Like a ghost rider

I don’t often wax philosophical here. And I don’t often talk about my personal life, since, if it was any of your business, I would have already told you about it in person. Or on IRC, which is sort of the same thing.

But I thought I’d share the following, from “Ghost Rider”, by Neil Peart, because it makes more sense to me than all the books I’ve ever read about grief and dealing with horrible situations in your life. I tend to have a great deal of contempt for psychologists, because they think that life is formulaic, and, worse yet, they seem to think that if you know the formulas, your problems will go away. Yes, this is a grossly unfair generalization, but it seems that so many “counsellors” have completely lost touch with what it means to suffer, and so they offer formulas to “fix” things. This is profoundly disingenuous.

Anyways, I gain more comfort from Neil’s book than from a dozen counselors, because he does not offer solutions. He just talks about himself, and what he’s going through. He offers a few insights, but does not insist that things are the same for everyone in the world.

Anyways, the following is rather lengthy, but it is covered under Fair Use, and so I’m not violting any copyright laws. But you really should buy this book, if this passage resonates with you.

I have found that it is meaningless to talk in terms of “dealing with it,” or of “working through it.” No. This particular it is not something to be dealt with or worked through. This kind of It simply changes everything, and there’s no coming to terms with it. No deal to be made, no compromise. (I think Ayn Rand once wrote “You can’t compromise with evil.”)

Here and now it’s about starting all over again, from the ground up, and as Darwinian organisms, we are expected to adapt to these new circumstances. Adapt, or perish. We can’t change what is, or its effects on us and our view of life. That is all done. If we truly want to carry on from this dark crossroads, we can only try to guide the inevitable changes in ourselves. We would not be who we are if this was something we could “get over,” or simply carry on from where we left off. Once I expressed the way I see my future this way, “I know I’m scarred by these experiences, I just don’t want to be too crippled by them.”

If there is any point in carrying on, it is not in simply existing, in cluttering up the world with another bitter and nasty old man, or a joyless hermit, or a suffering martyr forever living in the pas, and punishing everyone else for what life has done to me.

I don’t like the feel of the word “Acceptance,” the technical term which is applied by the “griefologists” to the state of the process in which I presently find myself. I found on my return from the Healing Road that after all that time and distance I had at least transcented “denial.” But to me, knowing that these things are true doesn’t mean that I accept the truth. Far from it. As far as I can see, I will never accept that life is supposed to turn out this way. Especially our lives. It’s not the way I lived, or Jackie lived, or the way we taught Selena.

This is not at all the way I thought the world worked, and after all, it is not “acceptable” that Selena and Jackie had to die. No way. Not in my world. So that world, or our world-view, is gone. Some well-meaning people have tried to offer me what they perceive to be a “comforting” thought of the “everything must happen for a reason” kind, but I shut them up right away (as politely as I can). Somehow they don’t see that it’s absolutely no consolation to look at it that way, and more, it brings up some terrible questions in your head: “There’s some kind of reason? What? They deserved to die? I deserved to lose them? The world didn’t need people like Jackie and Selena?”


So, those of us on the “inside,” like you and me, are left trying to “accept the unacceptable.” We’re expected to pull ourselves together and carry on (expectations sometimes from others, sometimes just from an unextinguishable part of ourselves), but we face a pretty desperate battle, after all, for there’s nothing to pull together!

Everything that we were, everything that we based our lives upon, everything that we believe is gone. … No way we can hold onto what we used to believe, and no way we can forget what has actually happened in our lives, and in our worlds. We will never trust Life again.

However, once again, we’ve got to adapt, even to that unbearable reality, or one way or another, we will perish. Period.

I won’t inflict my deep thoughts on you very often, but perhaps this passage will help someone get a useful perspective on things, as Peart’s writings have been doing for me.