Our cat was sick recently. It behaved kind of funny and shat blood. Turned out to be his kidneys and he got some meds and was fine again. Must be cool, being our cat.
It “behaved funny” in that it chose our bathtub, of all places, to shit in. Several times, we found our tub with blood in it, which, as you can imagine, was pretty alarming at first. When we asked the vet why he would do that, she explained that it hurt the cat to crap stones, and it related that pain to its litter box. I found that the most philosophical thing a cat could ever do ever.
Funny how conditioning works, doesn’t it? It makes perfect sense to tie ‘white berries’ to ‘deadly sick’ from the get-go, but somehow those same relations are forged with just about all things emotional. It leads to all sorts of awesome situations like childhood memories triggered by a scent or taste, but it can work against you like nothing else.
A couple people I know are experiencing this first hand: They are working their way out of a long-term relationship and while they have different ways of doing so, they are fighting the same psychological trap: Conditioning.
It’s all about routine and memory. See a person, love them, hold them, screw them. No matter how much of a bad idea you know it is- if you possibly can, you will. It is such a primary instinct that it tears you up if you can’t, and will override most of your conscious decisions (such as “never again”). Terribly frustrating, but at the same time, extremely comforting.
The key is to make new memories and create new routines. Let’s take the cat, for example. In the same way it did its business in the bathtub, I started sleeping on the couch when things were bad for me. My empty bed was a reminder of what I had lost, and that hurt. Over time, my bed became synonymous to pain, and I began to avoid it, always on the look-out to sleep at other people’s homes, or my couch. I started traveling, hoping to find some place, some condition, some state in which I could be happy. In my case, it didn’t work.
Not just the locations and situations, but your whole being is tied to something you lost, regardless if that’s a person, object or state of mind. That loss brings pain, and no matter what you do, you brain wires itself to that pain and it takes a long process of re-conditioning to be able to let that go. The trick to speed that up is, contrary to what I thought at the time, not to run away from everything but to calmly re-experience it. Eventually, those emotional memories, that conditioning is rewritten and you can start from scratch.
It’s a bitch. You’re fighting your own normally functioning brain, your own self. Another reason for your ego to suffer under the process, which slows it down even more. It’s a cycle with no shortcuts, no easy way out. Those friends of mine know they are at the shore of a sea of misery and they’ll need to go through, like it or not. Weeks, months, maybe years, of intense ache, nauseating pain, with no idea when it will get better- only the faint hope in the knowing that it does indeed get better. I hope something will keep them going through it in the quickest way possible; Perhaps a remaining trust in the beauty of life.
“I ate too much appetizer, now I’m not hungry enough for the main course.”
“My fridge is full- where should I put this new food I bought?”
“10 sausages, 12 sandwiches. What to do?”
“This smartphone responds too slowly.”
“This place has wifi but I don’t know the password.”
First world problems: I’m sure you know them. The world we occupy ourselves with. Those little, stupid little issues that send a wave of depression over us, a flood of annoyance, a universe of sorrow and suffering. And then we sigh, deeply, irritating others, and move on or choose to stay in the moment and moan about it.
Since when is our country “first world”? Surely there must have been some moment where they went, “Okay so we’re first, you’re second, you’re third and you’re fucked.” I say “we, first world” because I doubt any developing country will decide on calling themselves “third world” as if it meant anything.
So back to the question: When? Was it early 1900s? Post world war 2? Either way, I’m sure it wasn’t a time when we had cars with internet, mobile phones or fridges with ice cube dispensers. The luxury we bathe in is in sharp contrast with how people lived even 40 years ago, or before, when vehicles were nearly unaffordable.
I think we might have made a slight mistake counting down to ourselves, making Western Europe “first”. because now that we’ve outgrown it, I don’t think we can just go “zeroeth” world. World 0.5? Hardly sounds like an upgrade, doesn’t it?
To each end every of these dumbshit issues, some company will soon come with a solution. And so, we progress and cry about new things. Every new marvel of technology we can get our greedy paws on will be thoroughly examined, and checked for even the most minor of problems we can gripe about.
I don’t want to be mad with the world, but it’s full of idiots like myself so it’s hard not to be. But enough about that. It’s good to, once in a little while, try and see our problems for what they are. I think it would be hard for you to come up with one of today’s difficulties that doesn’t seem completely trivial once put into perspective. With my red bank account, voluntary insomnia and poor time management, it’s comforting to do that once in a while: See things for what they are.
First world problems.