Intermittent Insight

If I look back at the posts in this blog, I can easily see that I repeat the same ideas over and over and over again. That’s a testament to the fact that we’re not able to retain the things we learn. Any realizations are quickly overwritten by incoming thoughts. I come to the same conclusions every few weeks it seems, and it feels like a new revelation each time. Oftentimes I’ll read past-entries in this blog and think: “Wow! How enlightening! I get it now!”

I’ve yet to find an effective way of maintaining these ideas in the forefront of my thoughts. For example, if you keep seeing the same thing again and again, eventually it becomes part of the scenery — lost to the background. Although nowadays, it probably takes me less time and effort to arrive at the same conclusions — so at least some progress seems to be happening. But progress to where? The realization that life is a friendly place, and that my unfocused thoughts are the cause of my dissatisfaction?

That seems like an odd destination, yet it’s one I’ve been traveling to for half a lifetime. As an illustration, it’s like I’ve been thrown into a dark and creepy room filled with psychotic people grabbing at me while I’m blinded by flashing lights and overwhelmed by strange sounds — but it turns out, I’m simply at a dance-party in which everyone is kindly trying to include me in their fun. From that perspective, I can grasp that my misunderstanding and my bad attitude are the underlying cause of my discomfort.

But as pessimistic thoughts pour in, I can’t simply retain the realization that life is a party. The intensity of existence is just too high and I frequently fall back into a state of dissatisfaction. And at least for my abilities, the difficulty level seems a bit too high. The endeavors I attempt all seem to go nowhere despite the time and effort I invest. In other words, everyday is day one. Like in the movie Groundhog Day, I seem destined to relive the exact same problems over and over and over again.

Speaking of that movie, this is an excerpt from my analysis of it:

When Phil clung to the legacy of his past, he tried to use people for short-term gain — ultimately leading to boredom when there was nothing left to attain. And when he was feeling trapped by a futureless path, Phil couldn’t enjoy the physical world anymore and eventually sunk into suicidal despair.

But by shedding the past and future, focusing only on the instant he was experiencing, Phil was able to find the fun. Despite constant repetition and guaranteed predictability, Phil extracted enjoyment from wherever he could. Within infinity, I don’t believe constant improvement is the point — the point was to develop a means to enjoy the moment.

And once he was able to appreciate the present, there was nothing holding back happiness. Even if he had sat in a park feeding pigeons, I think his loop would’ve ended — it was more about the mindset rather than good-deeds. Because again, within eternity, self-improvement and knocking-off the rough-edges can only go-on for so long until you become a polished sphere.

End of excerpt.

So like Phil, it seems like I’m also required to go through incremental improvement at an uncomfortably slow pace. When I was younger and heard about the concept of enlightenment, I always envisioned an instantaneous flash of infinite insight. But perhaps it’s more of a gradual polishing. Day after day, we rub a bit of the roughness away, eventually producing a shinier surface from which light can reflect. Why so slow? Why not — where else do you have to be?