Another Day and Love Abides

I drove to the city and met up with Seth, where we hung out in his room and talked, then grabbed dinner at B Star on Clement. We spoke about work, relationships, life, and how I should proceed with Gabriela. He recommended I talk to her, that that’s the only thing I can do, tell her how I’m feeling, tell her what’s on my mind, and talk until it’s worked itself out, or it doesn’t, and either way there will be resolution. I decided this was sound advice, that I’d given her a few days of space, the weekend to spend with her family. I know she’s busy when she’s home, attending to all the relatives and friends who vie for the attention of this professional ballet artist.

When I returned home last night I called her. She was out with her friend Delia, and I told her I’d call her when she was getting ready for bed. We spoke for about 25 minutes. She told me how her family was, how her brothers and nieces and nephews were doing, how her friends were. It was the usual pleasantries, very light hearted and easy going, with smiles and laughter. I asked when she returns home, and she said she’ll be returning at 9:40pm tomorrow evening. I told her I’d pick her up. She said I didn’t have to. I said of course I don’t have to, I want to, I’ve been missing her, and she’s been gone a long while. She said it wouldn’t be healthy and she knows I have work early the next day. I said I’ve been missing her and I don’t mind at all and I want to, and that even if it’s for 30 minutes I’d be so happy to see her. That was that, and the conversation moved on. She had to wake up early to get a workout in before she did a video shoot with a government agency that licenses ballet instructors. She would be the model used in the instructional videos. We said our goodnights and hung up.

I miss her. I keep pouring over all pictures of us, all the pictures she’s sent me over the past two years, and I can’t help but reflect on how much I failed to appreciate her consistency. It’s something I took for granted. She didn’t have boundaries, and the whole while that’s all I really wanted her to erect, boundaries for herself, and boundaries for me. I didn’t like hurting her, and I didn’t like her hurting me. But healthy boundaries are a good thing as we negotiate our needs and learn about the other person’s needs.

I love her. I miss her. I want us to work things out. I keep suppressing any fears that this is over in her mind. I can’t let myself believe it. Sometimes they rear their head, and tell me she’ll continue biding time until she leaves for London, that she’ll do the minimum from here on out. I don’t even care to be honest. She’s free. I just want to enjoy my time with her as long as I have her, and show her just how much she means to me, and how much I love her, until it’s irresistible, and we find each other again. I want my love to be seductive and savoring and addictive and safe and comfortable, with no strings attached, with my ultimatums, which is what my ego wants. It wants ultimatums: decide to marry me now or say goodbye, my heart can’t take it. But that’s not love.

And in the end, this isn’t about the Royal Ballet of London, or another guy in London who seduced her for a night or two. This is between her and I, and the love we share, and the relationship we’re healing and mending and working on. I can’t forget that. It’s not about anyone or anything but us, her and I, my love for her, my selfless devotion, my earnest desire to please her.

In this process I must remain healthy, and keep my focus on activities and thoughts that continue to uplift me and improve who I am. I cannot ruin myself trying to “win” her back. That would be self-defeating. I must greet each day with appreciation and thankfulness, and be grateful for the interactions she share that make life better.

I miss her. I think of her every day. I always have. Even when I didn’t want to. I can’t stop looking up memories of her, photographs of our adventures together, of our selfies to one another, of the sweet words we’d exchange in loving affection.

I know she loves me, and I know I love her. This is obvious. What’s not obvious is whether we will learn to completely accept each other, flaws and all.

I know who she is. I know who she is not. I accept her. I hope that when all this is done, she can do the same for me, and recognize that I want to be better for her.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of two people waiting for the other. We have our goals, we have our dreams, we have our impatient desires. The person we choose we choose to wait for, no matter where they are. Real love, true love, abides.

That Love Abides.

“Love never fails” – it abides. 

When a child has been gone all day among strangers and thinks he ought to go home but is afraid to go alone and yet really wants to stay as long as possible, it says to an older one, who perhaps prefers to go sooner, “Wait for me”; and the older one does what the child asks. When one of two colleagues is somewhat more advanced than the other, the latter says, “Wait for me”; and the first one does as asked. When two persons have rejoiced over a decision to take a trip together, but one of them gets sick, the sick one says, “Wait for me”; and the other person does as requested. When one who owes another man money cannot pay, he says, “Wait for me”; and the other man does as asked. When a girl in love sees that there will be great and perhaps prolonged difficulties in the way of her union with the beloved, she says to him, “Wait for me”; and the lover does as asked.

Perhaps the time of waiting is too brief to make completely clear the extent to which the determination of one’s waiting deserves decisively to be called love. Alas, perhaps the time of waiting was so long that the older one said to the child, “No, I can’t wait for you any longer”; perhaps the slower one moved so slowly that the one ahead said, “No, I can’t wait for you any longer; I must travel alone”; perhaps the prospect of union with the young girl remained so remote that the lover said, “No, now I can no longer wait for you; I owe it to myself and my life not to put things off year after year for this uncertainty.” – But love abides.

Kierkegaard, Works of Love, p. 281 (Harper-Perennial: 2009)

Thoughts Running Nowhere

My thoughts continue to think on Gabriela.

I just want to call her and talk to her. Hear her voice. Have her tell me she loves me. I want to buy her a ticket to come to Charleston with me next week and spend time together with the family.

My heart just pounds in my chest. Adrenaline courses through my veins. My amygdala is working overtime. Anxiety is through the roof. I can barely breath at times. My thoughts find themselves with Gabriela. Day dreaming. Where was this the past two years? Why did I feel so trapped when I was with her? Why didn’t I appreciate the feeling she gave me? Why did I run? Why didn’t I love her with abandon? Why did I protect myself so fiercely? Was that the right thing to do?

I bought her a new yoga bag, a picture frame, a candle, a photo album of all our pictures I put together, a new pair of ballet booties to keep her feet warm. I got her a lightbulb to replace the one that went out in her bathroom.

I need to have an extra key made for her. I need to ask for a key to her apartment again. We need to be together again. I want that.

I regret not seeing her and her mother when they visited. I regret not going to London with her. I regret not seeing her more often. I regret not making more plans with her. I regret not being more patient and vulnerable and loving.

I lay in bed, when I should be working. I lay in bed and type this with the hope that it’ll alleviate the pain and anxiety and heartache.

Do I pour my heart out to her? Do I keep it in? Do I play it cool and rational? I’m at odds with myself. “Self control” the voice inside me implores. “You are not your feelings. You are hurt, and you are desperate. You want to act impulsively to assuage the pain and fear of losing someone. She was never yours. She has always been free. If she is willing to see potential, she will return. But that is not for you.” This voice speaks to me with logic.

But there is another voice. “Run to her, do not let her go, do not let her forget your love. It’s not about getting hurt. The hurt will be there regardless. She needs your love, she needs to feel your presence, your patience, your tenderness. You have withheld that from her for too long. Now is not the time to protect yourself. It is the time to love her, and show her love.”

What voice do I heed?

What to do

I haven’t been able to work today. I worked maybe 30 minutes. I don’t know how to cope with these feelings of G being absent, and at the prospect of us not being together again. I can only think of the good things we shared, and my mind represses all the frustrations I experienced when we were together. I think I was slowly accepting parts of her and began to embrace who she was. Or maybe all the while she was drifting, and that increased my attraction to her, until she was gone.

I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. Do I text her? Do I reach out? We decided on Friday to give each other space. When do I call her? Should I call her? Is that what’s best? Or is this time what’s best, this space, to figure things out? I feel that so much is unresolved. My fear is that this space is allowing her to repress her feelings for me, to justify her decision was sound. I regret so many of the ways I handled our relationship. Why? I was cold. I was insensitive. I was ruthless at times. I hurt her because I was protecting myself. My ego comes in and begins to run the show, totally hijacking the mind and relegating the heart to some hardened cold thing. Every advance she made I would burn her with silence or a cold retort, some matter of fact response that I know must have hurt her.

I can’t get my mind straight.

I mean, of course I can. I am struggling if I want to. I keep thinking of her, indulging. I go on apps and look at women and my heart is preoccupied. I have nothing to give anyone else. It’s been this way for a long while, since I’ve known her. But at least I could think straight. Now these feelings have invaded my rational mind, and my heart is in the drivers seat, and I feel helpless.

Of course I know I’m not. I know that every day will get better. I know that I need to stop indulging, stop romanticizing. I keep writing things I’d like to say to her, promises I’d make, memories I’ve had, plans I want to share with her, commitments I want to make. This doesn’t help. I just keep ruminating.

Is it my ego? Of course it is. I’ve been rejected. It doesn’t feel nice. It feels horrible. And I know I’ve done this to her countless times the past year. Why now? Why now am I reeling in pain? It’s like, if there was ever a time to detach, this would be it? Is it because there’s a voice in the back of my mind that tells me that she’ll be gone forever, that letting her go will mean there is no more future, no more hope? Perhaps. Why this time?

My hope is that we’ll talk, and we’ll decide to do things differently. That this episode has awakened a care and commitment within us that we cherish differently than ever before, and created a respect about the need for eachother to be more delicate when handling our relationship.

My hope is that we’ll talk and we’ll agree that we cannot live without each other, and that no matter what happens, we’ll never get to this point again. My hope is that we’ll accept what we can’t change in each other, and work through the rest.

I don’t know how to work in situations like this. My mind is in agony.

I mean, it’s not. But it is. It is because I allow it to be, because of this hope that simmers at the edge of my consciousness, a hope that my heart is holding onto.

