Under the spell of beauty

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Two things are often more beautiful than reality: the looking forward to something, and the memory of it. One thing is more poignant than joy: nostalgia, in all of its forms.

Imagine this situation: you are walking through a park. It’s spring. Countless trees are blossoming; the grass is so green it hurts your eyes. There is a breeze, but it’s light enough to carry only soft scents with no accompanying shiver. The sky is adamantly, disconcertingly blue. You feel both very light and too heavy for your environs. You are filled with an odd joy that is at once wonder and pain, and beneath it, an understanding that this moment will one day in the near future become more than the sum of its parts: you will look back on this park and remember it with a stab of joy and – especially – belonging which you had not attained while walking through it.

Because walking through this beauty, you know that in fact you are not quite part of it. To others, catching a glimpse of your smile as you look around, it might seem so, but you know better. You are forever isolated slightly from the beauty around you by your humanness, by the thoughts of rent and body and food and human slights and time and lists filling your mind. You cannot let go at will, not entirely, because letting go would mean losing all sense of self, and self-awareness is the human condition, a condition at once wonderful and limiting.

This awareness is what enables you to see the breathtaking glory of your environment. Think about it: the birds flitting about are not aware of the fact that they are beautiful. They are digging for worms and carrying on territorial wars and preening in search of mates and building nests. They do not stop and think: ‘I am creating beauty.’ Neither do the squirrels. Neither does the grass, or even the blossoms, or the gnarly branches on that isolated oak tree standing in woebegone wisdom, though to look at it one would think that it could surely not be unaware of its own majesty.

Now imagine that you walk past a couple sitting on a park bench. They are completely caught up in each other’s eyes, loosely holding hands, laughing at something. You can see in the way they sit, in the way their voices intertwine, in the way one of them quickly leans forward for a kiss, that they are barely aware of their surroundings. Perhaps the spring in its splendour contributes to their joy, but they hardly know it. Certainly they do not notice you noticing them.

Or imagine you walk past a little boy digging in the dirt. He has hair standing on end to the one side, tongue sticking out in concentration, hands already grubby and face drawn into an absorbed frown. You look at his scuffed legs and his dirty pants-seat and at the way he is entirely caught up in the moment, unaware of the picture he is creating.

What do you feel? Chances are, you emotions are mixed. You feel appreciation. You feel joy for their sake. You also feel an unnamed emotion, which, for lack of a better word, we will simply call ‘feeling touched’. And then, admittedly, there are slightly less pleasant emotions. You want to be part of this beautiful tableau – one might even call it jealousy. You think back to your childhood and wonder why you were so eager to grow up. You think back to someone you love or loved and wish they were here, and you wish love were always as simple and uncomplicated as that couple makes it seem. For a moment, you think that perhaps it could indeed be this simple. You feel nostalgic for hordes of unnamed experiences, both in the past and in the hoped-for future. If you’re like me, you walk away daydreaming about all the wonderful things you still plan on doing, adding “sitting on a park bench with someone I love” to the list. Like a friend of mine once told the girl he liked: “You make me miss something I’ve never had before.”

We are like Dickensian children standing barefoot in the snow, peeking into other people’s houses where they have a large Christmas tree put up, lights strung from it, sitting around eating oranges and Christmas cake and laughing. We envy them and we feel the cold, suddenly, much more sharply because it is being compared to the scene in front of us. Yet that detracts nothing from the beauty we are keenly aware of experiencing.

And yet we have been given a gift, walking through that park, which those birds and that couple and that boy did not know at that very moment. We were the ones who saw unselfconscious beauty. They felt contentment. They felt happiness. But only afterward – while rushing to work, while in the midst of an argument or at night feeling lonely, or all grown-up in twenty years’ time – will they look back and feel what we felt when we looked at them. Only then will they appreciate the beauty they created whilst completely unaware of doing so.

Looking at other people’s happiness – others’ beauty – can be difficult. It’s hard to admit, but it’s true. We are filled with conflicting emotions when we see others happy, as when we listen to beautiful music and are left feeling both wondrously romantic and oddly lonely; like when we read great books and are filled with equal amounts of wonder and the desire to immediately emulate this author by writing copious poems (which we read afterwards and immediately erase in embarrassment).

