Concepts of Self

I’ve found myself increasingly attached to concept over reality when it comes to things I become passionate over and for things that irritate me to my core. Such things like story ideas, frameworks of how things should be and could be, development of philosophical thought and reflection. Ironic, how the real world bothers me less than the fantastical and in comparison never scratches that depth that the fantastical does. It’s almost as if that I have created a disconnect within myself and those around me to establish myself as a calm presence yet my own internal world in a warzone of its self.

I know for a fact that for the past few days and weeks, my own growth within has been tangible to my own observations and from others yet for the life of me, I cannot seem to shake this conflict between yin and yang and the passions of my own imposed impressions of vague thoughts. This is most experienced when playing Star Wars The Old Republic and roleplaying imaginary aliens fighting imaginary creatures. I spend hours on these concepts and developing plans and perfecting the tiny corner of the tiny corner of the tiny corner of my own imaginary landscape. Not just for myself but for others to enjoy and have a proper and enjoyable escapism. Yet isn’t it amusing, how escapism itself is so anti-stoic. How can one live in the moment by not living in this moment but literally another, in a galaxy far far away? So I play a character who is my aspiration, my goal for development of the self, the higher mind as it were and my philosophical, spiritual and intellectual superior – with minor quirks of course, for some separation to not be entirely lost in my second life like Dwight from The Office. It’s a helpful concept, like looking at art in motion and a concept in motion with a continual free forming journey. Yet these concepts, these minor obtuse details irritate me more than the thought of my own death.

Strange is it not? That such things can have a hold on us. As someone who roleplays as being a Jedi without attachment, it becomes rather laughably ironic that I hold an attachment to something so intangible. Yet I have gained friends from this experience and learned lessons about the self along the way with this art being my own guiding light.

Tonight for example, I was irritated and came into conflict with someone I consider a close friend over the specific decorations of a specific room that’s not even real. What was the purpose of the conflict? What did either of us gain other than hurting each other’s feelings – another failing of my philosophy but at least one I can recognize.

In the end, I ask myself, can I call myself a stoic? Can I call myself a philosopher of the school or at least follower if I cannot seem to confront this very simple thing? I lean on a crutch here, what crutches do you need? I’m perfectly capable of living up to my own aspirations without the need of an amphibian Jedi avatar yet I find it comforting, I find solace and peace method acting. If Stanislavski would see me employ his technique of theatre, I suppose he would be impressed with my dedication of playing the stoic man. I play the part, I become the part, that is the goal, it’s what always has been the goal, has it not for all those walking the Path?

You play the part and you keep nudging yourself and returning to the reflection and the texts until it becomes a part of you. Like muscle memory or just you. It’s like learning times tables, we will stumble and fall and trip and bitch and moan. Eventually though we can say that four times six is twenty-four without a second’s thought or even that. It is a skill in the end not a talent. I see myself failing everyday in lots of different ways but I see myself growing too. I see myself identifying the mistakes and I see myself trying to move on from them. Perhaps from this minor thing, mine and my friends relationship is irreparably damaged, I don’t know but I’ll accept consequences of that as my failing to learn from.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” – Meditations 10.16

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

Being Defended

It’s unusual to find myself being defended, much preferring to do it myself and with an efficiency to my own taste with a confidence in my own ability to deal with a situation in my control. Yet today, for the first time in a long time or at least for the first time in my own recollection as I sit here, I am being asked to put my faith in someone else defending me. I have to trust that they have my best interests at heart and I have to trust in the skill of their rhetoric to dismiss an individual entirely blind to his own shenanigans. It’s a test of friendship and love not just trust. In the end, the entire situation is out of my control, in fact I would have never have known about it if not for the courtesy.

It’s another test.

Another test of philosophy in the face of what I can and cannot control. I can only watch, provided courtesy of doing so, like a spectator watching a boxing match. It’s far more invasive than the casual observations like this. It’s like watching the news about the world and feeling that wish to be able to help but ultimately knowing that you can’t. Nothing can be done and you have to have faith in the universe as well as faith in the self that you will make the right choices in line with your nature and highest and greatest good for humanity.