I look at other women, and I feel nothing. I feel sexual attraction, but no emotional attraction. I am closed, reserved for G, and this is the way it has been. She frustrates me to no end. And I’ve never been able to find ways to cope, although I’ve done better with her than any other. She’s impatient, she’s emotionally unstable, she’s stubborn and irrational, she can be mean and nasty, she’s never on time, she takes forever to do anything, her life revolves around ballet, and I feel like my life revolves around that. I rarely feel like she’s capable of thinking what’s best for me, or my feelings. Although, I’ve noticed she’s been trying and very sensitive to trying the past many months. I noticed she is listening and does pay attention. I know she’s changed quite a bit. I know she’ll always be herself, always be spoiled and difficult, and may not show appreciation, and just expect things from people.

My greatest fear throughout our relationships was that I never felt appreciated, never felt that I was enough. I always felt that I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn’t. So it exhausted me, and that’s when I’d just stop. But I also knew, although it was very hard to see and believe sometimes, that she loved me, and that she needed me.

She was too needy most of the time. Too demanding. Too jealous. Too insecure. This drove me away.

If I was more patient, I would have embraced these flaws. But at what expense?

This was always the dialog within. At what point do I just continue to take it? Continue to let her treat me this way, even if she didn’t mean it? How do I look past it, and not react, not take is personal? It was always a difficult thing to do.

Although the past year I’ve put some pretty massive boundaries around myself, preventing her from reaching me, and hurting me, and demanding things from me, recently I was entering a new stage of acceptance, where I began to look past those things. Or thing is what I remember anyway. My heart was softening, and I began to react less, and have more patience. No, this wasn’t perfected, but I wanted to work on it. I began embracing the idea that she was my friend, and that we would be together, and I would just have to accept her no matter what. This made things easier. Though I think I still struggled with coldness and insensitivity, and had too much tough love.

What should I do? I’m not sure. I know I need to give her space, though that’s not what I want to do right now. I want to extinguish this painful fire raging within me. I’m not sure how. Would her verbal reassurances make this better? Would her commitment to love me and work things out assuage my pain? I’m not sure.

I know I need to let go, let my heart be at peace. This is what I need. I need peace. I need clarity. I will have peace and I will have clarity.

It’s just that my mind keeps running and running, romanticizing. It wants to reach out to her and tell her how much I love her, how much I need her, how much I want to work things out.

The ego is the source of all pain, all suffering, all attachment to the things that will inevitably change and leave us.

The ego. I know this ego, and I wish I could control it better, I wish I was more self aware.

I am at peace. Life is good. I enjoy my job. I enjoy my coworkers. Living in the bay is nice. I should get out and socialize more, I should embrace people more, I should see opportunities all around me.

This is an opportunity to start fresh, to start anew.

I would like to move out of my apartment. My new roommate is borderline psycho. Part aspergers, and many other issues. Every conversation is a conflict, when I just mean to communicate. He’s defensive, and gets upset when we discuss normal household responsibilities, like keeping things clean. He becomes visible upset and short and even angry. He says weird things. When he told me his sister passed away from suicide, I told him how sorry I was, and that I could relate, because I had two friends pass away from suicide. He told me “It’s not a competition.” I was like, no, I was just explaining that I can relate to the pain. Many other weird things as well.

I’d like to move out. I’d ideally like to find a place with Gabriela and continue this journey with her as two people who love each other, who want to sort through the difficulties and make it work.

This season is painful, but it’s just a season, and like all seasons, it will pass. Although the colors are muted, and the sounds are dull, although sensations are gray and the mind is small, these things will restore in time, and joy will appear again, first in small ways, in the way the breeze wraps around my body, in the way the sun refracts off a glass and splinters into a rainbow, illuminating a sign of hope. My heart will levitate again as I move more often, and stretch more freely, when the legs of my imagination begin to wander and move me to new places, and my eyes open and see new things, new possibilities. I must wait, and be patient. I must exercise hope that there will be better days, better than I can imagine, better than I have now. There is always a new day. There is always a new month, a new year. There is always a new season, with new sights and sounds and smells and sensations to infatuate my being.

Wait

Wait, for now.

Distrust everything if you have to.

But trust the hours. Haven’t they

carried you everywhere, up to now?

Personal events will become interesting again.

Hair will become interesting.

Pain will become interesting.

Buds that open out of season will become interesting.

Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;

their memories are what give them

the need for other hands. The desolation

of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness

carved out of such tiny beings as we are

asks to be filled; the need

for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.

Don’t go too early.

You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.

But no one is tired enough.

Only wait a little and listen:

music of hair,

music of pain,

music of looms weaving our loves again.

Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,

most of all to hear your whole existence,

rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Galway Kinnell – 1927-2014

Day by Day

I’m laying in bed typing on my laptop. The pain is still chronic, and at the moment, specifically acute, as I think about the past two years with G, the up and downs, and why I’m feeling this way.

Why all the sudden do I feel this pain so deeply? I had been so callous previously, so cold and able to detach. What makes this so different? Is it because somewhere, deep inside, I feel that she is moving on, that she’s no longer attached to me as she once was? In the past, I had left her. This time, she’s the one leaving me.

I left her in the past because she was intolerable and moody and mean and overall miserable, despite my attempts to push through it. She just wasn’t a pleasant person. I usually kept it inside, until the resentment build, and I just removed myself.

May 2018 and December 2018 we broke up. In December, it was more permanent in my mind. I detached and I don’t think we spoke for over a month and a half, until we texted and I came to watch her perform.

Then we started talking again, but I had created this distance, like I didn’t want to be back with her. I pushed her away and dated other women while we spoke. All the while she hung in there, pouring her heart out to me, trying her best to show me patience. I did watch a transformation, a kind of desperation to get back together. She did change, and it began changing the way I felt about us. I wanted us to work, but there were things holding me back, concerns that I held onto.

But now something is different. She’s the one detaching. I feel it in my bones. Every day I wake up with a massive hole in my chest, and I don’t know why. You’d think this is what I wanted for so long, for her to move on. But I guess it’s my ego? I guess since it’s not on my terms I’m suddenly emotionally vulnerable and tender? It’s a horrible pain. Its a horrible feeling of isolation and loneliness. I know how I must have made her feel so many times, for so many months. I was cruel and ruthless, but she held on, so I ask myself, should I hold on? Or am I not looking at this the right way? Should I let go and just be free, and realize all the potential around me?

I haven’t been able to feel for anyone since I’ve known Gabriela. I haven’t been able to open myself to anyone. Sure, I’ve dated a few women, but I think I wasn’t able to open up with them, so those relationships died.

Gabriela called and called, texted and texted. Now she’s silence. Now she’s the one who wants space, and all the sudden I’m in pain. Its weird. Why can’t I be happy? Why can’t I let her go? Of course I can let her go. And I should, in an effort to protect myself.

I think we could work everything out, and find a new compromise. But she’s dead set on auditioning for the Royal Ballet in July, where they will be visiting to perform. And the guy she hooked up with will be there. So she says she’s done with me. Or she says she’s confused. I don’t know what she wants. I don’t think she wants to be with me anymore. Or maybe she doesn’t want to be together while she’s got this new found dream of hers, and the hope she’ll be able to move to London to dance there.

Either way I’m very confused. I should not be in pain. But I love her. I’ve always loved her, even though I pushed that love away and repressed it.

I put together a photo album of us and ordered it. It’ll arrive July 5th. She comes home June 26th or so from Mexico, where’s she’s at now visiting her family.

I’ll see her for a few days, maybe. I’m not sure if she wants to see me, and I’m not sure if it’s good for me to see her. But I will anyway, until she says she doesn’t want to see me, until she pushes me away for good.

Then I’ll be in Charleston for a week with my family. Then I return. Then she’ll be going to Los Angeles to audition for the Royal Ballet. Or, she’ll be seeing the guy she’s been having this affair with. Perhaps that’s what’s most painful. I never had feelings for anyone but G the past two years, and there’s a part of me that she’s got feelings for someone else. I don’t care much, but yes, I do. My ego, perhaps? Or maybe the realization that as long as I’m emotionally attached to her, I’ll be in pain if she’s the one to end it, even if it’s on my term.

I went to yoga yesterday, and I’ll probably go again tonight. It was rejuvenating. I worked out the past two days, and plan to work out again today.

I haven’t been eating much. Haven’t had the appetite. So I’ve been more or less intermittent fasting, eating lunch and dinner within a six hour window, from like 12 to 6, and then not eating until lunch again.

I need to get in shape, and I need to channel this pain into something useful. The gym, writing, work. I need to find ways to get this pain out of me, distract myself. I need to stop looking at photos of G and romanticizing our relationship, and hoping for a future. That’s where the pain comes in. I need to let go.

But then I tell myself I shouldn’t do that. I should just accept the love I have for her, and just live my life. If it’s meant to be, it will be. If I meet someone else, I meet someone else. I should try to live my life. I should try to move on, and repress any idea of her. But I do love her. It’s okay. That love will be there always. I just need to practice self control, and not let my feelings rule me. This pain is acute. It is harsh. It is heavy. It is chronically pressing down upon my chest.

Now I’m the one suffering, like she did for so long, and she’s happy and able to move on.

Life is ironic. I can’t win.

Why I Read

I read to expand my mind. My ability to think is limited to my imagination. The heart produces the action, the mind the material.

Each narrative provides a landscape of resources to utilize. These resources provide us the tools and material to construct coherent thoughts.

Each books contains not only content, but form. Content is the building material. Form is the style in which it is build, which not only informs the aesthetic, but the integrity of our ideas.

When I pick up a book and begin reading, my subconscious is poised with questions, ready to grab hold of every idea that resonates.

I capture sentences and store them deep in my mind, cataloguing them with their sisters and brothers hard at work building the cathedral of my world paradigm.

Poetry produces metaphors of feeling that render ideas meaningful, by transcending the habituated way we look at the world.

Every book is a vessel filled with ideas of different shapes and size that, when plucked and laid out before me, I choose at will to utilize in my own constructions. Yes I want those ideas to fit together within the authors intended message, but I’m more interested in how that message fits within the monuments of knowledge built within my own mind. I must make those ideas my own, riveting them to my own house, and now just admiring them from a cold distance.

