Have you met a person who has given up on life and is just marking time until their death? They are joyless, without light and come across as bumps of flesh and bone.
I’m not talking about the sick or the elderly. I’m talking about the ordinary person who just walks through life with no hope except that it will all end soon.
Then there are those who are obviously wholly dead on the inside, yet
they continue to creep into our lives pretending to be human while
proclaiming the honor of their lives.
We know they are dead, but waking, and they are completely unaware of
I’m not talking about ghosts or those dealing with a terminal illness. I’m talking about those who have lost their lives
through un-frugal, non-kind and selfish living and then fail to
recognize the consequences of their change in condition.
How are these opposite ends of the human experience created and how do
we — as cogent, caring and self-aware human beings — deal with the
recognition of these horrifying disconnections all around us?
On one end we have the stumbler waiting for the terminal inevitable
without joy or passion.
On the other end we have the dead — speed walking and traveling in
circles — unwilling and unable to realize their lives are lost and
bear no magnitude, but yet, they loudly carry on to spite our truth.
Great article. The paradox, it really made me think. It is a problem, how to deal with these people.
The first type, the “joyless” individuals– part of me wants to help, but they are so depressing to be around that I tend to just ignore them and hope at a distance they will find something to pin their hopes on and keep going. I used to work with a guy I will call Donald and became rather calloused towards him. Whatever was happening, he always saw the dark side. He totally bummed me out and I was to the point where I was ready to hand him the gun. Not really, but he made me so angry and finally I just ignored him as much as possible.
The second type, the “selfish” individuals– they are more prevalent, I think. There are so many that are just 100% out for themselves and greedy and caught up in the material world and “just getting more stuff.” I tend to ignore them also. I find it hard to converse with them, because it’s always all about them and their lives and their kids and their “stuff.”
Hi Donna —
Great comment! The most alarming part of the two ends of existence is they appear to have no self-awareness at all concerning their situation. If they did, they might be able to remedy their condition. To tell them they are alive in graves or running around dead inside would have no meaning to them.
Ignoring is one way of dealing with them but sometimes that isn’t enough — especially when they’re both making international foreign policy decisions that neither end communicates or understands.
You are right, ignoring isn’t always enough. In the case of Donald, I had to work with the guy. I had to see him every day, go to meeings with him, work on projects with him, sometimes travel with him, etc.
I read some psychologist’s solution was to “put up your emotional umbrella” whenever you are around these people so they don’t ruin your day. In other words, make a conscious effort not to let their negativity wear off on you. That’s much easier said than done. I developed a sarcastic commentary for Donald that I often used to try to defuse the situation, but I didn’t like myself much for it.
I agree a confrontation wouldn’t work either because they are totally oblivious to their behavior.
Choosing not to deal with these types — to run under the protection of an emotional umbrella can be helpful — but it also gives in to them. By using that umbrella we are reacting to their negative energy by shielding ourselves. I wish we had a way to incubate them away from the rest of us.
Yes, if you find a workable solution, I would be very interested.
Another strategy that does not work is trying to humor them or “be their happy clown.” If you try to jolly them out of their depression, it does not work because they are determined to stay in denial.
HI Donna —
Would the truth work?
“You’re alive, but living in death. Wallow in your living grave and leave me out of it.”
“You’re dead but don’t know it. Please return to your gave and close the coffin lid and leave me out of it.”
I don’t know if the truth would wake them up, but it might make us feel better. 😀
Ha! You’re probably right, Donna. I guess indifference is the best method to use. They have no effect on you, they glide off your back, no umbrella needed.
Indifference is the highest form of contempt because there is no emotion involved.
I don’t think indifference and contempt are the same thing. One is passive and the other is active.
I like the “You’re dead but don’t know it. Please return to your gave and close the coffin lid and leave me out of it” approach.
There’s no way to cheer up people who are happy to be “dead.”
You’re right that people who are dead are just there biding time until The Big End hits and many times, they are more than happy to include you in their unwitting misery of death and non-belonging. Sometimes we need to actively confront that threat and maybe even just run away in order to preserve our lives and our indifference.
I was thinking of this quote from Shaw when I made my last comment. I didn’t exactly get his meaning right.
“Indifference is the essence of inhumanity.”
Do you agree? Should we be pitying these zombies? Or, in the name of self-preservation, totally ignore them?
In the case of those waiting to die — I don’t think indifference matters to them because they live numb lives waiting for the shade to be drawn.
In the case of the undead that do not realize they are already dead — is it possible to be indifferent to a non-living thing and have that indicate any sort of meaning at all?
I think the Shaw quote applies to those of us who are trying to live cogent lives together because applying that quote to my article’s argument today doesn’t make sense to me.
I appreciate the clarification, Donna. Sometimes discussions blend and liquefy into different meanings and that process is always fun to explore.
I’m happy to travel in any direction the impulses take us, but sometimes I get riveted back to the original intention now and then as a pseudo reality check. 😀
Lovely article David!
I can’t handle “naysayers”, I just avoid them to preserve my own sanity. Moreover it’s contagious, dampens one’s mood to!
I think it is a state of mind that fails to see the bright side of the life – pity!
Right on, Katha! These are issues of the mind and perception!
Yes David, the only thing I don’t understand how can they be so oblivious about it? Do they create a bubble to live in?
They are unaware of their blood and their bloodlessness. They are entities to be pitied and feared. They are signs of what we must never become.