Everyday Philosophies: Stimulus X

By Belén Cusi, Staff Writer
@belencusi

In an hour, I have a hair appointment to get my bangs fixed. I cut them last night when I decided suddenly that nail scissors would be a good enough replacement to actual hair scissors and that 2 a.m. was without a doubt a reasonable hour at which to “correct” the face frame that my usual hairdresser’s assistant gave me last week. In three hours, I also have an appointment at Chameleon Tattoo with Deirdre to fix the tattoo I got almost a month ago, when I decided that I immediately needed a dark and twisted black feather on my ribcage (one of those tortured soul things, you know), but it turned out looking more like a stiff, perfectly vertical, slug-type thing closer to my back than my boobs.

I’m really not crazy. Honestly. Ask my friends. But I suffer a simultaneously desired and dreaded condition, which both drives me to play my music and write these goofy articles, and to also shut my cell phone off for a week and de-activate my Facebook. (Damnit why don’t they make it so you can actually delete it?… Okay, I’m glad they haven’t.) It is a condition some say should be harnessed, analyzed, reigned in, while others, they say to embrace it, nurture it, encourage its possession over the human soul.

Pause.

Deep breath.

Let’s talk about impulse.

To me, it’s, well, I’m not sure yet. Sometimes I celebrate it as my “human-ness.” It’s that proof that I have feelings and desires and the freedom to act upon them. Yet there are other times—like the moments immediately following the times when I’m in Free People and the salmon-colored skinny jeans I wanted all season long are on sale, ooh and those earring studs, so sparkly… those scarfs!—times when I’m wondering how I could have conveniently forgotten for 15 minutes that I was saving that money for a Bolt Bus ticket to New York City (not the weird Chinese bus, you know the one). If only I had stopped to think.

There is no denying that I’m a seriously impulsive person. My mother says it to me all the time. I’m an extremist, I’m indecisive, I’m emotionally confused, but who isn’t? And I love to use my impulse as an excuse to later say, “Oops, I don’t know what got into me!” or “Yeahh, I knew I was right, I felt it.” I’m proud of it, in a way, because it means that I go after what I want and that I trust my instinct, and many a person out there in this world can’t say that for themselves. I realize it can’t be my sole modus operandi. I need to learn when to use it, and when not to. Oh, and how exactly to go about learning that.

So what am I doing about it? I think we’re getting more comfortable with each other, and it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone you’ve had some related symptoms pop up here and there in your life too. I looked up some quotes for us to see what the rich, famous and intellectually superior kind think of the matter. Some of them give me hope. Others I want to eradicate from the face of the earth if not for the fact that deep down I know they are right. And while I haven’t finished doing my own thinking and philosophizing on all the different perspectives to come to a conclusion, I’ve taken the liberty of choosing a few that stand out to me in the hopes that they’ll make you stop and smell the roses… I mean think about your own impulse-driven lives. Please don’t ask me who some of these people are because I don’t know either.

. . . our impulses are too strong for our judgement sometimes.” – Thomas Hardy

Yes! Exactly. Thank you Thomas.

Let the first impulse pass, wait for the second.” – Baltasar Gracian

No problem, my impulses are so strong I tend to feel them in multiples of four and five, sometimes even six times. (But I think I get what you’re saying, Balt.)

Character is the impulse reined down into steady continuance.” – Charles Henry Parkhurst

He pulled the “C” word on me, against which I’m defenseless. Try as I might to be wild and reckless and free, I have a weakness for wanting to develop myself as a woman of dignity and, yes, character. You win this one, Charles.

Never act on impulse. Plan first. Think it through. Then act.” – Luc Saint-Cyr

He cuts straight to the chase. Planning is great, maybe even irrefutably necessary, however, I wouldn’t go so far as to say never to act on impulse. Come on Luc, lighten up a little, have some fun.

Every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” – Jane Austen

That’s very reasonable Jane. Respect.

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”  – George Eliot

A series of small impulses, at least for my sake?

The art of living consists in knowing which impulses to obey and which must be made to obey.” – Sydney J Harris

Love this one. Here’s what it means: BALANCE.

Love, like fire, cannot subsist without constant impulse; it ceases to live from the moment it ceases to hope or to fear.” – François de la Rochefoucauld

Love… a topic unto its own. Let’s just say without impulse, I don’t believe love can have any fire to begin with.

A man who leaves home to mend himself and others is a philosopher; but he who goes from country to country, guided by the blind impulse of curiosity, is a vagabond.”  – Oliver Goldsmith

This one hit particularly close to home. We live in a world where we have more choices and more mobility than ever. Confessedly I’d currently fit into the category of a vagabond, if the judgment of my person were in the hands of Sir Oliver.

Finally, I’d like to finish with this one, perhaps the wisest, in my humble opinion, of them all, a gift from our friend Friedrich:

Every characteristic absence of spirituality, every piece of common vulgarity, is due to an inability to resist a stimulus – you have to react, you follow every impulse.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Ouch. He got me. It’s great to exercise my freedom and will to satisfy my desires. But what about exercising my freedom and will to control them? Doesn’t that fall within the scope of my freedom too? Do I have the ability to resist a stimulus? Do you?

Until next time,

~ B

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2 comments

  1. Jim

    We have no control over are own destiny. NONE whatsover! It’s like Lennon said “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” We are constantly reacting to or impulsed by life/God. They are the same thing, the NOW. That is what is in control. The good news is it’s all BALANCED. Check this ish out… http://www.truthcontest.com/ <= Let me know what you think.

  2. Pingback: Stimulus X | Belén

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