Tonight’s topic was going to be about days and the illusion of bad days and good days. In the end, all we have are regular days that come one after the other and each day demands a little thing different for us to relinquish. Today, I am asked to relinquish my own conviction and integrity and allow an ally to hold those things in their hands. They have the power. Yet should things not go as I would prefer what would I lose? Aside from my temper – which is something that’s a constant work in progress.

“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. You yourself either still share his view of good, or something like it, in which case you should understand and forgive: if, on the other hand, you no longer judge such things as good or evil, it will the easier for you to be patient with the unsighted.” – Meditations 7.26

I do pity the actor who I am being defended from. This person is making overtures to hide and deflect their own inadequacies and failings, something I can relate to. Yet, still I would be lying if my thoughts we not entirely dismissive of his intent good or bad, his execution so sloppy that if he were a surgeon he would have killed his patient twice over. The assassin of my name came armed with a plastic spoon. So what do I have to worry about? The faith in another is faith in the self, so surely as a person of a faith in self to do what is right here, why should I not trust my defender similarly?

It’s an unpleasant feeling, being this powerless for the most minor of things yet perhaps this is another thing to accept in itself as part of the natural endurance of what it means to be human. My own turbulent feelings wash over me about trust and who to trust and what to trust, questioning all things at all times and analysing a thing to its core. It’s a double edged sword that forces me to see a flaw in even the most perfect of diamonds and feel slighted by its existence as if my search to find that flaw wasn’t the intent in the first place. It’s a judgement for me to release, an impression of my own on another who has been perhaps as transparent as I have been in my wants and needs in the bond we share. The game of one-step-forward-two-steps-back is a game that I play with myself and tonight I have to trust, I have to face my own game and kick over the board or be locked into an emotional purgatory of pain and distaste.

As I was writing this I felt a tickle on my neck and a panic: a big furry caterpillar was crawling over me somehow attached to me undetected. I took it outside and put it in the hedgerow yet I think about what it’s telling me. I think about the metaphor in my hands of my own rebirth of perspective or rather the rebirth require of my own perspective.

Amor fati, bitch,” it says, “Evolve: trust, love, accept.”

Z3N0

On Gratitude and Praise

Today, I was advised to speak about or rather reflect upon the affect of praise and gratitude. It’s a strange experience for me to receive praise as I never know how to react. I’ve spoken about this before, my own feelings on it that I should never need to be thanked for doing what I feel is right aligned with virtue. Yet, I express gratitude myself to those around me to ensure that I stay grounded and that I speak my appreciation to those people and things that I appreciate.

Now, I’m sat here drinking a beer gifted to me for helping someone. Yet, I feel nothing but a strange sadness for it. It’s almost as if, while as lovely a gift it was, it was bitter sweet. I do not need repaying for what I do nor do I want it further than the financial compensation of my job required to live in the world functionally. I enjoyed receiving the gift true, but does it affect my virtue? No. Of course, I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, it was a nice gesture, yet it feels almost – I don’t know what I feel. Perhaps I need to deconstruct my stiff upper lip to find out.

Today, a close friend said to me that they admire what I do, which I thought was ironic as I admire what they do a lot more. To compare, they are saving lives literally and I’m babysitting. Yet I’m going to steal the wisdom they shared with me to share to you:

“…a mountain doesn’t look as impressive once you’re at the peak but the ones around it do. Its normal for me, yet I can admire yours more as an observer” – X

It is hypocritical to give praise and appreciation and not be able to take it? Surely, as someone looking to live a balanced life, all things should flow equally in a give and take motion of forces. We all like to receive praise and gratitude sure, yet we shouldn’t act for those things. We should act in a way that comes naturally to our humanity in service of each other regardless of thanks or reward. When we start to rely on praise as motivators, we become seekers of fame and fortune rather than inner peace and outer peace.

It goes without saying that I admire my friend whether they accept it or not or whether they feel they deserve it or not. They continue to inspire me day after day with strength, humility and giving nature; a kindness rare and a beautiful soul always enduring never surrendering. They enrich me and I remind them, something I think, that doesn’t happen enough. Yet why is it so challenging to turn the same loving smile inward?

