Sand on the Beach

Modern Art

When we think about our place in the universe we should reflect on our place as a grain of sand on this beach here. Each single grain one of a trillion of grains ever shifting under the pull of the ocean.

This will be a quick post, an uneventful, perhaps uninspiring musing on the divine meaninglessness of our cosmic nature and the beauty of that. It’s point being, with it all being as temporary and meaningless as it is, surely then, we should enjoy it all while it lasts and embrace whatever it brings. Because, of course, while for one grain a shift of position means nothing, when we zoom out we see modern art. Or, in this case, the word “penis” written out with my big toe, which for some infantile reason brought me great joy.

Even Dexter, the weeny mutt, seemed to enjoy the piece.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 15

I was reflecting on the nature of pride today and that I’ve found most common in the 21st Century is that people are often prideful and proud of people who they do not know and never will. It’s a fan culture and cult of celebrity that creates this strange relationship and expectation. It seems to seep into the culture of sports too and politics even – perhaps much more obvious than k-pop culture – with people taking pride in a team or national spirit that realistically has nothing to do with them. It’s like when some fans say: “oh we did well last night, we beat your team” or something to that effect as if they were there themselves on the pitch.

David Mitchell and Robert Webb sum it up quite well, no millenia old wisdom required.

“No one should feel pride in anything that is not his own. We praise a vine if it loads its branches with fruit and bends its very props to the ground with the weight it carries: would anyone prefer the famous vine that had gold grapes and leaves hanging on it? Fruitfulness is the vine’s peculiar virtue. So, too, in a man praise is due only to what is his very own. Suppose he has a beautiful home and a handsome collection of servants, a lot of land under cultivation and and a lot of money out at interest; not one of these things can be said to in him – they are just things around him. Praise in him what can be neither given nor snatched away, what is peculiarly a man’s.” – Letters from a Stoic XLV

Here perhaps we can argue that Seneca was sick of sycophants praising his massive estate and riches rather than how much of a man of character he was – or wasn’t depending on who you ask.

Take pride not in glory of the sports team, your favourite singer making it to No. 1 on the charts because it’s all arbitrary. Be proud and praise the virtue and nature within the individual; not just of others but also yourself.

People always forget that last part. Don’t, it’s important.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 14

Tonight I was apart of a roleplaying event, and a quote came up from one of the players whose character is a drunkard swashbuckling space pirate. On the topic of the character killing people for profit and being judged for it, a phrase came up:

“Isn’t it ignorant to judge another’s lifestyle?” – X

I thought about this, in reflection of a stoic sense outside of the Jedi context, and I turned to Marcus Aurelius for comment where I had none.

“Whenever you are offended by someone’s lack of shame, you should immediately ask yourself: ‘So is it possible for there to be no shameless people in the world?’ It is not possible. Do not then ask for the impossible. This person is just on of the shameless inevitably existing in the world. Have the same thought ready for the rogue, the trator, every sort of offender. The recognition that this class of people must necessarily exist will immediately make you kinder to them as individuals. Another useful thought of direct application is the particular virtue nature has given us to counter a particular wrong. Gentleness is given as the antidote to cruelty, and other qualities to meet other offences. In general, you can always re-educate one who last lost his way: and anyone who does wrong has missed his proper aim and gone astray.

And what harm have you suffered? You will find that none of these who excite your anger has done anything capable of affecting your mind for the worse: and it is only in your mind that damage or harm can be done to you – they have no other existence.

