Originally Posted by lessgravity
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
Pretty highfalutin' but there's something to it.
I was thinking how what one can esteem for in sobriety is not just peace, lessening anxiety, clearheaded days but this – to live well is also to suffer well.
Not just to ride on the crests of happiness or contentment.
Life is suffering and loss – to do that well, seems to me, is to be a part of what it is to live properly.
And being sober sometimes hurts. Most of the time it seems to bring me peace and contentment and surety that I can trust my own self. But there are certainly times that life stings and not drinking stings. Enduring those stings with some level of grace or nobility is something I am trying to keep in my mind these days.
Dude. Profound stuff. Thanks.
There's a yen-yang thing associated with intellectual freedom and enlightenment. If you haven't already look up the allegory of Plato's cave. Or better yet, read Plato's Republic.
Freeing our heads from the floor of the cave where we've been watching the shadows of reality on a wall and shifting our gaze out into the sunlight of truth - it does come with a price. It isn't easy and it will be a struggle. There's something to 'ignorance is bliss.'
Hence Nietzche's remark "if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you."
I think part of the struggle is simply learning to live with and adjusting to new ideas that are in direct competition with the maps of beliefs we've formed in our heads. It's a real psychological phenom known as 'dissonance' and there's a certain discomfort that comes as we work to determine how we want to resolve the conflicting perceptions of what's 'real' or the conflicting belief systems of what we 'value.' Those things have to change - especially in the context of sobriety - for us to learn and accept new perceptions. I think there's even some physical stuff going on regarding brain plasticity as our neurons re-organize themselves to create new pathways and such.
But some of it is also very much learning that - despite our brains clever ability to rationalize away aspects of reality that threaten our sense of control and comfort - once you become aware that the universe is anything but under control and comfortable there's no turning back.
It can be disturbing. Pursuing truth is not for the faint of heart. Nietchze once wrote his sister something like "if you want to be comfortable, choose faith." And he wasn't being a smartass. He was speaking to his beloved sister with a genuine concern for her well being. Pursuing truth and understanding of the world can be like descending into a dark cave... one has to hope there is a long enough rope to occasionally get back to the surface. You can get trapped down there.
Heh. Can you tell you struck a chord?
All that said - for all the doom and gloom - my own amateur pursuit over the years of educating myself and pursuing intellectual freedom and truth has also yielded great inner strength and independence as well as some amazingly rewarding experiences that I couldn't achieve by staying safe. So to me it's worth it. More than that, it's essential. It is the very point of living and makes the suffering that living is worth doing.
If you are into this kind of thing I highly recommend texts like 'Republic,' Nietzche's 'Beyond Good and Evil' (and everything else), Aristotle's 'Nichomachean Ethics,' and an obscure work by Ayn Rand called "The New Intellectual.'