Being Like A Squirrel

We often find that we keep ourselves busy just to avoid thinking.

It’s one of those wierd coping methods we all have and fill our lives with work, activity and Netflix to keep sane when we try to run away from our own thoughts. Is it cowardice that keeps us from looking where we don’t want to look? For me, I can’t sit on the bus without music or risk the creeping invasion of overthinking and hollow gut feelings of a strange dread. It makes those moments before sleep the most terrifying parts of the day. Those moments where there’s nothing else to think about other than exactly what we’ve been trying to avoid.

Then perhaps, is this why we find that some people have such a hard time on holiday? A panicked pause between stuff – a silence of the mind leaving nothing but the echoes of exactly what we don’t want to hear.

“You’re going to be alone.”

“You’ve failed.”

“They hate you, you know.”

“What was that earlier? Did you notice that?”

“Have you checked yourself for lumps?”

So what can we do to combat this? When the panic strikes it seems entirely hopeless to escape the thoughts and patterns until we find something to distract us from them. Here, I think of a song I heard recently that I forget the name of, the core concept was: be like a squirrel.

A squirrel gathers nuts and acorns for winter, one at a time. They don’t attempt to tackle the enormity of the task all in one go, this tiny animal takes things as they are, one piece at a time.

You’re going to be alone – we call a friend or look for a social outlet.

You’ve failed – you’ve not attempted.

They hate you – you haven’t asked.

And so on…

Of course, easier said than done but we approach these problems and each of our worries and troubles like a squirrel, acting with one acorn at a time. It’s the core of stoicism: progress everyday. As long as we can make progress in some way everyday, then we are achieving. Even if that means spending an entire day in bed, trapped by lathargy, we are making progress by taking that time for ourselves in some way. Even a relapse, we think of them as backsteps but in fact we are falling forward, with each new thing to trip over, a new lesson and thus: progress.

Recently, I lost someone. Not literally, but it was a rather definitive break up for the sake of prioritising healthy choices and recovery over relationships. Which is fine of course, a reasonable and logical choice. Yet for us both, I think, when we both felt such a pull towards each other, it makes for a difficult ending. But like the Jedi philosophy (psuedo-Taoism), says, nothing is ever really gone just transmuted. A feeling of loss, transmuted is a lesson in ressiliance and a smile of gratitude for the experience in waiting. So how do we transmute?

The answer is another question with a more satisfying answer: how does the squirrel meet it’s problems? One nut at a time.

There’s a joke in that, I’m obviously far too mature and serious to make (wink).

Z3N0

The Calm After A Storm

When talking about having a crisis or some form of disruption, people always speak about the calm before a storm but never after. There is this grand presumption that the new equilibrium will not be just as harmonious as the old, if not more so. As I’m sitting here, in my new surroundings, feeling quite contented and calm, there is a new sound sense of clarity after my own hurricane.

Even the changes of plans and expectations of them have almost no burden on me, almost as if from this chaos I can see clearly again. It’s liberating and refreshing. Perhaps less stoically, I needed to let off some steam and say “fuck” a lot to get it out of my system.

Yet, today I faced several challenges that would linger just a little. From the professional anxieties and stresses to the one of nearly missing the bus to my new home, being stuck in the rain with a bag of clothes. There was nothing. Not a flicker of stress or worry or panic. It was as if this change, this event perhaps brought by the summer solstice itself, has renewed me. Maybe I’m being overly verbose to say simple: I feel good.

What does this mean? What else does it mean than another example of learning and progressing past trials of the spirit? Strangely, in this new situation that I find myself in, it’s more practical to my currents needs than I ever would have realized had these events not happened. In this calm, there is clarity and tranquillity. True these are very early days into this new gentler weather pattern but I’m not seeing a single grey cloud on the horizon.

I was asked today what I thought about Matt Hancock and his recent scandal. Honestly, I could not care less. Yet for the life of me, I can’t find to why I couldn’t care. This national scandal which exposes hypocrisy and the ludicrous pedestals of the elite should be something that I react to as my peers have done, no? But there’s nothing and my calm of today is uninterrupted.

I was faced with another challenge: a sudden change of plans based on strangers assuming the worst of my indentions and morals. Yet, we see through this and see that there is nothing inherently incomprehensible nor complex about the impressions. The calm was again, undisturbed.