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

Above all, when you complain of disloyalty or ingratitude, turn inwards on yourself. The fault is clearly your own, if you trusted that a man of that character would keep his trusts, or if your conferred a favour without making it an end in itself, your very action its own and complete reward. What more do you want, man, from a kind act? Is it not enough that you have done something consonant with your own nature – do you now put a price on it? As if the eye demanded a return for seeing, or a the feet for walking. Just as these were made for a particular purpose, and fulfil their proper nature by acting in accordance with their own constitution, so man was made to do good: and whenever he does something good or otherwise contributory to the common interest, he has done something what he was designed for and inherits his own.” – Meditations 9.42

Perhaps space piracy is not what Aurelius had in mind when he discussed this point. Yet, who knows, maybe he did or maybe applications of curing cruelty with gentleness and meeting ignorance with expectation and indifference were as relevant in the 1st Century as they are in a galaxy far, far away.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 12

Today I found myself at a loss, trying to understand the motivations of other people in both my professional and personal sphere. I found myself wanting answers locked within minds that I would never be able to access. So of course, I look to my handbook and guide:

“Do not look around at the directing minds of other people, but keep looking straight ahead to where nature leading you – both universal nature, in what happens to you, and your own nature, in what you must do yourself. Every creature must do what follows from its own constitution. Every creature must do what follows from its own constitution. The rest of creation is constituted to serve rational beings (just as in everything else the lower exists for the higher), but rational beings are here to serve each other. So the main principle in man’s constitution is the social. The second is resistance to the promptings of the flesh. It is the specific property of rational beings and intelligent by the activity of the senses or impulses: both these are of the animal order, and it is the aim of intelligent activity to be sovereign over them and never yield them the mastery – and rightly so, as it is the very nature of intelligence to put all these things to its own use. The third element in a rational constitution is judgement unhurried and deceived. So let your directing mind hold fast to these principles and follow the straight road ahead: then it has what belongs to it.” – Meditations 7.55

Things are as they are and will be as they will be. Worrying about the nature of this and that is a fallacy and slows us down on the path. We can’t walk properly looking back or looking about. We look forward, fall forward and walk forward. This is The Way.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 10

Today, I’m stepping out with family, for a meal then a glorified piss-up in a field. In any case I thought I’d share some wisdom that has been playing on my mind through the night. It was a good night, if nights can be described as good rather than just night. It was one of clarity and reflection and genuine connection. A spark of destiny and a cause for my throat chakra with and my rational centre telling my third eye and heart to pipe down a little and not get too excited. Yet I feel genuinely hopeful for a connection and a harmony of perfect balance and comfort. There’s a concern from a feeling of the past of things lost, things gained yet spring has left us and we are into the summer now. With the sun comes light and with light comes the ability to see. Not to mention literally roast and sweat my face off making me a shame to the Italian genealogy yet proud descendant of Yorkshire for the other three-quarters of my makeup.

“The properties of the rational soul. It looks on itself, it shapes itself, it makes itself however it wishes to be, it gathers for itself the fruit it bears – whereas the fruit of plants and the corresponding produce of animals is gathered by others. It achieves its own end wherever the limit of like is set. Unlike a ballet or a play or suchlike, where any interruption aborts the whole performance, in every scene and whenever it is cut off the rational soul has its own programme complete and entirely fulfilled so it can say: ‘I am in possession of my own.’…”

Here in my notes, I write that we grow into out our purpose and evolve into the virtuous being – a rational being. We must take responsibility for our own growth, however, and leave the job to no one else.

” … Further, the rational soul traverses the whole universe and its surrounding void, explores the shape of it, stretches into the infinity of time, encompasses and comprehends the periodic regeneration of the Whole. It reflects that our successors will see nothing new, just as our predecessors saw nothing more than we do: such is the sameness of things, a man of forty with any understanding whatsoever has in a sense seen all the past and future.

Particular qualities too of the rational soul are love of neighbour, truthfulness, integrity, no higher value than itself. This last is a defining quality of law also. There is thus no difference between the true principle of philosophy and the principle of justice.” – Meditations 11.1

Reflect on your own growth and finding your own clarity. See the universe for what it is and what it is is out of your control. Find your peace and find your balance and see that virtue is not something we can aspire to but something we can walk.

