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

Obsession and Attachment

I was recently told a story and have been witness to its ongoing saga of X and Y or rather X’s obsession with Y. It has been continuing for a good seven years now and the story is nearing its end, something that the obsessed cannot seem to accept. Their attachments are toxic and self-destructive, leading to irrational and harmful immorality in a campaign of so-called ‘love’. This feeling presented has warped beyond all recognition, a far cry from the sweet words of Byron and Proust much more reminiscent of some Eastenders villain that seems to cling on for years and years.

We all have this trait within us as human beings to become overwhelmed and controlled by our passions and pleasures yet these things as much as we can rationalize are selfish things. We take these things from our surroundings and give nothing back when we find ourselves at the mercy of their whims. It can range from drugs and alcohol to anger and melancholy – it’s all an addiction in the end. We get addicted to our vices and hooked on the feelings that they bring and then the feelings themselves. In this case of X, hooked on the feeling of control over another, then hooked on the feeling of rage at lack of control. Underneath of course is the root of fear of being forgotten and alone.

It’s gone so far that X sends Y money on PayPal just to get their attention and around social media blockers. Telling mutual friends that they will hurt themselves or go on some epic quest of self-delusion and obsession across the country to find his so-called ‘twin flame’. Such great lengths we go to, to avoid looking in the mirror. To be able to let go and move onwards seems like such an impossible task to those who revolve their lives over singular passions.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

The obsession and attachment of any particular thing or another has a toxic destiny if not reflected upon and controlled. Look throughout history and see the fall over the obsessive and delusional from Icarus to Richard Ramirez, and see where these strange paths lead to. The legacies of these acts are lessons for others not the actor as often they never face the truth within themselves to see the root of it all. It’s like Marcus Aurelius says, pitiful rather than disgusting in nature as how can we ultimately be disgusted with immorality and vice when every human to ever live has been capable in some way or another of such things.

“This is wickedness: this is what you have often seen. And you should have this thought ready to hand against any eventuality: ‘I have seen this before.’ Generally wherever you look you will find the same things. The histories – ancient, more recent and modern – are full of them: cities and households are full of them today. There is nothing new. All is familiar and short-lived.” – Meditations 7.1

Reflect on the suffering that can be inflicted by people like X on people like Y, or other subjects of desire and false impressions. See these people for what they are: pitiful in need of help. And, in the stoic sense if they are beyond help, then tolerance – or in the case of such people like Richard Ramirez – or containment are the only options left. In the end, what have they gained from their vices but a life of self-inflicted misery? It won’t be Y who will be left to their own loneliness and obsessions, churning like rotten milk, only X.

Sometimes, in cases like X with Y, the obsessed can barely rationalize their own behaviour in their logical minds. They become detached from truth: their own and that of the reality around them. A web of lies becomes a safety blanket woven with years of uncontrolled emotions and enabling. What happens when that blanket is taken away? What’s left behind but a scared infant with attachment issues and bleeding hands from gripping on so tightly?

From Victor Frankenstein to Darth Vader, even in our fantasies the obsessives and the egomaniacal are not figures of light in the narrative. Some may look to these figures as they do Icarus and Ramirez with idolization. Why? Well, is it not obvious? Because in the end, we are all human and all capable of the same vice and recognize qualities in each other no matter how disturbing that reflection may be. Surely, then, the rational response is to not idolize but admire as figures of mistakes, of immorality and vice. The same way we admire morality stories such as Macbeth, not for the people themselves but the lessons we carry from them. Little comfort to those lost, to those left behind of course to the trail of destruction but when we are left with nothing, all we have is everything we came into this life with and the learning along the way.

These people hold little interest for me other than in the academic sense. Darkness is fascinating, after all. Yet, even with all this staring into the abyss that we can do, in the end the outcome is pity for the scared infant and contempt for a poisonous safety blanket of their own misguided design.

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

Sunshine Perspective

Past few months I’ve allowed myself to be ruled by my emotions and it’s sort of come to a head. While I write about balance and goodness and contentedness, it took 3 hours in the garden and four cigarillos with a pot of coffee to see the truth. It was shown to me that I had been acting rather submissively to the whims of another, someone I cannot control yet my own ebb and flow was marked by their activity despite believing that I was in control of my own stock. As it turns out, I have not been and I have been falling back into the same patterns of blind chase of a shadow. It took the sunshine to allow me to see. The sight of birds at the feeder through the smoke of my cigarillo and steam of the black coffee to hypnotize me enough to open up the third eye to see through illusion. Or perhaps, rather delusion.

