A Galaxy of Ambivalence
Instead of launching into the day head first, nursing a fierce addictive energy, an addiction to doing and doing and doing, an addiction to figuring it all out, controlling it and dominating it and making sense of it and putting it all in order and getting it all right and getting rid of everything that’s uncomfortable and fixing all the problems and building solutions to all the unfinished business from before — the wounds, the inequities, the false statements and irregular agreements; instead of running forward speedily into a day filled with enormous desire for perfection, for forgiveness, for that sheen of impeccability, that sparkle that will finally set fire to the pile of garbage in the corner of the room, the garbage that stinks to high heaven but can’t reach the stars even so, searching and expecting and working, hoping and praying that one day soon, it will stop feeling so crazy, it will stop pushing down so hard, it will finally open up and release the pressure, and it will all swim down into some crevice, creep away from view and let the sun of some final transcendent purity shine on what has been thus far a bona fide dumpster fire.
Instead of all that, why not just lay there on the ground and breathe, in and out, in and out, letting everything go, and noticing how you are just floating in open space, in a cosmic space composed of dancing singing molecules and atoms, a cosmic space covered all over with billions and billions of galaxies, infinite galaxies stretching out forever into an eternal space, and you are one of them, one of the brightly shining galaxies, sparkling all over with disco lights, brilliance, fantasies, and dreams, just swimming in space among all the other galaxies who are faithfully doing their jobs: being galaxies; and so are you, doing your job and being you — a galaxy of ambivalence. It is your job to contain the ambivalence, to endure it and be at peace with it and not let it turn you into a rat in a maze, freaked out, scared, afraid, trying to fix it, trying to fix the boxes that are out of order, trying to put the thoughts into a neat row that will make sense and yield results, yield the plenty, yield the harvest of wisdom you seek so desperately even though it is not harvest time yet. Impatience is your Achilles heel.
Although the dictionary defines ambivalence as “simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action,” and “continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite),” and “uncertainty as to which approach to follow,” ambivalence is felt inwardly as a nauseating sense of discomfort emanating from a seesawing effect that pulls us in different directions, so much so that it creates a tremendous desire for the feeling to go away at all costs. This detestation of the ambivalent feeling motivates a great deal of chaotic behavior in us and it is my view that making peace with the reality of ambivalence is ultimately easier (and more productive) than trying to fix all the contradictory elements contained in this universe of galaxies which is, by its very nature, multifarious and multitudinous. What is ambivalence? It is when you both love and hate your mother, for example. Sometimes you love her and sometimes you hate her. What’s more, you also notice that she feels the same way about you! Sometimes she hates you and you can feel that hatred when it’s there. Ambivalence is the reality that this universe of ours is abounding with forces that have inherently opposite natures, natures that are immune to our wailing and our crying and complaints. We can cry all we want, but nothing will stop the torrent of mistakes and fuck-ups, nothing can stem the tide of misery embodied beings on planet earth are wont to experience sooner or later. We cannot fix it all, we can’t even fix the tiniest bit of it — ourselves. Because isn’t that what we ultimately want? To fix things so that we never have to suffer? Isn’t that what all the running around acting like a rat in a maze is all about? Trying to make the suffering stop and never come back? But isn’t that silly? Has this desire been thought through or is it just a knee-jerk reaction to a fear which has grown out of proportion, but that’s just a balloon filled with hot air floating eerily in an abandoned room we never enter? My argument is that it is not even suffering, it is just an idea about suffering that we fear.
There is nothing to fear in this life. Things come into being and are gone again, that’s the essence of ambivalence. A thing is there and not there at the same time. It is real and not real at the same time. We are free and imprisoned, we are true and untrue, we speak the truth and lie at the same time, we are honest and dishonest, we can say “yes, I love you,” and “yes, I hate you,” at the same time. This is not suffering, this is just the way it is, floating in an open and infinite cosmic space faithfully doing our jobs of being ambivalent and polytheistic beings, sparkling all over with triumphs and fuck-ups, and triumphant fuck-ups, even, dancing and singing our way into a permanent and welcome oblivion. Tomorrow (and I promise, when the day comes, it will feel exactly like tomorrow), so tomorrow, death will come and what will you say to him when he arrives? Will you be ready or will you still be running around trying to put everything in order? Nietzsche famously exhorted us to make a dancing star out of our chaos, to let the chaos explode into a new birth of cosmically-oriented bliss, brilliance, and beautiful harmony, the original meaning of the Greek kosmos, in fact, an infinite realm of beautiful galaxies characterized specifically by the inescapable presence of order and harmony.
This is a very different idea from those of us who launch into the day — head first — using the battering ram of our logical and rational minds as weapons, tools of the trade, where we trade the ecstatic brilliance and freedom of cosmic harmony (our inherent state) for a sense of control that can close the door on the abandoned room where the hot air balloon of our fears grows fatter by the day. The irony is that we are inherently perfect and harmonious as we are made of the same stuff as the cosmos, we are imbued with the same faculties and processes. So we are inherently harmonious, beautiful, and ordered. But this order is composed of the disorder that precedes it through the dual nature of all reality, and we can only see the disorder, we cannot see the larger picture where our fuck-ups are just pieces of a larger dimension where order doesn’t need to be restored since it was always there, from the beginning. Smallness of mind is the vehicle we use to launch ourselves into our days and smallness of experience is the result. When things are little like this, petty like this, then naturally, we must turn to logic and reason because those are the only tools available to the small-minded. I guess it takes courage to see harmony in disorder and fear, courage, which is a word pointing directly to the reality of the heart as the seat of a cosmically-oriented intelligence, a cognitive faculty that goes beyond the petty pace of human time and that tedious eternal preoccupation with ourselves that defines far too many of us these days.
No, I say. Lay down on the ground and breathe in and out instead, see yourself! You are a brilliant dancing star, a galaxy of ambivalence and that is all you have to be, you are already perfect so there is nothing for you to do but go make breakfast, shower, get to work, smile, and be free.