Friday, March 15, 2013

Sigmund Freud said some wacky things, but long ago I adopted his aphorism that, love and work are the cornerstones to our humanness.  Most of us understand that love is more than the hormone-addled romance of courtship.  It's all the ways that we step outside of our normal egoism to feel the value of others.  It's the unstable, passionate, dyadic connection of a lover and life partner; its the solid foundation of parents and siblings and bedrock friends; it's the terrifying dismembering of self that one's child enforces; it's the casual conversation that makes you give a person that second look in surprise or admiration; it's the spiritual transcendence that exposes the ego as a thin, vibrating note among the crowd or the forest or the cosmos . . . 

The more we love - the more we exist as a sound, true, richly experienced self enmeshed in a webwork of connectedness to things beyond our self, the more fully human we are.  That's a piece of cultural knowledge and experience that is available to people who haven't been warped in some way by their world or their brain's chemistry.

I think what is less familiar to people (or at least to me) is the second part, what Freud called "work," by which he means the whole gamut of things we strive to create in the material world.  Certainly it is more than whatever it is that we do to pay the bills and earn our wages, and which puts a roof over our heads.  It's more than just objects you can hold, and words like these that echo beyond my own mind.  It's reaching out from the realm of the disembodied will and making a change to the world.  I try to map this idea onto that vast, expansive landscape of love, and it seems superficially more finite, more limited -- because it is anchored in real things and hemmed in by the hours of the day.  Yet too, there's something vast about mastering a craft, something infinite about inscribing one's will on the atoms of the world.

I don't pretend to understand it fully, but I accept that there are three cornerstones to the construction of our humanness, an expanding love, a solid self, and good work.