Tangible Growth

I’ve been speaking recently about growth that’s tangible and observable, or at least if not growth its clear steps in the right direction of the Path. I have to be careful, as we all do, like Seneca said to be aware that we are growing in philosophy not just age with each passing day. The air seems a little lighter with these reflections like each particle bouncing off me hits a little gentler.

A conversation I had today, is not even worth quoting was about the semantics of the word vaccine. In this conversation I was told a vaccine cannot be called a vaccine unless it totally 100% prevents you from catching a pathogen. I didn’t argue this point and was rather proud of myself for not at all reacting even by rolling my eyes for the disturbance as I was happily watching X-Files – perhaps ironically. It’s something I’ve not experienced before or rarely experience, moments where I can reflect in the in the situation and it seems to be slowed to half speed and to process each passing thought removing each impression that I impose or is imposed upon me. It was a rather cathartic experience, one of lightness and clarity. True, I was grateful for when the conversation was over and I could return to Mulder and Scully.

But it also for me, raises questions of predestination, or at least this and my recent watching of Loki. If all things are foretold by destiny with our forward motion almost a universal imperative, what other kind of growth is there if not tangible? Let’s look back over the past, our past each moment and see each thing we have learned and each misstep that had to have happened to lead us all to this moment. Today I could have entered into a bitter argument and fallen on my face, adding to the list of failures and tribulations that litter my life but I saw another path and took it. Or perhaps, there is only one path and the one I have walked in this existence led to that moment whether I wanted to or not. The past two years of social withdrawal and philosophical adventure leaving imprints on my subconscious, seeping into the waking world with every action whether aware of it or not. Like all experiences, each lasting thought or process it leaves its mark and leaves and impression of unspoken directive. It’s almost like an unwritten yet binding constitution of your own – our own – existence, tumbling over itself and winding around like a seedling to sapling to young twig to venerable oak to pulp and back again to the soil.

Lives and life, exists in a ever-growing ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail. The ancients understood this and its a concept that goes largely forgotten about.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
– Hamlet 

So let’s expand my minor conversation today to the macro, cosmic scale. It started, supposedly with the Big Bang and will end with the Great Heat Death of the universe where all living things slowly die and implode in on themselves leaving only the quiet that was before. Then, perhaps eons later in the distant dark, two atoms, remnants of a time gone before drift together and: clink! Big Bang 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, and so on. Existence is birth, growth and death. But there is no death really just a change of state. In the same way, there is no birth just another change of state, perhaps even then there is no growth. It’s all inhaling and exhaling of a single cosmic being destined to return to atoms like I am. So with that being said, are we not entirely privileged just in our existence to be able to recognize growth when it happens? To experience this moment and feel it around us, and see the growth from our own birth to now, is a wonderous thing.

195 Ouroboros Symbol Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock
The ouroboros

It’s a frightening thought, this meaningless in our own experience yet at the same time it’s wholly freeing as it gives us all a truer sense of purpose and duty to each other to seek truth of said experience.

Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

As seers of this truth and as accepters of this eternity and wonderous cosmic harmony and certainty, what do we have to fear from anything? What do we have to fear aside from the concept itself and a biological incentive to fight against predetermined passing? What is there to fear aside from experiencing joy in the time we have and the time we can allot to ourselves to find that joy? The joy in life, in love and in fate and all that it brings us. With a duty as kin of this growth within and without, to in line with all the highest and greatest good and alignment to improve constantly what we have for each other.

It’s all growth and we will only ever know growth. We will not know of our birth or death. So keep in mind each step you take and see the impression you leave. Are you happy with what you see?

Amor fati.

Z3N0

Falling Forward

I’ve been in discussion with someone tonight about the nature of the mistakes we make and how we respond to our mistakes and other mistakes. Because there are no mistakes and everything happens for a reason in line with our own natural ability to endure. Destiny and choice are not words that come associated with each other yet the way we fall, the way we get up often is. This person I’m talking to described it as falling forward which I’d never thought of before.

It’s such a simple phrase and something that will come up in all facets of the stoic philosophy. When we trust in the universe, we fall forward and get back up with ease because we know that each misstep happens for a reason. Without a faith in the universe, we can even say we fall forward because of a faith in ourselves and our philosophies of constant self improvement. Even naturally, we are hardwired in our biology to be kept safe and learn from these trips to not do them again. Our bodies repair themselves, forming new skin over the old damaged parts. It’s all transient and we all move forward and we fall in the same direction, following the laws of time and space that bind us all.

“Whatever happens to you was being prepared for you from everlasting, and the mesh of causes was ever spinning from eternity both your own existence and the incidence of this particular happening.” – Meditations 10.3

Billy Joel famously sings that we didn’t start the fire and it’s true.

