Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Changes in Desolation

I usually think that I understand something when I read it. Unless maybe it's Aquinas, in which case I know that there's no hope. (Actually, with respect to most philosophers - the truth is, I have no idea what they're talking about.) But in general, I read something and I get it.

Except I don't. Living through something is always so different.

"No changes in desolation," Ignatious tells us. Or, more precisely,

"In time of desolation we should never make any change but remain firm and constant in the resolution and decision that guided us the day before the desolation...".

People have been dissecting the Ignatian Rules for Discernment for centuries. There's a lot of subtlety to them, which means that they are trouble for a person like me who thinks that she's understood something when she's read it.

Let's just say again: things are always harder in real life.

What it boils down to: if you've made a good decision, one that has been confirmed many times over in all sorts of ways, then you don't give up or run away or turn back or completely change your life in a time of turmoil and darkness.

Soap opera plot lines, I think, turn on violations of this rule. Their characters are always impulsively entangling themselves in situations (usually involving sex) in times of desolation, thereby offering the writers material for decades to come and endearing themselves to the rest of us, whose inclinations for self-destructive behavior parallel theirs exactly.

In real life, I am watching from the periphery as someone I know is making (yet again) a big change in a time of desolation. It seems that one of the tell-tale signs of a decision made in turmoil is oblivion to its effects on others; apparently, tunnel vision is a hallmark of desolation.

In my own life -- well, as I said, it's hard. It would be a lot easier to let my impulses carry me. To skate away on that river. I can't skate and I hate being cold, but it would still be easier.

No changes in desolation. The words, printed or spoken -- they look and sound so simple.


Sarah S-D said...

yeah. i hear you.

Lisa :-] said...

I think it's like being a wounded animal...that would chew off its own leg to get rid of the pain. The tunnel vision part, I mean...

Mary Beth said...


Cynthia said...

The trick to remaining firm though is that sometimes you can get paralyzed (sad voice of experience), and that's ultimately equally devastating.

Jan said...

I am sorry.

Jennifer said...

Desolation speakes volumes.
Prying with and for you.