This is what beauty does (and seeing happiness is seeing beauty): it creates within us a river threatening to gush from its banks, a need to create and to cause beauty as well, a longing to somehow become part of the beauty we see. When we see something which moves us, we want to recreate it. We long to be inside it, instead of outside it. And so we are at odds with ourselves, because we know that this longing in itself is the source of beauty, the driving force behind it, but we cannot be satisfied with it alone – the very longing would disappear were we to be satisfied with it. Desire is the driving force behind creativity. Longing and frustration are the birthplace of fulfilment. They co-exist in a constant give and take, a swinging back and forth between wanting and having.

And so it seems we cannot have both our cake and eat it. But we can take turns eating it and pondering on it in awed appreciation, whether before or after the actual eating. And there is balance in that; there is an odd kind of fairness to it. Because we also know, whether we want to embrace this knowledge or not, that joy is at its best when placed against contrasts. We know that gratitude comes from the knowledge that this moment cannot carry on forever. In Andrew Solomon’s heartrendingly familiar words: “I tend to find the ecstasy hidden in ordinary joys, because I did not expect those joys to be ordinary to me.”

The best we can do is to try to practice awareness: when in the moment of joy, still being gratefully aware of its sublimeness. And in the same manner we could practise letting go of our self-consciousness when standing outside the edges of happiness, allowing no thoughts of ourselves to penetrate the will to participate fully in what we see.

And when we fail at this – which we will –, when we are once again struck by our desires and our dissatisfaction and our own not-having; or when we live through a beautiful moment only to catch ourselves wondering, later, why we did not appreciate it fully, we can let it be. We can use the impetus of longing to create and, in time, to appreciate. And we can allow enjoyment to be uncomplicated. And perhaps we can learn to accept our humanness, this condition which leaves us always either achingly aware outside of a small circle of beauty, or achingly unaware inside of it, or – usually – both.

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Grace upon grace

Today I went flying in a small airplane over the Boland and the ocean, and the joy of it sits still within my throat and in my eyes, not yet diluted by time, unprocessed, like the memory of a meal so recent and so formidable that the body can hardly comprehend the wonder of it.

The experience was so completely separated from any expectations or dreams I might have had (except for the time when I was eight and dreamed of becoming a pilot) that it was like waking up to a bookshelf filled with new books, or to a breathtaking new view, or walking into a surprise birthday party: completely incandescently wonderful. I did not spend years hoping for this day (the way one might hope for, say, a graduation or a wedding, hoarding secret magazine cutouts in preparation of this perfect occasion) and so there was none of the bated breath which accompanies long-held expectation (except when we took off, but that might have been my chest dropping into my stomach), the fear of hoping for too much, the inevitable anticlimactic disappointment as the day draws to an end. I did not rehearse every eventuality beforehand, or jump up and down at a long-held dream being finally fulfilled, did not even truly wonder what would happen should the pilot have a heart attack (until he brought that up in mid-flight, after which I looked at all the incomprehensible buttons in front of me – not to mention the 2000 feet between earth and myself – with decided apprehension).

And in fact we only spent about 25 minutes in the air. Yet it was utterly and completely wonderful, not because it exceeded my wildest expectations, but perhaps rather because I had almost none. They were completely isolated, those 25 minutes, with just the most humbling expanse of blue sea below, just the trees coming scarily closer upon landing, just the roaring of the engines. I felt part of everything, and yet part of nothing, tourist to my own experience, watching myself watching with both awe and detachment.

Afterwards I spent basically the whole afternoon wondering what I did to deserve this. I know, perhaps a small flight over the ocean isn’t all that incredible in the large scale of things, but to me it was so unexpected and beautiful that I needed to understand how I could possibly have earned it. I paid nothing; I gave nothing in return except some inconsequential small talk. The friend who took me was a stranger until quite recently, someone from a completely different walk of life who somehow took a liking to me after meeting on a work-related matter. I analyzed my personality and my conversational skills at length, because I still struggle to believe in anything being free, but honestly, I haven’t told a funny joke in years and also, I’m not exactly sex on legs. I still have zits, for crying out loud. There was nothing – I honestly contributed nothing, not even an invitation in return.

