7.09.2009

Which Is Worse: Losing Your Soul, Or Not Having One In The First Place?

Recently, that question has been bounding around in my brain. Well, not just that one, but several regarding the nature of the soul and its place in our lives. It's actually not the first time, nor will it be the last... It's just the most recent. And no, I've not been drinking.

What caused me to actually write up this post about my internal wandering was reading this tweet by this absolute joy of a person yesterday. I have several searches set up in Twitter, one of them is "Fark." Working for Fark and being a fan of the site, it's always interesting to hear what people are saying about it. Of course, if Drew were anything like this guy, I'd get fired just for doing my job. PARADOX!

Now, before we get too far, know that this is not a defense of Fark or anyone affiliated with it, myself included. What I'm about to say actually encompasses Fark, Digg, Reddit, CNN, Fox News, Smashing Magazine, The New York Times, my blog, going for a walk in the park, twittling your thumbs, playing with silly putty... In fact, any activity that isn't a clear violation of the code of ethics or the employee handbook at an organization (pornography, drug advocacy, or any website about Celiene Dion fandom).

And that's where the question of soul comes in. We all work for money... Well, 99% of us do. And some of us love our jobs, and some of us hate our jobs. But the bottom line is that there is always a process to doing what we do, and there's always a way to find a new, better, more efficient, more creative, more interesting or just plain fun way to do what we do. And that way comes from our souls.

The soul I speak about has nothing to do with heaven, hell, good deeds or bad, or any religious anything. I use the term here to define our essence - our core. The thing beyond the mechanical processes of eating, sleeping, pooping, hammering a nail, sweeping a floor, processing a spreadsheet, or sketching out the new iPod. It's what gives who we are meaning. And I believe that for anyone who actually has one, our souls longs for freedom. It begs to be inspired. It seeks out avenues and pathways to new ideas. It wants information and inspiration and stimulation.

And of course, I don't think that Fark or any other website is direct nourishment to the soul. I also don't think that the actual act of lifting weights at lunch or sitting by a pond feeding ducks is, either. But I do think that anything you do that isn't actual labor that helps you open your mind and come up with new ideas and be inspired feeds the soul, and cutting off access to those endeavors is starving it.

So, it occurs to me that anyone working for this guy must have lost their soul at some point during the process, because how could you willingly stay in an environment like that? And anyone who is in a position of power and is clamped down this hard on how his employees spend their time obviously has no soul, and couldn't possibly have ever had one.

And that's where the dilemma takes shape. Which one is worse: losing your soul (willingly or unwillingly), or never having one in the first place?

Part of the time, I think it's losing your soul. Making that sacrifice - either by choice or out of necessity - to trade the free, loving, open, relaxed, artistic or otherwise emotional side of yourself for money. Whether it be millions of dollars or merely an hourly rate... Chopping off access to the open parts of your mind simply because a paycheck dictates you must. And what's even more horrible is that when you constrict the flow from your soul, it's no different than doing it to an appendage - at first, it hurts. Horribly. But over time, it numbs, and eventually the appendage falls off.

When you don't use it, your soul goes away, just like anything else.

Or, even worse, you untie the tourniquet around your soul during off hours and when you're away from that vile and awful place - and you can't help but think of that place as vile and awful once you're away from it, because who is it that's in touch with their soul who doesn't think it's a horrible thing to have to put it away or cut it off? And each and every day you go back to that place, you tie the hose around the soul's vein and kill it off again... Painfully.

But then, what of those who never had a soul to begin with, like our guy up there? I believe he couldn't possibly have ever had soul, not ever. How do I reach this conclusion? Simple - he doesn't think it's important. So he forces those under him to not think it's important, either (there's also the bullshit he put in his profile, about being a "Self-Made Millionaire Willing to share my success secrets with conservative Christian gun owning patriots." A self-made millionaire, focused on gun-owning patriots, who actually passed the bar (Note the "Esq." after his name...). Somthing smells... Well, false. He's probably a gigantic liar who wants traffic to his bullshit Twitter-marketing site. But if it's true, it also it stinks of someone who as no idea what life is actually about, has ever had an enriching experience, has ever created anything worthy of being called art, and probably really, really needs to get laid).

And looking at the way his website is designed, it's very obvious that anyone who's working on it has no soul. The spacing is all janked, the logo is awful, there's no actual art in any of the design. And I'm not trying to be insulting, I'm just stating my evidence that this guy has no idea what a soul is, and never has. And that's such an awful, horrible existence...

But is it worse than having lost yours? The age-old question "Is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?" comes to mind. I want to say it's better to have had never had a soul (or loved). I want to say that never knowing the sweet sense of experiencing art or bliss or freedom or inspiration is marginally better, because you can't possibly know how horrible it is to be without those things.

But that's the view from outside by a person who knows the joys of those things. I have the benefit of experience of both having my soul enriched and having it yanked away from me. The pain of being shut off from it... It's awful and horrible and I would wish it on no one. And therein comes the other side of the argument. Perhaps for the person themselves, it's worse to have your soul removed... But for society in general, I believe that it's far worse for people to have never had a soul. Those are the folks (like our friend above) who subject themselves upon the soulful and stomp them flat. They demand that the soul be cut off from its host. They destroy bliss and remove the wellspring of inspiration.

So I suppose my answer to the question of which is worse is another question -- from whose vantage point, the individual's or society's? From an individual standpoint, ignorance is bliss, but those who know the joy of having a soul know far greater pain when its' deprived of nutrition or yanked away from them. But from a bigger picture view, if everyone started off having a soul, anyone who ever had theirs taken away or turned off would never ever subject another person to that. Only someone who's been without such fantastic experiences could be so cold.