April 13, 2008

Coming out of Agoraphobia



Agoraphobia

Two people touching lips
Hands on each other's hips
Nothing in else in the world but one another
The 42nd floor
On a distant shore
I wonder how we've strayed so far from this
Remember when we were
Just flesh and bone
You, sir, may have forgotten how good your world can be
So, put down your hollow tips
And kiss your lover's lips
And know that fate is what we make of it

Please end this, please end this
Before this ends us, ends us
I wanna stay inside
I wanna stay inside for good
I wanna stay inside
For good

I read the news today
And everything they say
Just makes me want to stay inside and wait
But the better part of me knows
That waiting in the throes
Is on par with reading with my eyes closed
"What can I do?" you say,
"It's just another day
in the life of apes with ego trips"
Put down your hollow tips
And kiss your lover's lips
And know that fate is what we make of it

Please end this, please end this
Before this ends us, ends us
I wanna stay inside
I wanna stay inside for good
I wanna stay inside
For good

I'm gonna stay inside
I'm gonna stay inside for good
I'm gonna stay inside
For good

I wanna stay inside
I wanna stay inside for good
I wanna stay inside
Don't want to stay inside for good


I was listening to this song while driving recently and originally decided to post it with little comment, just because I feel it's a good one. But since then I've finished reading Three Cups of Tea and watched the film Into the Wild, and I suddenly found some connections. In the latter, a man walks away from the evils that he perceives in society and into the massive solitude of the Alaskan wilderness, where he succumbs and perishes. In the former, a man wanders out of the solitude of a mountain wilderness and into a tiny Pakistani village, after which he devotes every bit of his financial, emotional, and physical resources to improving the lives of the people he encounters. Both are incredibly moving true stories, though only one of them continues as I write this.

I'm gonna cheat here and use Amazon's description of Three Cups of Tea:

Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, [Greg] Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Co-author [David Oliver] Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls.

What Greg Mortenson has done is absolutely amazing. He's the polar opposite of the anti-social creature described in Brandon's lyrics above, and of Christopher McCandless' disenchantment. I can't imagine doing anything like what he's accomplished, but that's ok. Not all of us have the drive and energy to dedicate our entire being to helping others. But the rest of us can certainly do small things here and there to support people like Mortenson, or to find other avenues to connect, give back, and avoid agoraphobic dissociation.

There was a time when I rarely thought about any of this. I actually once prided myself on my misanthropic tendencies, and I still have many, many days when I make every effort to escape into solitude away from other people. It was through exploring Buddhism that I first began considering not only being more tolerant of others, but also the possibility of taking steps to actually help someone else. In Ethics for the New Millenium, the Dalai Lama writes:

What is entailed, therefore, is... a reorientation of our heart and mind away from ourself and towards others. To develop a sense of universal responsibility-- of the universal dimension of our every act and of the equal right of all others to happiness and not to suffer-- is to develop an attitude of mind whereby, when we see an opportunity to benefit others, we will take it in preference to merely looking after our own narrow interests.

In a nutshell, looking beyond our own desires and perceived needs and doing something to alleviate the external suffering of others will, in turn, ameliorate our own internal suffering. Even the littlest thing can do the trick and, in the process, go a long way towards changing the atmosphere of evil in the world that has been perceived by souls like Chris McCandless.

Getting into Incubus and reading about their Make Yourself Foundation has further encouraged me. Knowing that buying the band's cds and dvds means I'm contributing in some small part to worthy causes has made me proud to be a fan, and motivated me to figure out ways in which I can do more. For anyone else out there who's considering the same, here are a few avenues I've found:

-- Three Cups of Tea homepage and the Central Asia Institute.

-- 10,000 Girls, an organization in Senegal providing education and employment for young girls through their own efforts.

-- Kiva.org, investing instead of charity as a means to help others.

-- FreeRice.com, an addictive word game that helps to provide food for the hungry.

-- Make Yourself Foundation MySpace profile, at which there's a PayPal donation box.

If anyone who reads this is so inclined, please feel free to add your own links in the comments section.

2 comments:

Finnie (Zee Deveel!) said...

Wow. Just to let you know, I basically let out a breath of relief when I came onto this blog and saw the title of this entry. And I wasn't even holding my breath, either! -sigh- I hate when I do that.

Now, before this all comes off as some annoyingly random female creeper who happened to pass along your blog, I just want to say that I saw a link to your blog on an Incubus forum, so I decided, "Hey, I'm kinda bored, why not give it a shot?" Lo' and behold, right on target, too.

Still. Reason why I'm commenting in the first place? I (obviously) am a huge fan of Into the Wild, nevermind Chris McCandless himself. It's rare that I find someone,or at least anyone I know, who takes even a medium interest in his story. Honestly, though, I can be 'guilty' of having the same mindset that McCandless had a lot of the time. I think I've been a bit more "positive" lately.. I'm not sure, though. Ahh. But yes, just you mentioning Into the Wild made my day (well, morning). I'll have to look more into Three Cups of Tea, too.

Gah. This comment ended up being unnecessarily long-winded. Moreso than I'd wanted it to. -- But, I still don't care! *Shakes fist* 'Cause blogs are amazing. 'Specially so when they're actually thoughtful. Very, very interesting, the whole connections you've made with things such as agoraphobia. Anywho. I'll probably be skimming your blog now. Hope ya don't mind? :/

KaliDurga said...

Hi, Finnie-
That's the same thing I love about the internet-- those moments when you find something that aligns with your interests and that possibly lead you into something new as well. Thanks for reaching out to let me know you had such a moment, and I hope you'll find more interesting things here.