Cynical? …No, Thanks! We’re Having a Great Day!

 

Johnny Depp as Don Juan DeMarco

Johnny Depp as Don Juan DeMarco

Who doesn’t find it hard to be around them? I’ll feel like I can’t even bring up a topic, in conversation, without them consciously or unconsciously trying to either make me feel inferior or make themselves feel superior or both!   In New York, I run into a lot of cynical people. They must be much smarter than me because they seem to have it all figured out.

If you call them on it, forget-about-it, they act like they don’t even know what you’re saying. “You talkin’ to me?”

Now, you all know the expression, “That when you are pointing your finger at someone’s fault, there are four pointing back at yourself.” This colloquialism is usually true.

Hmm, I don’t see myself as cynical. Am I? Maybe there’s a part of me that is? After all, I am a New Yorker!” I’ll have to get back to you on this one.

George Carlin

George Carlin

George Carlin, the late comedian, said, “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” There’s some painful truth to this statement. Anyone who lived through the Vietnam War and the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X might feel this way. To witness the gap widening, each year, between the wealthy and the poor can be disheartening. To experience our cultural heritage being destroyed by commercialism and see that “some things never change,” would cause anyone to become disenchanted.

In many ways, this is nothing new. In 500 B.C., Lao Tsu was so displeased with human nature that he left society to spend his final years in the desert. Greed, fear, and evil have ravaged our world for millenniums. The question is, in this short lifetime, what do I choose to focus on? What is my point of view on this world and my life?

I love the scene in the 1994 film, Don Juan DeMarco, where the burnt-out and embittered psychiatrist, played by Marlon Brando, tries to get the apparently delusional Don Juan DeMarco, played by Johnny Depp, to see that he is insane. Don Juan’s reply is something to the effect of, “I’m very happy. I see a world filled with beautiful women and opportunity. I live in a Perfect World. But you, sir, are a miserable wretch who lives in a very dark world. You are bitter and cynical. I ask you, which one of us is crazy?” There is some truth to this. Is my focus going to be more that the world is fear driven or love directed?

Don Juan DeMarco

Our brains cannot possibly fire synapses and dendrites the same exact way today as they had fired yesterday. If you tried to count one second of synapses firing in your brain, it would take 32 million years to count every synapse. This is a staggering fact to comprehend.

It’s not possible to make one’s eyes move the same exact way that they moved the day before, to repeat every pathway and glimpse. Everything in this room has a slightly different perspective than yesterday. The light given off from the sun is casting different shadows. There are new and different sounds outside.

So, that you might ensure or check that you are not cynical, and on the path to miserableness, try to conduct an exercise, a sort of daily walking meditation. It is based on an idea from a lecture, given by an Eastern philosopher named Krishnamurti, along with some Tibetan Buddhism and early Christian teachings. It may be difficult to maintain this discipline of mindfulness, but give it a shot. It could be enlightening.

The exercise is simple: inquire throughout the day, “Is it possible to see everything fresh and new, almost as if observing it for the first time, without previous discriminations and histories from the past? Today, try to focus on how; everything is different, not the same.”

The inquiry continues, “Can you forget that you think you “know” that person or thing, in front of you?  Can you “see” them as someone who is changing and continuously evolving?  Even on a basic physiologically and molecular level, it is impossible for someone to be exactly the same as they were yesterday.

Can you hear the same piece of music the same way as yesterday? Can you view out the same window and see the same exact things as yesterday? Do the sky and ocean look the same as yesterday? No way!

Naturally, this exercise would have other implications. Can you see yourself as new and fresh? Can you see that all of your past mistakes, guilt, and regrets belonged to that molecular structure that existed yesterday. That being you called “me.”

At this moment, You are different. It’s a scientific fact!

By now, some of you may be saying to yourselves, ” Hmm, this guy is quite strange?!”  Or, “This seems like an intriguing idea or notion to try?! It couldn’t hurt!”

Perhaps if you’re open-minded and investigate this exercise, something spontaneous might happen? Maybe, you will have a unique experience, an adventure, or an epiphany? Possibly, you will even have a moment of forgiveness or atonement, have a change of attitude, or simply have a good day?!

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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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