I’m really not sure where this series of thoughts was rooted, but here it is.
Chesterton, somewhere, talks about how it is better to be careless than careful. Careful trips you up, fosters fear, doesn’t have true perspective. I wish I could remember how he put it, or even what book or essay I found it in.
Other people talk about being lost in the moment, forgetting about themselves, being entirely un-self-conscious.
There is something about that that draws me — something about the freedom, especially from fear, that it evokes. But there is also something about it that appalls me — something about losing one’s self, losing identity, merging into the vast everything-nothing without distinction.
And perhaps, after all, it’s a matter of language. I’m a detail person, and a former linguistics major — sometimes I get hung up on particular words that don’t bother most people. In this case — “lost,” “forget,” “un-self.”
Chesterton’s word “careless” feels better to me.
Sometimes I think I dare not hope to lose my inner observer — the one that watches over me, that notices, that evaluates, that names, that remembers, that advises. Other times I wonder what it would be like to fully experience something with my whole self, undivided.
And that’s, I think, the key: integration. If somehow my inner observer becomes integrated, if my fractured self becomes whole — it’s not a loss, because that part is still there, but is now there in a whole and integrated way.
I’m not quite sure what that would look like, but it’s an appealing vision. And it reminds me of Joe, who was always talking about the need for integration — to include all of reality in perception and experience, and not box up the different aspects of it. And I was always talking about how often I felt like I lived on the edge of my own life, looking down into it, and wishing I could somehow get to that center and live there instead.
It’s when things are chaotic, when injury is imminent, when there’s fracturing, that you have to be careful. When your house is founded on the rock — when you’re centered and grounded — you can be careless because the universe, under God’s sovereign grace, is safe and beneficent.