Last night I found myself in a fascinating conversation with friends about the differences between us. It started when they were explaining the romantic notion of a book/story like Into the Wild, or Johnny Cash. Two of them were trying to explain to me the attraction to such a story. That there was some sort of connection that they made with the slow unraveling of someone’s life that they identified with. It was like their insides were finding home in the story. Like there was a part of them that wanted to follow in that path.
I just couldn’t relate. While I have always enjoyed and preffered the stories that were raw and honest, possibly even beautiful, like these ones, the last words I would use to describe that enjoyment would be romantic or desireable. Those kinds of stories are despairing and completely undesireable to me. While we both understand them to be tragic, I do not in anyway find solace or shelter in the tragic.
I realized for me, there is a similar kind of romantic desire towards meekness, or like a controlled unraveling with a greater purpose. While they would be reading Into the Wild, I’m reading Che Guevara or Nelson Mandela. There has always been something inside of me that identifies with these grand causes and the lives that unravel for those causes. I can picture my life ending that way. Death is still the end. Unraveling of a life is still happening and the tragic is very much present, but it is for something bigger than that person.
There seems to be a spectrum of meaning that is present. Maybe the far side is the romanticism with death consumed by meaninglessness and the other side is a romanticism with death full of meaning. Yes, yes, I know that meaning and meaninglessness are subjective terms – but they are helpful to explain what is going on here not just with the one who experiences it but also the onlooker. Is this a thing? Is there anyone that explores this spectrum and how it is present within us?