I’m going to have to watch this phenomena like a hawk and myself. But perhaps, in all my wonderings, musings and patting myself on the back for a good job at not getting pissed off, the simplest explanation is that this is the new equilibrium. Within an equilibrium, all things are balanced and as they should be with equality and equity. I feel it now: equality, equity and balance of the self.

Three days ago, where I am right now would not have been considered yet fate had other plans, and I am so glad and grateful that I simply accepted those plans. I love those plans.

Love the plans set in motion for you.

“The universe conspires to protect you.” – X

Amor fati.

Z3N0

Disappearance of the Cat

I was asked to make sure the household cat remains in eyesight at all times today as she’s reached an age that cats do, whereupon they have a tendency to wonder off, finding a cosy spot to die without a fuss. She’s not been eating much all week, this snow white feline, sleeping for most of the day almost defeated by the heat. She sits in the shade in the garden, or rather, she flops to the stone and sits there immovable. If anyone tries to approach she attacks and hisses at the disturbance.

It’s made me quite reflective however on the nature of my own demise at the end of my own journey. Would I have a similar dignity or would there be people around to watch the rather normal event. It made me wonder too on the reaction of death and how death impacts the survivors more than the dying with the cat being a microcosm of the observation. While the cat is disinterested and ambivalent to its own passing, its almost a expectation to not have the same reaction. After all, our minds are far more evolved than the cats, surely it would make sense for us to mourn and grieve unlike them. Yet are they not more evolved than us in this philosophy? Seeing death as a part of life and the natural conclusion to their experience rather than a grand sadness. Yet we feel it all the same.

I was reading a post on Reddit the other day that said about control not rejecting emotions when the come to never allow them to overtake you or overwhelm you. It’s perhaps why the stoic Jedi philosophy leans into this and why it has become so misunderstood in both the real world ethos of stoicism and the fictional one of Star Wars. Of course there is sadness at the end of a life, as there is any sadness at the end of any chapter or any journey but we are not to be disabled by the emotion as it is our duty as living animate beings to continue to walk the path. As someone’s comes to an end, or they begin a new journey, what else is there to do but pause, reflect on the good and keep going?

The lessons we learn and the memories we keep from those who’s journey has ended are what keeps us smiling even after they go and when we feel that loss. It’s like the funny stories and the laughter that lightens the skies at a wake following a cremation. Of course, there will be tears of sadness but also joy, and neither should be a thing to oppress us in our own journey. Would the deceased want for us, that morbid existence too? A waking death, fixating on what isn’t rather that what is there in each continual moment of our lives. I know for a fact, my cat wouldn’t give a shit what I do, but that’s besides the point.

Of course our friend Marcus Aurelius had some things to say about death. Rather blunt if you ask me with little nuance about the greater human condition and expectations from others. Yet perhaps it was not expectations of others that he held in high regard but expectations in those he called stoics. As someone who calls myself this, I like to think I meet those standards but it’s always a work in progress. Ironically my own death does not concern me or worry me but the death of others, well, I’d prefer not to test my resolve yet I know ultimately whether I prefer or not that time will come as it does for all of us.

“Do not despise death: welcome it, rather, as one further part of nature’s will. Our very dissolution is just like all the other natural processes of life’s seasons being – like youth and old age, growth and maturity, development of teeth and beard and grey hair, insemination, pregnancy, and childbirth. In the educated attitude to death, then, there is nothing superficial or demanding or disdainful: simply awaiting it as one of the functions of nature. And just as you may no be waiting for the child your wife carries to come out of the womb, so you should look forward to the time when your soul will slip this bodily sheath.” – Meditations 9.3

One day I will be tested again as I have before, this time I wonder if I shall uphold my philosophy…

The cat returned, sat smugly on the kitchen tiles. I couldn’t help but smile.

Z3N0

Candles in the Dark

When you hold out a flame for someone the best you can to get them through the dark, what do you do when you stumble and they’ve left you behind? How are you supposed to feel, when one rock of two leaning against each other disappears, leaving you to metaphorically tumble down the mountain on your own? I don’t know what other analogy to use to describe it, this weird realisation that you’re not as integral to person as they are to you. Do we wait as we flounder? Wait for them and hope that they’ll reach out as you’ve right to reach out before? Or is it in vain?

If in vain, we are just left with this feeling of not rejection but isolation. Isolation in our own perception of how things are compared to how things really are. It leaves me to wonder and ask, are feelings of attraction and admiration mirages? Intangible things that deceive and delude, leaving us alone in the cold desert with only our own thoughts. It makes the whole process and exploration of finding some sort of happiness with another individual seem inherently toxic when we think about it in the stoic sense. It’s almost as if that desire for happiness over takes actual happiness.