“They cannot admire you for intellect. Granted – but there are many other qualities of which you cannot say, ‘but that is not the way I am made’. So display those virtues which are wholly in your own power – integrity, dignity, hard work, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind. Or does the fact that you have no inborn talent oblige you to grumble, to scrimp, to toady, to blame your poor body, to suck up, to brag, to have your mind in such turmoil? No, by heaven, it does not! You could have got rid of all this long ago, and only be charged – if charge there is – with being rather slow and dull of comprehension. And yet even this can be worked on – unless you ignore it and welcome your stupidity.” – Meditations 5.5

I should begin to practice and will attempt to praise myself and show myself the same gratitude others hold for me as I them. I want to be able to be a mirror of their light as they are for mine. Love them, love myself, love universe, amor fati. It’s funny to me that for a philosophy seen so dry in the media through Mr Spock of Star Trek and the apathy of Jedi in Star Wars, stoicism at it’s core is about love, gratitude and praise for our reality. Embrace it all.

Z3N0

Further reading:

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

Quick Quote Post: 7

I want to take today to share two verses from the Tao Te Ching on the balance of character. A friend spoke to me last night about having relationships that are unbalanced, unequal in their respect. For as long as I’ve known this person, they have been one of the most quietly strong individuals I’ve ever known, my best friend throughout my darkest time and perhaps there may have been more had I not in my arrogance neglected them too. They feel complicit in the behaviours of others for being a passive supporter of the relationships yet I disagree with that belief. I think this present moment and this very time is when they have been able to instead reassert a balance between integrity and passiveness. Now is the time for the archers on the walls to fire back at the invaders to the kingdom, dismissing trifling perceptions and immorality before they can reach the city. Like Bukowski said about success, these kinds of revelations are like flies: let them come to you before you can swat them. Don’t try.

“To use words but rarely is to be natural. Hence a gusty wind cannot last all morning, and a sudden downpour cannot last all day. Who is it that produces these? Heaven and earth. If even heaven and earth cannot go on for ever, much less can man. That is why one follows the way! A man of the way confirms to the way; a man of virtue conforms to virtue; a man of loss conforms to loss. He who conforms to the way gladly is gladly accepted by the way; he who conforms to virtue is gladly accepted by virtue; he who conforms to loss is gladly accepted by loss. When there is not enough faith, there is a lack of good faith.” – Tao Te Ching XXIII

“He who tiptoes cannot stand; he who strides cannot walk. He who shows himself is not conspicuous; He who considers himself right is not illustrious; He who brags will have no merit; He who boasts will not endure. From the point of view of the way these are ‘excessive food and useless excrescences.’ As there are Things that detest them, he who has the way does not abide by them.” – Tao Te Ching XXIV

Find your faith in yourself, find your way, find you middle path, find your balance and you will be the happier for it. It’s a natural thing, the natural state of being to be one with your own flow, synchronised with you chi and spiritual path.

As Bukowski said: don’t try.

Z3N0

Humble Pie

Apologising has become such a dirty word as if it’s ingrained in us to fight to the very last than admit we have been wrong. There’s this pervasive feeling that when we expose our flaws to people who see them, or even admit to ourselves that we see them, that we will be hung, drawn and quartered for our admission. Fuck that. The truth is that eating humble pie is brave and necessary for our own growth. Before we can begin to take steps into the light of virtue, we must first accept our own vice.

The Catholics have been doing this for nearly 2000 years in the form of confessional. Personally, for me, this is a flawed concept. While confessing in sins and passing them to God for judgement, we are absolving ourselves of the responsibility for those actions. Worse yet, we expect the priest to absolve us – a member of the clergy who is as human as us. Perhaps I’m being cynical on that and it’s more wholesome and stoic than I give it credit for. Perhaps it is a case of any step is the right step when confronting our own mistakes.

Today, I upset a friend. I’ve spoken about this friend before but I was insensitive towards them in this case and made them feel uncomfortable. I could not think about anything else than to apologise for my words and put right what I did wrong. How could I not? What pointless pride would stop me? In the past I’ve struggled and fought with the words “I’m sorry” for what purpose? All the fear of that has done is killed friendships and slowed my own growth. What’s stopping any of us from seeing wrong in our actions. After all, inherently there is no wrong or right, only the consequences of what we do. So if those consequences are to the detriment of another or ourselves, it is our moral duty as human beings, as expressions of the universal Whole, to eat the humble pie and apologise for that.