Everything can be used to build a better mind. Every experience, every feeling, every conversation, every book.

Why do books stand out? Because they provide static, enduring ideas that can be repeatedly impressed in the mind at will.

Our mind is like clay. It hardens when we cease wondering, and find ourselves content with the hut we’ve already build. For those with insatiable imaginations, no hut will be sufficient to store all the dreams that accumulate day and night. For those minds, there must be ample space to extend the imagination, kingdoms to house the endless flow of feeling that stirs the mind to collect and fashion new knowledge and build the complex theater of inner life.

With every gasp of wonder, every glimpse of curiosity, we pose a question to the world, and create a space for impressions. We maintain this space for as long as possible, gathering information to repeatedly impress on our mind, until this clay has definite shape and form for its intended purpose.

I gather information like I gather berries or hunt for sustenance, exploring the wilderness, venturing outside my domain, beyond the castle of certainty, through the brush that pricks at my skin, where terrifying darkness and monsters lurk. I collect this sustenance until my mind cannot sustain my legs, and I bring it back to my homestead where I can fashion it into something useful. Once the wilderness has been penetrated, it becomes familiar, so that I can travel there blind if needed, and the darkness no longer seems to matter. The monsters transform into neighbors, some to be avoided, others to befriend.

Books fill me with delight. They cast new light on old ideas.

Readers are miners, and thinkers are architects. Those with heart build.

You cannot build without material, and you cannot build lasting structures without the right material. The quest is the search for as much of the right material as possible.

There is one book I’ve only skimmed, that I’m dying to read. This happens to be most of my books, but this book in particular, as I have it out in view for me to see as often as possible, to goad me into picking it up again. The title is “The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain” by Terrence W. Deacon.

The reason this book has captured my attention is due to my fascination with language and symbols, which are the very essence of thinking. These are the tools in which we communicate and establish ideas and knowledge between humanity and the world. How did it happen that humans evolved language whereas all other animals stopped at communication?

Language and symbols cannot exist without memory, but there is something deeper, some deeper structure within the brain that takes those memories, and organizes them into logical associations that other minds can infer meaning from.

Language and symbols are what culture is made of, what frames the mind and attitudes of a collective.

It’s not the time to dive into too much detail. I have to work. I’ve worked only a few hours today. But I wanted to mention it to reinforce within myself the desire to read the book, and think more on this subject.

The mind is a reflection of the culture which nurtured it.

If we can understand how this culture came to be, we may understand the mind a little better.

Light of my Life

LIGHT

The night has a thousand eyes,

The day but one;

Yet the light of the bright world dies

With the dying Sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,

And the heart but one;

Yet the light of a whole life dies

When its love is done.

Francis W. Bourdillon

I don’t want the light of my life to die.

It won’t be the first, and it won’t be the last. But I am fearful that this love will never return.

My heart is heavy.

Perhaps this is what I wanted all along, perhaps G wasn’t the one for me, and no matter how things turned out, this is what’s best. I could message her, but I told her I would give her space, and for both our benefit, I will.

Dear G,

I just think back to the past six months to how you must have felt at various times, the uncertainty, the loneliness, the feelings of rejection. Every time you poured your heart out to me, and I would read your words, and my heart held back. I think of all the times my hardened heart pained you. I know every moment, I know every instance. I know because I restrained myself from feeling and reciprocating. I see us as the same person, with the same love, the same struggles, the same insecurities. I see me in you. I always have, and that is what drew me to you, another spirit like my own, difficult and anxious and driven and full of love and wonder for the world. I felt us go back and forth with our affections. When I was close, you pushed me away. When you were close, I pushed you away. We’re birds of the same feather.

Anyone who is close to me knows how difficult it is to get close. Everything needs to be on my terms to protect myself. It’s not a conscious thing. It’s something I notice after the impulse is there. Giving into this impulse is easiest. Holding back, and keeping myself open in hard. 

In my heart I know that I loved you more than anyone I have ever loved before. It was a pure love, because I allowed myself to open even when it hurt. Everyone that knows me knows that I loved and adored you. I hated the vulnerability, because I suffered for it. 

We suffer for the things we love. 

We must choose our sufferings. 

I wanted to end things with you. I wanted to push you out and keep you out. I didn’t want to hurt. But when there was no hurt, there was no love, and I was alone, I was numb. 

I allowed myself to fall in love with you, because there was something between us that persisted beyond the initial romance and lust. Even though you hurt me, I wanted to love you. 

I am a difficult person. Very difficult. Impossibly difficult. I am complex. I am insensitive. I am hard. I am cold. I can be ruthless. 

But on the inside I am a boy, who wants to be accepted no matter how bad he is, who wants to be loved no matter what he does. On the inside my heart and mind gush with love and affection for anyone who will accept me. I am a dreamer who fantasizes about ideals and visions of feeling and a future of beauty. I romance with the world, I long for daring adventure, I want to be a hero to serves and saves those in need. I’m a little boy who gets lost in thoughts and feelings, and when I wake all I want is a loving heart to embrace me, and tell me they’ve been waiting for me to return, that they’ve missed me, that I mean something to someone. 

I’ve always loved you. Yes I have regrets. I have lessons. 

Throughout our relationship I wondered if I could find this love with someone, but without the hurt. I realized slowly, perhaps too slowly, that there is no love without sufferings. Those we love we also hate, because of the hurt we feel by them, whether they meant it or not. The ego protects us. It kills hope, it kills desire, it draws boundaries, it keeps things out and you in. It finds reasons to hate, reasons to detach. It records all the wrongs of others as a reminder to not trust and not open up. The ego is powerful for good and bad.

I don’t know what’s happening with us Gabriela.

I know you don’t either. 

I know this hasn’t been easy for either of us. You have needs, I have needs. Whether we meet each other’s needs is a decision to love, in spite of ourselves. 

I can’t erase the pain, as much as I want to. I can’t erase the past.

But I can decide to stop looking back.

I don’t know what will happen with us. Neither of us do. 

I shouldn’t be writing you now. But this is what’s on my heart. I can protect myself, and bury it in my journal, or I can communicate it with you.

I think of all the times you tried reaching out to me, to tell me you needed me. I’m sorry I was cold. My boundaries were high. 

What do I want? I don’t want perfect. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. I cannot expect that in anyone. I am good enough, and you are good enough. I know you’re someone I could live with forever. I know that even though you’re difficult and needy and impatient and emotional, that I love you anyway. I love you in spite of those things. 

The most vulnerable thing I can admit is that I don’t want to lose you, that I feel that I need you. 

Admitting that and meaning it makes me shake all over. What if her feelings will never be the same? What if her love is just an ember?

I want to fuel our ember and making a passionate raging fire of love again. 

So you met someone else. This thought is devastating, because of the fear that my love will fall on deaf ears, that it will mean nothing to you.

But life goes on.

Hope causes us suffering. Love is hope.

The best thing I can do is give space. It is difficult, because I want security. I want reassurances. Just like you do. 

But there are no reassurances in life. We live by faith.

I am terrified of thinking of you with someone else, pained that your heart may move for another, crushed when I think of a physical romance with anyone but me. 

This is life. I will endure. Life will go on. The pain will rise and the pain will fall. And new a season will begin in time. The leaves of change will turn one morning and the world will be different, and there will be new hopes and new loves. 

What do I want? I want a family with someone I can count on. Is that you? I want it to be you. Though, everything is uncertain now. Things may be different. We may carry new hurts, and decide we don’t want to put them away, and use them to guard ourselves even more.

Or we can put it all down, and begin again new, with hope and faith and a renewed commitment to what is true, what will last, our love and devotion through thick and thin.

At this point I must let go and have faith. I must refrain from reaching out. I must gaze forward and ahead toward beautiful visions, and work towards them. I must forgive and be kind, I must embrace the pain and let go of the hurt, and say goodbye to this enemy of love.

With love, M

Sweating Flow Play

The underside of my body is moist as I lay in bed, and turn and toss to air my skin.

Summer is here, the insects drone outside my window in bursts of crescendoing stridulations.

My heart is heavy. Tight. My breathing shallow, as I think of this ongoing torment of hope and despair, mixed with intermittent detachment and peace, about the state of affairs between G and I. Where does this go? What is the best course of action? How do I protect myself, while conveying love? How do I shield myself from the reality that she’s speaking with another human, yet hold to the hope that the love she possesses for me is real and enduring enough to bring us together again?

I don’t know how to communicate my feelings. The anxious grasp at my throat is only alleviated by a deep detachment and apathy toward the situation, which serves to distance myself from affection and care. It becomes buried, and I move on. But then she reaches out, and her tone is softened, and she pulls me in, and I expose myself, in an effort to reciprocate the love and connection, only to feel an emotional absence on her end, an incomplete embrace of my heart, which serves to sear my insides all over again, leaving me bitter and short. I don’t want to entertain the reality that it’s over, and that this is a game, even if its a game she doesn’t want to play. It’s a game of reassurances.

But what’s the winning strategy? Do I relinquish my defenses and bow my head and accept whatever anguish awaits? Or do I draw a boundary around my heart, and stay vigilant to keep her tempting pleas away, and my true feelings inside?

I don’t know. The whole situation is confusing. Should I stay or should I go?

Or should I think on other things, and let the cards fall where they may?

Do I push her away for good? Or do I advance toward her unerringly with the conviction of love? Only to find that after a long emotional journey she is absent, or worse, with another?

Or do I remain calm and stoic, reply with kindness and love, but make no efforts to pursue? I’m thinking this is the best course of action, so long as I remain balanced, and prevent myself from becoming too anxious and advancing for sense of security outside my self.

I have all the peace within me. There is nothing outside me that can offer the peace and joy and love that transforms within my heart. I incubate all feelings with my thoughts, with my attention. It is my will that leads my head, and my head that leads my heart.