Basically, I just received a memory which I did nothing at all to deserve, had not hinted for (I hope), had not even thought of wanting, had not imagined my life as empty without. I just sat and watched the earth drop away beneath me and absorbed the view assaulting my eyes. I just received, without having worked for it, without having earned it. And I am truly grateful, in a way in which one cannot be grateful for something earned by own sweat and tears, because I had no notion of having deserved this.

That, to me, is grace. “The sun shines on both the good and the evil” (or the deserving and the undeserving). Not everything we receive on earth is a direct result of our actions, a transaction-like give and take, or a just reward for years of toil (unless you believe in an obscure kind of karma). Sometimes beauty is free, Yeats’ “lonely impulse of delight” sometimes comes with no strings attached, and there need be no further reason for the gift than the bare fact that life is unpredictable, and that sometimes unpredictability is lovely.

In essence, this also means that life is unfair. Fairness, after all, is getting exactly what you paid for, exactly what you worked for. 2 + 2 = 4. But grace is unfair. Because yes, unfairness isn’t only always bad, and sometimes when we complain we forget about that. Grace is getting more than what you deserve, and I know that I for one have gotten much more than I deserve, and this flight has been only one small piece of evidence attesting to that.

For instance: I was born intelligent (or, to be exact, with attributes which are recognized as intelligent in the context within which I live). I was born (or tweaked, afterwards) fully physically functional. I was born skinny and I have remained so, though not as a result of any self-discipline whatsoever. I was born from interesting and educated parents. I was born white. Many of these things are completely arbitrary, meaning that not alone did I not earn them in any way, but the bare fact that they count in my favour is only because of the time and place within which I was born (being white and skinny being chief of these). These things have been advantageous to me, and I recognize that this is actually unfair. I might as well have been born female in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. I might – very easily, I should add – have been born to a family which did not have the opportunity to provide me with the operations that enabled me to walk normally today. I might have been born to illiterate parents.  I can lay no claim to what I have, I have no bragging rights over my talents, because I received them when my slate was still clean of both good or bad.

And that’s also the potential problem with the concept of grace. Because if I have something I didn’t deserve, if I am (shudder) “blessed”, does that mean some great capricious being – or just genetic randomness – sat in the sky doling out gifts to random receivers, skipping over someone else to give me more than I deserve?

I don’t know. Here I feel tempted to say that I have also been on the receiving end of the nastier side of unfairness, so that evens it out, but equaling my small misfortunes to those of many others is rather self-obsessed and also not at all accurate. But I do feel that having something should not inevitably lead to feeling guilty because not everyone has it. Rather, it should lead to awareness. I should be grateful. I should live my life with eyes wide open, leaving any sense of entitlement where it belongs (six feet under), never forsaking my sense of wonder, because without it all the grace of the world would be wasted on me. And so I am clinging onto the joy which made me proclaim my luckiness to an empty flat, just an hour ago.

However, being aware of grace also means that I should realise that I am not, in fact, a “self-made woman”. Someone told me recently that “everyone is responsible for his/her own success”, which I think is only partially true. Perhaps we are all responsible for our own happiness, yes, but the above quotation smacks, to me, of smug self-righteousness. It says “I worked for what I have, so can you”, and behind that phrase lies the thought that “I earned what I have. I deserve it. If you don’t have it, it’s because you don’t deserve it.” But none of us got solely what we deserve. We were all born, as far as I can tell, equally blameless. And yet some of us got more than others did, right from the start, and later too. Not recognizing that overlooks the complexity of life; it discredits everyone who has changed our lives in meaningful ways throughout its course, and it gives way too much credit to oneself.

There is a lot of value in hard work. There is value in sayings such as “you create your own luck”. But the pleasures gained from reaping the fruits of one’s labour should never be accompanied by complacency, and by what is in fact arrogance. It should never be an excuse to turn a blind eye to the fact that one has benefited from life’s seemingly random unfairness, but that others may not have. Grace should not be guilt-inducing, but neither should it ever be taken for granted.

This might be a change of subject, but bear with me if you will: I am turning 25 in a few days. As I tend to do upon such occasions (and a quarter of a century sounds especially weighty to me), this has led to me being rather introspective. I have not become nearly the person I thought I would when I was 15. I don’t feel much like an adult yet, in fact – paying my rent every month is still something I congratulate myself for doing. I don’t quite know what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t drink cocktails with Sex and the City-like friends and I haven’t magically become neat and organized and aloof and magnetic and wonderful. Also, I don’t play the cello to crowds of awestruck onlookers; I don’t have magically beautiful calves to accompany those imaginary skyscraper heels, and I haven’t published scores of bestselling novels.

