Destiny awaits. The future is before you. Or perhaps, you are before it. One step. That’s all it takes to get you going. The second one should follow. Put a good stride in now. Time waits for no man. Good, now that you’re moving it should get easier. Or harder. Who really knows. I certainly don’t. But you have to try. What else will you you do. What else would you do. It’s a fiction you know, that old idea that you’ll enjoy it. Or is it a new idea. But you probably won’t. At least not most of it. If you’re lucky, you might just enjoy some of it. Best case scenario, you fumble around till you find someone. Then again. You might not, odds are okay. But guarantees and promises aren’t made. You didn’t pick your looks. You’re probably not so attractive. But maybe you’re lucky. Maybe. Loneliness awaits those who abdicate responsibly. And those below the median. Then you’re at the bottom. Not much you can do about it. Just keep digging. There will probably be rocks. You could either stand on them, or put them on top of you. You’ll probably surprise yourself with your choice. Choices are never simple. Surprises are abound and withheld by the unconscious. Blame others not, seek your answers inside. Not likely. You’ll point the finger. Wave the finger. Raise your chin. Turn a cheek. We all do it. Maybe after a few times you’ll wake. But then again, probably not. Monkeys. Monkeys, full of snakes. Do you know your snakes. Are they familiar, or unknown. They always say you should fear the unknown. Probably smart advice. Although the snake could be a phoenix. Don’t know till you look. Probably a snake. You’re full of snakes. Do you think you’re not. You are most certainly mistaken. The line between good and evil runs through the middle of every human heart. In case you hadn’t herd. But don’t stumble now. The stairs of discontent are steep. Are your legs long enough. Do your muscles burn. Does the ache agonise you. Well you’re not alone. You stand upon the death of a billion men. Don’t falter. The burn will ease. Although, it is easier not to. It is easier to run. To blame. To curse. Some take great pleasure in it. Perhaps you will too. Perhaps you won’t. You think you won’t. Be careful of such thoughts. The path to hell is paved with good intentions. You needn’t remember anything more.
Edwards nose fell upon the table. He barely looked up to give it a despairing look. Perhaps just grateful it didn’t land in his soup. The others at the table fared no better. His mother Margaret had only one ear, a frizzly scraggle of hair and not much else. His father Norman was the worst of the lot, his face had slid off last June when he bent down to pickup the newspaper at the front door, needless to say, the news read no better that day. Edwards younger brother and sister were the only ones who could manage a smile, mostly because they were the only ones still with lips. Youthful ignorance their only friend, but time would come for them as it did for all. The unwelcome knock at the door. You just have to hope it doesn’t come for your good eye, or your preferred hand. Although it was given that what you valued most would be taken first, as if it was some cruel joke. But no one ever heard who was laughing. Perhaps that is the oddest part of all.
I once thought that to think that there was an intrinsic purpose to life was silly. I thought if one thought there was, one only got there by lying to themselves, deluding themselves in fear of death. I saw the world as just a place where things existed and everything happened purely by chance. Everyone and everything was here because of an uncountable number of chance happenings that lead to the universe, and to life. To me this suggested there lacked any purpose, for it to be chance instantly makes life arbitrary. The only conclusion I could come to was that our only purpose was to reproduce. That was it, like all other animals, we were here to live meaningless lives merely to create more meaningless lives.
What I now know is that my nihilism lead to, or in some way correlated with being hedonistic. I’m yet to work out, whether it is our nihilistic society that teaches hedonism, or if it is an evolution within the individual, perhaps a combination of the two. Whatever the cause, I lived my life for the moment, everything around me told me that this was the way to live. People, advertisements, magazines, TV, all said almost everything should be sacrificed to gain experiences and pleasures. Why? Because you might die tomorrow, because what else could you possibly do worth while in your life. More importantly because other people were doing it and posting it on their Facebook. Everything was about instant gratification, nothing could wait. If quality had to be sacrificed for time, I never thought twice. Now was all that mattered. Tomorrow doesn’t exist, the eternal now was all I had. Why should I make a sacrifice for what might not pay off, or that I might not be around to cash in.