Seeing things as they are, people as they are and not who we think they are to us – or we are to them – is, in my experience, a painful awakening. Like a beating heart in your hand turning to sand and spilling away. But in the end, it was always going to wasn’t it? A friendship, an affection, an attachment – all shifting sands.

Like candles in the dark, these things are brief and are prone to fading out.

How many candles have you cried over? None? Well, then, why shed tears over such things?

What have we to gain over such actions when we know the temporary nature of things?

Why am I upset? Ask yourself. Is it the effort you put into it? The money you’ve spent? The time?

What would you have done instead of spending those things? We can learn something from everything and everything has purpose, as I’ve said before.

“The recurrent cycles of the universe are the same, up and down, from eternity to eternity. And either the mind of the Whole has a specific impulse for each individual case – if so, you should welcome the result – or it had a single original impulse, from which all else follows in consequence: and why should you be anxious about that? The Whole is either a god – then all is well: or if purposeless – some sort of random arrangement of atoms or molecules – you should not be without purpose yourself. In a moment the earth will cover us all. Then the earth too will change, and then further successive changes to infinity. One reflecting on these waves of change and transformation, and the speed of their flow, will hold all mortal things in contempt.” – Meditations 9.28

It’s all in motion like blood around the body and it never stops and if it does then there will be nothing but the void until two tiny atoms crash into each other for the second big bang. Do we shed tears each time we exhale or inhale? Each time old cells die and others are born, and one hair falls from a follicle only to be replaced again, do we wallow in despair?

No. Fuck that.

Z3N0

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I don’t think I’ve spoken about this before explicitly.

Today I got a present, The Republic by Plato – a book I wanted to add to my collection like a philosophical General Grievous, but it was not of the same publishing collection so subsequently sticks out like a sore thumb on my shelf. I was asked if it was what I wanted and yes it was. Was I specific in my ask for the particular design collection? No – so there is no blame. So when asked if I liked it, I said yes because it’s what I wanted. Of course I will at some point replace it and pass on that copy to a friend but it highlighted for me a facet of stoicism that is acceptance of things that we cannot control.

Similarly, another situation that I find myself in is that my job is out of my hands in the sense that my continued employment is no longer secure. Was it ever secure? No, of course not, all things are temporary and come to an end when they do. It’s not what I want, but what is there to do about it? Scream and yell? What a waste of energy when the only person who will feel anything negative is me. The universe doesn’t care, my employer certainly won’t considering the forty or so million employable people in the UK to replace me.

I suppose in a sense, the past year has been a continual lesson for the entire western world about learning about not being able to have what you want. Going without services and luxuries that those in impoverished places would not even dream to be a given as it is in other parts of the world. Yet, like Jagger says, as we near the end of another lockdown: we got we needed. What we needed was perspective of what matters and what doesn’t. For the better for some, for the worse for others – yet even then, what is good and bad but relative constructs?

The only thing that seems to matter is the acceptance that you can’t always get what you want. Expecting otherwise would be insanity. Parents and teachers tell children that they need to get up for school even if they don’t want to, explaining that as an adult you have to do things that you don’t want to do so get used to it. Yet when at school, we are taught that the free world is our oyster to do anything we want to do. It stands to reason then that two fundamental ideologues are being taught. The first: you can’t always get what you want; the second: you can always get what you want if you try hard enough. Again, missing the crucial point from Jagger in both, tying them together in a nice harmony: if you try sometimes you get what you need. Want, more often than not, has absolutely fuck all to do with reality. To quote another philosopher slash musician: don’t be another brick in the wall. Don’t expect things to go your way – I don’t, not to say you should do what I do because I’m as flawed as any other. Yet should surprise be our reactions when they do go right and we do get what we want?

“First, do not be upset: all things follow the nature of the Whole, and in a little while you will be no one and nowhere, as is true now even for Hadrian and Augustus. Next, concentrate on the matter in hand and see it for what it is. Remind yourself of your duty to be a good man and rehearse what man’s nature demands: then do it straight and unswerving, or say what you best think right. Always, though, in kindness, integrity, and sincerity.” – Meditations 8.5

Look back over your past at what you’ve got but not wanted but needed.

