Yesterday, while waiting for a friend I was drawn to the predicament of a fly trapped in a storefront window. I believe the fly could see the place he sought to be, but he could not reach it. He desperately tried to free himself from his self inflicted prison, but no matter how hard he tried, he did not persevere. Instead, he just buzzed around, up and down the window, in search of the exit that did not, and could not, exist.
Rarely are we awakened to the fact that we are confined- confined by society, confined by our relationships, confined by our thoughts, confined by the limitations of our bodies. But when we become aware we are confined in one way or another, when we realize some "freedom" is just beyond reach, all our senses become heightened and panic may set in. Even if the confines are those we chose and those we want, once panic sets in, we cease thinking clearly and the ability to focus on the situation is lost. Often we start grasping at objects, thoughts and ideas to try and free ourselves from our entrapments without thinking through what it is we are trying to free ourselves from or if we really want "freedom" at all.
Watching the fly's dilemma brought to mind Jean-Paul Sartre's play No Exit, which glimpses into the world of hell. While Sartre's hell lacks the fire and brimstone facade, it provides a more frightening picture of a hell It brings to light and allows recognition of society's tearing away of freedom through objectification. Even when we are given the ability to leave, we tend not to for fear of what awaits us. (The devil we know…).
Has society robbed us of the wherewithal to implement a plan to free ourselves from whatever prison we have created or determine if the "prison" is one we want? Are we left desperately flittering about without knowing where to go, drowning in our own indecision? Following only the path that is set forth be it wrong or right?
Commercials, movies, advertisements etc. tell us the life we should have, the life we "want." But should we really want it? And, if so, why? I cannot say for certain, but I do believe group think is becoming much more prevalent. Even though life is never like the movies, why do we try to emulate it? The happy endings fed to us at the end of films cannot be replicated in real life- there is always something else that happens- we do not just get the girl. The girl becomes older, has thoughts and a life of her own, wants security, gets sick, etc. She does not remain perfect as she was at the end of the movie. Why do we allow ourselves to be drawn into this false reality and try to require society to behave within the confines of it?
"L'enfer c'est les autres" (Hell is other people) (No Exit, Sartre)
Is hell other people? Is it our need to desperately be accepted and validated by those that surround us? Do we as a group hold each other down, force ourselves and others to conform- is that the purpose of society?
Or is it as Oscar Wilde claims:
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell”
Is hell our own insecurities?
Maybe it is both? Maybe we create our own "hell" and then force others to conform to a hellish society because we are the ones in control of it? How do you break out of the conformity one places on oneself and others- is it just safety in numbers that drives us?
I am not sure. Either way, we will all most likely continue to remain in step and make as few waves as possible to avoid shattering the "hellish" facade in which we exist. The shadows will remain on the wall and we will continue to believe they are our reality.
Amazing what a little fly can trigger.