Like breathing

There’s no “us” anymore, Charlie says. It is one of those head-breaking thoughts. There is just me.

It’s hard to describe what he means. He is not talking about his place about the other parts, but the place of the whole of me in the world.

It is as though all his life, he has thought in terms of a collective. He has gotten his sense of identity and value from his role in it, and he has made all his decisions based on the needs of it.

And I suppose the original collective was simply the two of them: me and Natalya.

It’s hard to say how this has played out in the rest of my life, but it is a way of viewing everything—oneself, others, relationships, goals—rather than a membership in any real group.

Without it, he feels something like naked—cold, unsheltered. It is a lonely feeling, but it is mainly just profoundly unnatural for him. It brings with it a sense of existential meaninglessness. Without the collective, what exactly is the point of anything?

It makes many things fall into place about how other people think, because what he is feeling now is what nearly everyone in the Western world feels, only they do not find it cold or unnatural. It is like breathing to them, just as thinking in terms of the collective is like breathing for him.

In Country X, people think like he thinks. They think in terms of the needs of the group. It is not a matter of suppressing one’s own needs and feelings in favour of someone else’s. It is just a kind of balancing act you are constantly doing in your head so that everyone in the group is taken care of reasonably well. He could go on thinking the way he does here, but he is not really inside any particular collective. He is on the fringes of it.

He also knows that any time he is interacting with someone from the West, he is interacting with someone who thinks in a way he finds hard to fathom, and he needs to be able to think like them when he does that. He will do a balancing act in his head, but they will not, and sometimes he will get left behind if he persists in it. Sometimes he has been.

So he needs to be able to think in this way at least sometimes. He needs to accommodate.


13 thoughts on “Like breathing

  1. ridicuryder January 27, 2015 / 11:12 am

    Hey Charlie,

    I think everybody has a desire to be a Dragon and be in a collective when they operate in the world as if they are alone. When you think this way you do wind up “adjusting”…we all do. I’m constantly adjusting to people in my enviroment.

    And then there are those times when we are not adjusting because we are with someone who accepts as we are.

    Like Natalya.

    Sometimes I stop adjusting and just find myself…it can be hard to find yourself when you are used to someone doing it for you so naturally.

    I know there is a lot of stuff I don’t get about you, but I know it is possible to get to a place within yourself where you aren’t adjusting and some people will like you just the way you are. The balancing is very important…you do a lot of accommodating while you grow. But in your case I think it is also very important to make accomodations for yourself.

    It must be incredibly hard to grow up, but be grown up at the same time.


    • Ashana M January 27, 2015 / 7:52 pm

      That’s not a collective. That’s one individual trying to get a bunch of other individuals to like him.

      I need to live a different way, but it’s too hard to explain what I mean about it.

      • ridicuryder January 27, 2015 / 8:11 pm

        It is hard to talk about, when I started a couple of years ago…I was all over the place with lousy grammar and dumb punctuation. What I’m getting at is beyond Individualism…Indivisibility is understanding you are part of the whole. It means at one level there are individuals trying to get other individuals to like them, but on another level there is no individual…only the indivisible.

        In this way you already are the Dragon, the collective, leaves raked into a pile, Natalya, Mango juice and whatever else you can think of. It took years and years for this to settle into me, but it has. Most of my time in my daily life is operating as an individual…it’s what most people understand.

      • Ashana M January 28, 2015 / 3:35 pm

        That doesn’t make sense Uncle Mark.

  2. ridicuryder January 28, 2015 / 5:41 pm

    Yes I know…it is hard to make sense of.

    I think there are a lot of things that “break your head” (and sometimes mine here at the daily headache).

    Like a goof…I started to tell Sam about this a while ago using toes as an example. It’s sort of a goofy example – for an almost 3 year old – but it makes sense in a way a three year old might understand it (you or Verka or Ashana can try passing this example onto him some other time in a 2 or 3 year old way…it made him scared when I tried).

    Next time you are changing your socks (when you normally do) take a look at your toes. When your foot is relaxed the big toe and the second toe are seperate (there is air between them). We can say these toes are seperate or “standing alone” like individuals do.

    Your third, fourth and fifth toes have no air between them (when they are relaxed). We can say they are “standing together” or the word that I like to use is “indivisible” as in they have a natural collective state.

    The natural collective state can be found in every little part of our body, but for now let’s just look at the toes hanging out – off the end of your foot.

    You can spread your toes out like they are all seperate…making them function by themselves or individually. In many places and in many ways (especially in Western countries like the USA) people are stretched apart…to function by themselves alone…individually. This is not a natural state or way of functioning but it can widen your stance or make you stronger at times.