For me it’s being absolutely drunk at the time of receiving a phone call about my great-grandmother’s death. I was drinking pitchers of Bloody Mary mix like they were going out of fashion in the comfort of my own university dorm room and since, I’ve avoided that kind of consumption like the plague.

Another: a serious telling off from the Head of Human Recourses at my workplace about disclosing information to colleagues. I didn’t want that but needed it as a wake up call at my own miss placed trust and my own misconceptions about what a friendship is. Since, I’ve had a much quieter, much more peaceful time at work. Such a step back actually gave me more time to read the philosophies in my breaks. I am actually, very grateful.

Maybe that’s the takeaway: be grateful for every experience. Be grateful for every heartbreak and every mistake.

The stoics have a famous saying: amor fati, which means love fate. You can’t always get what you want, but you will love it anyway. It’s part of the Whole; you can’t love the day and reject the night as they are in their nature one of the same. It’s all the same, so love it all, from your kin to your death.

Z3N0

A Mindful Moment

Mindfulness as a practice is a fundamentally stoic one yet particularly spiritual. Taking a step back and to be absorbed in the simplicity of existence removing the façade of the complex and the overdone is an underrated pleasure. It’s one of the few pleasures that can be called wholly virtuous. To be free of thought and noise in a single meditative, mindful moment is a practice in presence.

In the spiritual sense, I like to keep the catchphrase of my favorite Reiki master Sarah Louise Tilsley: “grow roots“. Stepping back within your own mind to use your third eye to picture roots shooting from your heels to the core of the Earth to tether you is something I practice nearly every day. I breathe in, picturing myself breathing up the nutrients and energies from the ground up and out. I focus on the the movement of breath on this journey, nothing else matters but the simplicity of the fundamental elements and my relationship with those elements. My blood is oxygenated, my mind is calm and my soul is at peace. Mindfulness and energy work is not difficult, your perception of what it takes to start makes it difficult. It’s a universal force for everything and everyone.

In the more rational sense, when it comes to mental health, being mindful puts everything into a relative placement. The skewed and chaotic priorities and immaterial issues of 2021 slip away for you to process in your own time, in your own way. Mindful moments exist when time rejects meditation. Yet, when we think about it, even time is a construct and immaterial: everything happens in it’s own time. You will make it to work exactly when you need to; a child will be born exactly when it needs to; a person dies exactly as they do regardless of the time. The planet keeps spinning.

Today I didn’t realize what I needed until I took a mindful moment and what I needed was just that: simplicity. The smell of a book and sensation of linen on my fingertips and an absence of thought was exactly what I needed. What can you feel? What can you see? What can you hear? What can you taste? Connect to it and feel it with no thought nor judgement. Be one with the universe around you and sink into it accepting of the endless hug it’s giving you. Close your eyes and breathe – it’s all you need.

To be morbid, when we meditate or be mindful we practice death. Yet is this morbid? Or is this beauty of reality. To be still is to be dead, to be dead is natural, to be alive is to be still and so on and so on. The opposite of life is not death as death is a part of life. Do not fear being without thought or judgement or the confines of space and time. Just breathe.

“Withdraw into yourself. It is the nature of the rational mind to be self-content with acting rightly and the calm it thereby enjoys.” – Meditations 7.28

As you grow roots outward, a journey inward is needed to discover your own. How can any of us find anything amongst the noise of our own thoughts? Personally, I’ve always got five or six tabs open in the web browser that is my conscience mind yet, in moments through mindfulness I can make a be bee-line through the chaos to the close button. How? A moment of mindfulness: the smell of a book, the touch of soft linen on my fingertips. Silence and stillness is an underrated pleasure of life, and learning to be silent and still is an underrated skill.

Z3N0

Learning to Forgive

Forgiveness as a topic has come up twice for me today. The first: an incident that requires forgiveness of myself and another; the second: another has asked for forgiveness from me. I had planned on binging Grey’s Anatomy and drinking tea but universe had other plans. I’m not begrudging of having to face the problem within myself, it’s high time in fact that I reflect. Once again, it needed some help from someone outside of me, because, as I keeping finding, the best of help comes from the most unexpected places.

