TGU on should, could, and able or unable

Thursday, May 6, 2021

5:15 a.m. I get the feeling that, as Hemingway put it, there are “a few practical things to be said.” That is, that if I could just focus on them, I would remember that we were in the middle of some discussion. But nothing comes to mind, so if you don’t provide the topic, I can’t.

We can tell you what the uneasiness is that you are feeling. That isn’t the same as providing a cure for it.

Well, I’ll take the awareness, anyway.

You keep thinking that if you could only focus your energies, you could pull together a grand summary of what you have learned from us, a la Paul Brunton’s two summary books. [The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself] But what makes you think so?

You’re right that that’s the feeling. I take it, it is an unrealistic feeling.

Let’s take it in steps. What makes you think you should, then what makes you think you could, then what makes you able or unable to do so?

Clearly, you’ve had your coffee and you are loaded for bear. Go ahead.

Should. A debt you owe? Unfinished business? A way to pass the time? A great work to be remembered for? A parting gift to the world? An attempt to justify through comprehension?

Could. Enough ability? Enough time? Enough motivation, sustained over enough time? Enough energy? Enough skill?

Able or unable? That is, why the gap between desire and effect. Psychological blocks? Awareness of futility? (That is, effort would merely be wasted?) Conflict of desires or of motivations?

All that is concise to the point of being terse. I gather that this is to help us see it as a whole.

Correct. It is an overview of possible relationships. The overview aspect is more important than the need for completeness or even (strictly speaking) accuracy. If you can gather all the major variables in your mind, it is worthwhile for the clarity it offers, even if the gathering process, or the result (the things that are gathered) are not in themselves quite right. That’s why it is good to alternate, now a summary view, now detail.

So now that we have clumped the possible factors as they may be seen relative to one another, let’s look at them a little more closely. This need not involve tedious detail, but it invites a somewhat more lingering consideration.

So, in re various possible shoulds:

  • A debt you owe? You know this one. We are talking about feelings, not logical conclusions. You (and others, of course; we should hope that by now that would go without saying, though it never does) may feel that you “ought” to be working at some task. You don’t feel complete if you are not. You live with a sense of a promise you have made that has not yet been fulfilled – even if you may have no idea how you could fulfill it.
  • Unfinished business? Similarly, a feelings that you are still in the middle of something, even if you can’t see what the something may be; even if you can’t imagine what it possibly could
  • A way to pass the time? you have to get up every day and live it, and when external constraints are lifted, you then have to fill the day without even the advantage (resented though it may have been) of having certain tasks forced upon your schedule.

You can’t play golf all day.

Exactly. Things that passed time pleasantly as relief from other things may not be adequate to fill your day in and of themselves.

  • A great work to be remembered for? You may have a sense that this (whatever the “this” may be) would justify your existence. If you don’t do it, how do you justify drawing in new air every day. Taking up space in the world? Not everybody is afflicted by this uneasiness, but those who are will testify (if they will admit to it!) that it can be painfully urgent, and of course insoluble.
  • A parting gift to the world? Similar to the previous, only the motivation is slightly different. The former emphasizes the effect on one’s own reputation. The latter centers on what one can give, centers on the gift.

The end result of the hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell.

We won’t linger to look at that closely, but broadly, yes.

  • An attempt to justify through comprehension? This one may be the least self-explanatory.

I took it to mean, an attempt to justify my life by bringing it all into focus and seeing what it came to.

Bearing in mind, this comes in the consideration of “should,” not of “could.” It is a thought; may be a project worth attempting. It cannot be accomplished, of course, not strictly speaking. But again, it may (or may not) be worth your while.

Then, to look at “coulds”:

  • Enough ability? Do you have the ability to pull together your great summary (or any other extensive work of any kind that you or any of you may have in mind) and execute it? This is easily parsed. If the idea did not have relevance for you in some way, it would never appear on your mental screen. So it may be important at least to hold it in mind. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily something to be brought into 3D existence.

That isn’t clear to me. Oh – as I write this, yes it is. You are saying, creation takes place in non-3D regardless if it also takes place in 3D.

Yes. The two forms of creation are not the same, obviously, but you shouldn’t think that non-3D creation is inferior or even less lasting than 3D creation. Which is going to last longer, a 3D pot thrown on a wheel and fired in a kiln, or the non-3D pot conceived and shaped regardless of clay and water and wheel and fire?

We tend to forget that.

Your ideas and fantasies and creations of the mind are likely to far outlive the 3D frame that held the mind while it was doing all that.

  • Enough time? This amounts to wondering if the universe allows accidents. An interrupted presidency, an unfinished novel, the description of a social organization, etc. – it all amounts to the same thing: an ending in 3D that leaves the structure unfinished. It may be hard to remember, or even to realize in the first place, that what was constructed was itself finished. That is, you have an image of an uncompleted structure.

Which is to say, we shouldn’t ever worry about running out of time. I can hear Rita now. [I used to say, or used to convey you saying to her, “Don’t worry about it” (whichever “it” we happened to be discussing), and she would come back, a little sharply, with, “I’m not worrying about it.” It was a sensitive point with her, for some reason.]

  • Enough motivation, sustained over enough time? If you will look closely at motivation, we predict you will usually find it a mystery. It is certainly far less under your conscious control than you commonly think. When motivation dissipates mid-creation, is that failure? Accident? A sin of omission on your part or ours?
  • Enough energy? Here we say merely, if you are intent upon doing it, the energy will be there. Jane Roberts could finally manifest Seth only a paragraph at a time, but she did that. Your energy or lack of it may make a given task more difficult; it will not, in and of itself, make it impossible.
  • Enough skill? This too is easily dealt with. One develops skill by using it.

I sometimes quote whoever it was who said, insightfully, “A thing worth doing is worth doing badly,” which I take to mean, we shouldn’t confine ourselves to only those things we are skillful at.

Precisely. And that brings us to “able or unable,” but you hour is up. Let’s resume when your energy has been refreshed.

Okay. Thanks for this, interesting as usual. I am surprised to see that we covered nine pages; it went very smoothly. Till next time.


Frank DeMarco, author

Papa’s Trial: Hemingway in the Afterlife, a novel


One thought on “TGU on should, could, and able or unable

  1. Thank you Frank and TGU. As always, it addressed exactly where I am and what I needed to hear. Every day I look for your post as it always seems to be what is current in my life or pondering. Very much appreciate it.
    Thanks heaps, Inge

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