Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gratitude Alienation

When I tell people about my "favourite" "philosopher," it goes something like this:

Random Person Asking About My Major: Whose works do you admire the most?
Catt: Karl Marx.
RPAAMM: Marx?? Like, the communist Marx??
Catt: Yes but don't tell anyone. Shhhh.
[RPAAMM From Italy: How can a smart girl like you be a Marxist in the United States?]

I'm not embarrassed that I find Marx's works most sensible and grounding, but I am always hesitant to tell people the truth (sometimes I will just opt for Adam Smith, but even that gets "isn't he an economist?") because Marx is so misinterpreted amongst 99.8% of people I run into, whether they are pro-"Marx" (ie, what they think Marx is) or against-"Marx" (usually the same impression of Marx as the pro-Marx people) (and the 0.2% is my philosophy professors).

What most touches me about Marx's works is that occasionally, when I am present and very into how I am feeling at the moment, I can see it everywhere. Today there was an occasion for this.

I was in the dining hall, and I was practicing some mind control in the form of autosuggestion (I still haven't found anything more beautiful than "I love myself," Thank you Kamal!) and being really present. I saw a dining hall worker who I've seen many times and she's known by our students to be kind of "mean," as she doesn't let kids off the hook when something isn't going exactly right and is super strict with the rules. Today she was wiping the tables, and she had her normal expressionless expression on her face (she doesn't look mean or happy) and I watched her reaching from one side of the table to the other, wiping the tables..

I suddenly thought "I love you." I suddenly had a genuine appreciation for what she was doing and how she made it easier for me in school, and that without her there would be a lot more chaos in the dining hall and a less clean dining hall.

And the strangest thing was I wondered why, after being at the same school for two years, I had never been in that state of mind. There were a lot of dining hall workers I was friends with or were super nice so evvveryone loved them, but where was the state of mind that was appreciation/gratitude? Why has that been absent?

I guess my mind went directly to feeling guilty about not having appreciated the dining hall workers (and others for that matter) ever until today, even though I always say thank you and I always am polite and I'm not one to bitch about things as much as I've heard other people do so.

But as my mind went to feeling guilty (a bad habit), it went to another automated method of thinking: she's getting paid not bad.

And then there it was, Ah, Marx. It is okay for me not to be genuinely appreciative because there is monetary compensation independent of my genuinity. And this is essentially where the whole thinking-habits of not appreciating got started.

Marx didn't mean that we won't need government and money in the way we use it now because we give up all our material pursuits, but it's because the appreciation of individuals is fully experienced. We will do things because we are fulfilled, and we are fulfilled by the things we do.

But as I have experienced today, we have alienated ourselves from fulfillment. And it's impossible to experience fulfillment without appreciation and gratitude for who we really are.

Be genuinely grateful!

-Catt xxx