The heart is a poor guide. It is unreliable, yet effortless. There is no self control, no navigation. It takes you where it pleases, to all the warmth and coldness, to the peaks and the valleys, and once you’re on the journey, it’s difficult to find the head again, and steer the ship into calmer oceans of feeling.

My heart is encased in layers of breath. Each swelling emotion is pressed down again by these breaths until the layers of painful memories compile into something hard and callous and protective. Cracks appear as desire inflames the emotions and the heart swells beyond this protective enclosure, and when the inevitable pain arrives again, the process repeats, one breath at a time, one painful memory buried on top of the other, until the breathing smooths over every crease with hardness, and there is distant placid peace again.

I turn my eyes inward, toward the flowing fiery emotion that burns, and with the minds eye, begin shaping this soft material into beautiful imaginings, filled with whatever landscapes and people fill me with pleasure. The soft persistent pain coalesces and takes shape, and transforms into something pleasing and beautiful, and my heart lightens, and my breathing deepens. This is the creative spirit working within.

I come home from work, undress, and lay in bed, check my phone for hours, until I sleep, or eat, or decide to read, or write. The latter two don’t happen as often or as quickly as I’d like. This routine needs to change, but first a sense of presence needs to appear, to jolt me from the habituated trance to distract, to run from the moment, to avoid myself.

There are so many things I wish to think on in depth, topics to explore, endless byzantine models of the world that exist in various capacities within me, such as geometric models and maths and narratives. When my mind encounters these subjects in daily life, there is an endless swarm of connections and associations that materialize into webs of thinking which form a cohesive and clear picture of the topic. This experience is what motivates me to write in order to capture the grand cohesive beauty of my vision and understanding. It also motivates me to read, because this web does not extend forever, but blurs out of sight due to my ignorance of knowledge, which serves as the inspiration for further investigation and reading. If I don’t write, these webs eventually break and the threads unwind and snap until they’re an outline of my past thoughts. I want to capture each of these webs and place it to paper to study and trace the stunning patterns I observe in each.

I have thousands of books that surround me. I pick them up when my mind opens. There is a clarity produced by an inquisitiveness. My subconscious begins to ask questions, probe its shortcomings, and suddenly there is a space to absorb anything, and I want to reach for a book to fill that space.

My life is more or less good. It’s more or less however I choose to look at it each day. It is neither good or bad. I can think any which way I want about it. Of course I long for a different life, and so I long for different circumstances, and do my best to rationalize the string of events required to take place to transport me there, such as goals and actions.

I’ve been reading the book Flow, and I need to write out my thoughts on the matter, specifically as they relate to mindfulness. Is Flow mindfulness? Does it impede mindfulness? Run in contrast to it? I’m not quite sure. I’m inclined to believe Flow is better than mindfulness. It’s mindfulness with purpose, with direction. Mindfulness is wonderful. Each time I close my eyes and divert my gaze inward to the sensations and shadows of my thoughts, and shut myself from the world, I become mindful, by definition.

Flow is similar, but with intention, with captivation. The world is shut out, except for the sliver of focus reserved for the minds pleasure to play.

Gnaga

I haven’t been writing lately. It’s always the same excuse, but I know it’s just about habits. I spend my time doing countless other things.

One activity that I absolutely loathe is social media. I spend about 5-6 hours a day on my phone, according to my activity tracker.

I think of all the things this robs me of, the books I could have read, the essays or reflections I could have wrote, the things I could have learned, the activities. It pains me, yet I feel helpless. The self control required to abstain for long seems insurmountable. The phone is ever present, and everything is connected, so the slightest distraction is within reach at an effortless click or swipe.

There are worlds I’d like to explore, world’s that occupy my mind, and rivers of feeling I’d like to wade through in my heart. Both have been locked away and frozen over. Why don’t I visit them? I seem to avoid them, for some reason. I blame other distractions, be it the digital world, or relationships. I seem to find excuses.

Gabriela and I broke up. We’ve been broken up, of course, but this is more final, or so it seems. Of course I love her, and have loved her, and I’ve been pushing her away, trying to convince myself that our relationship is too complicated to ever work, our personalities too conflicted. Perhaps I am right. But her love for me was always obvious and deep, despite how conflicted we always seemed to be. That conflict drove me away, while her love and affection kept me close. I couldn’t completely shut her out, because her love penetrated me so deeply.

I’ve been there, but not like she wanted me there. She was and is very emotionally demanding. I was hoping my tough love would create boundaries and a new safe and healthy space for us both is coexist. But somewhere along the way, she claims she felt alone and beaten down, and the feelings she once possessed for me changed. She said she doesn’t have a switch to turn it back on.

I regret not being more emotionally attentive to her. I regret all the coldness and tough love and insensitivities I’ve shown her. All the days she asked to go dancing and I refused, or join her at the park on her day off, or see her when her mother and family visited, or even go to her with London.

When she went to London, she fell in love with the city and the Royal Ballet. She danced several performances, met the ballet dancers at the company, explored the city, visiting parks and museums and bars and cafe’s.

She also met a guy there, and they had an affair. This pains me deeply. I knew it the day it happened, because she wears she heart on her sleeve, and she can’t hide her feelings. She likely explored this enchanting city with this new man, a male ballet dancer at the Royal Ballet. He made an impact on her, she said. She met someone, she said. She’s made an emotional connection with him, which is hard for her, I know. But when it happens, its deep and sincere, which is why I’m so hurt, and demoralized. I’ve never been able to let myself feel for anyone else besides Gabriela. Yes, I’ve tried. I’ve tried to date, and I’ve slept with others, but I could not open myself up emotionally to anyone. Gabriela has, and this changes the way things are.

Our relationship was not great, but it could’ve been.

I contemplate how much I should care about this development, whether I should detach and preoccupy myself with life and my own dreams. This seems to be an emotional option. Yes, I’m in immense pain. My chest is tight and my breath is shallow. A pit exists whenever I think of her absence, and she is absent, not just physically, but emotionally. It was a switch. She was always present, most of the time too present, too needy, and this pushed me away. Not at first, and not always, but the past six months, since our breakup, I’ve created these large boundaries that kept her from getting too close, and shielded my vulnerability.

She no longer texts, she no longer asks how I am, she doesn’t say I love you, or I miss you. She’s absent.

When she returned this Sunday, I came over and she told me what happened, how she met someone else. The word’s sliced at my heart, and an emptiness set in. I didn’t react right away. I loved her, and this rendezvous in the enchanting city of London was nothing more than a mistake, a lapse in her judgement as she was swept up by her dreams in this new city, while another man poured his attention to her, which she had been missing from me.

She cried, tears streamed down her face as she explained her feelings changed for me. I understood all too well. I expected this to happen sooner. But I didn’t expect it to feel so definite. Her feelings had changed, and the way this made me feel was no doubt how I made her feel the past six months when I’d ignore her pleas for attention and reassurance of my love.

We kissed and had sex. It was unremarkable sex. I kept thinking of her with someone else, and this made her body feel like something strange and foreign to me. I came inside her, even though she asked me not to. I just wanted to fill her with me.

We continued talking, and it became apparent in our conversations that this affair was not simply a lapse due to lust, but something a little more. It made an impression on her. He was a someone to her.

This devastated me, and I lost my cool composure. I emotionally began to retreat, and quickly dressed to leave. She cried and came to me as I was about to walk out the door, and we hugged for awhile before I departed.

I was numb.

She texted me and I texted her back in hurt and anger, a flurry of incoherent impulses reflecting my hurt and betrayal, the same hurt and betrayal I’ve made her feel many times the past six months.

The next day my thoughts were clear. No matter what happened, I still loved her, and I she forgot what that love felt like, so I resolved to show her my love. After work I picked her up from the ballet, took her to The Palace of Fine Arts. We laid out blankets and had a picnic and drank wine. We went home after it began getting cold, stopped by whole foods market to pick up steaks and avocados for our favorite steak and guacamole dinner, and I picked up some snacks for her travels back to Mexico on Tuesday Morning.

When we got home she packed, I made dinner. We went to the drug store to get Plan B and UTI medication for her. I offered to drive her to the airport at 430am and she initially refused, but then said I could stay.

We went in bed, and as we laid there, I began caressing her, and kissing. And soon we began intense passionate affection. The most intense love making we’ve had.

I took her to the airport, and the next day she told me the flight was cancelled, and rescheduled for 9pm Tuesday.

I came over after work, and brought food for her.

We laid down and began caressing and kissing, and had the most intense passional love making sex for a second time. She orgasmed longer and louder and more intensely than ever before.

When I took her to the airport she began to tell me about her trip to London in more depth since her return two days ago. She explained her dreams, her desire to audition in LA when the Royal Ballet was visiting for a performance. She explained her magical feelings for the city, and the dreams she possessed since a child watching videos of the performers at the Royal Ballet. She read me the letter she wrote to the ballet director requesting to audition while they were in LA in a few weeks.

I kept thinking about this man, and I began to sulk, and she sensed it, and the love and intimacy we rekindled the past two days was suddenly cold again. She barely kissed me as we said our goodbyes. I texted her her safe travels and to enjoy her family, and she thanked me and encourged me to stay healthy and workout and keep pursuing my dreams. She thanked me for being so sweet and for the past two days, and the last text I sent was Love you. Always.

I think it’s best to refrain from reaching out. She knows my love. I know hers. She has a dream, and someone else has managed to reach her heart. I don’t think it will help her or I to gain clarity about moving forward, or how our relationship will ultimately unfold, or end.

So I will silence myself, and repress my feelings, compartmentalize the pain and longing, and redirect my attention to my daily life, my job, my books, my writing, and now that there is someone else in her life, however small his presence, perhaps I’m able to open myself up again, and find time to meet someone else.

Pain

I started to write last night before bed, but all I could muster was this heading: Pain.

