Not Bad

I’ve not written here in a while, and I think it’s down to a case of retreating from the world and myself. To paraphrase Malcolm Tucker, it’s what we in the dark arts call a blip. A blip medicated by meditation, Red Bull and vodka and a singular focus on future planning. It’s time we all go through, in my experience anyway, talking to people. Caused in my case by a movement towards acceptance of what will be will be evolving to this too shall pass.

It starts off very dark but not angry darkness, just a total sadness. A helpless sadness is the antithesis of stoic philosophy, where everything appears totally nihilistic and meaningless. The only thing that kept me going was the underlying faith I carry with me regarding the divine forces beyond my comprehension – all of our comprehensions. If anyone tells you they understand eternity in its entirety, they’re lying to you. That energy suddenly became directed and fixated on material pursuits. For some, its a hobby. For others, its work. In my case, it was a bit of both: writing my novel (over and over because of perfectionism) and going back to university to be able to teach English. While the novel is at a standstill at Chapter 5, the city of Leeds is beckoning, and my interview is imminent, so I can’t complain about that front.

Can I complain about any front? It could be much worse. I could be experiencing this exact same situation yet in a cellar in Mariupol with soldiers levelling the building over my head and the society I have known all of my life collapsing around my ears. It’s a problem that exists entirely within my own sphere of influence, which is myself and only myself. I am the only one affected by my own emotions, and thus, the responsibility to deal with them has been entirely on me. Which I think is something a lot of people need to think about. When we feel hard done by a situation that is wholly Fated, a problem of the heart, for example, the onus is not on the world outside of the individual to make them feel better. It’s my job to take a moment to take stock and move forward, no one can do that for me and neither should they.

Where there was sadness now there is only love. I suppose it’s quite mushy and irritating to read about, I’m sure. It’s about as useful as this too shall pass being told in a way that’s trying to not sound patronising to those hurting. But, it’s true. Sorry. It does pass. It does get better and there is only love for those around us. Even in work, while we may despise our co-workers we end up loving them in our own way like Professor Snape and Harry Potter. Harry is and always will be a little shit but we love him anyway begrudgingly.

In my situation, it’s a case of loving someone who does not love me back and that’s okay because, in the end, I want them to be happy. At first, it was a difficult process, as I’ve spoken about but it’s not an unpleasant feeling in the end, is it? Love is not unpleasant otherwise we would hate entirely. But then, I ask, would that mean we would love to hate?

I was watching Bill Bailey this morning. He was talking about the very British phenomena of saying, “not bad” when asked how we are doing rather than saying “good”. Our happiness is measured on whether or not things could be worse rather than actual happiness itself. In the world we live in, in the world you or I live in within ourselves and our own energies, I’m happy to take that as a victory. So, in taking this moment, I can say, I’m not bad.

How are you feeling?

Adaptations

Charles Darwin once said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

Actually, it wasn’t Darwin at all it was supposedly Leon C. Megginson supposedly, well does it matter? It was quite the rabbit hole I fell into just then for a simple quote to sloppily introduce my writing. Interesting, nonetheless and a testament to the blurring of time and memory and perception.

Today I found myself at a crossroads where I can chose to adapt strategies to circumstances to detach myself from them, abandoning promises and obligations not only to others but to myself. I was seen as snappy in my approach at work with these things, blunt and to the point with a no nonsense attitude while in fact, I felt myself being clear and concise. In my personal life, I have developed a new role within my little corner of cyberspace for myself, working in away better suited until I am able to re-join the community at large. These scenarios are rather vague, of course but they also slot into, for me, my experience of the past week or so as a period of change and adaption with rather rapid effect.

Within 20 minutes on Saturday afternoon, I had moved house, for example.

These things may have had an effect on my body, of course. I am exhausted and live off coffee more than ever, awaiting a biological and neurochemical adaptation of body clock to compensate. Yet, my mind, the directing source and soul is clear and flexible. Of course I will not lie, in the moment of these instances I was far from a still lake but we follow the advices:

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

… And then, you will see

“A deep scowl on the face is contrary to nature, and when it becomes habitual expressiveness begins to die or is finally extinguished beyond rekindling. Try to attend this very point, that this is something against reason. In the field of moral behaviour, if even the consciousness of doing wrong is lost, what reason is there left for living?” – Meditations 7.24

It’s a fluid thing, our emotions, our responses and ultimately adaptations. If we are rigid in our experience then we will become brittle in our minds and philosophies prone to shattering. But this fluidity is not to be some uncontrolled ever thundering waterfall or busted damn holding back an overfilled lake. Think of the coral reefs and their carefully maintained ecosystems within an endless expanse of simply vastness. Not one clown fish will ever remain.

