People are very uncomfortable in their own skin. The phrase ‘in their own skin’ is often said in reference to identities and social comfort, but I mean this to describe our relationship with our physical states. Hunger and sex drives are at the base, and signal us with discomfort. Beyond that we are hot, or cold or itchy. The pain we experience on an emotional level is where many attempt to tackle the discomfort. Feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, envy, rejection, and many others, will send people to the ends of the earth to become “enlightened” and that definition is often described as letting go of these things, or getting over the discomfort these entities present. The way to become “enlightened” is to pursue means to divorce ourselves from these sensations.
So this is what it is to be human. We are in a constant state of unrest and discomfort along a spectrum of dull ache to suicide. Because this is every day, every moment of life, some might question the value of even analyzing these states of consciousness. Others argue that it’s shallow not to.
My reason for bringing our base states up is as a reminder to what it means to be human. My reason for bringing up “enlightenment” in this context is to show that people are in a constant state of discomfort and associate these states with failure and pain. These states are pain states. I have found that people need reminders that to be, is to be in a pain state. I also have found it necessary to remind others, while having philosophical conversations, that people will do anything to quell these states on every level. We’re not “fine” with it, and the quest for enlightenment does not include accepting these pain states, but divorcing ourselves from these sensations. We don’t want to feel them.
“There are times when my pain medication stops working and the horrible nerve pain takes over, ripping through my innocent leg. I lay on my bed trapped, trapped by pain. I feel fear, afraid the pain will never cease, afraid I’ll go insane. I cry out to God begging for mercy. What have I done to deserve this fate? I feel like an innocent man condemned. I am trapped in a cage of pain, a cage made of rebar. I cannot tolerate it another second. I try a desperate escape by pushing my face through the bars, but I can go no further. I’m trapped in hell.” –Mark Collen