So I shut my laptop, and set my mind off into space, where ethereal imaginings take shape into dreams that lift my spirits and transport my mind to soothing pleasures.

It’s Wednesday, and I haven’t worked much today. I’ve been procrastinating, in a sense. My mind is preoccupied, my heart is knotted. Gabriela and I broke up, officially.

In my mind we really broke up in December, and since then I’ve been extremely distant and cold, because I was emotionally exhausted from the first year and a half together. But she persisted, and recently I’ve beginning to have a change of heart.

Trying to distract myself from this gnawing emptiness/ pain that’s clenching at my insides. 

It’s amazing how emotional I can become. Like 0 to 100.

But I still feel numb. It’s weird. I could probably shut it off, and just totally detach. But there’s this part of me that doesn’t want to, or is afraid to, or enjoys the pain…

I know I can totally detach. But then it’s like gone. I’m afraid if I detach, I let her go and any possibility of things working out.But it’s likely way past that possibility anyway. 

It’s childhood issues. Tangled knots that I’m still working out. 

I hate playing the parent/childhood card, but I’ve gained some self awareness about these coping mechanisms.

It’s generational baggage. 

My parents were very detached growing up. 

I was raised to be completely self reliant. I was raised to not depend on anyone, not even my parents. 

Every time I did, the rug was pulled from under me.

Things that were given were taken without a moments notice. Love and warmth one moment was anger and coldness the next. 

I learned not to rely or depend on people for anything. 

It wasn’t a conscious development. 

When someone gives and then takes, the pain of that absent comfort leaves a deep impression. 

If you don’t want to suffer, do not attach yourself to people or things. Do not expect things from people. Do not rely on them for comfort, otherwise you will find yourself disappointed and alone. Better to comfort yourself. 

This is great in many respects. It taught me the power of self reliance and responsibility. 

The unfortunate consequence is that I’m detached and indifferent and often insensitive. 

In intimate relationships, this is confusing and disorienting. It’s not the way a healthy loving relationship should be. Dependency and communication are normal. 

I should be self aware to realize these things and change them. And I have in many respects. 

But my default is to push people away. My default is to create distance. 

This is not the sign of love.

But I have love. I have a lot of love. It only seems to be present on my terms, however. 

I don’t know how to undo this type of programming, other than to find someone who loves me enough to work through it. 

I think that’s what the ideal relationship does. They provide a safe space to cultivate a loving relationship, by challenging with patience and love and understanding.

I don’t mean to dramatize the whole thing. These are intimate facets of my being. I don’t know if there are other explanations I haven’t explored. 

Perhaps it’s not a helpful narrative. It’s just the best for explaining why I am this way, because it confuses me.

Her and I are extremely similar I this regard. Trauma bonding. 

People with similar backgrounds find each other, their coping mechanisms resonate. Sometimes this creates beautiful harmony, and sometimes discordant dissonance. 

Her father was an absent alcoholic. She’s developed similar coping mechanisms. 

She’s extremely emotionally needy. The first year of our relationship I poured myself into her, and basically felt like garbage. 

Then I had to draw boundaries, and we broke up. 

But she persisted. And I allowed her back into my life. 

The past six months she’s poured herself into me, and I was distant and hard to love. I created super large boundaries to protect myself. I didn’t want to be in a relationship like that, but she loved me and just persisted every day. 

The past month or so my heart was softening and I began reevaluating things. 

And just when I began to soften, and reciprocate with love, she said she was so worn down that she lost feelings. And then she met this guy in London last week and had sex. And apparently he made an impact on her. And now she wants to move to London and dance at the Royal Ballet, and will be auditioning in a few weeks, and be back with him.

She said she’s worn down, and confused, and she can’t have a relationship with me.

I understand it all.

But now its like the tables have turned, and I feel vulnerable, like I don’t want to lose her, like we were just about to find new ground. 

So it’s all very confusing. 

Mathematics is Modeling

The older I get, the more I appreciate mathematics. Specifically geometry and algebra and calculus.

Wisdom is derived when we abstract experiences and synthesize them into models.

Mental models represent the abstract patterns we synthesize throughout our lifetime of internal and external experiences.

Every book and every narrative and every experience is a model.

Geometry is the optimal method for constructing rational models.

Algebra is the optimal method for calculating changes in models.

Calculus is the optimal method for calculating the rate of changes in these models.

Geometry is the most fundamental skill in spatial thinking and modeling.

Every system or concept or pattern can be modeled via geometry. All relationships can be captured and mapped and measured and calculated.

Whenever I think about abstract relationships between subject/objects/points, I can’t help but placing them in Cartesian coordinate space.

Geometry is the ultimate modeling tool. The ultimate tool for thinking about the world and it’s relationships with concision and clarity.

Socius Membrana

I loath social media. I wish I could delete it all. I wish I could trash my phone. I wish I possessed the willpower to do this. It’s all mindless chatter. Oversaturated stimulation. Platitudes. It makes society a bunch of dopamine junkies. Chasing the next headline, the next byte of novelty, the next arousing image

Instead of learning to be with ourselves, and quiet our mind, gain self awareness, we manically try to sooth our angst with more stimulation, like a strung out addict. We distract ourselves with clicks and scrolls. Unconsciously opening ourselves up to being programmed by the algorithms, by the sea of popular information selected to hook our attention, and rob us of mindfulness.

There’s no easy solution to this modern problem. Phones are ubiquitous. Our scheduling and billing and communication all taking place on this portal, reflecting back the tastes and desires that resonate with our biases. An echo chamber in the palm of your hand. A cognitive tax on your well being. Every moment on social media is a credit you’ll never get back. We rationalize the utility of information, of spending these credits, on apps and podcasts and websites. We justify spending moments fixated on feeds and nuggets of novelty. We celebrate quantity over quality. Give me more and more and more and more stimulus. And we become less and less and less of ourselves, and more and more of everyone else.

The internet has turned into cable television. Junk food.

It’s just too interconnected. It brings you back to the same spheres and feeds.

There are a handful of platforms where 90% of all attention is spent on the web. All the content links to them.

I think there is much more utility not being on the internet, than being on the internet/social media.

It’s almost impossible to stay individuated. Everything is siloed.

Vulnerability

Life is a god damn paradox. Infinite little paradox’s that we try to rationalize and worm our way out of, just to find ourself in another little box.

Vulnerability is the gateway to strength.

You must make yourself vulnerable to expose your weaknesses, to gain self awareness of them, in order to develop them.

Vulnerability exposes our fears and discomforts and limitations and weakness.

Only by confronting those realities can we develop them. Otherwise we run and they stay hidden, masked by our delusions of competency and strength.

Self deception is a fascinating subject

There are biological reasons we self deceive. It’s a primal evolutionary protective mechanism.

These instincts mean well, but they operate beyond our awareness most of the time. A primitive reaction to pain.

They are the source of all our delusions.

They are meant to protect us, by hiding pain and trauma and ugly realities.

But they often make us weak and feeble, and fill us with convoluted delusions, in an effort to prevent the acknowledgment of painful realities.

Realities of self worth. Realities of our competencies.

They can also work for us. They mask painful realities, and create a powerful cloak constructed out of ego.

This ego is a double edge sword.

Powerful because of its impenetrable defenses.

But as much as it keeps many things out, it keeps many things in, and prevents us from exploring the limits of our selves, and our world. And challenging the assumptions that may be constraining our full potential

It reflects poorly on our carefully constructed self image.

Unless you are comfortable with your weaknesses. Unless you know the power of failure.

Failure is the path. The obstacle is the way.

What Compels You

I feel compelled to stop paying my bills and buy a ticket to Vienna and tour Europe, eventually making my way across Eurasia and ending up on a beach in south east Asia, with nothing more than a backpack, cloths, a journal, and a few essential books

I also feel compelled to kill my self almost daily

Reason seems a more reliable guide than feelings, however

And why do you go on living?

Habits, mostly.

There are ideals I almost arbitrarily choose based on the constellations of reflections that have materialized over the course of my life. These provide some semblance of guiding light to bend my energies toward.

All life is a mote of dust passing through a beam of light.

And I don’t mean to get all morbid.

At the end of the day, the thing that prevents me from killing myself is that I’d rather die trying, that I’d rather live fearlessly.

Like, if I’m gonna die, I may as well kill my self trying to do something. Preferably a worthwhile thing. But not even.

Like, if I wanna kill myself, try doing it working out until I begin bleeding internally, or reading until my brain begins having seizures, or die at the hands of some rogue gang as you explore distant landscapes in foreign lands, or die running, or die from exhaustion, or die trying to achieve an unattainable goal.

Like, die trying.

Whenever I want to kill myself, I just tell myself to do something until it kills me. No fear.

Of course this sometimes works out better than others. There are certain seasons of my life where I am a coward, and I convince myself that I’m doing the things I fear, that I’m effectively killing myself by pursuing the most risky and challenging ideals.

But in reality, I’m being a soft little bitch. More talking and less doing. Being a passive coward. Staying comfortable. Dying slowly and never living, instead of living fully at the risk of dying quickly.

Cognitively, I desire to kill my self doing the hard things, the challenging things, the scary things.

That’s better than just hanging myself.

At least I tried. At least I threw my soul at something. At least I flexed my will and stared into the abyss.

I delude myself all the time though, which, upon realization, only makes me want to kill myself all the more, which in turn hardens my resolve to lunge at the limits of my life, and kill myself on the frontiers of fear.

Which, when I obey these instincts, usually propels me forward, or instigates growth and evolves the mind, liberating me from the prior circumstances of comfort, which are the source of discontent.

And you just repeat this process until life actually kills you. And this seems like a worthwhile way to die.

It’s a circular paradox.

Physical comfort breeds existential discomfort which pushes me toward physical discomfort which breeds existential comfort which in turn leads to physical comfort…. and so on and so forth.