The combination of these two philosophies were destructive. I made choices against my future for the benefit of the next five minutes. In the moment I could be satisfied, underneath, I was struggling. Life felt empty. I resented myself for not making better choices for the future I inevitably had to face. I needed to change, but I could not see how, or even why. I convinced myself I just needed more. More experiences. More stuff. Then I’d feel good. Then, I’d be happy.
So how did I escape the nihilism and hedonism which is so rampant in our western societies? Firstly I have to thank Jordan B. Peterson. It was not only by his word, but he is certainly the most influential of all. But to break it down, it was just a matter of learning. I found answers, I found that I was wrong. Now when I say wrong, I mean it in two ways. Technically, and pragmatically. Both are important in a journey in understanding your place in life. What saved me was my passion to learn and curiosity. My desire and interest in new ideas, slowly I found a path toward better ideas. These ideas were like pistachio nuts, each one you ate just makes you want another one.
We chase happiness as though it were air to breath. Like there was nothing more important or even anything else to consider. There are a few problems with this, firstly, happiness is fleeting even for those who lead the best lives (whatever that means). But really life is fundamentally suffering, you ignore this fact at your own peril. To do so will inevitably lead to frustration with life and resentment against whatever you come define as God, if you cannot conceptualise such a being, then the results are even worse. In this situation there is no one to blame or be angry at, the results of this can be as we see with mass shootings. Nihilists who wish to show the world just how resentful they are to the nature of being, hence why they always go for the most innocent victims available. I can’t help but believe that those who know that life is suffering are prepared and see no reason for resentment for their lot in life. It’s something to do with expectations, which are a real problem in our society. In the West today we raise children to be resentful. We instil in them a level of expectation that one could never hope to satisfy and philosophy destined to fail them.
There is a number of ways I believe we fail children, the first is this idea of inclusiveness, of removing the meritocracy. The first thing we do with children is tell them they can be anything the want, they just have to try. It sounds lovely and innocent but the effects have been shown to be quite the opposite. We continue to reinforce this belief when we give them medals for participation. We remove all capability of learning from failure, of learning perseverance. Next we remove their ability to push their own boundaries and learn what they are and are not capable of, everything, and everyone must be wrapped in bubble wrap. We don’t allow them to do anything that might be possible to hurt themselves, or others. In turn, this hurts our children and inevitably, our societies. Children no longer find and experience the limits and the boundaries, instead they are sheltered only to grow up to become adults who have failed to learn their own boundaries and limitations, they fail to learn about the world correctly.
The answer to nihilism isn’t simple or easy, or maybe it is. Maybe it is the logos. This is the spoken word, the truth. For me it all comes back to pragmatism. This ability we have, we must use to bring forth what helps us. If we continue to foster youth whom misunderstood the fundamentals of life then we are not achieving what we could. If we are here to do anything, then that is to make tomorrow better, not just for yourself, but for all.
The Oracle in The Matrix, hands Neo a cookie after insinuating that a decision will be forced upon him. A situation will be imposed on him in which he will need to take action, to make a decision. A decision that will impact upon the outcome of this hero, the outcome of this hero’s world. A decision that extends so much further past the extent of the hero’s insecurities, vulnerabilities and misfortune. A decision that transcends the hero himself.
I sit watching birds fly around me. Contemplating what I’d use wings for if I had them.
Simply put, the hero sacrifices, the hero uses wings to fly towards his demons. Facing the mirror that reflects himself to himself, his purest of adversities and self-doubt. A hero attempts to save Morpheus, regardless of whether he understands and has learned all he could have about the Matrix beforehand.
A hero learns that he is required to act regardless of whether he has the understanding to do so.
A hero learns that understanding the repricussons of any action they take is out of their grasp. A hero learns that attempting to understand these repricussions leaves an individual hopeless, flailing in a dark void that can only imprison, serving to offer only endless questions to unsolved answers.
