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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

LET'S NOT BE CONTENT

"Thankfully you sit by the warm stove, thankfully you assure yourself as you read your morning paper that another day has come and no war has broken out again, no new dictatorship has been set up, no particularly disgusting scandal been unveiled in the worlds of politics or finance. Thankfully you tune the strings of your rusty lyre to a moderated, to a passably joyful, nay, to an even delighted psalm of thanksgiving and with it bore your quiet, flabby and slightly muzzy half-and-half god of contentment; and in the thick warm air of a contented boredom and very welcome painlessness, the nodding half-and-half god and slightly greyhaired half-and-half man who sings his muffled psalm, look like twins." (STEPPENWOLF by Herman Hesse)

What have you sacrificed as an offering to the "god of contentment" in the belief that perhaps contentedness could bring inner peace, stability and ultimately lead to happiness? Was this visit to the pseudo-place of paralysis where there is no pleasure nor pain, just peace, worth the price of your lobotomy?

Beware, contentedness may lead to complacency. Personally, I'd rather bear discomfort, disappointment, dissatisfaction while hungrily devouring each and every moment of life. Why tarry at the sanctuary of stagnation when you can be a Steppenwolf? Of course, the price of this is isolation and the queasy feeling of swerving from a perpetual state of frustration to extreme delight. Still, that is much better than to be a smug half-living half-dead  zombie going through the motions of a shallow, "happy"-like existence.

So the next time you feel comfortably content and a little too smug for your britches perhaps it is time to break down the barriers and experience real emotion. Kick down a bureaucrat's door, smash an illegally parked car, dye your hair purple, have an affair with someone half your age, turn your life upside down and try again...Punch the face of that god of contentment!

P.S. Make sure you let me know how it goes so that I can try it too sometime...

FINE PRINT: THE PURPLE COW ACCEPTS NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF ACTIONS TAKEN IN THE SPUR OF A CONTENTEDNESS BREAKDOWN FOLLOWING THE READING OF THIS BLOG POST. IF YOU MUST BLAME SOMEONE FOR STIRRING THE CALM WATERS OF YOUR CONTENT EXISTENCE, BLAME THE STEPPENWOLF! BETTER STILL, READ IT!

5 comments:

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

Pretty sneaky how you urged me to the ramparts but then denied liability.

Five years ago I quit my job as a small-time bureaucrat without a legitimate plan of what I would do next. I think it's working out all right, and I'd say on the average day I'm happier than I would have been.

Purple Cow said...

Hahaha, glad you're not a "small-time bureaucrat" anymore, especially in light of the fact that I have suggested "kicking down a bureaucrat's door" as a way to fend of contentedness.

And from what I have read on your blog, you once painted your hair blue and that's pretty close to purple. Carry on.

Robin said...

I think it is safe to say that there is no contentment to be found here. I am having dreams where I am getting yelled at quite vociferously. And the migraines are still viciously taking my head off so there is no contentment to be found. There is, however, lots and lots of pain. I often refer to my room as the Room of Pain. And it isn't in a good way. I don't feel the need to dye my hair purple to shake things up. However, if/when the migraines let up, it is an idea...

Phoenix said...

Just turned my life upside down... I'd like to say that I never settle for complacency but we both know the truth is my life doesn't afford me complacency. So never worry... my adventures find me whether I have a passport or not.

PS that comment you left, 5 changes on change? Brilliant. It sort of changed my life.

Thank You.

Purple Cow said...

Robin, don't be content with the pain. Didn't you say that in Italy it got better...maybe its time to migrate...or better still, harness the pain and do what Nietzche did - philosophise! On a more serious note, I'm worried about you. Hope it gets well soon.

Phoenix, don't forget, when you are young, beautiful, talented, not a mother, it is much easier to make changes than to settle in complacency. I'm glad you liked 5 chapters on change - truth is I don't think reading something can influence us so much unless we're already ready for a change and are just looking for an excuse. Good luck to you.