"The only thing one can do is follow himself . . . dig in, discover what he is, and who he is, and reveal himself." – Henry Miller

Chaos!

There’s a term they teach in psychology that is escaping me at the moment. Maybe you can help me out. It involves early-stage human development. A child reaches a certain age of maturity when they no longer believe that an object disappears if they cannot see it. That is to say, when a baby is very young, if you put your hand over its eyes so you disappear from its vision, it thinks you are no longer there. What’s that called? Object permanence? Something like that?

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Remember that movie Jurassic Park? It was a bit of a hit when it was initially released. Had dinosaurs in it. They were eating people. Remember now? Excellent. Now, philosophers and physicists surely had been discussing it for years, but until I saw Jurassic Park in 1993, I had never really paid attention to Chaos Theory. For those of you who are reading this on a stone tablet, Chaos Theory says that every action in the world derives from the randomness of any other action. Everything that happens affects everything else in the world in some infinitesimal way that grows radically as it progresses through nature. To paraphrase, a butterfly flaps its wings in Guatemala, and the flow of nature runs its course in response to that action — a moth runs away from the breeze created, which is then eaten by a frog it flew in the path of, which then is eaten by a pig, which is then ground into pork and eaten by a human who gets indigestion and in the midst of his pain accidentally steps in front of a cab and SPLAT. Every action leads to another action, which leads to another, which leads to another, so on. There’s a sequence in that Benjamin Button movie that explains it. Check it out below. But I’m not inventing the wheel here. You get it.

This is a fun little pop theory. It suggests that the decisions we make on this earth are somehow relevant, that whether or not we decide to stay at home instead of going to the pub on a Friday night actually means something. It’s perfect for our day and age. We feel important. This is a level of significance I do not always want.

When I moved to London years ago, I was just a regular guy with dreams of the big time. I have made many decisions in my life since I moved here, many of which were on the level of “Do I go out drinking tonight, or do I not stay up and watch late-night Channel 5?” But if you subscribe to this Chaos Theory business — which has always made a great deal of sense to me, I’m sad to report — then, well, you start to think that the world might have been a whole lot better place had you not existed. And that can’t be good.

The Journey of Self Discovery is something you’re supposed to do when you’re young. It’s perfectly natural. Who knows shit about themselves when they’re 21? I made certain decisions because I was immature, or because my priorities were all out of whack, or because I thought I was something that I wasn’t, or just because I’d eaten some bad pork. Unfortunately, those decisions have ramifications, and they ripple outward, and next thing you know, you’re hit by the bloody cab. Or someone else is.

Last year, I looked at the way I was a year before and thought how incredibly stupid I was. The year before, I did the same thing. A year from now, I will think about how stupid I am now. It is an endless cycle. It is difficult to deal with. Will there be a point that I just become normal? That I’m just as wise in 2014 as I was in 2013? Man, I hope so. But I doubt it.

It is a fundamental element of the human condition that we are unable to truly understand the hurt we have caused others until we feel the same hurt ourselves. That until we’ve hit that point where we question everything and what we mean and what we do and what the fucking point of fucking all of fucking it fucking is… we understand nothing. We are only out for ourselves, and hopefully you’re not caught up in our endless loop of shit.

Dammit. This is a blog. This is something that people should want to read. They want a tale. I’m supposed to be telling you a story that entertains you, makes you laugh, or enlightens you, or sheds light on your own thoughts in a way that helps you understand that you’re not alone, that other people think that too. I’m not sure I’m doing that right now. I think I’m just typing what’s on my brain in random patterns that do not connect to anyone who would have absolutely no idea of the banal drudgery of my daily existence. Maybe I’ve just had too much to drink. I think I have. This is probably senseless to you. You don’t know the details. You just know you clicked on the link, and then it’s “Entertain me, motherfucker, entertain us!” OK. Fine. You want my fucking blood? You want my soul? You want me to rip it all out so you have something to keep you occupied while you enjoy your fancy coffee on a Sunday morning? You want the truth? Fine!

I realised today how much I had hurt someone. A while back. I hurt them without truly realising what I was doing. I was caught up in my own brain, because that was the way I was then. (Shit, it’s probably the way I am now; I just recognise it more than then.) It was something I had to do for me. I needed it. I’m sorry, but I hurt them. But the action of hurting them then sent them in this direction, and I went in this one. And this happened to them because of it, and then this did, and then this did. They felt this way about themselves, and they reacted in this way and then that made them feel this way, and next thing you knew, many years had passed. I didn’t realise what I’d put them through until I was put through it myself. And then I saw them again, and I was reminded of it all, and how this was a whole big fucking mess of my own creation. And then I felt bad. Real bad.

Is that clear enough for you? No? Well then fuck off, go read something funny.

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I’m not even sure this makes any sense. Forgive me. I guess my question is this: If we made a poor decision in the past, can it not be made right? Is it impossible to correct the mistakes of yore? Is it too late? How much has an object changed when we look at it again after someone takes the hands away from our eyes?

Seriously. I’m asking you here. Give a brother a hand. Because I don’t know. Forget that stuff I said earlier, about the coffee, and the whole “entertain me” business. I was just lashing out. I didn’t mean it. I really like you. You’re a nice person who pets kittens and gives to charity. Please, help me out. I’m really a good guy. Honest. I swear.

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5 responses

  1. Anonymous

    Reminds me of the movie Crash.

    August 22, 2011 at 00:14

  2. Sue

    Wow, very eloquently put, but I feel that you are being really harsh on yourself, David, although I have to admit that I have felt similarly to you, here, over the years on more than one occasion. It is not until much later on that most of us consider the impact of our actions upon others around us. However, the fact that you feel so bad about it means that you are a good person with good intentions. Bastards feel no shame! I believe in the Chaos theory as well but also believe that we are all heading towards an improved version of ourselves – self actualisation. Life is a learning curve, after all. Mistakes are there for us to hopefully learn from, if we have the intelligence to spot them. I certainly think, although I don’t know you well, that you will have brought much more positive stuff into the world and to those around you, than negative. Hopefully you were just having a bad day but I believe we should all be kinder to everyone around us, as we are all fighting our individual battles, despite the facade that we all live behind.

    Take good care

    August 21, 2011 at 09:41

    • Thanks Sue! Much appreciated. To quote from the Benjamin Button film: “Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward!”

      August 21, 2011 at 11:57

  3. It is impossible to change things you have done. It is however always possible to make amends and to apologise. A true apology is never going to take away what happened but may start a healing process in two people.
    Will things ever be right again? That depends on the apology, the people involved and their ability to forgive. Nobody can be sure of that (also part of chaos), but at least you try.

    Beating yourself up about past mistakes will not take away the hurt, your actions in future may leave the hurt where it should; in the past.

    August 21, 2011 at 08:09

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