To one of your ideas I have a response, and that is on the subject of “insecurity”. You can probably gather from my past letters that I’d have thing or two to disagree with you about on that one. :)
But what is insecurity. You’ve made me think about it. So I sat before my steak, it looking at me, me looking at it, and asking – not the steak, but myself – what insecurity might be, what it stems from, what it represents. Here are my thoughts:
I believe insecurity is our heart telling us something. Let us take falling in love as an example, since it is such a lovely example.
When a person falls in love, they know it. They don’t know it by asking anyone. Being in love produces an effect in the heart that becomes the very standard by which you know it’s happened. Being in love is the only way you learn that you are in love.
Such a person, if they meet someone new down the road, will still have the sense of this standard as they relating to this new person. They can know, by comparison with their past experience, if they are in love again. That is, the standard only says “Yes”; by experience, it can also say “No”.
The person who has never had any such experience does not know when his heart is saying “No”, because he’s never heard it say “Yes”. He thinks it might be saying Yes, he’s just doesn’t know. He has no answer. He is insecure.
The lack of the standard is like saying what a thing is not – without a voice; while the standard only says what something is – in an incredibly loud voice. Until you’ve heard the voice, you are open to other people’s opinions about the meaning of the silence.
Let’s take this same idea into another field, such as writing poetry. No one, in all of this trip of mine, has had one thing to say about my poems. It is possible that everyone thinks they are terrible. It is even likely that many don’t like them, considering such lack of comment. But I don’t really care anymore.
The reason is that I like to write them, and that’s why I do it. Once they’re written, I think maybe somebody does enjoy reading them, and that’s why I send it.
But what if I didn’t like writing it? What if the experience weren’t rewarding enough on its own for me to keep doing it? I think, in this case, that a person may begin to think he is at fault. Because “poetry” is said to be a wonderful, profound, romantic thing, if he doesn’t like doing it it must be because he is shallow and petty. He lacks the standard. He doesn’t know what his heart is telling him.
I think his heart is simply saying: don’t keep doing this, do something else. A person who likes what he does needs no one else to tell him if he likes it, and he doesn’t care if others don’t like the result because that’s not why he does it. I learned this about dancing. Most people are terrible dancers; but they don’t care. They’re not insecure about it because they go to dance, not to be seen dancing. Those in the latter category are very insecure about it. They don’t know why they don’t enjoy it. They want to be reassured that they are doing a good job, so that at least that feeling will compensate for the time spent: feeling that they’ve done a good job, even if the job itself offers no reward.
A person who is insecure in their life doesn’t like what they’re doing. If they’re insecure in their relationship it means they don’t like spending time with the other person. If they’re insecure about how they look, then they don’t like their body or the way they dress. Everywhere you find insecurity, you will find someone who is asking you for a reason to keep doing what they’re doing in spite of enjoyment. If you reward them by saying “Yes, it’s good”, they’ll keep on doing it only for that reward, rather than for the sake of doing it.
On the other hand, a person who is not insecure doesn’t give a rat’s ass what you think. He doesn’t care himself if it’s good or not. He does it because he likes to do it. People don’t ever feel insecure about masturbating, for example; it has an intrinsic quality that is its own standard. If anyone ever asks, “Am I doing it right?”, you’d have to answer, “My friend, if you’re asking that – you’re not doing it at all.”
We have to approach life that way, letting our feeling of insecurity inform us when something has no intrinsic value for us. This means ignoring those who tell us that a thing is worth doing even if it gives us no pleasure. If we buy into that – man, doesn’t that describe society? – we become dependent on them to keep confirming and rewarding us so we’ll continue. If our boss stopped coming to work at a job we hate, we’d stop coming too and just collect the paycheck. That’s the kind of job where you always wonder if you’re doing a good enough job. But if it were a job we liked, we’d forget why having a boss was necessary. That’s the sort of job where you never have to ask if you’re good.
I believe the opposite of insecurity is a self-discovered value in the thing itself, and that if something lacks this value, we will be insecure and look to others to convince us that it’s not our fault, and to give us a reason to keep doing it – because we think we should. If the value is present, well, then the world be damned if it’s going to keep you away. They can all tell you that you’re crazy, but your only response would be, “Whatever man, just leave me to it.”