Available on kindle (reader, tablet, and phone)at atheoryof.me: a memoir. And follow me on twitter: @caseysschroeder. (Only the following snippet from the memoir is duplicated in this blog. The memoir is entirely new and original material.)
“God came into my life literally two months ago and boy did it hurt. I don’t believe all that crap about God carrying us our whole lives and we just don’t realize it ’til we’re older. Sure, I knew he/she/it was hanging around, but I didn’t let him in. I fought tooth and nail not to let him in. And you know what, I don’t regret that either. I don’t think you’re really human if you don’t fight him. I mean that. And oddly enough, I wouldn’t have the confidence to say that if he hadn’t come into my life. I mean that too. But now that he’s in my life, I have to say, I think he is kind of nuts. I mean, he wants me to write a memoir. A memoir entails people and places and events and all I can see is a s**t storm of blowback. Sure he’s not so stupid as to let me make a mess that he has to clean up alone. But still, the only thing I can take from this is that he thinks the whole world is such a mess anyhow that we have to try something. So I guess that’s what I’m here to do. Why not?
I have to assume that I am pretty dense. I’m not very big after all, but everywhere I go, I seem to warp the field around me. There are any number in perpetual fall about me at any time, and when I show up, they bump into others as though they do not know where they are going. Sometimes I cause an inexplicable pull and when they arrive, they are a bit distorted and can’t communicate much at all. Other times they plot a course to come in for a landing and attempt to take me off course with them as they leave. Then there are those that appear right up close, by means that I can’t quite discern, and I’m pretty careful, but sometimes I let them stay, for better or for worse. For a while though, I think I had a reputation for being too dense. That anything that got too close would be sucked under into oblivion. That happened more than once actually, and it is the worst. I guess I had to lighten up.
This is a theory of me.”
Having been thoroughly beaten up by your own concerns of reputation, there comes a time where you must no longer live only in the eyes of your fellow man, but live for you.
I have lived in various lands and mingled with various people and with me now is a shield which fends off all comers from my inner peace. It is something earned with experience and missing in youth (unless egregiously optimistic). The protection may amount to “easy-come, easy-go”, but it is more from the subjective perspective. It is a freedom earned with trial by fire, and an honor bestowed on one from above.
The ability to love, without possessing; the ability to perform to your best, without concern for excellence; the ability to forgive as human and harmless, what society may nonetheless despise – in this you can make for yourself a wonderful world, even should your past experience be grim.
If you can’t always keep a straight face during mass, if you tend to laugh at political hearings because they are great theater, if you tend to think that Saturday Night Live’s Evening Update is better news than the news, then it is a sign that you suffer from irreverence. It is a condition known to afflict millions of people who nonetheless manage to survive, provided they conform to protocol.
The protocol for irreverence is that you can’t be serious. If you are not serious, you can be as irreverent as you like, as long as you don’t divulge too much. If you insist on being serious and you are nonetheless irreverent, you will be taken as a threat to the peace. If you are serious and reverent, you will be taken as a prospective political candidate or moral leader – in short a threat to the power of those with power. But if you are just not serious then you can be reverent or irreverent all you like – in short, you can live your life.
The trouble, you see, is not that I can never be reverent. It is that I can’t always be reverent. There are always those too astute observations of the absurd which strike my mind and no force of will can restrain me from comment because they are too funny. They are just funny and it’s not my fault. But they are enough for people to look at me askew…
So I have decided to relegate my seriousness to refined literary and unspontaneous text which need not absorb my life. In short, I have decided to live my life. It is by all accounts an absurd life and no one can take that away – but it is freedom to let that absurdity live in comedy and not insist on fighting the absurd with sincerity, because you will lose, seriously.
Some of you have always been yourself. You live without any adopted affectations which are necessary for others to move fluidly in social situations. There is no need for hours in the mirror. There is no need for pinching pennies. Instead of investing discretely in a social appearance, which may persuade some you mingle in circles, you simply invite dilatants to your home to flirt with dignitaries. Others just don’t care for games of status. They come from family which valued work and friends and family and personal eccentricity and you have been capable of happily playing small games of little consequence and much reward for most of your lives.
Others were happily themselves as children only to have found their genuine selves vanishing with age, while running into conflicts or disappointment which later pushed them to affect manners, behavior, or appearances which were not true to their personalities or lifestyles, striving to be people they deemed successful. They may desire to be elite or even desire to be more grounded. Others were not allowed to be themselves even as children and strive to discover who they are, as much as they may try to flourish as themselves. In such cases it can be very difficult for you to say who you are, or how you get there. I don’t believe it impossible, but certainly it is very difficult.
Personally, I have always sensed that I was a little too old a little too early and a little too quickly. My parents did their best to preserve who I was so that I may live as I was, but the world caught up with me and led to the death of a child by a thousand tiny slights and a few verifiable stabbings. At some point in your life, you realize what is happening, and you fight against it, preserving for our children what you once had or wished you had or wish you had again. It is why people tend to, if not become conservative, then at least respect the conservative position with age.
I have identified the self with something independent of affectations. The validity of this may be debated. But to me it is clear that the more you know, the more affectations you must have, and it is much easier to withstand the onslaught without losing the vitality of life, if you were allowed to be yourself when you were young.
We are a delicate network. Your identity to that network is not always clearly defined. It is so undefined that there is some temptation to give yourself up to that network, to become only a node in the net which moves with the waves and takes what comes. But for the strength of that network itself, your identity has to be more.
It means that each node is strong and is not easily undone. A person is undone when they have lost their integrity. Integrity is that which makes us decidedly an individual and those without it have given themselves up to the waves.
There are two basic forms of integrity which a person can’t give up – ethical integrity and logical integrity. Ethical integrity is compromised when we act and speak in ways which would conflict with our ethical principles, upon reflection. Logical integrity is compromised when we are unable to reason from principles (including ethical) and beliefs, in a logical manner, to other beliefs and actions – we are not capable of effectively reflecting.
We cannot do as much about what comes our way. In many ways, we can only choose good friends, do our part to stay out of trouble, and hope for the best. But we can do something to live within ethical principles and use logic to effectively reason about what to do, say, and believe. This site is intended to journal my struggles in maintaining that integrity against the currents that attempt to compromise it.