But I am really, really happy. I have been the recipient of more grace than I could ever fathom. And I really like my life. I like what I’ve achieved and I like what I’ve received and I like what I’ve experienced throughout this wonderfully random and unexpected journey which has been my life so far. I also don’t know for how much longer I’ll live – it could be until tomorrow, or it could be half a century more – but I’m okay with that, because there has already been enough life in my life, so far, to, well, last a lifetime. And I am thoroughly grateful for that.

The same friend who took me flying asked me afterwards if I’d attained everything I’d aimed to reach by the age of 25. That was actually pretty hard to answer, because of course I didn’t, but also, I did. I wouldn’t change anything. In fact, I told him I’m okay with dying right now if I have to. He was a bit startled by that, and upon closer inspection what I said does sound both flippant and morbid. I’m just at the starting gates of life, and it sounds like I’m proclaiming “I have arrived!” But apart from being hesitant to have my family inherit my credit card debt, it’s actually true – not that I have arrived, but that I am satisfied. I know that if I die today, my last thoughts won’t be “but I still wanted to do that, and that, and that!”. In fact, I was recently in a situation where I fleetingly thought I was going to die, and my thoughts immediately scrambled themselves into readiness. And what I felt, as I was preparing myself, was gratefulness. (Also, I felt grateful just after that, when I realised I wasn’t dead – so there’s that.)

I flew (or rather, I was flown) in a small plane today. It was not something I earned, and it was so much more enjoyable for that. Tomorrow I might die in a kitchen fire, or I could get cancer, and I’m not being blasé about it because I’d really rather not have those things happening to me, but if so, I’ll still have flown in a plane today. Today I sat staring at layers of rocks piled onto each other, like thick onion peels, from mountains jutting precariously over the ocean. I saw tiny yachts below me. In the distance there was a ring of clouds over the water and I knew that it was raining there, 50 kilometers out. There was almost no wind at all and for a while we just glided along silently, all noise save for an occasional radio announcement dampened by our headsets, with only the smallest of white foams far below to indicate movement. The world was very small, and yet it was very wide.

I know that I am very small; in fact I am inconsequential. Soon I’ll die and little of what I have said and done will remain. But I would like to believe that my gratefulness will somehow join a great cloud of gratefulness floating around, buoying the world up, and that I, in turn, have given cause for gratefulness somewhere. And if there was no gratefulness, if no one remembers me eventually once I die, then that too will be all right, because in giving there is no earning.

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(And just because it’s really beautiful, here’s some Yeats:

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

 

Also, my intentions for the rest of my lifetime (hey, if there’s ever a time to rub your resolutions all over people’s faces, isn’t it on your birthday?):

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it joyfully; for there is no work or device or wisdom in the grave where you are going,

I returned and saw under the sun that –

 

The race is not to the swift,

Nor the battle to the strong,

Nor bread to the wise,

Nor riches to men of understanding,

Nor favour to men of skill;

But time and chance happen to them all.” – Ecclesiastes 9: 10-11).

Comparison is the tree and pretty much everything nasty is its branches

Recently a friend and I had a conversation while driving in her car. She has a pretty cool though oldish Toyota Corolla, if I remember correctly (I suck at cars), and we were complaining about all the spoilt first-years with their brand spanking new hatchbacks bought with daddy’s money, driving like complete idiots and not even realising their own privilege. Which led to us comparing notes on what makes us feel unhappy – jealous, even – such as idyllic facebook status updates made from Zanzibar, people with endless wardrobes, endless vacations…basically, pretty much everything.

What struck me, though, is that different things make us feel resentful. For instance, I do not for a moment envy anyone’s nice car, though a pretty sports car leaves me slack-jawed: I like it, but I don’t want it. The reason is not because I’m not materialistic (I sometimes start thinking I am, and then I wake up drooling next to a clothes or bookshop window). It’s because I have never thought of myself as being someone with a car, let alone a nice one. It’s not part of my frame of reference. Having a car would be a nice-to-have, in a vague kind of way, one day when I live in a suburb that doesn’t scare me and I have to commute or something, but right now, I’d much prefer having a nice electric piano. Now THAT desire awakens all kinds of resentments in me. My thoughts go something like this: “that girl can basically only play chopsticks and she has a R10 000 Yamaha. I deserve that. I should have that. Life is utterly and completely unfair and one day everyone will wake up and recognize my suffering and be in awe. Also, karma’s a bitch. So watch out, girl, life will totally screw you for having bought that piano while I couldn’t have it.”

