It is rarely as good as you think it must be, or as bad as you fear it will be.
The hours, the days, they come, and they go. But the moment – it lasts forever.
If there is no light, then there is no dark.
I have fallen into the dark; I have become despair, doubt, infinite dread.
The dark says, ‘Turn your back on the light, there is no hope there; the closer you are permitted to come to the light, the further you will inevitably fall. Stay here, on the bottom, for in the end, all is doubt, fear, death, nothingness.’
The dark says the light is but an ideal, one that you can never reach, and thus one that will always fail you.
And I answer: ‘If light is an ideal, then you must be as well. To turn my back on one demands I turn my back on the other. You say it is folly to choose the light for it is an ideal, but then surely it is also folly to choose you.’
And the dark shudders, and spits me from its maw.
In the distance a tiny light flickers.
Caught between two ideals; I walk towards the dancing light.
Trust is the silent energy fuelling any healthy relationship; you truly appreciate it once it is broken, for the silence is replaced with the screeching deafening noise of its fragmented and metastatic parts, circulating like screaming cancerous tumours through the withering and dying relationship, illustrating with crystal moral clarity the following truth: trust is the relationship and the relationship is trust. You risk it all if you take trust for granted; nurture and cultivate it as dearly and attentively as you would a developing child, for in effect, you will be nurturing and cultivating not only your relationship, guiding its development from birth to maturity, but, as any dedicated and caring parent knows, developing yourself as well.
Train the mind to dwell in the fraction of a moment after a conscious experience but before the naming of it. There the ego has yet to form; there salvation from the self can be found.
Laurels are the sled at the mountain’s top. Rest too long your weary legs, and unawares you will find yourself at the bottom looking up.
Each path a life; the worn and barely used alike. The majority of your fellow travellers rarely, if ever, escape their guiding illusions, their paths crisscrossing the world, forming wide corridors and highways of frenzied activity, leading nowhere. They may have tread many more an empty mile than you, but in your stubbornness and reluctance to step off the curb, in your relentless pursuit of self-awareness, you have actually made the longer journey.
Just for this moment be in the present; you have the rest of the day to tell yourself the story of your life.
A sure sign of intelligence, maturity, and self-confidence is the willingness to change one’s beliefs in the light of new evidence and considerations.
Immediate thoughts after meditation session:
For a brief time I was able to invert the common experience of consciousness being located behind the face and in the middle of the head. I was able to expand the location of consciousness to fill the four walls within which I was seated. I am still pondering this phenomenon. I wonder, if consciousness is a type of software running on the hardware of the brain, a software that models reality, incorporating images and concepts and relations. Does it make sense to assume it must exist somewhere? Sure, consciousness depends on the brain, but it is composed of non-material entities and categories (or so it seems – a claim very difficult for a materialist such as myself to digest), and as such, does not from necessity need to reside anywhere. If consciousness is not a material thing, it cannot be located anywhere. Is consciousness a realm of reality unto itself? And if not, how could the material realm produce such an illusion?
I opened my eyes at the end of the session and looked at my field of vision (a brown leather couch, a bookshelf to my left, a world map directly ahead, lamp and black side table), and was able to understand that this view was being created in my mind, and I was aware of it in the arena of consciousness. Though the software seamlessly makes me think those things which I see are out there in front of my eyes, and I am here, at a node where light waves reflected from those objects converge (which indeed, I think is safe to say, is an accurate description of the physics involved), I was able to grasp the experience of conscious awareness of this field of vision more fully, more accurately. That is, the images ARE NOT OUT THERE, but are in my mind, and I am consciously aware of those images. This deceptively simple realization was hard to achieve, and lasted only moments, but it was real and, I believe, accurate.
The greatest gift you can give another is a piece of your deepest self.
Not your time. Not your money; but something more precious still.
Is it understanding, or compassion, or attention that you offer? Is there a word bringing these together?
That piece you offer freely, that is the gift. You offer without reservation. You say ‘Do with it as you will’, though, of course, you hope and trust the other treads lightly.
And that’s the risk you take…
…and the pain you can inflict.
There is little to build upon moving forward when the second time around is the same as the first.