What to write

Write anything and everything, everyday. Tap a subconscious vein and let it pour from the heart onto paper. Let it fill the page until it drips red ruby prisms of feeling onto the floor that pool into baths of bloody dreams. Do not censor. Do not inhibit. Do not organize. Do not stop writing until there is nothing left to feel. Until the red swallows you whole.

I can think of

I can think of sleepless nights under starry skies,
under the soft refuge of blankets and embrace,
passion pouring from lovely lips,
pulsing with desire,

or dreamy days on beautiful beaches,
bathing in aquamarine waters,
sun kissed and smiling at the big blue sky,

or skipping through green grass,
surrounded by radiant flowers and flowing streams,
wild and wide eyed at the majesty of the mountains,
breathing the sweetness of spring,
while clasping hands and locking eyes,
in lust and love.

Context is Crucial

Modern men say, “Most books are too long. In a world where attention becomes the main currency,the best books of tomorrow will be concise, elegantly written & dense in knowledge.”

I would disagree.

Context is important, and an extended narrative provides contour and character to context, which establishes the bounds and behavior of specific knowledge necessary for expertise.

A friend

I need a friend. Who can be there for me. Who I can love.

Something simple. Something that feels secure, and kind, and gentle, and puts me at ease.

I crave a chemistry where nothing needs to be said. Where there is an understanding that goes without saying. Just a mutual acceptance of the other. Something fearless and peaceful

Valere

Recently I’ve been reflecting on the concept of value as it relates to business, and sociology and psychology, as a driving ideal, which provide the framework for future ethics. Values drive behavior, they dictate choice.

The goal of business:

Creating customers by satisfying needs by delivering value by providing innovative products or services

Value has greater, existential implications beyond business, of course.

But value has been a theme of my reflections the past year. How to become a man of value?

The answer to that question requires dissolving the ego, and practicing compassion, putting yourself in others shoes, seeing things from their perspective, with their needs, and working backwards to find solutions

We don’t decide what’s valuable, per say. Not in business. It’s the customer, the market, the needs of the people, defined by their struggles and problems and pain points and headaches.

Value is something that’s relative to the people you’re serving. Be it customers, colleagues, or your company.

I don’t decide my value. That’s for others. I can only decide to modify my behavior in ways that better delivers that value. Their repeated engagement is the barometer of success.

Death is a Mind Fuck

Everything is one, we are all connected.

Learning to tune in to the source, and learning to listen, to perceive beyond the conditioned senses, is a spiritual endeavor.

Death is a mind fuck.

The biggest single mind fuck you can experience. And the more intimate the loss, the bigger the mind fuck. It causes a dis-integration of self. A piece of your identity goes missing, into oblivion, which exposes the finitude of self, and frailty of life.

Whether we acknowledge the role of socialization or not in constructing our conscious experience and sense of self, the reality is the human mind never exists in a void on its own. Our relationships with others orient our self to the world, and provide a starting point for identity. Everything we are is a reflection of others in some respect, an amalgam of our most powerful influences.

Death changes you, and changes the way you perceive your relation to others and the world.

Death is permanent, something completely unfamiliar and unknown to our continuous conscious experience.

I think death is a powerful event that should be meditated upon, rather than repressed.

It’s a powerful experience in gaining profound perspective on life.

What Makes a Great Day

It was a great day overall. Everyday is a great day really, all things considered.

My ability to maintain daily happiness is proportional to the challenges and responsibilities that stimulate me.

It’s that sense of purpose: my actions are intentionally and meaningfully progressing me toward my ideals and visions.

When my mind is fully engaged, and focused on a goal, I am happy. Always. No matter what the circumstances. No obstacle or setback gets me down.

When I lose this, this focus, this sense of purpose, this sense of stimulation and engagement, my mental energies began wandering toward trivialities, and dwell on insignificant matters, which end up self sabotaging my sense of well being.

My mind is far too active to be left alone.

I need challenges. I need responsibilities that give me that urgent sense of purpose to plan, to act, to complete.

When I don’t have challenges, I’ve learned to create challenges by shifting my focus. Become more educated in matters I know nothing about, become more competent in skills I admire, find the hard thing and do it until it becomes effortless.

Work stimulates me. Everyday I wake up with a sense of purpose. Work never feels like a chore. It feels like a challenge. A challenge to be overcome. And when I struggle, it’s a reminder that I am not my best self yet, that I have much room to improve, and it only hardens my resolve.

Beyond work, there is not much else that gives me the same satisfaction. I sometimes ask myself if this is healthy, or what the repercussions may be. But then I consider the alternatives.

What else would I prefer doing? Not much else.

I want to develop myself by being consistently on my A-game. I don’t want any days off. This is my attitude for all things I value, all goals I cherish.

There are no days off when you want to achieve your dream.

There is nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for the things I want most.

And life is a game of patience. Consistent action over time. Persistence. Energy and time conquer all things.

Distractions serve momentary gratifications. They are not investments in my future.

Every extra effort I put into being my best sharpens the blade.

It’s an investment, and the returns compound. At first, imperceptibly. But if you are patient, these efforts to self invest begin to increase exponentially.

You need to start before you can finish. You are always bad before you are good. Patience.

Knowing that the first 100 books you read are only the warm up. The first 1,000 workouts are laying the foundations. The first million words you write are just the beginning of articulating the imagination. The first few years of sales calls and presentations is practice for when you’re on the world’s stage.

Once these habits are ingrained and take root, they begin to blossom, and bear the best fruit that sustains you for a lifetime. You must sow before you reap.

The best way to spend your time is not to spend it at all. It’s to invest it.

In time, your time will become ever more valuable to the world, because you will be more valuable to the world, due to these daily investment habits in yourself.

The Problem with Problems

I think problems are only problems if you don’t have a solution.

If you have a solution, the problem goes away.

All problems are people problems. They begin at an individual level, whether they’re rational problems or not.

The more individuals who believe it’s a problem, the greater consensus arises that it’s a problem. I would say all problems have a solution.

Most problems are misidentified.

The problem isn’t the problem, it’s usually how you think about the problem. Thinking is the problem.

Irrational attachment and misaligned expectations are the source of most problems, if not all problems.

Change happens. Letting go of the past or the old is apart of being adaptable. It’s the essence of evolution and survival. Those who can’t do this suffer.

I think death is not a problem. Or at least, not the way we’ve pathologized death.

I think the fear of death is a greater problem.

Granted, death is an existential problem. The greatest.

But when you come to terms with death, with loss, with finality, I think this is where the mind begins to see possibility and potential in wondrous ways.

Also, reconciling what’s inside our minds (internal expectations) with what we’re perceiving (external impressions).

This is a great source of suffering and problems, which closely relates to our tendency to attach to things, be it tangibles such as material possessions or loved ones, or intangibles, such as belief or identity or ideas/opinions.

What is in our mind is not a perfect representation of the world.

Understanding that dissonance or suffering is not a problem in the world but a problem of perception, within the mind, is a great step to liberation. Listening to our feelings, exploring the contents of our perceptions, being mindful about “what is” vs “what we think it is”.

Stoicism is very helpful in this regard.

A baked turkey is either a delicious meal, or a burnt carcass. A blanket is soft or rough depending on what it’s relative to.

Objective thought is the goal, but it requires distancing the subjective moral evaluations of good or bad.

There is a hierarchy of values built into every culture and individual psychology based on personal experiences relative to given experiences and available perceived options.

Many times the mind cannot escape what’s given, and is hostage to making judgements based on the narrow evaluations available to us via experience and culture.

The ability to be objective and evaluate ideas and experiences on a granular basis, based on basic sense data and natural unbiased observations, allows us to see how everything fits into a bigger picture.

For instance, you have a culture that endorses eye for an eye. This is justice. Perpetuate vengeance. It makes sense if there is limited options available. This is a scarcity mindset.

A better culture would be forgiveness. There is opportunity cost associated with vengeance. The time and energy to seek justice may be more valuable than the justice you seek. Forgive and devote time and energy into building anew, rather than destroying the bad.

Everything just “is”. There is no supreme moral hierarchy that exists. Every culture and mind brings it to reality.

Prior to human civilization, shit lived and died. Countless species lived for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, and died. No one cared. Dust to dust. No moral outrage about justice.

What is good or bad is a human dilemma revolving around what it means to self-preserve.

These are culturally transmitted, and not representative of “what is”.

We’re animals. We respond to pleasure and pain. We respond to our unconscious culturally programmed bias about is good or bad.

Part of cleaving from the herd, or the mob mentality characterizing tribalism and society at large, is learning to disassociate with these biases, and really investigating the contents of these impulsive reactions to perceptions and stimuli.

All pain is not bad.

All pleasure is not good.

The highest ideals, for me, is truth and love.

Truth to see reality or the contents of our perceptions for what is, to align with the present and observe what is in its most natural form, unadulterated by bias and feeling. This involves courage, curiosity, and work.

Love is to see the humanity in all living things, and cultivate that through modeling behaviors that promote collaboration and trust and honesty and compassion.

No man is an island.

Humanity is stronger when its unified. It’s also weaker.

At the end it’s about identifying the right ideals to unify around, to manifest individual flourishing that promotes diversity of thought without fragmented tribalism.

At the end of the day, imagination and creativity is an almost spiritual source of power.

The ability to conceive alternative possibilities is crucial for problem solving, from escaping fixed or scarcity mindset.

There is always more than meets the eye.

You can create the way. Past solutions aren’t always adequate for present problems/challenges.

Faith is also crucial.

Faith that there is possibility beyond current perception.

I used to be skeptical about the word faith, because of religious connotations.

But now I see that it’s absolutely fundamental for creation, for imagining possibilities yet-to-be.

Faith in vision. Faith in something that is yet-to-exist.