Thing is, other people can’t for the life of them understand why I am content walking to work in drenching rain at least once a week. I probably look spineless to them – ‘why doesn’t she just get a grip and get some money and get a car?’ Whereas I feel smug, because I’m getting exercise for free, I am breathing clean air and thinking all my thoughts for uninterrupted minutes on end, I’m being nice and carbon footprintlessish, I save money, I have no parking rages, I am autonomous (I usually turn down lifts when they are offered because I prefer my own pace), and I get to look like a martyr too. What’s not to love about that?

However, the moment I start seriously entertaining the thought of having a car, thinking of all the nice things I’m missing out on, wishing I could drive to Wellington for the day and sit in a coffee shop staring at the mountains without having to beg for a lift, I start feeling sorry for myself. That’s why I hardly ever entertain these thoughts – imagining myself as being someone who could actually have a car would only lead to dissatisfaction (I’ll start imagining myself as such when I have the money to feed the daydream). Comparison is contentment’s greatest enemy.

So, two things: what we want depends on our perspective, on how we view ourselves and therefore on what we can imagine ourselves having. And what we can imagine ourselves having depends to a large extent on whom we are comparing ourselves to. For this very same reason we feel sorry for others who don’t have what we have. We cannot imagine any human being okay with wearing worn clothes, or living in a terrible house, or eating food which we find disgusting, or walking in the rain rather than driving, or even more arbitrary stuff, like not wearing a specific brand, or not doing something we really love (whether that be jogging or reading – I deeply pity people who don’t like reading). And in this pity, we are forgetting that a large amount of our desires (except the basic ones such as food and shelter, and even these are subject to a variety of interpretations) are subject to our social environment and to what we have been convinced should be necessary for a good life.

There are many complexities to this which I cannot even begin to discuss, chiefly because of my lack of substantial knowledge about it. However, a few studies and articles regarding the link between money and happiness have been quite enlightening to me. It seems as if money is not nearly as important as relative wealth – being well-off in comparison to your peers, whether you live in Bangladesh or New York, contributes much more to your happiness than does actual wealth. Another factor is not having to worry about survival – naturally lying awake at night wondering where your next meal will come from is not quite conducive to satisfaction. (And yet even the word “food” does not mean the same thing to everyone – to me, being well-fed means having tomatoes, garlic, and at least two cheeses in my fridge and another one in my stomach. I doubt whether a large amount of people would attach the same meaning to the phrase.)

Recently I went to a trip through parts of Namibia with a friend, and what really struck me was the Himba children periodically begging next to the road. The only English word they seemed to know was “sweet”, presumably because that’s what they’d been given before (I would have thought begging for apples to be much wiser, but then, the whole point here is that you don’t want what you don’t know).

When we camped out in the bush by the Kunene River one night, a few Himba women came asking for medicine (which they explained by way of highly entertaining elaborate miming). About half a dozen children flocked to our campfires and sat nearby, watching us curiously, not interfering much except to play with the camp’s children and occasionally indicating that a pork chop might not be unwelcome. Apart from wanting Panados and hinting at wanting some food, they gave no hint of viewing us as being luckier than them, though. Their expectations were small and yet I kept feeling pity – completely without cause as no-one seemed unhappy – and of course feeling embarrassed because I felt pity. I kept wondering “don’t those children want to shower? I would have if I had that much dirt stuck to me. Don’t they want clothes a bit more elaborate than their loincloths? And how about shoes?”

Cue blurry photo of campfire a la proper tourist

Cue blurry photo of campfire a la proper tourist

Of course – thankfully – I could identify my pity for what it was, namely a fundamental lack of perspective and, in fact, a totally misplaced sense of superiority which I could relatively easily shrug off, leaving me free to enjoy their enjoyment of our torches and cameras without the slightest vestige of guilt. In my mind, I know full well that others have different ways of living and that their ways are equally valid. In my secret heart, though, I seem to struggle a bit more with the idea that any way of life apart from mine could be quite as enjoyable, unless it’s my way of life but with more of the things that I want.

