January 9, 2012

Apathy



What is terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate, that you don't need love when you do or that you like your work, when you know quite well you're capable of better.
~Doris Lessing

Ever felt apathy? Apathy is the type of word that I've heard kicked around a bit, but didn't really have much use for, at least in my circles. "She is apathetic to their cause" isn't something anyone would either think of me or hear me express, especially since my focus has been so tight on compassion. I suppose you could say that  I have been apathetic to knowing the full definition of the word apathy.

Until recently.

It has only been within the last couple of months that this word has wormed it's way into my consciousness and vocabulary from readings and various teachings.  It has been compared to words like contentment and happiness or joy - as if an opposite. But, if apathy is defined as a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern, even displaying indifference or listlessness, is it really an antonym of contentedness? I would rather think that the opposite of contentedness would be discontent or malcontent (where one is downright irked and most definitely not satisfied with their situation) rather than apathetic (where one is totally and completely uninterested in what's happening at the moment). The opposite of happiness or even joy would likewise not be apathy; sadness or sorrow, even woe perhaps, but even these states of unwelcome emotion involve investment of thought and self. Clearly, the opposite of happiness, or even joy, would not be apathy, which I would define as the fine art of not giving a rat's patoot.

So, why the word apathy? It has been nagging at me, eating as it were, at the insides of my brain for weeks. Am I, myself, becoming apathetic to life around me? It might only seem natural, since for years things haven't really been going my way. Honestly, if one was a gambler, I wouldn't wager a bet on me, that's for sure. Ignorantly going about my good pleasure, pouring myself out for others all the while not seeing the writing on the wall...not very savvy, if you ask me. Optimistically, "I like to call it not winning at the moment...," but, the proverbial tide has not yet turned (but at least using the tide metaphor gives a more more hopeful feel, at any rate). Ignorance has given way to fighting rightly deserved cynicism - certainly a natural response to months of grieving. Cynicism I can understand. Skepticism would be totally acceptable, surely. But apathy?

Perhaps if you stay long enough in the position of petitioning without end or answer, the natural progression is a walk through cynicism, merging into skepticism and on towards our word, apathy, resulting in a type of numbness and eery lack of emotion to what is happening around you. Or maybe that'd be the rubber room? Perhaps one and the same? Sheesh, this apathy isn't going to a good place, I'm thinkin'.

Giving up isn't really an option, as it were, and I'm not so sure giving up is equivalent to apathy anyway. If apathy is an indifference to our circumstances, than the opposite would be passion, or positive fervor, for life. Some might talk about the opposite being flow, or even feeling as if one can surmount specific difficulties. Those ideas may be true, but I would suggest that the feeling of having purpose, gifts, talents and skills required to fulfill a position within an industry or community would be the exact opposite to feeling apathetic, most assuredly useless.

And while I have no answers for anyone who is feeling apathetic at the moment, I would like to tell you that you are not alone. Things happen; politics take their due, envy and strife wreak their own havoc and there are those that fall through the cracks - the unwanted and unneeded eventually become the apathetic; indifferent to what may have stirred their passion and loyalty in the past. Watching, but not feeling, the unjust wielding power, betrayal the weapon of choice, and those damn destructive secrets...insurmountable life circumstances that leave us asking the question, does anything ever really matter?

Apathy. The word of the week. And an interesting one, it is.

4 comments:

Ari C'rona said...

Excellent musings on the word, my friend. Difficult doesn't even begin to describe this phase of your life - I'm always beside you no matter what.

Mama Cache said...

I don't think I know another soul so accustomed to caring, so passionate about her endeavors, and so full of perseverance.

Watching your circumstances deal such relentless blows at the very heart of you breaks my own. You are ever dear to me, my friend.

Barb said...

I was going to say something about apathy, but i never got around to it.

Your Friend said...

Of all the people I have come in contact with, you could never be described by the word apathetic. You are always involved and focused on understanding and learning. Apathy requires a period of pull back and let down in order for it to start covering our lives with dust. You care too much for others to allow apathy to dominate you. :-)