The ornaments look lovely but they’re pulling down the branches of the tree. – Cake, from ‘Love You Madly’
Woe the moment a material purchase becomes the highlight of your year.
Heed not too quickly the disapproving gaze, it may be the clearest proof yet you are on the correct way.
I’d rather fail a thousand times, before succeeding at something I despise.
By showing up with hope to help others, I’m guaranteed that hope is present. Then my own hope increases. By creating hope for others, I end up awash in the stuff. – Anne Lamott
ILLUSTRATION BY ELEANOR DAVIS
Read her beautiful article in National Geographic’s October 2018 issue.
What did you want to be as a kid? I ask you – myself – what did you want to be as a kid?
Did you want to be a slave to your obsessions? To your insecurities? Did you want to feel trapped inside your own mind? Did you pine to be, just simply long to be, an outsider, misunderstood by others, misunderstanding them in turn? Did you wish to lose yourself?
If not these noble dreams, then what?
Maybe you didn’t formulate it. Maybe you failed to think it through. Think of it at all.
Youth was great. We were the lucky ones. I was a lucky one.
Strength of spirit and endless optimism and boundless hope. Enjoying life as it came, sharing experiences with friends and family.
Hikes and canoe trips and watching TV on Mom’s bed.
Oh, the antics and joyful shit devised with friends!
Shooting hoops outside and swimming in freezing pools. We didn’t need vacation. I didn’t need vacation. It was all – all – right there.
No. Not all.
I remember like yesterday walking my street alone, or with a buddy, in the early morn, on the way home. Sometimes drunk, yet always completely sober. And dreaming of nothing, and of everything. This, this whole world was mine, and I loved it, and it loved me.
The stars were so bright on these nights. And when not, then only for the light of the full moon, lighting the gray road and loose stones of the shoulder.
Yellow dashed and solid lines. Black threads of tar filling cracks. Can you feel it? The roughness of the asphalt and the gummy tar and the smooth paint of the dividing line as you slowly jog barefoot down the middle of the road?
This was my road, illuminated by my stars, and the moon, the moon was my deepest friend, my….confidant. And I was so aware, so very aware, of myself, and my feet on the solid ground.
The houses housed guests asleep in my world. I was content they were there. Live and let live. And they let me live.
As did my mother. She let me live. And my father. He let me live. Hell, they encouraged it…life…and me, in whom they had faith. And my sister too. Perhaps she came to see I was a viciously free spirit, stubborn, passionate. Arrogant. Oh so arrogant! Not with aggression, nor malice, nor sickening self-pride.
But arrogance in my optimism and self-confidence. And why not? For me, I was the king of my world, this sleeping, trodden street.
On my road. On my road. Arrogant happiness and naivety. Walking on my road. Ask me anything. ‘What would I like to be?’ HAHA. What a silly question. Can’t you see, I am content right here?
What did you want to be as a kid?
In all honesty: nothing precise. Nothing defined. The wind perhaps. Yes, that’ll do.
I wanted but to remain in that blissful state, forever.
It was all right there.
And now the roads are all foreign. The stars, well they don’t shine as bright. And my feet don’t trust the shifting ground.
I say live and let live, but I don’t understand the rules of life.
And I have a family, kids, a wife. I have a job, a car, responsibilities.
Football games and bush-craft.
And I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.
Well, maybe one thing: to have it all as I have it now, but to have me included. Yes. Me included.
But who am I? I am here, in this form, behind these walls, writing these words. But a part of me is back there. On that road. Where it all made sense.
A part of me walks that road every single night.
A part of me has never left.
Optimism. Unbridled hope.
What do I want to be?
My answer: nothing. But to have that peace again, in whole. To see those stars again, as bright. To be guided by that moon again, back home. To find me again, barefoot, on solid ground.
I am going to make you see the world as I do, even if that means beating it into you.
Arrogance is bad. Arrogance grounded in ignorance is even worse.
Independence may be a defense from the truth, a form of self-righteousness and silent arrogance.
Don’t seal yourself from the world, and claim superiority.
We may be our own worst (or forgiving) judges, yet removed from the tempering wisdom found only in human contact, our judgments lack facts.
A mind turned inward fails to recognize its reflection in the arena of social interaction.
The eye can’t see itself.
No one is an island.