Z3N0

Quick Quote Post: 9

“A bitter cucumber? Throw it away. Brambles in my path? Go round them. That is all you need, without going to ask, ‘So why are these things in the world this way?’ This question would be laughable to a student of nature, just as a carpenter or cobbler would laugh at you if you objected to the sight of shavings or cut-offs from their work on the shop floor. Yet they have somewhere to throw their rubbish, whereas the nature of the Whole has nothing outside of itself. The marvel of its craft is that is sets its own confines and recycles into itself all within them which seems to be decaying, growing old, or losing its use: then it creates afresh from this same material. This way it requires no substance other than its own, and has no need for a rubbish-dump. So it is complete in its own space, its own material and its own craftsmanship.” – Meditations 8.50

See things as this, that in regard to our ultimate reality, there is no end nor beginning from our atoms to our environment. When a thing blocks your path or creates a bump in your road, simply manoeuvre, there is no need for some panic. You will get to where you’re going like all of us in the end. From your mistakes to other’s mistakes, do away with it and carry on. In the case of Marcus Aurelius” bitter cucumber, we find a solution such as learning to wait until it ripens or find a better grocer. What panic is there? If we find our loves failing us and our hearts fatiguing with each latest drama or shadowed causation, what is there to do other than identify, do away, and move on?

It’s Todorov’s Narrative Theory making its way into my thoughts again:

  • Equilibrium
  • Disruption
  • Recognition of disruption
  • Attempt to repair
  • New Equilibrium – link back to Step 1.

Things are as they are, and we can only control our reactions to them. It is down to us to decide whether to react or overreact to stimuli – of course, the former being the only logical choice in regard to the benefit of the self and humanity entire. What does making a scene over bitter cucumbers do? What does making a scene about a friend ghosting you on social media do, or ignoring facemask regulations during a pandemic, or being stuck in traffic? Hot air does nothing but contribute to global warming, I say.

You have everything you need in life whether you realize it or not. If you have nothing, you have everything and if you have everything, you have nothing. I pity the morose billionaire in their Dubai mansion with an M&M dispensary room and three home cinemas, I really do. How discontent with their own being they must be to crave and desire more and more brick and mortar. It all returns to the earth in the end and as fleeting as a tent in a side street of London.

I digress…

Live and breathe your path and the obstacles you come across can be overcome without so much a whisper of contempt. No time machine exists to remove them before they appear so you can only accept that they do and will and that you will overcome them.

With a smile, always. It may take you a while to smile, but you will.

Z3N0

Quick Post Quote: 6

Today I watched as a spectator a live performance of a destructive insecurity. An acquaintance of mine decided to create an argument, invent feeling to validate their own place within the social group. A test of the waters, if you will. It felt entirely irritating and quite sad but I could recognize that deep insecurity as an aspect of myself. This acquaintance demanded an apology for a weird fictitious slight to be able ensure the structural integrity of the friendships they have, to see how far they could push before the roof would collapse in. Who else can say they’ve not done this? We all have, as children when we push the limits of our parents love with cries for more and more attention.

Yet it is in our nature to evolve, isn’t it? We should be seeking validation from within to confirm our own standing in this world, yet that’s easier said than done. Somewhere along the way, our brains evolved to keep us safe by running simulations of possibility to risk assess our lives. Sometimes, these simulations spill into our actions and before we know it we have our performance. A live production of shit to see if our audience is still there or if they left in the interval, distracted by a better show.

“So if you have a true perception of how things lie, abandon any concern for reputation, be satisfied if you can just live the rest of your life, whatever remains, in the way your nature wishes. You must consider, then, what those wishes are, and then let nothing else distract you. You know from experience that in all your wanderings you have nowhere found the good life – not in logic, not in wealth, not in glory, not in indulgence: nowhere. Where then is it to be found? In doing what man’s nature requires. And how is he to do this? By having principles to govern his impulses and actions. What are these principles? Those are good and evil – the belief that nothing is good for a human being which does not make him just, self-controlled, brave, and free: and nothing evil which does not make him the opposite of these.” – Meditations 8.1

Need clarity on a circumstance? Seek it out. Abandon the performance because the show shouldn’t go on so step from the stage. Get a closer look at your audience you will see an ocean of faces: your face.

Z3N0