“Great men are forged in fire. It is the privilege of the lesser men to light the flame.” – The War Doctor, Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor

It’s how we step from the fire is what defines us. How do we carry those burns forward? Or if we emerge, unscathed, how do we tread? Is it with an ashy coating on our feet or are we victorious like Apollo in the sun? Yet, it’s always forward and always in the singular direction never turning back. We will all meet the same end but we all fall and stand up a little differently.

I like to see myself as a person who walks with my hand held behind me for someone to hold on to and pull themselves up when they need it, without looking back to see or care who it is I’m helping. I needed the same help to stand up in my own time, from my very first stumbling as I was learning to walk to this morning when I needed help at a self-checkout. It’s all altruism that has been offered to me, it would be such arrogance to not think to return the same good will back to the humanity that shaped me.

For others, it’s different: a life of challenge and pain to overcome. They stand up again and again with bruised knees, a limp yet with a determined demeanour. Those are the people I admire and if called, my hand will be held out to them all the same without judgement. We walk in parallel and entwined with each other in this existence, all moving forward, stumbling, standing, and carrying on.

It is our nature. To expect not to fall forward is to expect to never learn. I carry a cactus on my journey – it incentivises being cautious when both falling and standing. What do you carry?

“Dig inside yourself. Inside there is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.” – Meditations 7.59

Whatever it is, with a smile; always with a smile. Keep finding your own goodness, each fall forward is a gift and a testament to your own strength. Be proud of yourself for each lesson learned and each vice overcome and every virtue met as you move forward, joined in the chorus of footsteps of the universe.

Z3N0

The Cactus

Today I won’t be quoting or taking lines from the philosophers because this topic is something I need to face alone. It’s something that I need to speak about and release from my energetic field, from my higher mind, from my subconscious and rational thinking mind, This thing: a cactus.

A few years ago now, an ex of mine bought me a potted cactus out of the blue as a nice little present. I was low maintenance, had a soothing presence, a beautiful thing and made my home feel warm. I neglected it. I let it die on my windowsill, hidden for months behind eternally closed shutters collecting dust. I forgot about it and disregarded it and in the end, I threw it away. It was not just a cactus, it was my ex’s heart personified. It was them presented as a metaphor: low maintenance, beautiful, a little prickly yet endearing, a warming presence with unique colours of thought and presentation.

I threw it away and neglected it. I threw away and neglected them. I treated them like the cactus and left them on the shelf to collect dust and wither away as a background element in my life. I disregarded my duty of care and self-absorbed lifestyle.

It’s such a silly thing, a potted cactus yet when I think about it I feel a deep swell of self-loathing, pain, regret, sorrow, vemod. I say often that there are no mistakes yet, this one is harder to mull over casually. Perhaps because it was such a profound moment when I realized that this cactus, this silly thing, was the singular focal point of my vices. I think of all the people I’ve hurt along my journey to get to this point where I can look back and accept my wrong. I think of every word, every act, every flash of needless rage. Life is not like Sims where you can just say “well fuck it” after each failed relationship and start again or go back to a previous save to before when things were fine. There is no right or wrong just consequence and my consequence was inflicting pain on others and myself through that.

I actually cheated on this person, can you believe that? Every time I went to work and got drunk bartending it happened and eventually it happened more times than it didn’t. It was an arrogant disregarding of my ex’s feelings and total disrespect of their emotional sovereignty. They were perfect, you know? A perfect being, so mature and wise and beautiful in mind and body and spirit. My only comfort is that they are now so learned from the car crash that we were (thanks to me), that they will never stoop to share their life like they did with me with someone like me again. A strength born from a test of faith in self-worth.

The truth is that I fucked up and killed something that will never exist again within my material experience. So many things I can say that to, so many mistakes and so much pain inflicted with each harsh word or unvirtuous act. This cactus, now a shadow in a sea of landfill, was me and is me if I allow myself to be. This cactus represents my arrogance and reckless pride.

I fucking love that cactus.

It makes me feel so hollow and so exposed and so dirty. It keeps me grounded and keeps me from ever being the one to be so callous again. It pains me, this silly memory and this silly thing yet I hold onto it and its spines as they cut my hands to shreds. Right now, as I feel the weight of cold sadness above my brow and heaving onto my shoulders, I am grateful for it. It’s like a scar on my soul in technicolour. A self inflicted scar that I can only hope has strengthened another in its presence on them.

I lost contact with a friend recently. It was my own neglect again and it reminded me of the cactus and it stuck me with its spikes in the heart chakra. I just opened up a message one day and was so wrapped up in my own bollocks that I just didn’t reply. Here we are nearly three weeks down the line and there’s nothing but a pervasive hollowness. I reached out, I made my case to repair, to never leave a thing unattended again.

We all have a cactus.

They mean so little and so much. They are defining moments, metaphors, ghosts that haunt us. Ghosts that we wouldn’t be the same without. It’s not particularly stoic to carry ghosts yet what are we but the sum of our parts, and what we chose to do with those parts?

Z3N0