Faith is powerful. You don’t need to rationalize forward to an answer. You act toward your goal, learn along the way, and reconstruct rationality with hindsight.

But this isn’t indicative there was an inherent logic along the way.

Logic exists in the mind. It’s a powerful tool. But it is bound by experience and current assumptions.

But I think imagination and creativity are more powerful.

Obviously both are helpful. Logic is more helpful for communication than anything. It allows others to understand.

But a spiritual conviction arising from a creative insight about a yet-to-be possibility may not have a rational narrative. Not until it’s complete.

Most “problems” are a result of a lack of imagination, a lack of faith in alternative possibilities.

Wherever our attention goes, the energy flows.

I actually think emotions are rather simple and primitive.

I think rationalizing emotions make them complex and complicated.

The phenomenal or sensational experience is another matter.

How to adequately conceptualize a phenomenon? What is red? We can perform a series of iterative propositional statements embedded with assumptions to form a logical statement about them, but when you drill into the assumptions it becomes an ad infinitum rabbit hole of semantic interpretation and agreement.

I find most problems arise because of inaccurate or incomplete assumptions.

This is where philosophy is immensely valuable

Learning to question assumptions allows us to expand on our understanding of problems, which allow for reframing

Once the unconscious assumptions are identified and elaborated we can reframe the context of the problem and proceed with employing the powers of reason to navigate to an appropriate solution.

So long as there is change and intemperance, there will be problems, and dissonance.

Reconciling faulty assumptions embedded with outdated and inaccurate representations with the present reality is the key for creative problem solving, and a clearer more peaceful life.

Problems arise when we don’t question the assumptions built into our language.

Our unstated beliefs about the world, which exist unconsciously.

Language makes the mind, but the mind makes language.

Language tends to be fixed. The world is not; it is in constant flux and change. Updating language and the beliefs and assumptions therein is crucial for greeting the world and its challenges in the present, where they can be resolved.

Pitfalls to Growth

The two greatest pitfalls a person can experience: selfishness and dishonesty.

When you are selfish, your energy becomes concentrated into a tangled ball, a concentrated heavy mass that weighs you down, and you get stuck, in the past, in the same feelings and thoughts, and stagnate.

When you are others focused, you become light and porous, your energy radiates, you illuminate, and thoughts and feelings pass through and you can remain in the present moment, ready to embrace new opportunities, and perceive new thoughts and feelings.

Dishonesty is the other pitfall.

When you are dishonest, it’s not with others. It’s with yourself. And it’s the result of shame. Of not valuing yourself. Not seeing your worth. Not believing in your best. The dishonesty is self deception, a reaction to surpress pain. Pain that you are not worthy, that you are defected, that you are not lovable. So to hide the pain, you mask it with untruths, with lies. These are deep. They are trying to protect the most vulnerable aspects of yourself. But this dishonesty or lies creates a fragmented self, an incoherent self, full of conflicts and contradictions and anxieties.

When you are honest about who you are, and believe that you are worthy, that you are worth love and acceptance, that you are beautiful and kind and capable, you can work on yourself. You can see the areas that you struggle with, rather than mask them and hide them. The greatest realization is that you are perfect right now, in the moment. Your being is pure. Your heart is pure. This is true only if you accept it as true right now, in the moment. The past is irrelevant. It doesn’t exist. We only keep it alive by believing in a false narrative about ourselves.

Honesty and truth and love allow healing. They also allow selflessness. They allow you to see honesty and truth and love in others, and allow others to see it in you. This is where real intimacy flourishes.

Stoikos

Embracing the struggle. That’s what separates the good from the great. They do their duty. They do it 100%, even if it’s not their first choice. They rise to the challenge because that’s who they are. They never shirk from responsibility, they accept it humbly, they perform their best no matter what the circumstances, they learn from every experience, they never avoid the present, but greet it with resolve and cheerfulness. I believe only then do circumstances change in our favor. They may not be what we had envisioned, but often times they lead to things better than we could have imagined. The struggle is where growth is. The habit of embracing the struggle, embracing the difficulty is what transforms every situation into something you can master, rather than have it mastering you. We alone are masters of our destiny, the captains of our fate. The right Mindset will attract far greater opportunities.

Reliance

Most people are not themselves. They are a reflection of everyone else, of others, of the world.

Being self-reliant is where it starts. You are the source of your well being. Only you know what is best and right and true for you. There is a spirit within you that needs nurturing, your true self, your authentic self. It knows what’s best. It is primal, it is eternally wise. But you must listen, and practice listening, practice solitude, practice reflecting on what it’s telling you. Trust yourself. Trust that voice. Not what others want from you, or tell you what is best.

To manifest your destiny, your true purpose, you must be wholly yourself, unapologetically authentic and self-reliant, always bending your ear back to that inner voice. There are no answers in the world. Everything we need to flourish and radiate and grow into our full potential and realize our destined fate exists already within us, if only we should look.

Life Might Be

You are in a new place.

It might be awkward and uncomfortable. Lonely and isolating. You may spend countless nights by yourself contemplating if it was the right decision. Wondering what other decisions would have brought you. You may get homesick. Bitter and resentful at your ex, your parents, your friends, that things turned out this way. You may feel lost and confused. You may stop taking care of yourself, stop eating, or eat too much, and sleep all day, to avoid the important things, to avoid the feelings, and painfully greet each day in misery, wondering if it’s ever going to get better, waiting for things to change.

Or you may feel all those things, and then decide this is where you want to be, exactly where you were meant to be, that opportunities are everywhere around you, waiting for you to see them, and you decide to stop waiting for change but to make the change, to be the change, and begin to step outside of your comfort zone, and explore new places with new people and see and think and feel things you never imagined seeing and thinking and feeling before, and they will begin to change you, and this may terrify you, but you decide that this is your life, and you embrace it, all of it, and in the process you begin to blossom and grow into something unimaginably beautiful and strong and resilient, and challenges that once made you shirk become the fuel that lights your path forward… into the life you were always meant to live

The best thing to do

You know what’s the best? Not thinking about anything. Literally being okay with nothing to do or think about. Just sitting there. Or, walking, or driving. But, you’re literally not thinking about anything. You’re just completely free. Just living. No tension. No worries. No cares. You’re just doing nothing, for no reason at all.

Maybe this lasts for 5 minutes, maybe 10, sometimes an hour or two. But it’s nice. No phone. No music. No place to be. No thinking about what’s next, or what else. Just doing nothing. Just chillin. Just relaxing. Your mind expands. It just has this open effect. Where things begin to flow, possibilities begin to open up, new ways of feeling begin to blossom. There’s just this space that occurs. It’s nice. It provides a kind of freedom. It’s just open.

Liberal Arts vs Technical Disciplines

Big reason why liberal arts education is so valuable to future leaders and managers and decision makers. Liberal arts teaches values, and values are the essence of what drives humanity and behavior. Values provide a framework for prioritization— what matters, and what matters most? Whereas technical disciplines teach methods or analysis, crucial for execution once the values have been identified and defined.

Both are crucial for leadership.

However, liberal arts in the mainstream is often denigrated as being useless. How can English or philosophy or sociology or history psychology be of any use? How can I make money? What a waste to learn these things!

I think this thinking is rather impoverished and unimaginative. I think it’s a message for the masses.

Society is comprised of humans, and understanding humanity is a tremendous asset, the greatest asset for leaders or visionaries. What is important? What do people care about? What do people want, need, desire, cherish?

The liberal arts is the bedrock for leadership and management. Technical skills are important, but you can leverage other’s skills. I don’t think it works the same the other way around. Leaders need to know the way, go the way, and show the way.

When being pestered with questions about whether he was ignorant, Henry Ford replied:

”If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

I think a broad liberal arts education (self taught or formal schooling) becomes increasingly important as you become increasingly responsible for other people.

Children from the wealthiest families overwhelmingly pursue “useless degrees” in the liberal arts. Children from the poorest families overwhelmingly pursue “practical degrees” in technical disciplines. There are obvious exceptions but this is what the data says.

You could conclude that wealthy students have the luxury of having a useless liberal arts degree, but I’m inclined to believe there’s something more here. That those families understand the life importance of a liberal arts education.

And I’m not saying that just because you pursued a technical subject there’s no value. Definitely not the case. It’s just that as you accrue more influence over the life’s of others, technical skills matter less and less. Leading an organization or others is not about your technical understanding, but about your understanding of the human condition, which is crucial for managing others and providing a compelling vision to organize around and strive for.

Psychedelic Transcendence: Spirituality and Materialism in the Modern Age

“Reflecting on my [psychedelic] experience, I find myself agreeing with the eminent Cambridge philosopher, Dr. C. D. Broad, “that we should do well to consider much more seriously than we have hitherto been inclined to do the type of theory which Bergson put forward in connection with memory and sense perception. The suggestion is that the function of the brain and nervous system and sense organs is in the main eliminative and not productive. Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.” According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large. But in so far as we are animals, our business is at all costs to survive. To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born–the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called “this world” is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language. The various “other worlds,” with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate “spiritual exercises,” or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception “of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe” (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.

In the final stage of egolessness there is an “obscure knowledge” that All is in all–that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to “perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.”

—Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

I took LSD today. Always a therapeutic experience. Of course I know better, but I’m always… apprehensive… of the unknown, when I decide to trip. You never know what is in store, what will manifest, for better or worse. But I always know that my fears are irrationalities, and a natural response to the potential loss of control. Fear is the ego’s defense mechanism, a way to retain the illusion of control. The greatest insight is that there is no control, that control is an illusion we create for ourselves and others to pacify our ego’s desire to self-preserve, and when that illusion is gone, there is nothing to fear.

”It is often tragic to see how blatantly a man bungles his own life and the lives of others yet remains totally incapable of seeing how much the whole tragedy originates in himself, and how he continually feeds it and keeps it going. Not consciously, of course—for consciously he is engaged in bewailing and cursing a faithless world that recedes further and further into the distance. Rather, it is an unconscious factor which spins the illusions that veil his world. And what is being spun is a cocoon, which in the end will completely envelop him.”