In order to live in reality, action needs to be taken. To dissolve fear Neo needed to risk losing against Agent Smith. One needs to risk losing and exposing oneself to further fear. The type of fear that can make you nauseous at the ponder of it. The type if fear that doesn’t ring the doorbell before entering.
Inevitably, there is always a Morpheus that needs to be saved, there are always fears to overcome. Use your wings for heroic purposes.
Pain leaps, for joy – for sorrow. It dances upon your grave. What is it to you. This, this that is you. Do you hold and grip, dry are the hands that never close, slippery are the ones that remain closed. You should run. But you shouldn’t. Is the answer right, little does it matter what your mother thought. There are ones who tell you what is so. Denied, but the truth is somewhere down there.
Somewhere a piano plays. Melodies, are they sad or gay. Do you shrink or do you rise. This is not for you to choose, although you must decide. Choice is a bit like never being asked. What is will. You walk alone, a poorly lit street, the bewitching hour has past. Noises, foreign, threatening. Is it sodden mud under foot. Is there a welcoming inn up the street. Does the end of the street meet the end of the road. Does a stone have your last sight written upon it.
Memories. Are they what they appear. If you ponder upon them. Do they become clearer. The path behind more certain. Does the sky change colour. Is there red, is there blue. Are you sure. If you’re not, what will you do about it. Did you wake just now, or do you still sleep. Was that emotion. That lantern, hanging above your row boat. Does it guide your way on the misty lake. Does it’s light shine toward surer water. Does it hide things in shadows. Is this a corner of your mind. The undusted. Is the cutlery blunt. Is this house your own. Do the doors stay open. Or do you close them behind you. Do you check your keys. Is there more than you expected. Are the unknown large or small. Do they jingle a soft tone. Do they make you cringe when they rattle.
If you point. What do you point at. Is that it. Are you sure. Have you checked. You probably should. When you walk. What plays. The violin. The cello. When you fly. Do you fly with birds. Do you fly with beetles. Birds can be vultures. Choices are never what they seem. Cracks and seams. So much darkness can be hidden. It sneaks. It creeps. It stays hidden so you cannot see the light. Contrasts. Distinctions. Names. The separation of the chaos from the order.
Do you know where your foot stands. Does chaos melt your soul. Does order chill your bones. The balance of Yin. Of Yang. Where are your feet. I bet you’re not even sure without careful reflection. Unless they’re both in chaos. Then you know. You know all too well. Bring back something worthy. Don’t waste your chaos. Your life will be spent dancing round it. Make it count when you fall in.
All working relationships require one party who takes up the position of sun, the other of moon. These two functions serve as the ebb and flow within a long-term shared relationship dynamic.
The yin: the anchor and prime source of stability to the relationship during the calm swells, thunderous storms and all moments in between. To an overlooker peering up to the sky, the moon offers the only direction and reference amongst the vastness of black unknowing. The moon is the introspection and calm, the reflection and procedure. The escape from the abyss.
The yang: the harborer of action and familiarity, spreading the light and warmth to the world. The sun provides the light, allowing for one to see. The winds that flutter cherry blossoms and assists birds in gliding high. Offering the world with energy to grow into a stronger, more dependable and supportive version of itself. The light that blinds when looking at it.
Relationships can be thought of as intercontinental ocean voyages. Regardless of the particular boat, the size of your sails or whether you are Christopher Columbus or not, without the sun there is no wind. A force that can redirect itself or cease to blow at any moment. The moon within the relationship uses their knowledge of sailing to put the sun’s wind to best use.
Relationships in time, build up high like skyscrapers in the Manhattan skyline. Simply put, without the moon, these buildings would succumb due to poor foundations. Essential design elements would not be accounted for, the structure would not be lightening resistant nor earthquake proof without the moon’s canny. The sun within the relationship can build the skyscraper of their dreams, bringing vision to reality, with methodology brought forward by the moon.
Simply put, people who emanate the sun’s energy produce and source the cards of life from themselves, for themselves and those they love. While those who ground themselves in the moon’s energy, patiently glue new components from the outside world into their lives.