As Kurt Cobain sang, there’s something in the way and often, that’s the self. We get in our own way in some strange subconscious attempt to find our harmony instead of letting it come to us naturally. It was hubris that led me here. Hubris that led to what I can only describe as something close to heartbreak, a trust patched up with My Little Pony plasters. The truth tastes bitter today yet at least the weather is nice.

What do we do? What do I do?

I suppose we should refer to the certainty of our own human nature and the certainty that this has happened before, will again and we can endure – I can endure. Leaves grow eternal and even the dead tree gives back to the Whole in time whether as mulch or as pulp for knowledge to be printed on.

It’s amusing to me. Deeply amusing, in fact.

It’s a fresh challenge to my philosophy yet I could feel this coming in my soul which now stings a little. It’s a cold wound in the hot flesh that sits disquietly and is so intangible that perhaps only time can repair it. There is no blame, but perhaps if there was for this situation which I find myself in, it would lay at my own feet. My feelings are my own responsibility always and that I allowed another’s to harm me, that I allowed another’s lack of feelings harm me is a deep failing. But we learn don’t we? It’s just another test.

The situation, I described to a friend was that I exposed my tender flesh to the elements and now I’m feeling sorry for myself because I caught hypothermia. It was my own choice and it was my own failing to not prepare or at least guard myself a little better: rebuild, build better walls of obsidian not jade. Yet how can we exist if we don’t lower the drawbridge? What happens when the guests inside our fortress run amuck unsupervised? Is it the walls or our lack of vigilance to blame? Certainly not the guest, they weren’t to know they offended the customs of a land they are a stranger in.

Funny how a few hours of sunshine can pour so much light on the mind as well as the body. Baths bore me so they’ll be few eureka moments there but sunshine and cigarillos seem to do the trick, at least. In the silence and sunlight we can see clearly and hear the universe. For me, it speaks: let the peace come to you, cease the seeking, it will always be right behind you out of sight.

“Nothing happens to any creature beyond its own natural endurance. Another has the same experience as you: either through failure to recognize what has happened to him, or in a display of courage, he remains calm and untroubled. Strange, then, that ignorance and pretension should be stronger than wisdom.” – Meditations 5.18

Are You Suffering?

I’ve had a cold for the past week or so, brought on due to working in close proximity with someone who has no concept of hand sanitizer or understanding of why smearing bogies onto desks is not exactly sanitary. Yet the issue arose for me with a single question one morning before I went to work.

“Are you suffering?” – X

“No. I’ve got a cold.” – Z

It seemed a simple answer for me because having a malady of the body is a nuisance not really suffering at all and in my own experience, suffering arises from the self, whether that be spiritual or emotional. Effectively, bodily pain, is just that. Now I’m speaking from a position of privilege, my only real experiences of pain are from anaphylaxis, asthma and burns. Perhaps my view would change with continual pain, perhaps I would be less stoic about it and my hubris would be plain for all to see. I’d like to think that my philosophy would hold true, to my way, The Way.

“Pain is an evil either to the body – so let the body give its evidence – or to the soul. But the soul can preserve its own clear sky and calm voyage by not assessing any pain as an evil. Every judgement, every impulse, desire and rejection is within the soul and nothing evil can penetrate.” – Meditations 8.28

The Buddhists believe that all life is suffering and we can escape suffering by walking the Eight Fold Path to enlightenment and subsequently Nirvana when we break this cycle. The Taoists, a philosophy I lean closer to, see it as a balance between the yin and yang and you cannot have darkness without light and vice versa. This is a far more stoic approach and one I subscribe to. If we fear the coming of suffering and coming of pain we are fearing to live, yet if we obsess about pain and suffering and see only those things, we are not living.

In the end, all suffering comes from love: either a lack of, too much, or a loss. We cannot exist without love even octopi have some concept of the chemical compounds that flush the mind and carry the soul. It’s a fact of life and I’ve spoken about this to no end that life is love and love is life. Not to be gushy or romantic only seeing the clear truth of it all. After all, in the Taoist sense, how can we be one with divinity if we do not love the manifestations of it?

Even loss. Even the most painful of experiences where we lose something that can never be replaced in our own understanding of existence. While yes, we all return to universe, you can’t hold atoms like a parent, child or friend. We carry them with us in the impressions they leave, they’re never truly gone and we carry the lessons, the love, the suffering. We are immortal in each others lives until we fade entirely. In the face of such loss to who can we turn to aside from the stoics for our comfort or the Tao for security in the balance in the face of perhaps such random chaos. But, there is no chaos there is harmony. I can’t talk like an expert on this loss, I’m sure I’ve felt it for lovers and friends and my own actions yet, one day I will be faced with this challenge to be able to say something tangible past my own shallow impressions.

