The “incorrigible tendency to compromise”

October 4, 2009 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

This morning I read more in Colin Wilson’s The Outsider. It is a wonderful book that a friend gave me 20 years ago. It was out of print, but she managed to get a copy, after I complained to her that I hadn’t been able to get it.

I’d like to share a few quotes from him and by him from the book:

From Hesse’s Steppenwolf:
“Were he already among the immortals – were he already there at the goal to which the difficult path seems to be taking him – with what amazement he would look back over all this coming and going, all the indecision and wild zigzagging of his tracks. With what a mixture of encouragement and blame, pity and joy, he would smile at this Steppenwolf.

…My life had become weariness. It had wandered in a maze of unhappiness that led to renunciation and nothingness; it was bitter with the salt of all human things; yet it had laid up riches, riches to be proud of. It had been, for all its wretchedness, a princely life. Let the little way to death be as it might – the kernel of this life of mine was noble. It came of high descent, and turned, not on trifles, but on the stars…”

Wilson says: “The path that leads from the Outsider’s miseries to this still-centre is a path of discipline, asceticism and complete detachment.”

“In Steppenwolf, Hesse solves the Outsider’s problem to this extent: his wretchedness is the result of his incorrigible tendency to compromise, to prefer temperate, civilized, bourgeois regions. His salvation lies in extremes – of heat or cold, spirit or nature.
…Being a romantic, Hesse refuses to accept any such half-measure; he has a deep sense of the injustice of human beings having to live on such a lukewarm level of everyday triviality; he feels that there should be a way of living with the intensity of the artist’s creative ecstasy all the time. We may dismiss this as romantic wishful-thinking, but it deserves note as being one of the consistent ideals of the Outsider.”

And he offers a quote from Novalis: “When we dream that we dream, we are beginning to wake up.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’m letting go of great expectations this morning. I don’t need them, as I know destiny takes me where I’m meant to go. That helps take the pressure off.

Yes, it’s those nasty old expectations that have been creeping up again. They become so huge that I feel nearly paralyzed and tend to waste more time than usual, to procrastinate more fervently, or to just move slower than I deem to be necessary.

Yesterday a friend reminded me: “It doesn’t matter what you do, just do it with full awareness.” That was her response to my complaint that on days off it takes me a while to get into gear. I’d like to be the dynamo that always blasts full speed ahead, and tend to expect that of myself, but I’m not.

I accept that sometimes I need more time to do things, to let things settle, to simply be. That ever-present internalized critic who judges everything I do (and don’t do!) drives me nuts at times.

The concept of being “in the process” is a great benefit already culled from the training program I enrolled in last February. Although I’ve come a long way from the black-or-white, either-or, extreme perspective and introduced moderation into my life — and never tire of extolling the virtues of moderation, I am still a person of extremes.

But being “in the process” helps me cope better with that in-between space, which creates an inner tension that is sometimes unbearable. That tension is alleviated through the physically experienced insight that I’m where I’m at and it’s good the way it is. Yoga helps, too! 🙂

Since I do believe in destiny, why do I get so pushy at times or feel such an urgency to hurry things up? The process is the process and it takes what it takes. I’ll get there eventually.

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Entry filed under: Hermit/Outsider, literature. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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