Poem: Burning Bridges

In between chaos and order hangs a bridge made of old wood and old rope,

the planks creak and moan under the pressure of footsteps,

back-and-forth man walks,

hovering between the two possibilities.

 

Tipped towards the dark by forces outside of him,

the chaotic unfolds the center and he falls apart,

his world, his mind, his heart consumed by anarchy,

which turns to arson,

burning away the innocence,

burning away the old bridge,

its charred remains fall into the abyss,

the whites of mans eyes look out through the darkness that shrouds him,

the heart is lost,

the limbs move in an erratic manner,

striking whatever is in its way,

transferring the pain, the hate, the chaos to whatever he touches,

he goes from a being to a man, to an animal and now to an It.

 

Behind the eyes the embers of order burn,

less so than before,

they search for the savior, thinking that the savior is out there,

somewhere,

for the disturber of the balance was external,

mistaken in this belief, the lost are never found.

 

The Spiritus Mundi aimlessly walks inside of man,

waiting to be held, waiting to be guided, waiting to become the guide,

in this disorder, what is required isn’t logic,

reason doesn’t build the bridge again,

the beast with the lions body must be tamed and upon it,

the mans head is placed,

and through such a harmony, a fusion of man and beast, the bridge is remade,

through such surrender, balance is restored.

 

But it’s easier said than done, like all things,

no one wants to let go of chaos,

it serves as an out,

a way to let go of responsibility,

a way to blame,

a way to survive,

no one wants to admit that the darkness is comforting,

that those thoughts are pleasing,

happy in the emptiness,

lost in the chaos,

happy in the chaos,

why be born again?

why restore the order?

why go through the pain?

 

Senseless beasts roam around,

intelligent fetus’ crawl around,

erratic and thoughtful,

misery and miserable,

only see a few who are beings,

those few are constantly struggling to stay whole,

as all around them is fire,

burning bridges,

and the flame is so alluring.

 

 

Lessons From Stories: Unconditional Love Can Be A Bad Thing

Honore de Balzac wrote the novel Old Goriot in 1835, and he explored the social and cultural changes that were taking place in France at the time. There are several themes associated with this novel, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. The theme of parental love and family relationships, specifically the relationship between Goriot and his two daughters, Delphine and Anastasie. The lesson derived from this relationship is that there is such a thing as too much love. That, in fact, a parent’s unconditional love can have negative effects on their children.

(Obvious spoilers ahead)

To set the stage, at this time in France, one’s reputation was everything. This theme is largely explored through the lens of the character Rastignac. He is a young man with dreams of becoming rich and successful. In his story, he interacts with the elites of the Parisian society including both Delphine and Anastasie. The two daughters are married to successful men but the daughters constantly struggle with finances as they attempt to buy rich gowns and wear expensive jewelry in order to keep their high societal image.

It is in this struggle to stay relevant we see how unconditional parental love can be damaging.

But first, we must understand who Goriot is. Goriot is portrayed as the ideal father. He embodies the parenting view that it is the parent’s responsibility to sacrifice their own happiness for the sake of their children. We meet Goriot living in an old boarding house along with several other characters. Soon after that, we are given background information about how once upon a time Goriot was a rich merchant and the reason why he went from living comfortably to now having to spend his old age by himself in a small room was because he gave his wealth to his two daughters in order to maintain their image of wealthy Parisian women so they can keep getting invitations to dinner parties and get-togethers.

This idea of Keeping Up with the Joneses is as relevant today as it was in that time period. As people attain more wealth they upgrade their living situations trying to maintain a certain image that they believe is associated with their income level. Goriot’s two daughters are no different than the people we see walking around now. Both of them find themselves in this rich sphere of influence and both constantly struggle to stay in that sphere. When our self-worth and our identity comes to be tied with our reputation and image, we can fail to see what really matters. Such as the love and care of people around us.

The daughters fall into this trap as well. They care little of how their father has downgraded in his living conditions over the years and how he’s had to sell what is precious to him in order to raise enough money to keep a steady flow of income which the daughters can use for material possessions. The daughters are too self-absorbed and here is where too much love and care can be a bad thing.

The overwhelming love Goriot had for his daughters stopped him from thinking rationally. Instead of teaching his daughters about self-worth or raising them to make their own wealth, he kept on feeding their addiction. Love clouded his logic to the point he was essentially causing self-harm in order to keep his daughters happy. His love for his daughters stopped him from putting proper boundaries which would allow the daughters to take on responsibility for themselves. He wasn’t able to raise independent human beings. Instead, even as adults his daughters relied on him to help them and because his love was boundless, he kept on loving and sacrificing until his final breath. Worse of all, the tragedy of the story, the father dies without either one of his daughters there to comfort him and even at his funeral, the daughters don’t come.

Often we hear how moderation in all things is the key to a successful life. When I think of moderation my mind automatically goes to bad habits and vices that we can practice and how we must be aware of such things in order to keep ourselves from overindulging in the bad. Old Goriot opened my eyes to a new perspective. Overindulgence in the good can also be harmful. Too much love, comfort, and support can rob someone’s possibility of being their own individual. The daughters never had to stand on their own two feet because Goriot was there to support and guide them the whole time. It is easy to identify when we are imbalanced due to our bad actions but much harder to pinpoint the imbalance when we are acting out of love and care. This story is a good reminder of the latter. Even our love and care must be disciplined and moderated. Especially if we are to raise proper human beings.