*Disclaimer: The next few posts that start with the title “Know Thyself” will make the reader think the author is depressed or cynical, but that is not the case. Upon examination, the author was found not to be depressed, but rather, just an idiot. The following posts of the same title are excerpts from the essay: “Life: The Uncertain Certainty or (Living without Knowing Myself)”. Enjoy.
-Rodolfo Perez (The fucking author)
As a young boy growing up on a not so nice part of Joliet Illinois, I had a much-skewed representation of love, especially in regards to the events that would transpire within my community. I remember it being a cold October night, just a few days before Halloween. I was eight years old. I was outside in my backyard, sitting down on the patio steps with no particular task. No one was home, as my parents often had to work well into the evening during those days of financial struggle, and my siblings were at a school Halloween celebration. It did not take long before that familiar feeling of loneliness began to wash over me. I mistook this feeling of dread and loneliness for the physical response to the cold October air. I sat out there, looking to the sky, when I heard a crash coming from my neighbor’s house. I heard one voice, screaming obscenities, and another, barking insults back at the voice. Their front door swung open, and the loud creak of the door fringes seemingly forced me to look down in front of me. My neighbor, let us call him Raul, came walking out rather briskly, followed by his wife, we will call her Pamela. She was screaming at him something among the lines of “Go Ahead! Go drink with your friends! It’s not like you have a family to take care of!” He swore a few more times at her and got into his car, and drove away. Now, Raul and Pamela, until this moment, seemed like quite a happy couple. They were married, they had two children, both of which excelled in school, and they both had jobs that provided them with some type of livable income. I had seen my parents argue before, but neither of them ever left the house, much less over a night out with their friends. I had seen my fair share of arguments, fights, and even a killing in one case, but something about this scene shook me, and a question came to me. What is love? Now, as a child, the question seemed to have such a simple answer, but to this day, I still go back to that moment. Seeing Pamela so angry with the man she had been married with for well over a decade, and seeing her sobbing on her porch steps as he drove away, I will never get that out of my mind. Religion tells me to love everyone, even those I do not want to love, and many schools of thought teach to love people unconditionally, but I argue that by doing that, we are dulling the intensity an emotion like love brings. Love is something precious, something that is limited in a sense. If one is to love everyone unconditionally, how are we supposed to distinguish whether or not we have any authenticity in regards to caring about an individual? I often think, in regards to this question, if I love everyone equally and unconditionally, how am I supposed to choose someone to marry, or show my family how much they mean to me, or make sure I am not leaving an individual out of my love? Because of this question, I have been accused of not showing I care, or that I do not show I care more about certain things over others. I suppose at one point I convinced myself that I had a mindset much like Walt Whitman had during the time in which he would make his rounds around the army hospitals. I told myself that, like Whitman, I thought, “That could be me” and because of this, I would try my best to appeal to everyone else’s needs. Now I see that cannot be the case, for even in providing all I can for the people around me, I still have this aching sense of alienation from human emotion, and that often leads to loneliness. As I reflect on the deeds I do for people, whether they be big or small, I question whether I am doing it out of love, or simply for the sake of doing it. I do not give money to the homeless man because I love him; I just do it for the sake of doing it. I do not lend a hand for someone who has fallen (in a figurative or literal sense) because I love him or her; I lend a hand because I have a hand to lend.