—C.G. Jung, Aion

Jung’s work on the collective unconscious is something I think about whenever I trip, and tap into that state of… oneness. When the doors of perception are made clear.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

—William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The real pickle is translating spiritual experiences to others without codifying them, which perverts the essence/internal back into the material/external.

We use symbolism and signs to capture the sublimity of spirituality, to point to higher archetypal truths that resonate on a deep level with that unconscious, the collective unconscious, the universal forms governing experience/reality. I’m not necessary saying “truth” exists as something you can point to and possess, but there are patterns that yield insights into the present, which is a wisdom that comes close to truth.

“Truth” is a present condition. Outside of that it’s speculative. Truth is what is, presently, being. Accessing truth is facilitated through meditation, but I also feel it’s facilitated by the seeker, the one who has “faith” that truths are accessible the more present our conscious experience remains, when are are, free from speculation, and open to the now. Acceptance. Faith in embracing whatever is, regardless of our preconceptions, assumptions, conditioned state of being. Freeing the mind from that— via mediation, “prayer”, psychedelics, or any activity that allows the mind to transcend the material pull away from the present— allows being, and accessing the reservoir of universal wisdom.

Practice is crucial, but practice is no substitute for execution. Going through the motions does not substitute progress, or enlightenment. Relying on the preacher for your weekly fill of the unity of being is inadequate, just as relying on people or things for inspiration or guidance. I think there needs to be a self generated, self guided intention to submit to the present state of being, however that manifests. But the habit of relying on external forces or ideas to supplant that intention is where things fall apart.

Maybe.

It’s hard because books are and continue to be a source of incredible wisdom and revelation. But after a long journey of seeking for truth in books, I realized it does not exist there. The best Books and texts are trying to capture “something else”, those higher truths about the human condition, and those that successfully capture that reveal that something else to my mind. But it’s not the power of the text. It’s in the mind’s willingness to draw connections to something else, those higher truths. Every book or person contains a perspective of this something else. Assimilating and synthesizing them all with personal experience occurs when we’re open to that revelation, which requires present being, and tapping into the Mind at Large.

I feel the best teachers, spiritual leaders, understand this, whether they are real or not: Jesus, Socrates, Buddha, whoever else. They didn’t write anything down, and they didn’t follow any dogma. They followed that inner genius, the same that Emerson speaks about in his essay Self-Reliance. They believed to know something is to impress it deep within you, and relying on texts and outside media or teachers causes you to become reliant on them, and a failure to internalize the wisdom and knowledge. They sought to walk the walk, and not worry about talking the talk, and codifying the “right way”.

The gatekeepers of “spiritual enlightenment” say: That’s not how you meditate. That’s not how you pray. That’s how how you show thankfulness. That’s not what mindfulness looks like. Look— do as i say and follow these steps and you will get there. Say your Hail Mary and other prescribed chants. Go to communion. Do the Hajj. Attend temple. Follow this ritualistic curriculum for daily meditation. These routines are what a spiritually minded man does, they say.

But these prescriptions reveal nothing of the heart, of the intention to seek communion with a present state of being, the willingness to shed the ego and access the Mind at Large. This is where the symbolic imagery of sacrifice of crucial— found in all religions. Sacrifice attachments— be willing to give up that which is most sacred— and recognize you are nothing, no one, know nothing, have nothing, that these attachments are illusions, neurosis of the ego, the flesh.

Socrates, regarding writing, or codification of “knowledge”:

”For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.” (Phaedrus 274c-275b)

I feel that technology as a whole is facilitating this decline in spiritual self guided thinking (whatever that means, i.e. willingness to seek “truth/wisdom”), as much as it’s increasing our capacity to accumulate webs of abstract information to build upon, which only serve to veil the mind in the end.

Anyway. I have no idea what I’m saying. These are just intuitions. I’m not a spiritual or enlightened person by any means. I’ve had some profound experiences and that changed the way i think about things, but in the end I’m just a cog in the machinery, squeaking with the rest.

I think it’s hard to judge anyone. Religious folks and philosophers and academics and politicians scientists and everyone is just in this soup together. It’s hard to know where we’re all at on this journey.

I think people like Sam Harris are great. But there is always an irony. We often become what we are most afraid of becoming.

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

—Friedrich W. Nietzsche

Stoicism is hard in practice, but it’s truly the way to approach the world. Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

A man may be convinced in all good faith that he has no religious ideas, but no one can fall so far away from humanity that he no longer has any dominating representation collective.

—C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

The things that come to light brutally in insanity remain hidden in the background in neurosis, but they continue to influence consciousness nonetheless. When, therefore, the analysis penetrates the background of conscious phenomena, it discovers the same archetypal figures that activate the deliriums of psychotics.

—C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Being able to suspend judgement is scary. We want to judge, in our effort to control. Understanding requires a suspension of judgement. It requires being. Just embracing what is, being. Instead of leveraging preconceived ideas to perceive, in an effort to label and control and judge and organize and know, the seeker is open, observing, perceptive, listening, embracing every reaction the percolates and releasing ideas and tensions with equal ease, until there is an honest alignment between the mind the the world. A communion. This is where truth and wisdom seem to be revealed.

But then again I’m a giant contradiction. So there’s that.

The Machine Stops

Summary of “The Machine Stops“, written by EM Forster in 1909.

The story describes a world where people live in isolated chambers and communicate with each other on devices much like FaceTime.

There is no human contact. Everything is facilitated by the machine, every need and comfort is taken care of. There are no public gatherings. Everything is done remotely, in a livestream kind of way.

Day and night do not exist in this world. Everything runs according to the rhythm of the machine. People do not venture outdoors. They remain inside, on their devices, in the isolated dwelling spaces, and communicate with each other from afar. All the comforts have become uniform across the world, all the beds and desks and appliances and air and temperature have converged in optimization for the consumer public.

The only persistent sound is that of the machine, humming in the background, barely audible to the conscious ear, like the steady hum of an electrical signal powering it all.

The world brings everything to the people, their shopping and conveniences. Gone is the age where people go to things. Everything comes to the people. You summon whatever you’d like, a car (referred to as a “lift”), a meal. People don’t change the room for fresh air, they change the air in their room.

Healthcare is administered by a doctor via a robot within the convenience of your room.

“Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.”

Anxiety is rife.

People never touch one another. That is inappropriate.

People are never direct with one another, but rather speak indirectly. It is barbarous to speak directly, lest you offend someone’s sensibilities.

People worship the machine. It is the spiritually minded thing to do, to confer with the rules of the machine, put forth by the committees that govern the machine, who have become the moral arbiters of machine.

Those that rebel against the machine are excommunicated to “homelessness”, and must live outside the comforts and conveniences the machine provides those who abide.

Going outside is not permitted. Breathing natural air is dangerous, a risk to exposing yourself to toxins.

You are not to exert effort, but must rely on the machine for your needs.

Muscles earn you demerits, social points lost. Babies are inspected at birth, and if found to possess too much musculature, are destroyed. It would be unkind to let athletes live, for they would desire to stretch their legs and climb and jump and work, and this is not conducive to progressing the machine, which must persist eternally.

The world is full of lecturers who exchange ideas for audiences on these live stream devices, providing spiritual guidance and ideas to other audiences watching from their isolated chambers. Similar to YouTube and Instagram personalities.

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops — but not on our lines. The Machine proceeds — but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.”

Stimulating ideas are the currency of the Machine.

“I was surrounded by artificial air, artificial light, artificial peace, and my friends were calling to me down speaking-tubes to know whether I had come across any new ideas lately.”

Everything is an abstraction of some distant foreign thing, similar to Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation:

“Beware of first-hand ideas!” exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. “First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by love and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element — direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine — the French Revolution.”

Hard facts derived from observation and experience are replaced by platitudes of inert generalizations:

“there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation

‘seraphically free From taint of personality,’”

Slowly people become desensitized to problems, and rather than act to remedy the dissonance, acquiesce and learn to live with the dysfunction:

“No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It had exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadence, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.”

“The defects [of the Machine] had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine… All were bitterly complained of at first, and then acquiesced in and forgotten. Things went from bad to worse unchallenged.”

Along with visceral experience, silence has become humanity’s greatest, most crippling fear:

“Then she broke down, for with the cessation of activity came an unexpected terror — silence. She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her — it did kill many thousands of people outright. Ever since her birth she had been surrounded by the steady hum.”

We are living in the Machine.

Perhaps man is nothing more than, as Hume put it in his Treatise of Human Nature, “a bundle or collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement.”

We are in an age where generations cannot conceive a world beyond the Machine. Raised on a steady diet of stimulation and convenience, conditioned to the persistent, reliable hum of the Machine, it’s pervasive influence is shaping our minds to its end, rather than the other way around.

We no longer use the Machine. The Machine uses us. It depends on our complicit attention to fuel it’s growth, while simultaneously robbing humanity of it’s will.

Transactional Costs

Transaction: a mutual exchange of value.

Transactional Costs: time and resources (information, mediums, etc) to conduct a valuable transaction. i.e. the friction of doing business.

The goal of business is to satisfy a demand for something of value.

Transactional costs are often not accounted for in business transactions, because they are incurred by the purchasing party, but they remain a decisive psychological factor in the decision to conduct an exchange. e.g. Waiting in line to purchase, waiting to process an order, learning the value of a thing (creating symmetric information between agents), delivery time, the learning curve needed to utilize the thing of value, etc.

The best business management identifies transactional costs and organizes people and processes to reduce transactional costs as much as possible.

The most competitive businesses have the lowest transactional costs. E.g. Amazon, fast food, mobile apps, self-checkout, PayPal, Square, etc.