” “I am sick man. I am a spiteful man…”, and so starts Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella, “Notes from Underground“, a breathtaking and morbidly beautiful analysis of the existential angst of a government clerk in 19th century Russia. Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man is a man who is, as he puts it, “excessively conscious”, by which he means that he is self-aware to the point of paralysis, and, ironically, he is aware of this.
Although I identify with the Underground Man (I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that I haven’t identified with any other literary character as much), and Notes has had an enormous impact on my thinking, this isn’t the sole reason for me recalling the first lines of the book.
I recollected these lines as I have accidentally thought them myself, about myself, in a way, I guess, that would make Pierre Menard, the author of Quixote, proud. These lines were followed by epiphanic realization, one which I wish to elaborate on, and that would be the raison d’être of this note.
You see, in a relationship with a person, be it romantic or professional, one always encounters situations in which one person tries always to gain a feeling of superiority, a sort of leverage over the other person, and, at the same time, situations when the opposite happens. A metaphorical see-saw, if you will. Whenever an imbalance of this sort occurs, unless the balance is shifted, unpleasant feelings shall crop up, and this ultimately will result in a permanent souring of the relationship. Time usually plays a role in bringing the balance back, provided the involved parties are patient enough.
A general example illustrating this fails me, because I realize that it depends upon the character and personality traits unique to the person involved. But allow me to tell you, in abstract terms, the incident which prompted this note. Maybe that will shed more light on this.
My wife is the most beautiful and the purest person I have met in my whole life. She works in another run-of-the-mill company of the modern age, like any other person nowadays. And like any other working wife, finding a balance between her personal and professional life is tough for her, mainly because of assholes like me. The other day she was working late, and she sent me a message telling me that she might be back home at half-past eleven. Now I didn’t like that one bit. She was gaining leverage in our relationship. She, by coming late, has made me insecure, jealous and so ultimately shifts the emotional weights towards my end of the see-saw, holding me down.
Now I naturally have to shift the weights because I cannot stand being low. So, being extremely rude, I told her I didn’t care when she came home, and I told her that I was feeling tired and that I had to sleep because I had a long and tiring day (of doing nothing).
The balance now shifted, I rose up into the air. And felt light as a feather. ”