Existential discontent and remembering love.

Over the past few weeks and months I have been deep in the throes of an unsettling, a questioning and questing, an existential discontent.  I frequently find myself frustrated or deeply saddened, a case of weltschmerz embedded in my brain.  Really and truly the work of building community, both in living and vocation, seems too small in comparison to the world’s need, a need created by the unsustainable systems our culture has created that are often thoroughly destructive to both the human and natural world.  Moreover, I’m not sure what I want to do or how I want to live instead, just that my core nugget of hope has been dislodged and something must change in order for it to be reestablished in the center of my being.

After hours of venting with housemates, not a few tears, and imagined letters and journal and blog entries, I finally came across a marvelous piece on The Beauty We Love called Death of Pretense.  The entire thing is worth reading, but this section struck me most of all:
She longed to live, to really live, to no longer suffocate under the weight of the false image. Only one who longed to live could experience such an overwhelming urge to die. She longed with every cell of her body to end the pretense and the falseness and half-lived dreams and to open up to life in all its rawness and beauty – not to die, not to die, but to live in a real way.

Upon reading this then and now, I cannot help but shudder with identification, for I too want to live, truly and deeply, and to shed the pretenses and expectations of not only my own life but society and culture as a whole.  To commit wholly to that which is beautiful and real, to hope, to love.

The day of initial discovery of this piece passed, but this past weekend was spent in the company of some of my very best friends, people I can happily and gratefully call my rocks, trusted and respected wonderful beings that challenge and support me.  Though I didn’t consciously realize it while in their presence, I love these people and many others, and they are what root me to my present path even while I flounder, unable to see the way forward or even where the edges of the journey lie.  It is so easy for love to become a caricature of itself, an empty term of endearment applied only to Disney weddings and long lost family members.  But real love, chosen love, is what is real, what is true, what is beautiful.  It creates and sustains hope.


My deep world sadness is not yet resolved, and I’m not entirely sure it ever will or should be.  I can easily envision a long spiritual retreat in my not so distant future, as well as many long conversations with friends and family near and far.  But remembering love, and how present it is in my life and relationships, this I think will hold me and keep me until the light of meaning dawns again.


3 thoughts on “Existential discontent and remembering love.

  1. Nice post. I have this same deep world sadness….I think it comes from caring a lot and seeing things not happen the way you want them too. Mostly not even remotely like you want them to. I think you’re actually a lot further than most, because it seems like you’re finding the beauty and perfection in the moments rather than the whole. Thanks for the quote and the pause in my own busy life.

  2. Hi!
    I saw your link to this on FB and decided to try and see what you were up to these days. I can really identify with how you feel here. Have you ever read any anti-civ theory? Like Marshall Sahlin’s “The Original Affluent Society” or Bob Black’s “Primitive Affluence”? Or any other kind of civ critique, such as on the technoculture, etc.? This stuff is really driving me these days – it talks about just how bad it is, and it doesn’t try to say, “Oh, well, we’ll recycle and it’ll be okay,” or, “Oh, we’ll just read some more self-help books and finally realize what we’ve been doing wrong to be so unhappy.” It’s incredibly refreshing and (for me, at least) enervating. The documentary “End Civ” is a bit more serious, but I think it hits so many important issues head-on. Anyway, I don’t know if you’re into that kind of thing, but I just thought I would throw it out there.

    Luck to you in your struggles!


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