Each can stockpile or hoard their resources. But only after forming union, can they creatively construct and upgrade a house of cards together, that when super-glued will not fall down like the rest.
When I lay awake at night, when the long night won’t take me on a short journey so easily, it’s generally because there is too much going round in my mind.
I’m thinking of life, living, being and how to do those things properly, as always. It’s not uncommon for me, I seem to be particularly concerned with such topics, more so the ideas of, rather than the implementation of. It is a topic you can never stop learning on, there is no definitive answer, more a general direction and in a sense, a journey.
The art of living you might call it, a path that if achieved properly will be full of events which topple you, that will throw you down the stairs. But only due to these events will you then climb higher than before. Each stair ascended you’ll realise there is even more steps than previously thought. In a sense this is the journey.
Here are some pointers that I can humbly offer to help you climb.
Make good sacrifices.
A sacrifice is essential to being human. Many thousands of years ago we discovered what a sacrifice was, that is to bargain with the future. While our being is trapped in the eternal now, our being, within this eternal now can project the concept of time to allow us to make choices that benefit this future self. So in a sense this is what allows you to improve yourself. This is why you save money, go to university, skip desert and iron your shirts. While this all seems rather obvious one fact you may overlook is the quality of your sacrifices. Not all sacrifices are successful and we often never understand why, but if you sacrifice what is of value with faith, if you give with truth and honesty it will be repaid. You will see returns worthy of your risk. Try it.
Speaking of truth this is the second pointer I can give
Speak the truth, no matter how much it hurts.
Now this is a kind of obvious but this doesn’t just mean to others, but to yourself as well. Speaking the truth has power that is hard to comprehend till you wield it and use the spoken word to bring forth betterment for you and all others beholden and stranger. This is the logos. The logos, or truth will strike through any problem, it is that powerful. When you speak the truth good things will happen, by that I don’t mean you’ll suddenly end all suffering on Earth. What I do mean is that you can, with your effort and your truth, bring light upon your own little garden. Start speaking the truth to those closest to you. Watch those relationships become stronger, as they will starting speaking the truth back to you. The hardest concept to understand of this is that speaking the truth doesn’t just mean saying things that are true. Discovering what this means will have profound effects, just try it.
Life is suffering.
This is pretty much the first thing you should learn about life. It isn’t simple, easy, kind, compassionate or fair. These are simple facts. The sooner you realise and accept it the easier the whole journey will be. Not because you cannot then be disappointed, but because then you will find value in life. You will see that the suffering you accept and bare burden to, is what makes being human so special. Some will take this and therefore assume it is better to not live at all, this is all too common from those of the twenty first century. I can see how people end up here, but I think this is the wrong conclusion to draw. Suffering adds value to life, it gives a purpose to life. I could give a million examples of how we do this and appreciate it in smaller scale, something gets lost for some in the bigger picture though. I will say one thing, history is market by those who bore immense suffering.
This is a great segway into the next pointer.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
The reality is that life is suffering because your immense vulnerability. From your nakedness and from disease, injury, cancer, heart disease, drowning, suffocating, emotional pain. . . the list is endless. It’s a wonder we all can get out of bed in the morning really, but if you think like that then you are missing a very valuable lesson. To be vulnerable is to be human, to be limited is to be able to strive. To be human is to fight, for life, for survival, for growth, for success, for love, for your fellow man. Without this our emotions would be useless, it would really be pointless, meaningless and devoid of purpose. What good is love without loss, success without effort. Our vulnerability is what moves us to emotion. It is what fills us, it fills us to the point of overflowing, in art, in music, in exploration, of mind, body and world. This is how we create what gives us joy, what gives us drive. This is what gives us purpose! We take what is raw, we take what is cold and we bring it to life because we feel it, we can emote and bring meaning upon it. To be vulnerable is to be alive. Embrace your vulnerability, it is what brings the value to your suffering.
It is late so I must retire, but when you lie in bed awake next, think of your sacrifices, your suffering and your vulnerability. I hope these thoughts fill you with the fulfilment they do for me.