“Loss is nothing more than change. Universal nature delights in change, and all that flows from nature happens for the good. Similar things have happened from time everlasting, and there will be more such to eternity. So why do you say that everything has always happened for the bad and always will, that all those gods between them have evidently never found any power to right this, so the world is condemned to the grip of perpetual misery?” – Meditations 9.35

All things are under going change. We are transient beings, as is the universe.

I have not been suffering from a cold and never will, I will and am suffering from my own impressions of love. I asked for love from the universe in my subconscious, in my desire in my action and I gave it readily. The universe provided yet there are conditions, uncontrollable conditions that everyday test my love and my soul. Or perhaps these things do not test but I allow myself to be tested by feeling this pain in my chest. I see my love and I see it for another and it’s not returned. It’s not returned in the same kind and I am left with a feeling of inadequacy, loneliness and a deep amusement. Why amusement? Because each time in my life have I properly loved another, it has ended poorly and been rather unreciprocated or poorly timed never to come to fruition. Yet, I have been loved and not loved back myself, my focus on this unrequited feeling. It’s my own conceptions and impressions that hurt me and it’s all self-harm.

Perhaps I am coming to conclusions now because I have no citalopram in my system to help regulate my internal ecosystem. Not being caffeinated doesn’t help either.

It’s love that causes us harm but also sets us free and makes us human. This pain in my chest despite how it harms me and how I let it harm me, feels me with contentment. It reminds me that I cam capable of love, it reminds me that I can and do love and I am alive. Feel alive, feel this moment, feel your pain and your joy at the same time and love it all in the experience of what it mean to be human.

Love your suffering because it makes you you and how you respond defines your impressions on the world.

I’m sat here, suffering at a situation I’ve found myself in twice before. Where I can’t decide whether or not this is going to end the same way where I allow myself to be led around like a slave to my feelings tied to another or if I’ll miss the point entirely like the latter situation. I see it with contempt yet love the experience. What else is there to do with this pain other than laugh, live – not unlike a terrible live, laugh, love sign, the bane of my life. It’s something I’m going to move pass yet this feeling has become synonymous with my nature: to be a pining philosopher in a turtleneck, sipping wine, feeling alone in others’ company. I can think of worse fates. I’m not unhappy about it, I suppose.

See your suffering. Look in the mirror and face it. If you can’t reflect on your own suffering past your physical hurt and see its root cause, then you are enabling it. You are ignorant to the directing motions of your own mind and soul and you have lost your way. Reflect and see past your eyes to what ails you and find your cure. What do you live for? Who do you live for? The answer will take you back always to the same word: love.

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:

Seneca’s 16th Letter

I’ve found time to read again, or rather I’ve made the effort to read and the time has just been there all along, hiding between my naps and pacing. Once again, Universe or God or Allah or The Way seems to be guiding me towards conclusions with happenstances lining up exactly as I need them. I read Seneca’s letters and at the same time, a friend of mine talks to me about faith and trust and holding the faith and trust in the self and others. Of course, the story wasn’t that at all, but boiled down to its core, its about those factors. And, perhaps like all human stories, it was about love.

If you don’t know, we can’t exist without some kind of love. Even wars which we think are based on hate, are in fact based on the love of ones own ideology and others. You may curse fate for bringing war to your country but you will endure because you love your family and you love the life you have and the fight for the new equilibrium.

“Whether we are caught in the grasp of an inexorable law of fate, whether it is God who as lord of the universe has ordered all things, or whether the affairs of mankind are tossed and buffeted haphazardly by chance, it is philosophy that has the duty of protecting us.” – Letters from a Stoic XVI

Being a good person and true to one’s own discipline is a daily task and not an accomplished feat that you can overcome just the once. I was met today with a test of my own faith in another, and I was told that to be disciplined in trust is a virtue. Of course, with those words I could have kissed the person who said it on the mouth then and there but I was practising discipline. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from the show Bojack Horseman, a series that everyone should watch, to reflect on themselves.

“Every day it gets a little easier… But you gotta do it every day — that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.” – Jogging Baboon, BoJack Horseman

The destination in your life when it comes to philosophy is not a finish line of enlightenment and a medal but the truest end – death. Philosophy has no finish line and its a path we all walk in some way or another. Don’t cry over potholes, step around them and brace for the incline. What goes up must come down and what goes down must come up.