The clown fish will one day grow legs and then maybe a tail, then maybe lose that tail and so on.

I’d say, rather shamelessly that my recent experiences – or perhaps it’s always been this way with me – can be summed up with one gif:

The first gif on my blog

And, I’m not entirely unhappy to say that this gif, out of context with the rest of the film Hercules, is the sum total of my progress along the Path to date. My own emotions adapting to the philosophies and the circumstances to which they are applied. It’s tangible and real evolution and I love it.

Amor fati.

We all adapt, we all change and even in the fastest of situations and most changeable of days, we adapt all the same. After all, if we don’t adapt, what becomes of us?

Just ask the woolly mammoth.

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

Quick Quote Post: 11

I was told to fuck off by a small child today. The whole situation was rather laughable, a situation caused by a simple instruction that somehow warranted that reaction. It’s snowballed since, with the overreaction causing an overreaction yet in this scenario, I, the supposed wounded party, do not care in the slightest. Sure, it caused a little delay to the flow of my day and gave me something to do yet the drama of it all was lost on me. It reminded me of a piece from Meditations:

“If your distress has some external cause, it is not the thing itself that troubles you, but your own judgment of it and you erase this immediately. If it is something in your own attitude that distresses you, no one stops you correcting your view. So too if you are distressed at not achieving some action you think salutary, why not carry on rather than fret? ‘But there’s an obstacle in the way too solid to move.’ No cause for distress then, since the reason for failure does not lie with you. ‘But life is not worth living if I fail this’. Well then, you must depart this life, as gracious in death as one who does achieve his purpose, and at peace, too, with those who stood in your way.” – Meditations 8.47

While perhaps death in the face of being told to fuck off by a child when trying to break up a fight is a little extreme, it speaks here about also ejecting yourself from the circumstance. Death, in the spiritual sense is just a new existence and form of change – and in the stoic sense too. Change your purpose and approach in peace and grace. There is no real shame in it if you really cannot see past the obstacles in your way, imaginary or not.

At the end of the day, in my case, things were made worse by those who took offence to a thing where I found no fault. I was not injured, I was not distressed. If anything I was bored and wanted to get along with my afternoon and preferably the situation would have been resolved without any overreaction. Yet it happened, will continue to happen in some form or another because to expect verbal abuse to cease with one swoop is fantasy. It’s almost as fantastical as the impressions supposedly left on me by the curse words. I suppose in another sense, it’s a teaching opportunity to ensure that one day this child doesn’t say something to someone who will be as passive about the whole thing. If not able to teach, all there is left to do is tolerate and wish them luck to avoid being punched at some point.

Z3N0

Subject of Scorn

Today was challenging, not just because of the heat in a shirt and tie. I found myself in a situation, the subject of scorn from another, hatred even as I came to learn from evidence of messages. It was strange, I do not know this person yet they made judgements about me, about my nuances and intricacies and decided to brand me as a passive aggressive and snooty sexual deviant. This person did their rounds, telling people about their incorrect impression of me, deflecting from their own short comings and obsessions. I was not the only one to take some heat, another friend of mine was in the firing line too over old scars.

How does it feel to be the subject of scorn so open and free? The fire that was aimed at me and a friend was so convoluted and meaningless to the source of all of this anger that it seemed almost ridiculous. His associations were so subjective and second-hand that they tasted faintly of some strange desperation as if he was a drama student trying his best to stammer through lines.

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is not need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you. But you should still be kind to them. They are by nature your friends, and the gods too help them in various ways – dreams and divination – at least to the objections of their concern.” – Meditations 9.27

I wrote in my notes beside this passage: “disagree. Kindness yes, universal friendship, no.” We are kind to things that we have no use for in our lives, the same way I have no use for the opinions or company of an individual chasing desire, lashing out any those who are perceived to be threats to that goal. It’s like the noise of a lawn mower on a lazy Sunday: it’s there, it would be great if it wasn’t but what’s unkindness going to do about it? I certainly don’t want to be friends with the thing or friendly but I will tolerate it as a part of the same Whole that I exist in.

Sometimes, the kindest thing to do is let someone fail in their turbulences and misgivings. Why? Failure is the best way we learn and today I failed to leave his wrong where it fell, inserting myself into the conversation rather than letting the situation extinguish itself. Another friend of mine saw failure in their actions, being too trusting and open with an individual who betrayed that trust and used it as a weapon of accusation at another to simply stoke the fire of a fight. As for the betrayer and stoker, the spiteful chick was kicked from the nest to fly or fall. We have nothing left to teach, nothing left to give and no half-way points met with a person who rejects it all – so what else is there? As someone who has been barred from my favourite haunt in the past I know that there will be another and I will take my lessons from that with me so where is the true blame? With the establishment that I compromised my position in, or within my own conduct? The latter of course. My only wish for the stoker and betrayer is that they come to a similar conclusion about the breaking of these social bonds.

