Friday, 13 September 2013

Subjectivities in Life Experience

Dear Gentle Reader(s),

I've finally come up for air after the lonnnng sloggg of working on my dissertation. I noticed that a friend of mine on a social media site posted a link to a published essay detailing the transformative experience of the writer at Burning Man.

Given what happened in my life last year; losing my baby boy, and two years before that, losing my sister, my dear friend, and my grandmother all within a three month period, I've thought a lot about perspective and life knowledge. I've struggled to stay connected with people whose problems seem vastly pale by comparison. I've struggled with the estrangement inherent in losing my 'life innocence' in this way. Particularly, because of losing my son, I've struggled with the 'knowing' which comes as a result of seeing that 'everything' isn't always going to be all right and not 'everyone' just 'gets pregnant and has a baby'. I've often found myself thinking, these people have no fucking clue and very much not enjoying my new knowledge. A person can really get bogged down by knowing what others don't; it's not a smug sort of feeling, it's a longing for a return to innocence combined with a longing for other people to catch up in experience, so that you're not totally alone in it. It's not about wishing bad things on other people; it's about sometimes feeling a lack of enthusiasm for things that others are enthusiastic about, or lack of enthusiasm for things others think they understand in their innocence. But reality dictates, as it should, that people learn things in their own time and in their own way.

I was drawn to think again about this subjective wealth of personal knowledge, as I read through the comments section below that person's Burning Man essay, and was dismayed by the number of posts slamming and disqualifying this person's experience: Burning Man was better in the 90s; A person has to 'do' things, not 'watch others' doing things to experience joy and other such comments. This bitterness disturbed me, and I thought, Well, how many of these sage life experts have lost a baby? What do they know about life? And then my real answer came; to them, and for myself:

So what, Burning Man was better in the 90s? Really, a person has to 'do' things, not 'watch others' doing things to experience joy? Watching others, or maybe the act of finally 'seeing' others beyond yourself could, in fact, be 'doing' something in another person's experience. This is all subjective. What if I told you that the majority of people here don't have a clue about reaching deep, feeling deeply, knowing true love, touching creation, or surviving until they birth, then grieve the loss of a baby they birthed? That is what I did, and it doesn't mean that other peoples' experiences don't count for shit all of a sudden. At the end of the day, you can only know what you know through your own experiences, in your own way, in your own time. The experiences of one don't necessarily negate or invalidate the experiences of others. How someone draws upon, gleans, and finds lessons in experiences (experiences which may very well be contextually passé or superficial to another person) is personal, may be experienced as transformative for that person, and therefore valid. Can folks stop pissing on other people's experiences, please? Live in your own truth and let others live in theirs, please. Give them a chance to find their own way, not your way.

That is all.