“Carry out a searching analysis and close scrutiny of yourself in all sorts of different lights. Consider above all else whether you’ve advanced in philosophy or just in actual years.” – Letters from a Stoic XVI

Reflect on each of your steps before you make them, if you find yourself stepping on someone else’s head, you’ve gone off course. Today I found myself checking to see where I was treading, to see if I was finding gratification in easy shortcuts rather than walking the moral path. It was well intentioned and not malicious by anyone’s standards yet I found myself at a place of unease and needed to check my own map before continuing. The path as a wise person said to me today, is going to be fine and we need to have faith in it. It is difficult to see how ours will intersect with others or how another’s path with transpire before them yet when we have faith in ourselves and the universe, what need is there to worry? We keep walking, every day, with each breathe we walk. It is in our nature.

“Here is another saying of Epicurus: ‘If you shape your life according to nature, you will never be poor; if according to people’s opinions, you will never be rich.’ Nature’s wants are small, while those of opinion are limitless.”

You may never be the president if you choose not to step on heads and people may look down on you for your conviction. They make mistake your calm in a situation for apathy; your passiveness as callousness; your love as foolish, and your faith as delusion. The solution is that you keep walking your path undeterred in the light and goodness of the philosophy. You may never have sheets of gold but those who do, can wake up as paupers as easily as the rest of us so why do we care about the opinions of such things? Love your own way and you will find it easier to walk. Your way, The Way: amor fati.

Z3N0

The Emotional Battlefield

I was told recently that I’m a black and white individual, that I have a harsh and blunt demeanour. I didn’t notice my own sharpness until today. I was in a situation where someone became upset and I froze a little, confused on what to do. I just stood there and sighed; my internal monologue saying: “well fuck, what do I do now” instead of actually helping. The situation was resolved without me with a hug and kindness as I stood there a little like a spare part, my face with the expression of someone trying to solve some impossible equation.

What does this mean for me? Is it something for me to work on or something to accept within myself? Emotions make me uncomfortable in these situations yet for some reason, in others I can absorb myself fully into them, feel each facet and dissect them, exposing the root cause to begin to heal. I find myself saying often that I’m a tad psychic for this exact reason and my strange ability to know things and be able to advise the right thing in the right moment. Yet sometimes, I’m blinded.

It’s almost as if the fortress within is fussier than the one needed without. I am a fortress, my walls are made of tungsten and the palisades are as sharp as diamonds. Yet, I keep the drawbridge down for visitors, I need to both professionally, spiritually and socially. When I can be detached from a situation and not slap bang in the middle of it, I can casually dish out advice and good will like it’s Christmas yet when I’m there, in the thick of it, the drawbridge comes up. Plans are made, archers are readied and the vanguard forces are prepared to march and by the time all this is done, the event is over. The problem is now out of my hands. Fate has taken the wheel in the form of another person or condition uncontrolled.

This seems to extend to my life entire yet as my faith in myself and the Universe expands and my understanding of faith expands with it, it seems less and less of an issue to resolve. There is an acceptance of my own processing and my own judgement. As if I accept my weaknesses and allow things to resolve as they can when they are outside of my control. What other option do I have? Of course, I could force myself into these situations, throw myself into the deep end of the emotions of another to save the day yet is self sacrifice helpful? Do the tears I cry for another make the problem in the moment any easier? The resolution as I see it is to accept my talents and flaws in this: I am a long range actor not spearman in the war for emotion. A strategist is not a warrior and that’s okay.

Yet, as any sage should be, it pays to be prepared for when the gates fall in and the war comes home. Fortify your mind, accept the fates and the transience of your own chemical receptors to conditions. Face it all: love, hate, despair and joy with a critical eye. You will see through to the root causes of all of these things: why you feel this way and how you can remain from being overwhelmed. Of course if you find yourself overwhelmed, there’s no shame in it. That too will be as fleeting as everything else. It fades with time like a scar.

It’s about again, finding the balance within. To be able to be okay with that balance, even. It’s not an apathetic feeling just a contented one. Like you have everything you need and you have total acceptance of that. It’s a warm feeling that even in the face of your own weakness you are accepting the ebb and flow of the universe around you. Love it – amor fati.

This war at your gates for your emotional response, for your soul: it will last for as long as you do. Every human in history has battled the emotions from without, the true test is to not fight those within. See them, feel them, accept them and let them vanish as you roll your eyes at exactly what you don’t need. What do you need? Ask yourself. What do you need to feel in this moment and what makes it worth your time? Is it contentment, admiration, love, peace? Or is it something that keeps you up at night?

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

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