Iconic Irony

By: Bela Johnson

May 17 2016

Tags: , , ,

Category: mindfulness, musings, people, philosophy, psychology, Uncategorized

13 Comments

Aperture:f/2.2
Focal Length:4.15mm
ISO:200
Shutter:1/30 sec
Camera:iPhone 5s

All we know of another
may be only what our illusions support;
if we want a savior, they become that
in our minds, even our cells;
if we need a lover, a mother,
a brother, best friend, they become that
as well, until, exhausted from the weight
of the world’s expectations,
a pin is pulled, the makeup slides off,
holy garments slip from slumped shoulders
and the beloved appears, just like us,
in their naked humanity.

If I barely know myself,
how is it I suppose I can know another,
save for my own projections;
we are complex, we are selfish,
the most noble among us gets angry,
even cruel in our way, and we jump
back stunned, barely able to witness
what materializes before astonished eyes;
we observe, questioning, not them
if we are lucky, but our own
perceptual distortions.

photo: bj, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ 2015

13 comments on “Iconic Irony”

  1. The photograph was a lovely springboard into analyzing relationships and really knowing anyone, including ourselves, Bela! Fantastic writing including the words I enjoyed such as, how we see someone and how the mantle may fall, the reality sets in due to the “pin being pulled” or the “makeup removed.” Hugs and aloha, dear friend! ❤ ~ Robin

  2. “If I barely know myself, how is it I suppose I can know another” I think this is the first understanding of how we can move through our life and with others easily. Wonderful wisdom thankyou Bela. 🙂

    • Thanks for taking time to express your thoughts. And isn’t it the truth? I mean, even those of us who diligently work at becoming as aware as we are able surely surprise ourselves from time to time. Why mindfulness is key, I think. Aloha ❤

  3. Hi Bela,

    Isn’t life an illusion? My scriptures say it is just like a ‘bubble of water’ yet we assume it is long and it is ours and we have full control over it and all the relationships are real! Indeed it is ‘iconic irony’…as you have so beautifully summarized.
    So what if I don’t know myself, I have been given the opportunities to explore, define and decide what I want to be…our own expectations from ourselves are infinite then why shouldn’t our dear ones have?
    We may be complex and that is the beauty of human relationships…curiosity and ‘perceptual’ distinctions set us apart.
    Thanks for sharing such a philosophical thought!

    • Aloha, Balroop, and thanks for your focused and thoughtful reply. Yes, we humans certainly are complex. And I am not without certain expectations, though I know the truth in the statement, “expectations are like premeditated resentments.” Even so, I catch myself up in them, from time to time. It really is a lifetime’s work to simply be mindful of my own missteps and illusions and dance.

      I wrote this poem shortly after a dear friend’s death; after observing certain others virtually canonizing her, even as I urged them to respect her humanity. Whatever grief brings up in people can surely be forgiven, yet I feel it does others a disservice to hold them in life or death up to such high standards. We all have fallen and will do so, again and again. And so. ❤

  4. Gosh, there’s an awful lot in there to unravel, Bela. Three subsets for me would be:

    a) How our assumptions elude us. I think this is perhaps the hardest part of self-awareness, in that our assumptions operate so swiftly within our thought-streams that we barely are able to catch them, even with mindful intent. Do we even recognise many of our deeply ingrained psychological traits, those that seem so intimate and natural to us that they pass as givens regardless of their pernicious effects?

    b) How we get past the dramaturgical performances that act (literally) as our social selves? How do we get to the ‘naked humanity’ you write of, when empathic understanding seems so widely absent, or even derided? If all we see of the other is their social performance – and this occurs in familial settings too, of course – then what mechanism is there by which we may discount the weighting of this within our own minds and responses? How many of us are open to an unadorned, and so potentially scary, display of authenticity in others?

    c) How do we cease conflating the act with the person in their essential being? Can we learn to object to the crime – the harsh word, the selfish deed, etc. – yet not object to the individual? Can we learn to see that all of our ‘projections’ (your word) are just that, merely conditioned responses to inner dispositions, maybe of our own hurt or sense of inadequacy? Can we learn to see that the anger seemingly projected at me, is in fact an internalised anger being expressed outwardly by the other? Where is the fault in all this, or are we conceiving of the whole entirely misguidedly?

    You have, as always, provided much food for thought, dear Bela!

    Hariod ❤

    • Hariod, you have just brought up some powerful and important insights, I think. How assumptions elude us, yes. Even the most mindful among us. As I say to my husband/closest confidant (very) occasionally, ‘I know what I’m doing/thinking, but I don’t care to stop it.’ In the case of being so angry at stupidity or willful ignorance or meanness in others, for example. To be frank, that’s my downfall, I try to understand these others are struggling in their way to deal with (fear, inner wounds, the world, etc), but it just seems wanton at times. Willful. Yet if I (emphasis) cannot stop it or don’t care to – how can they begin to unravel their motivations … so I am my own full-time project. As it were.

      As for ‘dramaturgical effects,’ your response is personally enlightening, as you’ve more or less nailed my downfall in this life – that of being almost completely open and up-front and able to hone in on the authentic qualities within others, even when it causes them discomfort. (I do know this is unnerving at times, but it seems i’m incapable of choking it back). So yes, I realize more and more how comfortable it is for others to hide behind masks (personae), even though my own is thinly veiled and doesn’t hold up for long. Some might call this ‘protection,’ but since it’s false, how long before ‘it’ begins to eat at one’s insides? And yes, if we humans were able to interact completely authentically, we would, as now, practice discernment with regards to those with whom we come into close contact. And yes, there would still be need for some sort of social checks and balances. Hypothetically, of course, as none of this seems remotely possible(!)

      And thirdly, yes. This is tricky. Not conflating the act with the person committing it. This is so difficult, even when I know better (I cannot speak for others). It’s one thing to say, ‘Oh, it’s just their stuff,’ and quite another to grok this on a cellular level. Sometimes it’s so jarring as to throw off my best intentions, especially when it appears straight out of the blue. At such times, it seems far easier to smack an epithet onto the combination person/behavior, EVEN THOUGH I know better, as I say. And I do all this internally, by the way.

      Being human is hard work! Though I do so try 😉 Sending loving thoughts your way, along with deep appreciation for your Being. ❤

  5. Thanks as always, Bela. I am examining my own ‘projections’ at the moment…
    Though that being said, I share the trait of being open and honest (attempting some regard for social niceties) and I cannot help but feel the world would be a much easier place if this were true of more people…And thinking of Fritz Perls, who wrote a book on the subject of complete honesty…Best 🙂

  6. SOULMATE

    You understand me
    You accept me as I am
    That’s irony, right?

    • Maybe ironic or maybe fallacy to ever imagine one can fully ‘understand’ another. We are given a lifetime to attempt to know ourselves, and many fail even at that, often not caring to know more. But for those who seek, there are always new frontiers to explore – of that I am certain. Aloha, BN. Thanks for sharing! ❤

      • Similar thoughts have been running through my mind and writing recently and various takes on them will be emerging in coming postings I’m sure. Stay tuned. 🙂


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