“Apathy on the specific negative emotions, yes. Forgetfulness is harder, but acceptance would be better. It happened, it’s done, over with… so you can accept that it won’t develop, and fold it into a nice little oragami bird that you can then incinerate at high temperatures.” – X

Acceptance of another’s actions and moving on from them is forgiveness. We can accept things as they are, because they are just that. What if, again being the dangerous subject. What if things get worse? What if I can’t move on? What if I can’t forgive them? What if I can’t forgive myself for trusting them in the first place? Fuck what if. It’s a spiralling rabbit hole of shit that we should not even peer down or risk slipping on it’s slick edges and into the abyss. Forgiveness is the only way to keep your feet on the ground. Without forgiveness you spiral endlessly down the rabbit hole of panic and destruction with hatred of the self being the rock bottom. Why? Well where is there else to go? Forgiving another only reflects on the self in the end, for what do they care now? Why do you care? Why should you care?

“In the whole of things there is one harmony: and just as all material bodies combine to make the world one body, a harmonious whole, so all causes combine to make Destiny one harmonious cause. Even quite unsophisticated intuit what I mean. They say ‘Fate brought this on him.’ Now if ‘brought’, also ‘prescribed’. So let us accept these prescriptions just as we those of Asclepius – many of them too are harsh, but we welcome them in the hope of health.” – Meditations 5.8.2

Asclepius is the god of medicine and is it not the most appropriate that forgiveness is the greatest medication for our souls? Forgiveness of others but more importantly forgiveness of the self is a harder task. Yet, if you’ve been wronged by another, what is the need for self-forgiveness? There’s always that rumbling isn’t there? That what if you hadn’t crossed paths with the cause of your ills. That what if you hadn’t placed trust in that cause, given effort, energy and emotion. That’s the root isn’t it? We are our own worst critics first, after all.

And what of this situation where another has asked for my forgiveness? For a situation where I’ve also found myself – although in my case I was innocent of what I was accused of unlike this person. I do forgive, yet do I want this person back in my life? No. Is this true forgiveness you ask? I think so. I forgive and I accept the actions of the actor yet it still doesn’t mean I want to break bread with them.

“When someone does you wrong, you should consider immediately what judgement of good or evil led him to wrong you. When you see this, you will pity him, and not feel surprise or anger.” – Meditations 7.26

You will see those you forgive but you must also apply the lesson you learnt from thier transgressions. You can forgive but you don’t have to trust. If a person takes a dump in your bath you can forgive them and pity them after all, it’s not exactly the sign of a sound mind to shit in another’s bath. Yet, it would be unwise to invite them over again and direct them to your bathroom.

I forgave the person I needed to forgive – as a stoic, rather shamelessly with needing words from a friend. I forgave the person who asked for forgiveness; they’ll have my good will and best wishes but not the house keys or an invite back. Most importantly, I forgave myself. Like most of my blog posts, I’m finishing with an imperative: ask yourself who and what you need to forgive and if the first stop is at home. Acceptance starts in the mirror.

Z3N0

Suez Canal

So I was talking to X about the situation in the Suez Canal – something I only found out about through memes and second hand sources since deleting my news apps. A few lines from our conversation became stuck in my head:

“Did you hear that the investigation is going to take weeks and weeks?” – X

“Why, they know what happened?” – Z

“What do you mean?” – X

Someone fucked up and caused a traffic jam.” – Z

“Yeah but it cost them billions.” – X

“So rather than spending more to blame people, surely the more effective thing to do would be to improve the system so it doens’t happen again?” – Z

Suddenly, in a tiny conversation abut the Suez Canal, I trigged an entire debate within my own head about the flaws of the criminal justice system and how retribution is often prioritized over solution. Perhaps I’m being too out-there liberal for some to say that. Perhaps I am. Let’s think of another example: a murderer is sentenced to death to teach him a lesson. What is the murderer learning? Answer: fuck all, they’re dead. What to the people around them feel? Momentary elation and sense of fulfilled justice? Okay, but does this undo the original crime? Is that closure? To feel a sense of accomplishment as you stand (metaphorically) over the lifeless body of the person who did wrong with a triumphant grin. Or is it just self serving?

I’m not perfect, in an act of petty vengeance I once orchestrated that someone who wronged me lose their placement in student housing. It was shitty, self-serving and helped no one but myself for a brief moment of triumph. It was short lived of course, the person adapted and was fine apart from a few weeks of panic and stress. What lesson was learned? Aside from that I can be devious meddling bastard if I want to be, nothing came of it. No closure, no sense of getting even. Just a deep guttural unsettling feeling, knowing that I was capable of Machiavellianism even on that tiny scale.

