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Wednesday 4 February 2004

Ok, so there must be both sincerity and an appearance of dignity. sincerity, obviously, must be felt in the heart. But the dignity is something in between. To put on dignity entirely for show, would lack sincerity. However, the feeling of dignity in the heart is not specifically called for. What is called for is merely the appearance, but mixed with sincerity.

There is also immaturity, "the looking of a lad." Perhaps maturity would mean dignity felt in the heart. Perhaps for the immature, it is enough to work sincerely to appear dignified, which is to try to be dignified, but fake it when you have to. In any case, it's a call to grow up and to approach things maturely. Hildegard of Bingen (who I'm studying in Medieval Visionaries class) had a vision of seven vices and seven virtues. One of the vices had the appearance of a dog and said that it would run dog-like towards everyone and be playful and happy forever. The virtue responded by condemning the vice's immaturity. Running dog-like towards people both lacks maturity and dignity.

Therefore, the solutions called for are sincere, restrained and mature. Romantic comedy-type actions are therefore not called for. The failed actions of the past are similarly not called for. They don't work. And they're not mature: they are patterns formed in youth that have not been modified. They are regrettable in grown-ups.

The situation will be slow to change, but will end well. Taking action is advised. Even drastic action (presumably as long as it is sincere and mature and appears diginified) will lead to good things. However, it's presumable that the slow change along with the necessity of dignity means that any drastic action must be thoughtful. Large actions must be weighed carefully, as impetuousness is immature, even if it is sincere.

I explained this to my shrink and she asked if the appearance of dignity was a large concern of mine. I said I wanted to do the right thing. Of course, there are many right things rather than a single correct course of action. Indeed, there may be advantage in every movement undertaken, although there may be varying degrees of advantage and different kinds of advantage in different life arenas. My shrink points out that crises can lead to a lot of growth, for example.

I'm using this as a platform from which to try to maintain my mood of cautious optomism. It looks more dignified than despair.

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