[Above image: a planet seen from another planet’s atmosphere, with the words “Our ignorance, of course, has always been with us, and always will be. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless directions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species. -Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way”]
My memoir, cont’d - On emotional anorexia, friendship, and the hunger for authentic human connection
One thing I have been lying about, in my egomaniacal attempt to claim that I somehow single-handedly reconstructed myself from insanity to pseudo-sanity, is that I did this alone. Well, I did do this alone for about twenty-three years. That’s how long I went without having a single, solitary authentic relationship with another human being.
I did have relationships, though. Early and often. Friends, lovers (well not really until college), co-workers. Humans are social animals, after all. These were relationships in the same way that a rapist relates to their victim, however, or a police officer relates to a speeding motorist: in a pinched, horrifying, dysfunctional, and violent way. Or, in other words, my relationships were about average for an American.
In my other life I was going to be a psychologist. I had a high aptitude for understanding human behavior. Most survivors do. But what killed that particular career for me was the stultifying belief amongst the vast majority of therapeutic professionals I have worked with that problems like mine are individual rather than societal. Sure, most psychologists will, under pain of duress, admit that society affects the individual and visa versa, but that’s about all the intervention you get: a simple nod in the direction of the truly frightening notion that people like me are not dysfunctional individuals unable to adapt to a functional culture, but the other way around.
I say that the horrid relationships I had until I turned twenty-three when I made my first authentic connection to another human being were “about average” in a pretty empirical way, too: the average, nay, the vast majority of human beings I’ve interacted with and related to in my thirty-three years have been some truly awful people, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of people over those three decades.
The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.
And then, only a moment ago, some small arboreal mammals scampered down from the trees. They became upright and taught themselves the use of tools, domesticated other animals, plants and fire, and devised language. The ash of stellar alchemy was now evolving consciousness. At an ever-accelerating pace, it developed writing, cities, art and science, and sent spaceships to the planets and the stars. These are some of the things that hydrogen atoms do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution.
We on Earth have just awakened to the great oceans of space and time from which we have emerged. We are the legacy of 15 billion years of cosmic evolution. We have a choice: We can enhance life and come to know the universe that made us, or we can squander our 15 billion-year heritage in meaningless self-destruction. What happens in the first second of the next cosmic year depends on what we do, here and now, with our intelligence and our knowledge of the cosmos.