It’s easy to see these children, shake our heads a bit, and say “shame”, more as an affectionate term than one implying a real shame – and yet it’s derogatory . It’s easy to drive past a hobo and wonder “how could you live like that?” with both sympathy and scorn, and a bit of fear at the very idea of ever ending up like that. We are still living with the last vestiges of our self-imposed “white saviour” idea, now alive in a variety of derivatives, and thriving of course among more than just white people. We come, we see, we pity. And then we conquer, not with armies but with marketing, with the absolute conviction that our own ways of living are better than anyone else’s. We create for ourselves a certain highly personified brand, and then we desire everything which we view as falling within that brand, and we also pity others who don’t have as much, as seen from the context of our own brand.

I marvel at people who seem to think owning a satellite TV and fantastic Reeboks is preferable to having a house that does not leak, while I’m sure many of them cannot understand why I am content with a computer from the stone ages and no television whatsoever. Most of my acquaintances spend their money quite differently from me – I would rather perpetually eat rice than have no wifi, coffee, and cigarettes; to others this seems not only weird but a condition to be pitied. (Granted, I’d rather have good food AND those things, but given the choice, I stick to my guns, and this is proven at the end of every month.)

True, even people who are relatively happy with their lives might desire other people’s things ( I wouldn’t turn down a free car if one were offered), and they might use others’ sympathy to get these things, like the Himba children asking for sweets, though I am relatively sure they don’t spend the rest of their days pining away for a Bar One. This is partially fed by those who do have the things’ complete inability to imagine being happy without them, and thereby benevolently (read: condescendingly) giving some of their stuff away. But there is a fundamental difference between vaguely wanting something, and actually feeling unhappy because of not having it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we can only want what we know, but I think we only truly want what we imagine ourselves as being justified in having; in fact, as being owed, to a certain extent, whether that be a romantic boyfriend like our roommate’s, a fabulous body, or a piano.

That is what marketing has managed to do so wonderfully (and I do not at all only refer to actual advertising but to everything from facebook photo albums to subtle bragging by acquaintances): it has installed within us the idea that we could have everything we desire. Everything is within our reach, we “deserve” everything. And when those things prove to be elusive, we feel dissatisfied. We feel bereft; we feel we are missing out. New, formerly unattainable things have been dangled in front of our noses, and now we want them. And so we live in constant discomfort, at best maintaining a tenuous balance between satisfaction and desire.

And there is not really anything wrong with desiring certain things. As humans, striving towards something is often what defines us, what keeps us from becoming mired in a contentment so placid it starts to resemble discontent. Most of us know the fine line between desiring something fulfilling and something empty, and at the very least strive to achieve a balance between growth and pleasure. And yet even my smallest, non-growth related desires are valid, because they exist, because I exist, and I am valid. But so are others’, however little I understand them.

So what I’m saying is that our desires are determined by our points of reference, by whom we are comparing ourselves to and by whom we’d like to be. And, thankfully, that differs from person to person. Also, because of that, we could practice being less prone to pitying (because pity is judgement’s embarrassing brother) – in fact, perhaps admiration is due. Living a life free from desiring the myriad things I cannot live without certainly looks impressive to me. Point is, pity is laziness; it shows lack of imagination: not being able to imagine ever not being us, not being able to part with our own wants to imagine ourselves into others’. By feeling pity we are limiting others to our frame of reference and thereby limiting their independent humanity. Respecting others in the true sense of the word means respecting the fact that they can live fully functional, or happily dysfunctional, lives unhampered by the stuff that we have come to see as essential to our happiness – and also that they may want other things than do we.

In the end it comes down to a quote from Annie in the season 5 finale of Community (best series ever – I feel sorry for people who don’t structure a part of their identity on this show, just sayin’) where she says: “we should respect each other enough to [allow us to] want what we want, no matter how transparently self-destructive or empty our desires may be”. (If you don’t get anything else from this post, at least watch Community. They even have an episode where they self-actualise (season 3). And they’re full of attempts at moving speeches and off sarcasm – it’s like Jeff is writing my blog. Also, I’m being as meta as them right now, so perhaps I’d better stop while I’m ahead).