What Place?

What place is there in the world for someone who primarily lives in their imagination? Almost by definition, there is none. Whether you are drawn to art or invention or religion or science, part of what you are saying is that the world is not enough. This world, this life, is not enough.

It is a childish, grasping position to be in. It is one of ceaseless dissatisfaction, of constantly finding ways to disassociate yourself from what is around you. You’re always living elsewhere, or wishing you were.

I think this feeling is fundamental to what it means to be human, part of the human condition so to speak. It is samsara, unsatisfactoriness, longing, the feeling of exile in one’s own skin. It is what drives us to explore, to innovate, to seek elsewhere what we cannot seem to find where we are.

In some, though, this seems to be more pronounced a feeling, as if one is moving perpendicular to what is going on around them, and as the totality moves past, one becomes more distant, more disjointed – more alone.

Perhaps it stems from an inability to accept what is as what is, an inability to come to terms with limitations and frustrations and disappointments, based on the presupposition that this can’t be all there is. What is fundamental, what is pure, what is true and absolute, must be elsewhere. There must be some meaning that is outside, some meaning that is transcendent of our present reality. If the observer can become distant enough, and has delicate enough perceptions, it is possible to see everything arrayed before you, moving harmoniously, working out an emergent order which was not evident in its constituent parts. At that moment of understanding, everything seems worthwhile, everything has a great and wonderful meaning, but it has all left you behind.

And the choice becomes, ultimately, loneliness and alienation within, or loneliness and alienation without. Not really much of a choice, even if the answers are out there, somewhere.

4 thoughts on “What Place?

  1. Sort of a morose reflection. Very much the sort of thing that Athiest’s tend to propose that religion is – a childish grasping for something that doesn’t exist because we aren’t emotionally mature enough to accept reality for what it is.

    While I don’t debate that there is some element of this involved perhaps, I wonder why you come at it from the negative rather than the positive. ie: Most people have genuine experience of something transcendent that they seek explanations for because it is more real than our present existence.

    Although, to be honest, neither of these things ring all that true with my experience, because I haven’t had much of an experience of transcendence at all. I don’t feel like I’m looking for something transcendent, I feel like I’m participating in something ‘this worldly’ which provides meaning and direction in my life, makes me a better person and makes the unsatisfactory things more tolerable.


  2. sort of. i mean, the Incarnation/Resurrection/Eschaton aren’t very this-worldly – particularly the Eschaton, which is sort of the ultimate expression of not-this-worldly.

    and i think atheists are often right, at least on some level, and sometimes more than its comfortable to think about. its incredibly difficult to seperate wish-fulfillment from geniune transcendent experience, if you can at all, when we lack the much-mentioned god-meters and whatnot.

    it makes sense that god would be an/the answer to the existential human dilemmas, but isn’t it also very convenient? particularly from the point of view of an outside observer.

    and there are many things that might provide meaning and direction, make you a better person, and make unsatisfactory things more tolerable – are they all equal?


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