On Being Envious of Angels, or Choices We Don’t Make
I am currently studying Law at college, and I can tell you that all the teachers I’ve had so far hinted in one way or another that a good lawyer should be able to make up the facts so that they cooperate in favor of his thesis of prosecution or defense. None of the teachers used the word “lie” directly, but I learned a lot about “verisimilitude.” I have no intention of being a civilian lawyer — maybe a humanist, who knows. I’m halfway done with this course now, trying to make myself believe that I still have the right to be undecided about what to do in the future. What happens is that, like any person, I know how to lie, and sometimes I can even lie well, if you disregard the signs my body gives when I find myself making up any excuses to escape my responsibilities. But I can only lie outside myself — within my being, my lies are easily detected and completely destroyed in a simple touch of this external reality.
But many times (and this has often happened now that I am actually writing), I get the impression that I can find a point of convergence between the lie and the truth, both internal and external, and I grasp this point intending to build there some ideology about life that will show me whether I’m on the right path or not. This point is formed the moment I recognize my faults (when I stop lying to myself), but, using the justification that I’m still a human being in development and learning, I presume I still don’t have enough capacity to turn my bad side on good things. By thinking this way, I adjust myself, thinking that everything is fine and that I am following my due time of growth. Deep down, really deep down, though, I know I’m playing with a dangerous game of deception, a joke that feeds the ego just to inflate it exaggeratedly, blowing it up inside ourselves, leading to serious existential crisis. It’s because we are already in an existential crisis, this mechanism of lying and facing the truth is just one way of getting rid of the constant contemplation of the ills of our lives. We need to breathe.
It is thinking of this, in this problematic way of being and living, of being doubly conflicted and living in multiple dimensions of thoughts, that it’s practically impossible not to be surprised, in admiration and envy, when I get to know genuinely good people. And if I speak of “good people,” I mean those who are almost literally angelic —they have a morality that balances in what all of its conceptions could possibly mean, unattainable, and that matches their daily attitudes. To be honest, I met only one person who is, undeniably, purely good — my mother. Yes, I know that we all consider our mothers to be true saints, but it’s just that living with the goodness of my mother shows me how far from the true dignity we all are. My mother is good just for being good, she forgives with her eyes closed, she takes all the beatings of life with an impressive austere force. I’m still young, and my mother is still trying to teach me various lessons about how to live a peaceful life, but I’m not so young that I don’t know where my moral inclinations lie — and these are far from being as genuinely good as my mother’s are. Which does not mean that I don’t enjoy the coexistence I have with her, I just don’t know how to be silly good. Knowing true goodness is something that theoretically makes you feel envious of not having it for you, but once we get in touch with it, it is impossible for us to feel envious. It’s pure admiration.
Like an Alice slipping through a black hole of fantasies that will keep her absurdly secure in the face of her doubts of character, I try to convince myself that it’s enough to recognize my defects, it’s already halfway through, I only need to put into practice the repairs of my moral conduct. It’s not that difficult, it’s just tricky to get started with it. And if we never have the courage to begin this personal transformation, then there is no problem — at least we will die knowing that we have been humble enough to recognize ourselves as evil and incomplete as human beings. We’ll only have to deal with all the negative effects that our stubbornness in being who we are entails in our lives, but it’s just a few more problems, who cares, right? Wrong. Perhaps we would get rid of more than half of our problems if we began to solve the ones we have within ourselves. But beyond stubbornness, there’s lazyness and there’s fear too. It’s a vicious circle of weariness — we grow, we learn qualities as we learn defects, these defects bring consequences that prevent us from following paths that will lead us back to our puerile and naive origins. But I agree: it’s not worth returning to the roots when progress must be, necessarily, looking to the future. We rather be lost but with the propensity of one day finding ourselves following the road that will take us out of this dark cave in which we live in, than certain of a utopian goodness. Right? I don’t know. I’ve never been celestially kind enough to know what is really the best ways for all of us. All I do is try, try and reflect.
I don’t know how to deal with genuinely good people, because I don’t know how to deal with my horrendous reflection I see in their souls. In fact, I don’t know how to deal with all this goodness — because I am selfish: I want all the good people at my side, to enjoy their energies, while I keep balancing myself in my imperfections, about to fall from this tightrope, without the courage to look at the ground and face a concrete as hard as this life we live.