Back to our analogy for the death row prisoner: what lesson does the witness or wronged learn? Other than learning that they can stomach to watch the death of another human being? How about the executioner? What good does it do them? You may say, “oh it’s their job they are used to it” but is becoming disconnected from other human beings and compartmentalizing and quantifying life something we should be proud of being used to? That’s not a virtuous skill to develop, surely.

In my own life I was recently let down by colleagues I thought were friends in a breach of trust. Do I harbour blame for them? No, it was the trust I gave them that was broken so surely I was in error for placing the trust in the first place. Yet even then, what good is that blame? What retribution can I extract on myself? My opinion of them of course changed, now designated as undesirables: things in my environment I would prefer not be there. Like a drawing of a dick on the wall in marker pen that I can’t get rid of. I don’t interact more than I have to and I go about my business and work without blame or worry with lessons learned to not trust them again. They took my silence rather personally but I have nothing to say, I moved on. I now bring a book into a work – Meditations in fact – to read and study. It’s been a much more enriching experience for my lunch breaks.

“There is no blame. If you can, put him right: if you can’t at the least put the matter itself right. If that too is impossible, what further purpose does blame serve? Nothing should be done without purpose.” – Meditations 8.17

I read an article that reads that the Egyptian port authorities are looking to fine the firm responsible over $1 billion yet the process is difficult as it’s a multinational, multi-layered animal they’re trying to hunt based in three different countries. Surely then, the solution would not to waste millions on court proceedings for a chance at reparations, but to refine protocol to prevent this ever happening again? It would be more cost effective in the long term to have more efficient and process less prone to errors. The money would be much better spent on bonuses for the tireless engineers who got the cargo ship moving again, incentivising hard work and creative problem solving. Yet, to quote Thanos the Mad Titan: “reality is often disappointing”.

Z3N0

Stoic Advice For Pain

I am experiencing pain at the moment, physical that is. For the second time, I have a lump in the roof of my mouth that will need another biopsy and some home-kit blood tests required some serious stabbing with planchets. Laughable I know, I can deal with it. In this time of pandemic, I am grateful just for what I have. Yet a true application of stoicism took place today. While this is not so notable, it’s worth mentioning: while I was building myself up to jab my finger tips with this needle there was a moment of hesitation. The dreaded what if. I said to myself, like a stoic: “You are fearing pain rather than experiencing pain. Pain is inevitable, get on with it.

While you can call me chicken-shit for even needing to build up the nerve to do something that diabetics do on a daily basis – that would be fair – it’s a minor example of stoicism in action. It doesn’t need to be this grand monologue about ethics on biblical proportions. It’s the little things everyday that keep us moving along the path properly and with dignity. I am not harmed by feeling pain, in reality, neither are you. It’s a sensation of the body to tell you that the vehicle has been damaged in some way.

“Whenever you suffer pain, heave ready to hand the thought that pain is not a moral evil and does not harm your governing intelligence: pain can do no damage either to its rational or to its social nature. In most cases of pain you should be helped too by the saying of Epicurus: ‘Pain is neither unendurable nor unending, as long as you remember its limits and do not exaggerate it in your imagination.’ Remember too that many things we find disagreeable are the unrecognized analogues of pain – drowsiness, for example, oppressive heat, loss of appetite. So when you find yourself complaining of any of these, say to yourself, ‘You are giving in to pain.’Meditations 7.64

I’ll refer to Batman comics here. In the stories, Batman is often under attack and his Batmobile is damaged and it gives him an alert – our analogue for pain in this analogy. Sure, he’s often disgruntled but he works around this, he adapts and still manages to get on with what he needs to do. This, in this case, is often beating seven shades of shit out of someone with a mental illness.

Back to the real world, this lump in the roof of my mouth: either normal mucosa or perhaps a salivary or glandular issue, or perhaps a tumour. It hurts but so what? I’m not worried about the what if’s of it, and with a bit of Bonjela its soothed enough for me to not notice it for hours. I have taken steps to call my GP to arrange a consultation because that would be self-destructive laziness not to. It’s like knowing you have a sort of flat tire on your car and ignoring it – or Batmobile to carry on the analogy.

Fearing pain is like fearing change, fearing change is like fearing breath entering and leaving the body. Yet in those moments where we allow our unnational thoughts to obscure the truth we falter. Allow yourself to have these moments, it’s only natural, but also allow yourself to access the rational mind. Let these moments be just that: moments. Not long drawn out panics nor worries that lay heavier than the sensation of the planchet itself.

