Butwhatifits: Who Drives Your Chariot?

We are part of The Trust Project
By Richard Cirulli
“I have always had the ability to attach my demons to my chariot.”
Ingmar Bergman

Butwhatifits.  

It’s slang for the feeling one gets that despite all the planning and accomplishments, you come to realize you got it all wrong in the end.

One of the advantages of coming to this anxiety-filled realization is that it enables us to become aware of ourselves. Not an easy time for some, especially in our ego-centric world of materialism and consumerism.

What we should consider doing is to accept the notion that the pain of change is milder than the pain of complacency. To achieve this, we will need to rein in our self-discipline and slack surrogate motivations that are merely sense-like emotions, oftentimes fickle. In essence, we do not live until we take control of our self-discipline.

With this said, we should inquire of ourselves as to who is driving our chariot of life. And, have we delegated our destiny to chance and/or apathy?

I will use the analogy of the charioteer as a guide to help bring balance, stability and direction in our lives – in the anticipation it will assist us in regaining control of our reins on life.  

Just imagine the chariot as our body, the horses as our driving motive force, our mind as our inner spirit. If we feel and believe we are not finding our essence in life, it may be that we do not rein in our horses with true direction, but merely let the horses follow a lost crowd and popular culture, delegating our fate to others.

We may do this unconsciously or for the need to be accepted; finding a false sense of security and happiness by being part of a lost thundering herd. If our inner constitution and moral compass is weak and without direction, our senses will slack the reins to allow us to be dragged to our fate, as opposed to having our mind control our self-discipline and hold firm the reins of our destiny.

For it is those who stand for themselves aside the herd of popular culture who seek the essence of life by taking the reins of their chariot to chart their own destiny.  We may consider asking ourselves, why am I in a state of despair and feeling alone in the crowd of humanity? We have the power to be ourselves or to delegate our senses to despair.

To quote Socrates, we must first honestly “Know thyself,” to be achieved by scrutinizing our motives, intentions and our desires – all of which can easily betray us as we fulfill our actions.

For example, take work, which we need for our sustenance, and for some to rank themselves in the hierarchy of social status. In our goal to keep up with the Joneses for bragging rights, we perform work in return for sustenance; a salary functions as a modern-day servitude. This is quite a paradox in that the very means we need to survive and maintain our social standings must be financed at the cost of our own existence in our finite time.

Yet we continue believing we will find our El Dorado. We like to believe that our troubles are due to our environment, and to change our existence to essence all we need to do is change our environment. We erroneously believe externalizing will help us find our internal peace and essence. Or believing our less-than-perfect environment is the cause of our anxiety. Well, let’s test this hypothesis.

Take Adam and Eve. Living in paradise for all eternity with not a worry on their mind. Complete with social distancing, being the only two humans in paradise strutting around au naturel, and never aging. No mortgage, no job, just heavenly bliss, and maybe listening to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers singing “I’m In Heaven.”

They also had a subscription to Ted Turner’s cable station “Heavenly Classics,” paid for with their guardian angel debit card. Then they just got bored, partook of the forbidden fruit. The devil made me do it! Always looking for a scapegoat. Unfortunately, confessionals had not yet been invented. And within a blink of an eye, they had fallen from paradise to their earthly incarnation, going from fig leaves to face masks and having to social distance with home incarceration. Since they were over 65, they were immediately given their COVID shots. Holy Jehovah! 

So now totally bored living with each other, and getting on each other’s nerves, and raising Cain – with no restaurant making deliveries of the forbidden fruit.  Shuttered from society, with their iPhone, YouTube, Netflix and all their downloaded apps, not to mention credit card debt and working for bosses at a mindless job in cubicle hell.

Then having the epiphany that Old Jehovah was not so bad after all. As they fall into an existential abyss of despair, they begin to sing:

Swing low sweet chariot
Coming to carry me home
Swing low sweet chariot
Coming to take me home

Let’s not drive ourselves into a hell of existence by turning over the reins of our life to our weaker emotions to follow a lost crowd only to find ourselves as Butwhatifits.

Be well. Be safe. Be Happy. Be nice. Amor fati!

Dr. Richard Cirulli is a published author, playwright and retired professor. His body of works can be viewed at www.demitasseplayers.com. He looks forward to your comments, and can be reached at profcirulli@optonline.net.

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