Original sin

I feel that I was somewhat born innocent, an animal with sound, primal instincts. But if I remained that way, I wouldn't be able to function in a complex society, so I got education. Education taught me what is expected from me in order to be accepted by my peers[1].

Education taught me more than that: it also taught me to enjoy what a complex society can give me: art, science, history, philosophy, adding depth of meaning and correlations to my perceptions and memories.

Education wasn't perfect, though. Some of my educators obsessed about some of the expectations, and gave me rules to follow that aren't really needed to interact with a society. Sit down for hours in silence without complaining. Don't talk back to figures of authority, even when they are abusing me. Don't ever feel that my efforts in a task have been enough, because there is always something more that I could have done. Do what people expect me to do, regardless of what I wish to do. Do what I need to do, not what I want to do.

So I grew up with a set of arbitrary expectations that weren't needed to function in a society, and weren't in any way meeting any of my needs, yet I still felt them as a part of me, putting every effort into meeting them that I would put in making myself happy. I like to call this set of learned arbitrary, unneeded expectations "neurosis".

I like this as an interpretation of the "original sin" myth: in order to go from an innocent animal to a member of a complex society, I acquired a set of neuroses that make me behave in a meaningless way. Or, rephrased going along with the myth, that rob me of my innocence.

In some environments like BDSM, many have a name for an unnegotiated practice forced on a person: they call it "abuse". It made sense to accept that I have been abused many times while being educated, because my educators also had their own baggage of parasite expectations, of neuroses. And since I don't currently know how I can ever be sure that I freed myself from all my neuroses, I feel like I should accept that it is possible that I do and will abuse others; by accepting it as a possibility, I hope at least to be able to realise as soon as possible that I am doing it, and try to stop.

I have now realised that my life is far simpler and more rewarding when expectations are negotiated between all the parties involved. I have recently spent a substantial amount of my energy in recognising and renegotiating many of the expectations and the neuroses that I had learnt while growing up, and, who knows, perhaps this effort will continue throughout my life.

So there you go, an agnostic atheist freeing himself of his original sin, and regaining his paradise lost one step at a time, alive, on earth.

And enjoying every moment of it.

[1] I suspect that is why people educated in a high class society tend to be accepted more easily by a high class society: they conform to the right set of expectations. But I digress.