When I was 25 years old, I found myself in a mystifying position. At that point in my life I had been blessed with health, relative good looks, a well-paying job, the ability to travel the world, and a sense of humor. I could do as I pleased with whoever I pleased; I had no trouble getting the dates (or sex) that I desired; I went to clubs, concerts, festivals; I hung out with pornstars, foreign politicans, and runway models. I was living the dream of the quintessential secular man seeking his own pleasures and fulfilling them. Yet in the depths of my soul I was desperately unhappy.
I’ve always been a melancholy fellow, but this unhappiness was of a brutal sort: it was despair. My health, wealth, relationships, possessions, memories, experiences, none of it brought me the happiness that I thought (and was told) it would. How bleak did my future seem to me when nothing in life, or in my conception of “life” at that time, provided me any meaning or personal fulfillment. So, for some reason I cannot explain, I went to philosophy.
At that point I was an atheist, a quasi-existentialist of a sort, but largely apathetic to philosophical systems. I’d grown up Catholic, but apostasized in my late teens after failing to reconcile my devotion to the faith with my emerging homosexuality; I had not once, at that point, considered going back. Nevertheless I knew that my worldview needed to change, because I had grown weary from the nihilism which was slowly driving me mad. So I started with any philosophy which presupposed atheism, i.e. existentialism or Randian Objectivism, and worked through each system. Needless to say I found nothing comforting there, and nothing that didn’t already point me in the same direction I’d been heading all along. So I branched out.
Any kooky, bizarre philosophy one could think of became the object of my research, and I desperately flirted with each to see what result it could bring. And finally, one day, I’d stumbled upon St Thomas Aquinas, and, from above, a scintilla of light shone down on my life and illuminated what seemed to be a dark pit I’d been living in. All around me now visible was the waste of my life: strewn everywhere were loose papers and books, filthy cash and countless receipts of my avarice and greed, the shades of lovers current and past once beautiful now appeared to me as demons, and my own countenance was earthen and dirty. The contrast between the bright and warm light from above and the dank filth of my dim spiritual hovel was enough of a mental jolt to acknowledge the ruinous disorder I’d been suffering from.
What was this disorder then? Disorganization in my private life that prevented me from being productive? A mental or physiological disorder of which I’d been unaware, preventing me from seeing myself as I was, rendering me incapable of self-actualization? The answer to both is emphatically “no.” Most people characterize disorder in these ways, either internalizing its definition statically as in the case of the latter question or externalizing its definition statically in the case of the former. Order and disorder, as I had come to understand, was rather a movement, a motion in a particular direction. My realization of this led me to two conclusions with regard to my unhappy state:
- I was ordered toward earthly things: money, sex, sometimes drugs, fame, material successes; I was not ordered toward anything good in this world: God, his mercy, his graces, and the truth commanded by his Catholic Church.
- Such an ordering is rightly a “disorder.”
Whether I have successfully escaped the pit in my allegory remains to be seen, but I have seen a light that resonates in every aspect of my life, illuminating not only my disorder, but the disorder in the Church, in the laity, and in the secular societies we all find ourselves in. The purpose of this blog then is to fight against such disorder and to help people orient themselves properly toward God, virtue, and charity. Each one of us is stuck in our own pit of creature comforts, earthly pleasures and vices; my aim is to inspire everyone to get out.
Look to God.