“Please always call me out when I go wrong.” – Z

I’m quoting myself here quite shamelessly, words I spoke not even 7 hours ago. It’s a simple request to my friend and one I expect follow through on. Is it not something we should all expect? How can we ever return to the middle path when blinded by our own experience if we can’t allow someone to help us. An apology is that acknowledgement. Contrition is acceptance of the flaws within us all. Even the most perfect stoic, should understand that apologising and accepting perception of their action from within and without is a virtue.

My friends words to my blunt questioning:

Ask me different next time.” – X

I learned from this. I will ask about the topic that we were talking about with a gentler hand and tact. They showed me a better way to be and I will evolve accordingly. If I had been an arrogant idiot and said something like “no fuck you, I’ll say what I like” the relationship would have been killed then and there. Or perhaps not, it would instead lead to animosity and a lot more effort for something that would have been avoided had I just accepted my own wrong doing and faced it.

“If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one’s own self-deception and ignorance.” – Meditations 6.21

To be a stoic not only means accepting of things what we cannot control but also of what we do control, accepting change within ourselves for the betterment of all around us. Disregard the taboo of admitting fault, of looking into the mirror to see warts and all. Experience growth in your mistakes and live a better life.

So, to be brief: un-bite your lip and eat your humble pie, it’s good for you.

Z3N0

Pity not Anger

Currently I’m dealing with a person that should anger me. Or rather, other human beings would understand looking objectively if they were to anger me. They have accused me of things I have not done; warped facts to establish a false narrative; weaponized honesty against others; acted in hostility to defend their own demand for pleasures, and actively inflate minor details for a larger reaction. It’s annoying, no? Angering? Worthy of pure contempt and fiery rage to throw the interloper out for their nature as a cheese grater on my brain. No, because then I will be no better than them. Would any of us be better than the creator of upset if we were to become upset ourselves? Of course not. We would just be adding to the hot air and noise and disruption to our own natures.

I pity this person because I see a desperate act and need for validation. I see anxiety that I see in myself. I see a desire for pleasure and the thirst to be seen. It’s pity I feel, a deep heavy sense of pity. I cannot change this person’s behaviour, they have identified me as a bad actor for revealing truths, not in a malicious way but as a way to hold a mirror to someone so that can see too.

“When someone does you some wrong, you should consider immediately what judgement of good and or evil led him to wrong you. When you see this, you will pity him, and not feel the surprise or anger. You yourself either still share his view of good, or something like it, in which case you should understand and forgive: if , on the other hand , you no longer judge such things as either good or evil, it will be easier for you to be patient with the unsighted.” – Meditations 7.26

This person used me as a weapon to emotionally manipulate another to satisfy pleasures. It’s a very convoluted and complex situation, perhaps so niche that it’s never happened before. Yet, that’s not true either is it? Every emotion we can experience has been experienced. Every manipulation at its core, each scheme and plot has been played out. From the betrayal of Caesar to the Gunpowder Plot to this very niche instance. Nothing that happens cannot be overcome, nothing in your life you are truly alone in experiencing.

“Nothing can happen to any human being outside the experience which is natural to humans – an ox too experiences nothing foreign nature of the oxen, a vine nothing foreign to the nature of vines, a stone nothing outside the property of a stone.” – Meditations 8. 46

It’s strange this feeling of calm, it’s almost unnatural in comparison to the feelings of those around me. I feel ambivalent of the words they call me, the lies they say, the vitriol they spit in my direction to unbalance others. Instead, I feel a deep remorse for them. I am sorry that their life is in such a state that this was necessary. I will be there for my friends, wholly, to support them, to love them as I love myself to repair their hurt hearts. A weird kind of sadness to be sad for another’s actions towards me instead of hateful. It’s a new experience for me and I don’t mind it. It’s not as heavy as anger nor is it as sticky.

My priority, as should yours in these situations, are the ones who are hurt. I will be there not for reasons of making myself look better or improving relationships but to genuinely be there for them. Anything else would be an injustice of the soul.

