How is that for a provocative title for an essay?
In German it means My Struggle and being a descendant of German immigrants who came to the “New World” in the late 17th Century and having a life long fascination with one Adolph Hitler … I took the liberty of borrowing it. What is that old joke about Germans? They can do absolutely anything provided (one) someone orders them to do it and (two) it involves hurting people. But I digress.
So, what is Mein Kampf… what exactly is my struggle? To put it as simply as possible, I took Socrates advice to “know thyself” seriously from an early age. Obviously I was a member of a class of organisms called homo sapiens, but, I confess, that was of little help. Since no two homo sapiens appeared to be even close to alike I was presented with a fork in the road of my journey from the start. One road lead into the landscape of all our differences. The other lead to the land of how we are all alike. Being young, self absorbed and firmly convinced of my own importance to the proper functioning of the Universe I took the road best suited to an adolescent. I concentrated on our differences with a minor in “why I was better”. I drew Hitler mustaches in my schoolbooks when the teachers weren’t looking.
In the decades that passed, in what seems today like the blink of an eye, I plodded onward amassing degree after degree, reading book after book and mastering, to the best of my ability, as many fields of knowledge as possible. I studied science and philosophy and literature and art… all to understand the “differences” and contrasts and “kinds” of homo sapiens I shared the planet with. I succeeded, if I think back to where I started, beyond my wildest dreams.
Name a culture, name a religion… in all likelihood I can tell you more about it than you ever wanted to know. My primary occupation was learning and the acquisition of knowledge in the hope that it would lead to wisdom. In the fervent hope that I would, one day, understand myself.
The years passed. I can honestly say that I never even noticed, at first, when the path I initially picked first twisted back to join the other. When all the differences I had learned so well dissolved into meaningless facts… or, if you will, stuffed a comfortable cushion for me to rest upon in my old age. Both are equally true I find.
Now, I would like to leave the reader right there. But how fair would that be? If you have invested any time in reading this you have the right to hear how Mein Kampf… My struggle, came out in the end. So, I will tell you.
I learned that all the old sayings are true.
I learned that, in the end, you can count your real friends on one hand and have fingers left over.
I learned that the only people who can crush your heart are the ones you tell where you keep it.
I learned that the cruelest trick the universe ever played on matter is giving it life… temporarily.
Then, I learned that it was also the greatest gift.
I learned that perhaps the most profound thought ever put to music was done so by Bob Dylan when he sang, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”. It was only after I fully understood that… could I dance. Only then did nonsense make sense. Only then could I come home to the knowledge that the only important word in the label [HUMAN BEING]… is “being”.
I came across this quote the other day. It hit me like a lightning bolt. For what it’s worth, I give it to you…
“The consolation of imaginary things is not imaginary consolation.”
(put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while)… then, get back to dancing!