“If you remove the judgement of anything that seems painful, you yourself stand quite immune to pain. ‘What self?’ Reason. ‘But I am not just reason.’ Granted. So let your reason cause itself no pain, and if some other part of you is in trouble, it can form it’s own judgement for itself.” Meditations 8.40

There’s a phenomena I experienced as a child that many other may also have experienced. I was clumsy and fell over a lot and got in all sorts of scrapes. Yet there was this one occasion in Bordeaux on a camping holiday when I was in a quadbike crash. Long story short: it was on top of me. I wasn’t too bothered, I was confused more than anything, bemused even. Yet when others told me how dangerous it was and how bad it looked, I suddenly felt a wash of pain and wailed and complained. My own rational mind thought it was amusing yet something happened. Was it shock or was it one of those moments where the expectation of pain was worse? In any case I got back on and finished the fucking lap – finished last, of course.

The Buddhists hold a core belief that pain and suffering in some form or another is inescapable in the human condition. The Taoists believe that where there is pleasure, there will also be pain (at different times -unless you’re into that, no judgement here). Both are true. I get colds in the winter so naturally, it’s a dispreffered time of year yet I don’t panic when the leaves start to brown. Accept pain like you accept the days of the week transitioning into the next. Accept it and adapt whether that be in mind, body or spirit.

Puppy Training

I got angry last night – properly angry – for the first time in a long time. It was over Star Wars of all things. How ridiculous is that? If anything, after the fact I was more angry with myself for being angry than the cause. It came very fast and hit me before I could circumvent the feeling with rational thought. It surged like pain from the fingertip to brain and I could track its progress like a child watching the lightening after thunder. It was almost comical for the soul to watch my mind do things. The timelord watching their TARDIS break down for literally no reason – a nice analogy I’ve made before, I’ll link it at the bottom.

There’s no other person let down by my state, just me. It feel like I’m looking at a sad puppy who just shat on the carpet. I am both the observer and the puppy. The only way for me to move on from here is clean up the shit and move on and try to train the puppy better to not do it again. Not try – do. Of course, Marcus Aurelius has some words for us, I’m going to write them out here not just for the sake of sharing them but for my own sake for reflection. Philosophy – stoic philosophy – is my Scooby-Snax to train the puppy.

“Enough of this miserable way of life, enough of grumbling and aping! Why are you troubled? What is new in this? What is it that drives you mad? The cause? Then face it. Or rather the material? Then face it. Apart from cause and material there is nothing. But you should know, late though it is, see your relation to the gods also: make yourself simpler, and better. Three years is as good as a hundred in this quest.” Meditations 9.37

If I strip things back, lets remove the TARDIS imagery: we have a figure in a garden; a walled garden in the centre of an endless forest. The walls are hundreds of metres high and tens of metres thick made of a deep jade stone that circle this impenetrable Valhalla. I’m sipping tea in this garden, basking in the sun, paying no mind to storm clouds, I’ve an umbrella. What does your simple space look like, when we strip things back? It’s funny, some may even call that convoluted. Let’s remove all imagery – nothing but endless vastness of consciousness and an observer who witnesses this vastness.

“Who observes this vastness?” – Mooji

“Above all, no agonies, no tensions. Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a moral creature. And here are two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First that things cannot touch the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgement. Second, that all these things you see will change almost as you look at them, and then they will be no more. Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement.”Meditations 4.3.4

And to that end, without needing to add anymore words of my own:

“Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought ‘I am hurt’: remove the thought ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt itself is removed.”Meditations 4.7

Is there much more to say? I have to take ownership of my own feelings, my own unnecessary feelings that I failed to control. I have to move on, knowing the only person who is let down is me. I am grateful that those around me were supportive and allowed me to remove myself from the environment to recharge and reflect. Personally, I think it was a rather successful reflection with the conclusion: I lost my shit over immaterial, indifferent things – actions of strangers.

I’d like to confirm, this incident has nothing to do with Gina Carano as every Star Wars seems to be these days, I disagree with her politics but I’m sure she’s a perfectly reasonable individual. In fact, as stupid as it sounds, this anger arose from the specifics of medicine in the Star Wars lore.

Go ahead, laugh. It’s okay, I’m laughing too.

Z3N0

Here is the link to my previous post, mentioned. Also, for those who want to look further about Mooji, here is the link to his Youtube channel which I recommend for excellent meditation practice:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Moojiji

https://z3n0.com/2021/03/17/bigger-on-the-inside/