Last night I was tested again in my faith of the universe and my own philosophy. Marcus Aurelius talks about life being cyclical and what shook me has happened before. It was almost familiar, the gut wrenching feeling and chill of the blood. I knew the sensation immediately yet it was worse this time, much more physical. It was almost as if my mind had checked out; electing to fuck off and let the body do it’s thing while it disconnects and turns inward.
By all stoic accounts, I handled it poorly: drank a lot and spiralled into over thinking. Yet it took a near stranger to put things into perspective. Her words echoed the philosopher in my head that was drowned by cortisol. It’s funny as without this event, I’m not sure I’d have had the opportunity to talk to this person in such a candid way and connect with a stranger on the internet to become friends (or at least friendly).
“All that happens is an event either within your natural ability to bear it, or not” – Meditations 10.3
Did I pass the test? Or did I pass it at my own standards? The damage to a reputation of a man several years dead means nothing to me as he no longer exists. The person writing this as we speak is fresh and new and his reputation has no bearing on me now. False narratives created to hurt a man long dead is meaningless, the only person affected is the malignant story teller. It’s not my virtue affected, it’s theirs. How many others can speak of this? How many other people on the planet who have evolved from caterpillar to moth must still carry the sins of the larvae? Perhaps I’m being too fast, perhaps I’m still gestating in the chrysalis.
My friends tried to make me see this yet it was the words of a stranger that I am truly bloody grateful for.
“Lying, too, is a sin against the same goddess: her name is Truth, and she is the original cause of all that is true. The conscious liar sins to the extent that his deceit causes injustice: the unconscious liar to the extent that he is out of tune with the nature of the Whole and out of order with the nature of the ordered universe against which he fights.” – Meditations 9.1.2
I was a prolific liar, a conscious one who cared little for the injustices around me. Differentiating not giving a fuck and being generally a fucker was a talent lost on me. So when I hear of lies, conscious or unconscious, can I really judge? I know the damage they can cause in the material world but in my soul, do I have the right to feel anything other than pity? Failing that: apathy.
“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” – Jesus, John 8:7
“There is no blame. If you can, put him right: if you can’t, at least put the matter right. If that too is impossible, what further purpose does blame serve?” – Meditations 8.17
Maybe one day, I’ll have to face the consequences of the lies of another in person. When that day comes, it’s not the alleger that’ll be my priority, it will be the consequences. Even then, what use is it worrying about now? What use is another’s false feelings about me to me?
After all, it’s 2021. It’s far simpler than it used to be when it comes to shutting out the noise. Two words on every device connected to the internet: shut down.