The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living
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Should we feel inadequate for failing to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is such an existential equilibrium realistic or even desirable? Condemning our cultural obsession with cheerfulness and positive thinking,” Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies, arguing that sometimes the most tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be the most rewarding.
Ruti critiques our current search for personal meaning and the pragmatic attempt to normalize human beings’ unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life rich in passion and fortitude. Ruti shows what counts is not our ability to evade existential uncertainty but to meet adversity in such a way that we do not become irrevocably broken. We are in danger of losing the capacity to cope with complexity, ambiguity, melancholia, disorientation, and disappointment, leaving us feeling less real,” less connected, and unable to metabolize a full range of emotions. Heeding the call of our character may mean acknowledging the marginalized, chaotic aspects of our being, for they carry a great deal of creative energy. Ruti shows it is precisely this energy that makes us inimitable and irreplaceable.