I have noticed a progress within myself, however. Some time ago, I was writing about being tested and the lies of another and the opinions of another. This was nearly 100 days ago now – nearly a 100 posts ago – and it consumed my thoughts. Today I feel only a fatigue that washed off with a shower and meditation and a concern for a friend. I have our scorner to thank for that gift of clarity and wisdom in this moment after the drama and ruckus. Sometimes, we can only see the true horizon when the dust settles.

“Up, down, round and round are the motions of the elements, but the movement of active virtue follows none of these: it is something more divine, and it journeys on to success along a path hard to understand.” Meditations 6.17

Z3N0

Schrodinger’s Douchebag

Urban Dictionary defines this term as:

“One who makes douchebag statements, particularly sexist, racist or otherwise bigoted ones, then decides whether they were “just joking” or dead serious based on whether other people in the group approve or not.
“Oh man women should just stay in the kitchen, it’s the only place they’re useful”
with one group “Haha just kidding, that’s sexist”
with anther “lol amirite”
“You’re a total schrodinger’s douchebag you know that right?””
– theoriginalspike October 23, 2013

Today I found myself in conflict with one such individual and it was remarkable to see it in action from another perspective outside of my teenage self. Of course as an adult it was a massive pain to deal with and entirely unnecessary. We encounter these professional gas lighters everywhere: in our workplace, in our local town centres, in the media, and in our homes. Are we surprised by this?

In a world of unaccountability and limited self-awareness, can we truly be surprised by this kind of behaviour? It’s not limited to individuals either. Entire corporations and governments get up to this sort of thing all the time. This ironic little paradox seeps into every layer of our society out of a refusal to face the music of immoral and unvirtuous behaviour. One such example who sticks out in my mind is Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket who’s so-called sense of humour has masked a number of rather exposing social faux pas. Another example: Kathy Griffin, who’s depiction of Donald Trump’s severed head was dialled back as a joke not a strange poor taste act of political activism.

In my experience today, I was faced with an individual who made a comment about a friend of mine. When challenged on this, it of course meant that I was the snowflake and couldn’t take the joke – something I have come to expect from this person after getting to know them over the course of the last five months. Admittedly, I lost my zen.

Of course, now, I’m the idiot who got angry on the internet over ones and zeroes by a perfect stranger. While my anger was well intentioned in trying to uphold my own integrity and stand up for a person who I trust as I trust myself, I feel a failure. I, in the moments following it could be accused of being a Schrodinger’s Choleric. I said to the others who were a part of this that I was fine and entirely at peace with the situation and that my tone was not intended to come across as angry. Of course: a lie. Here I am now, alone with myself, unable to justify my own feelings of rage towards someone who means very little to me. I’m also trying to justify how my rage affects the person who means a lot to me. What am I doing for them now aside from being distant and cold in my brooding?

“Anyway, where is the harm or surprise in the ignorant behaving as the ignorant do? Think about it. Should you not rather blame yourself, for not anticipating that this man would make this error? Your reason gave you the same resource to reckon his mistake likely from this man; yet you forget and are now surprised that he went wrong.” – Meditations 9.42.3

In reflecting on my own blame for this situation which has led to a number of awkward social snafus and potential further dramas, I see myself repeating in actions I thought I left behind. I see myself almost enjoying the drama of it all; I see myself indulging the ability to put someone down with words over some slight. It feels dirty and it feels like I need to have a bath to wash off my own stink. Yet, should I be surprised of my own nature to indulge in having a barbed tongue? Or would it be better to accept my flaws and see them for what they are which is a part of me and reflect on the application?

“Constantly test your mental impressions – each one individually, if you can: investigate the cause, identify the emotion, apply the analysis of logic.” – Meditations 8.13

This feeling I have now is shame. A shame for losing my temper and rather than teaching or tolerating kindly, I took a strange pleasure in the moment to be cruel. In defending others, I exposed my own darkness; something I thought fading like the night sky at dawn as I grow closer to my balance. Yet perhaps it was the desire to protect a person I care about that unbalanced me. I need to reflect and do better of course, yet if being unbalanced in the moments where we stand for those we love, then I think it’s entirely forgivable. A lesson to be learned in attachment, expectation of the ignorant and the expectations of the self.

In the end, the situation is resolved and while the offender is dealt with and my friends are secure in themselves and alignment, I feel alone. It’s a loneliness of my own making and I accept it.

Z3N0