    You can curl your toes tightly together and make them fit together snugly so that they are all…together or what I like to call indivisible. This is not a natural state either, but in places like Country X you see people “curled together more” over centuries this “sort of” becomes natural…the collective state (where people come together more) has problems too, but collectives remind everyone of their indivisiblity which can be a very good thing and make people happy. You and Natalya spent time tightly curled together and time as little toes – just naturally fitting together.

    It feels uncomfortable being apart or “separate ” from Natalya.

    Now 80 or 90% of the time (most of the time) in their natural state…toes are both individual and indivisible (apart and together)…this is their relaxed or natural state. So here we have what is called a duality…or “two sides of things…on one side of the wall – individuality,,,on the other side Indivisiblity. There really isn’t a wall between your toes, just a little air, so when I say things like:

    I Am, Like Everyone, An Individual Indivisible Presentation Of That Which Is Whole.

    I’m just saying the separateness and togetherness are happening at the same time. The “Whole” is another part of ourselves that we know is there…we just can’t really figure them out yet.

    So at first understanding things are separate and together at the same time gives you a bit of a headache…but just look at your toes…they are doing it most of the time, right there off the end of your foot.

    You guys are also separate, but together at the same time…it’s very very very cool. 🙂

    Uncle Mark

    • Ashana M January 28, 2015 / 5:58 pm

      I think that is better. It’s about what you want though, not that you want the same thing but that you want something that includes everyone. Maybe you know that and didn’t say.

      If we go out to a restaurant all together, like as an occasion, they don’t ask anyone what they want. The organizer remembers what everyone likes and talks to the restaurant owner, and picks something for the whole group. She will remember English Ma’am doesn’t eat beef and make sure there is chicken and she will remember I don’t eat meat or cheese and there will be a vegetable just for me, because no one else will like something plain and it will usually have spices because they remember I like spices. So no one got to choose anything, but everyone is happy. In the US, everyone likes to choose. Even if there is no difference in what they are choosing, they feel like it is better if they choose it themselves.

      I don’t think anyone can really think both ways. They know only one or the other. I’ve never seen anyone who can do it. Foreigners here learn to share more, but they are always individuals. They don’t know how to be in a collective.

      I don’t like choosing things just for myself. It feels boring. It’s just a thing for me then and mostly things are the same. I know people who are individuals like to express their individuality, but I don’t get that and so it is just a thing to me. I’ll get used to it but I don’t know how to put the fun back in.

      • ridicuryder January 29, 2015 / 6:07 pm

        This isn’t about choice Charlie,

        I understand you have that though in the front of your perception. This isn’t about picking a vegetable or something spicy from a lunch menu.

        It is about accepting the way it is.

        You and Sam and Lana and Katya and Annoushka and Verka (who is a kind of Ash) and Ashana are a unusual natural collective formed by unnatural circumstances. You also have Natalya so entwined through everyone’s experience that the sparkles keep her at the center of everyone’s brains…of everyone’s hearts and all through your cells…you tingle with her.

        This unusual natural collective is apart and together AT THE SAME TIME…and…THERE IS NO CHOICE. You are the way you are…that is the way it is.

        So, just like the toes on the end of your (and everyone else’s) feet and the cells in everyone’s body there is a firm togetherness and apartness at the same time. There just is, it is okay for the parts to comprimise on ice cream. What’s important about what I’m saying is that you CAN smile your ice cream smile all the time because you are always getting whatever flavor the collective is getting…as Indivisibles this is possible (even though it seems strange and impossible) regardless of what flavor the Individual is getting (because they are Indivisible at the same time).

        The problem is everyone sort of dissociates from their Indivisible. You guys are learning to integrate and associate on levels that most people never even go near. You can let Annouska have a Coke and everyone tastes it – some like it – some don’t…but your collective (junior Indivisible) understands that getting to like a Coke once in awhile is healthy – you are together and apart at the same time.

        This is very rare…where Indivisiblity is concerned, you all are kind of like Superheroes. Everyone on our planet (and elsewhere) are already Indivisibles…they just don’t know it is already a part of themselves – like people who are dissociative and don’t even know this part is inside them. Your little collective is expert at this.

        It’s like you could show everyone how it is done…be kind of like an evolutionary link.

        Think about it…it could be fun…. 🙂

        Uncle Mark

      • Ashana M January 29, 2015 / 6:23 pm

        You’re wrong.

  3. ridicuryder January 29, 2015 / 6:32 pm

    Yes…so wrong (my Indivisability agrees with you whenever you need it to). 🙂

    • Ashana M January 29, 2015 / 6:40 pm

      I didn’t say you were dumb. I said what you wrote was dumb.

      • ridicuryder January 29, 2015 / 6:49 pm

        I can even be Indivisible from my (or anyone else’s) writing, piles of purple saw dust, kitchen chairs, coffee pots or dumb fluffy slippers…dumb is kinda my thing whenever anyone wants it to be…anywhere. Whoops! There’s my dumb (indivisible) stapler!

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