New Civilization News: The Butterfly and the Bulldozer    
 The Butterfly and the Bulldozer
10 May 2002 @ 11:03, by Andy Lehman

I’ve recently moved from college back to the depths of the Suburbia that spawned me. In doing so, I’ve come up against a problem. Ever since I came back here I have felt the stupefying effect of the place, and it has kind of scared me. In my opinion, there is no place on Earth in which it is easier to be complacent. These nice rows of houses with everyone going about their lives and questing to keep up with the Joneses makes it look like this is the full extent of existence… the “American” dream that is quickly turning in to the dream of the entire world. It is so easy to just live your life here, even if it is meaningless and full of holes. I was contemplating breaking in to a full-blown rant on how twisted the land of Suburbia is, but I’m going to try to address a deeper question.

The fact that a little thing like this would make me feel like a veil has been put over my mind worries me. However, when I think about the processes at work here, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing. On the one hand, I ought to be stable and secure enough in my own mind to not be so easily thrown off track. On the other, I don’t want to be hard and inflexible. I want to keep the ability to question myself and be honest with myself about what I am really feeling, even if it does make life more difficult. The big question is, where is the balance? Is there a balance at all? I’ve always felt that the kind of freedom I enjoy inside my own mind is a very delicate thing, like a butterfly. It’s beautiful, and it can do amazing things. But even a breeze will upset it. I am still trying to figure out how such a delicate thing can survive in this world. I know that I won’t allow it to get crushed. I’ve been told by more than one person that I’m setting myself up for a fall in being as idealistic and sensitive to everything as I am. In a way they’re right. There is so much pain involved in being truly aware of what is going on, in both the inner and outer worlds. Yet, that vulnerability is what leaves me open to experiencing what the human condition has to offer. Perhaps it is one of the major things that is missing from our oh-so-hard world. They always say that we men are not sensitive enough. I think there’s more truth to that than most people realize, for men and women alike.

The balance between hardening one’s self against the minor daily trials we all face and being open to their true effect, and hence being able to learn from them, is such a difficult one to strike. The price for failing to achieve that balance is high. I’ve known people who have missed it both ways. Some (my former best friend of five years among them) were so sensitive to the world that they broke down the minute it started getting thick. Their sensitivity imploded upon itself and turned into a giant wound. I have always had an impulse to do that; to just let it wash over me and become a picture of despair. That, in my opinion, is better than the other option: being so hard that you are not disturbed by the way things are. There may be strength and stability in that, but the result of it seems to be a failure to care about what’s really important. Being hard and inflexible, to me, seems to be just about as much fun as being a corpse. I can’t Can’t CAN’T turn my head away and just live my life, as if nothing were going on. If I am setting myself up for a fall, so be it. Being delicate and vulnerable is a critical part of what makes us human. Sometimes, though, it really is a pain in the ass ; ).

I do not mean to sound hopeless here. I’m well aware that there are those who have successfully reached the balance, in one sense or another. This is just my attempt at sorting through the thoughts that have been nagging at me for the last few days, and trying to learn from them. I’m trying to find out how to lift the veil that seems to cover my mind when I’m living in good old Suburbia; I think that this time around I may actually be equipped to do it.

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