Brings to mind Marx’s words in his introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right:

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Deep down, I know that I’m a good person. At least I try to be. But it’s hard and I know that I could be better, happier. We have such potential as a species, but as a society we tend to value all the wrong things. And I’m torn. Torn between wanting to be a part of the world and wanting to renounce it, devoting myself instead to a contemplative life. I appreciate aspects of everyday life, but they’re just not satisfying in a way that’s difficult to explain. Kind of like the things that I find pleasure in also seem fleeting and trivial compared to a truth more profound and immutable that I intuitively feel exists.

And yet I wonder. Maybe I just want there to be something more because I look into the abyss and I’m afraid, afraid that life is ultimately an endless cycle of grasping at shadows to fill a primordial void that can’t psychologically or physiologically be filled—a gaping emptiness that consumes all and out of which nothing escapes. Maybe what we see is all we get.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just trying to find my place in the world, to find my calling as they say, or whatever it is that’ll give my life the direction and meaning it’s lacking. I’m tired of feeling lost and fragmented and like I’m running out of time.

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