“We weary of everything, except understanding.” -Fernando Pessoa
At the beginning of the year I set a goal of reading 26 books. I figured I should ease my way back into reading after literally years without reading more than one book per year. I had been wrapped up in so many other things, and have written before about how reading is not only logistically demanding (it takes time and focus), it is emotionally and intellectually demanding. And I just did not want to feel or think at that level.
Well, it’s not even the end of the first quarter of the year, and I’ve already read my 26. I’ve veered more toward non-fiction, but I will incorporate more fiction with time. I will probably have a word or two to say about the things I have read in the coming days.
I have not yet wearied of this great reading experiment, but there are so many other wearisome things. “Running after a squirrel”, as one colleague put it, in one part of life. Helplessly watching other people’s mighty struggles against losing battles. Even sleep is a bit wearisome.
I am always analyzing and processing and trying – wanting – to understand. I don’t, for example, understand addiction from the point of view of an addict. I try to understand it scientifically, clinically, neurologically, and of course gather the perspectives of addicts I meet and know. I may never gather all the insight I need or want, but I keep trying to learn.
I feel like, as I move along through life, getting older (hopefully a bit wiser), I am becoming more understanding, more compassionate, more interested in understanding, more caring, loving and accepting. What surprises me, though, is how one of the closest people to me is the exact opposite. He has become so closed, so judgmental – about everything. A total Besserwisser: he knows best (and is, perhaps not ironically, judgmental of all the people he meets who are equally know-it-all types!?). Addiction is just an example of a topic that I examine and think about a lot – and he and I diverge on this subject in a major way, but there are so many other things where the chasm between this close person and me keeps growing wider and deeper.
I’m not sure what to make of it because I don’t really want to feel judged, demeaned, second guessed or guilt-tripped every time I talk to this person. Because of his emotional proximity to me, it is not like I can or even want to write him off. In some ways, we are so close and the only people who can understand each other and our histories. I don’t like the idea of losing the connection but come on.
Photo (c) 2009 Brian Turner