A life is a life. A year is a year, a day a day, an hour an hour, a moment a moment. Everyone is subject to time. No one experiences the effect of its measure any differently. The impact is the same on all. What differs is the quality of that time, the quality experience contained therein. And quality is dictated by intensity, in thought and feeling. Intensity is submersion, utter consummation with your thoughts, whether they are derived from immediate impressions and sensations, or past memories and intuitions. What is paramount is quality, the purposeful yearning to yield some understanding, the intensity to string it all together into a beautiful synthesis, a harmonious portrait that expands universally, whose canvas grows larger and larger as questions arise and multiply exponentially. This is the good life. Not a life of answers, but a life of questions.
But only curiosity generates questions, and you must be willing to know, be willing to accept that you don’t know, that you don’t have shit figured out, that your understanding is but a caliginous ink blot on the mural of life. You must part with self-conceit, hubris, certainty and decisiveness every now and again, probably more often than not, in order to possess an open mind, a mind that is receptive to being critiqued, to being wrong, that recognizes itself as slanted and askew. If you think you’re free how is there any hope for escape? If you think you retain no bias, that you’ve got it all figured out, how do you expect to gain correction and progress you’re insight?
Curiosity is the cure all for life’s ills. Curiosity comes with risk, but where there is no risk there is no reward and I refuse to live life in the petty dark corners of safe sanctuaries.
A quality life, a life lived with intensity, may arise unintentionally or intentionally, indirectly or directly. A person thrust into hardship, into uncomfortable or painful or unfamiliar settings and situations, is forced to live life with intensity, they are forced to think deeply about resolving the incongruencies, about reconciling inconsistencies. By chance, through indirect circumstance and unintentional occurrence, they are thrust into situations that elicit feelings and thoughts they would never otherwise have. This forces them to submit to experience, providing them with the quality experience that, more likely than not, can leave them with a better understanding of things. But this understanding is not a guarantee and many people, especially in our culture, where conflict and discomfort is shunned, put off reconciling those thoughts and feelings into their life. They medicate, they avoid, they rationalize, they make excuses. These difficult situations may occur when someone close to them dies , or if they face a tumultuous upbringing, or they are forced to work with someone they disagree with, or they are introduced to material that doesn’t align with their world view. But by unintended consequence, you are given the opportunity to grow because of these things.
Contrast this characterization with the person who intentionally seeks out quality experience, who seeks disequilibrium, experimentation, who creates conflict and crisis and is looking to critique the status quo assumptions in an effort to uncover understanding. They probe the depths of thought to discover insight into the inner-workings of life, in all its objects and ideas, all its tangibles and intangibles. These people set a different bar for themselves. They see the good life as something to be earned through work, through absorption, through consummation with all experience, all thought and feeling. These people seek understanding through discernment, they seek knowledge through wisdom. They place themselves in disorienting situations so that they may gain the ability to orient themselves. They view safety as tantamount to settling, and reward tantamount to risk. But in time, as wisdom grows with understanding, risks become more calculated and outcomes more predictable. Their humility is the key to true foresight, true prophetic ability, true wisdom, true power. (The word for male youth— the reflection of their perfect human— in Archaic Greek was Kouros (κοῦρος), from which the word Kurios (κυριος) is derived, meaning lord, master, and guardian. Most interesting is that this word also translates as “far sighted” and “powerful”.)
I like to think that the first half of my life was spent obtaining understanding gleaned from unintentional circumstances, from unfavorable conditions that forced quality into my thoughts as a result of my concerted efforts to bring about resolution, and that the latter part of my youth and adult years I have been caught in the fever of autonomous inquiry and intentional experimentation.
I ask myself whether extreme openness and my propensity for thrill seeking was a way of declaring my mental fortitude, my psychological resiliency to the world; so that all the desultory activities characterizing my past— all the promiscuous sex and fiery romance, the poignant intimate encounters, the self- exposure to people of wide ranging personalities and disparate socioeconomic classes, the varying occupations, the entire gambit of school settings, the binge drinking and substance abuse, the manic peaks and melancholy valleys, the indulgent dosing of dozens of hits of acid for consecutive days or weeks or months— were simply a way of confirming my ability to retain composure and maintain control and sustain equilibrium. It was these experiences that I used to prove my capacity, my vigor, my elasticity and tenacity in the face of success or failure to myself. Perhaps this is a biological mechanism at work? Perhaps females are drawn to this type of fortitude and subconsciously my primal instincts have been the driving force behind these developments? But perhaps it was I that allowed this primal instinct to express itself? Maybe it was a continual conscious decision of mine to disregard the oppressive suppressive tendencies to hold back in favor of fully expressing my desire to completely consummate mind and body, self and world.