“What is my object in making a friend? To have someone to be able to die for, someone I may follow into exile, someone for whose life I may put myself up as security and pay the price as well.” – Letters from a Stoic IX

Anger is not for the stoic neither is retribution. My first, and your first priority should be the return to a new, better equilibrium, friends first.

Love fate and all it brings and you will be secure in your self. When you are secure in yourself, you’ll feel no anger to those who don’t.

Z3N0

On Love and Vemod

I’ve realized that in my past few writings and beyond that I’ve been rather critical of love and the feelings associated with the comfort in another. Like Marcus Aurelius focused on death, Seneca on civilisation, it seems my repeating topic seems to be love. Not that I’m comparing myself to those two, it just seems rather funny to me. A voice in my head says it’s pathetic but a louder chorus tells that voice to shut the fuck up and embrace the flow of my own journey and its inspiration.

Today, that happens to be a friend, a friend who I love and a friend who Seneca would describe as a friend, being a person who I can share everything with. I’m also finding myself attracted romantically to this friend but that’s neither here nor there and not relevant to our friendship, in my mind at least because it’s a minor detail; a fraction of a Whole, and I like clear sign posting for these kinds of things. This friend, explained to me the concept of vemod. It’s a Swedish term for a very specific feeling of nostalgic sadness, a feeling of loss of a thing that can never be replaced. My friend explains that they have this feeling, like a passive passenger. In a sense, so do I – ever since I confessed my feelings thanks to the stoic in me saying that an omission of truth is just a lie with a different flavour. For them, it’s more tangible of a partner in life rather than my own bashfulness and self-conciousness.

Perhaps we all feel a sense of vemod constantly throughout our lives without realizing the word for it. It’s similar perhaps to how so many people discover a diagnosis later on in life that explains away a million different circumstances with a single phrase. Reflecting on my past, the phrase in my life to explain away all the nostalgic sadness is my own name, my own mistakes, my own responsibility. If I pause, I think of all the hurt and heartbreak and destruction I caused in my own arrogance and feel a deep sadness for times before, not when I was doing these things but before I did them. A lost time of a cleaner soul, gone forever and irreplaceable within this existence.

I can’t reflect on my friend’s feeling, yet I can understand the circumstance. This friend who sees death regularly in a professional capacity and has seen it in the past in a personal way, perhaps may feel the erosion of the soul for this tender sadness. Would my own philosophy stand up in the face of that? Could I truly say amor fati in the presence of that overwhelming vemod?

In all truth, I don’t know and I don’t know what to say to my friend. I have nothing but admiration and love for them, a deep respect for the strength of character they possess. Even without claiming the stoic path, they remain stoic. I can’t say anything that won’t sound patronising in some way or reductive of their experience. To say a Jedi epithet that nothing is ever really gone, no one is ever really dead, is that a cure for vemod or an agitator? Well, you say, clearly something is gone as it’s not present. Was it not me who only days ago spoke about a void of the self? An undefined vemod?

I’m prone to cynicism but tonight I’m not feeling cynical I’m feeling hopeful.

I’m feeling that love can conquer vemod. A love of self, life, death, others, and fate itself. Loving death is not so bleak as you might think. Loving death is a beautiful thing, a thing of acceptance and kindness. A person fights for life, but if they lose, there is no shame. The body is a vehicle and the soul is the driver and one day for all of us, the car will break down and we have to get out.

Journey’s end, new ones begin, the highway never sleeps.

I love my friend. I embrace all of them and accept all of them, all of their being.

I love myself. I embrace all of me and accept all of me, all of my being.

I love Nature. I embrace nature and accept all of nature, all apart of the Whole.

How will you know? You will feel a fullness in your heart, both atriums filled and pumping warmth. Feel your chest now, place your hand there and breath in the air. Love it and yourself.

I love it, I love you – why wouldn’t I?

Fuck vemod, it’s an anchor to slow your voyage across the ocean of time and space.

“Joy varies from person to person. My joy is if I keep my directing mind pure, denying no human being or human circumstance, but looking on all things with kindly eyes, giving welcome or use to each as it deserves.” – Meditations 8.43

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