Poem: The Fragile Self

Fragile is the body that accompanies us,

flesh that can easily be bruised or torn,

bones which fracture and break,

organs malfunction, sometimes due to our own behavior and other times, it’s just the luck of the draw,

colds, fevers, headaches, stubbed toes, cancer, liver failure, peanut allergy, heart disease, chronic pain, bad backs, sore feet, toothaches, bullet wounds, kidney stones, arthritis,

just a list of reminders,

each thing evidence of our fragile nature.

 

The fragility doesn’t stop there, it’s not merely physical,

no, it accompanies our mental,

the mind that clings to fears of what-ifs,

the mind that clings to the afterthoughts of what could have been,

jealousy, anxiety, envy, resentment, eagerness, yearning, disappointment, adrenaline spike and dumps, endorphins rush and crash, sadness, happiness, discontent, disassociation,

the constant loop of emotions and feelings which keeping reminding man of how fragile, how childlike he is.

 

That’s all there is to it,

the reminder of how un-great man is,

daily reality check,

to keep the ego in line,

flesh, blood, bones, electrons, neurons,

just another animal,

and as Aurelius said,

man being an animal, he must get up and work.

Poem: To What Ends?

Everywhere man is in solitude,

hunched over, tired eyes, aching mind,

working the minutes away for some hopeful future.

 

To what ends?

withered bones, scattered ashes, fitted to a box,

to that end, we all slowly move,

inching on the conveyer belt,

the furnace blazes ahead,

the lucky ones feel its heat and see its light upon their skin,

perhaps they can change,

the unlucky ones go in blind, at once, right now,

the absurdity never hits them as they stand on the street corner.

 

We all meet the universal end,

the heartbeats but its life never reaches the limbs,

the limbs obey the slave mind,

which keeps the man hunched over,

for the mind is molded to obey as well,

and all there is left is to work,

as the hot blood grows cold,

as the sunsets perhaps for the last time,

working, working, working,

as if it matters at all.

Poem: New Year Again

Scratch the 19,

replace it with 20,

woke up with the same problems,

no one told them that they were meant to be left behind,

instead, what got left was life,

the unlived moments, the blurred experiences, as it all passed on by,

moments gone forever,

what is coming is the same,

life,

which is yet to be lived,

but don’t know if it will be for the same person crawled into this decade as the one who watched the last one go,

acceptance is the first step,

there is hope then,

the resolve stays the same,

the same now and the same as it will always be,

to live and to be alive,

as time goes on,

life goes on,

you will go on.

 

Poem: Nothing Lasts

Nothing lasts,

sands of time bury the greatest of achievement,

the gravestones wither and take with them the names etched into those stones,

great men and women lost in the wind,

I’ll be lost in the wind,

these fears and anxieties,

worthless thoughts of reputation and concerns of other peoples opinions,

will mean nothing when the body is hollow.

 

So what’s the point in being concerned about such things?

what’s the point in feeding the fears,

in living anxiously,

in diming one’s own shine,

in reducing suffering which then reduces pleasure,

in avoiding pain,

in suppressing one’s dreams,

in allowing the illusion filled tomorrow to dictate the actions of the present.

 

Whose Aurelius?

whose Lincoln?

whose Gandhi?

just names that are occasionally remembered, for now,

one day their names will not toll.

 

Who are you?

that you think what you do is worthy of being remembered,

think of the meaninglessness and be free,

think of the pointlessness and be free,

think of the absurdity and be free,

think of death and be free.

 

 

 

 

Stoic Lesson On Growing Old

Well, we should cherish old age and enjoy it. It is full of pleasure if you know how to use it. Fruit tastes most delicious just when its season is ending.

It is quite telling that Seneca dedicated an entire letter to aging. It shows how little we, as people, have changed or evolved from our ancestors. For the most part, the same daily concerns that circulated in the minds of Romans are the same ones that trouble us now. One of these concerns being the natural aspect of life: Aging.

In our current age perhaps this concern is more prevalent than before or at least it seems that way with social media. There are so many different surgeries that attempt to give you a youthful appearance, so many companies that sell products to keep you young and beautiful, or so they claim, and so many people who actively seek remedies to aging.

However, the Stoic advice on this matter is similar to their advice on many topics: Acceptance, emotional/attitudinal control and a change of perspective.

Aging is a natural part of life so by accepting it, it can change your perspective from viewing aging as negative to view it as positive. Another Stoic principle is to control one’s attitude. We always have a choice in how we react. Our attitude is one of the few things we control in this life. Once more it is a matter of perspective. We can either see aging as something terrible and sad or we can view it is a new experience, a chance to see the world from a different manner, a chance to transition into a different phase of our life and even live differently. With this perspective change, you can then see the benefits of aging.

As Seneca says:

In my opinion, even the age that stands on the brink has pleasures of its own.

Not only is there a need to accept the natural aging process but also to accept our lack of control over it. It’s easy to see the self harm some people cause through plastic surgeries as they attempt to stop what is natural. Aging can be used to practice a virtue like grace. To age gracefully instead of fighting and manipulating yourself to cling on to what is long past.

Of course, the biggest concern associated with aging is death. The fear of death whether consciously or unconsciously is at the root of a lot of people’s attitudes and actions. However, the Stoics don’t see death as something terrible. Just as with aging, death is also natural.

If God adds the morrow we should accept it joyfully. The man who looks for the morrow without worrying over it knows a peaceful independence and a happiness beyond all others. Whoever has said ‘I have lived’ receives a windfall every day he gets up in the morning.

The Stoics almost recommend a daily reminder of death in order to lessen its impact if it does appear. The reminder is also there in order for you to live the present moment to its fullest extent. In this way, as one ages and death becomes more of a concern, the Stoics could see that as a blessing. By confronting that possibility we can then prepare our attitude and action towards it and in the meantime, enjoy the time we have left for when you truly acknowledge death, then each moment becomes more precious. We soon come to see what matters, what we truly desire, what makes us happy and fulfilled and on what things and with whom we would like to spend our time. So, aging can be viewed as a blessing to clear away all that doesn’t matter so we can focus on what does.

For the Stoics, any hardship is an opportunity to exercise our wisdom and the strength of our character. For some, aging is a hardship and so, for those people, aging can be viewed as an opportunity to practice the right attitude, practice our control over our attitude and to practice the right mindset.

Book Referenced: Letters From A Stoic By Seneca

 

 

 

Poem: The Man In The Checkered Shirt

A man in a red and black checkered shirt walks back and forth in the book aisles,

the books have little bunny rabbits and little brown bears and little yellow tigers on the covers,

the man in the checkered shirt walks as if he’s holding someone’s hand in his hand.

 

He lets go of the hand and opens a book,

he flips the pages, softly,

not reading, just seeing,

the printed animals go through their ordered adventures,

neat adventures that are wrapped up in the end with a neat little bow.

 

The man in the checkered shirt puts the book back on the shelf,

a tear in his eye,

falling down the ripples of his cheek,

as his face contorts to hide the sadness,

imaginary hand in his hand once more.

 

In the neat little stories, someone always asks the right question,

someone asks if you’re okay,

but no one asks him as the man in the checkered shirt walks down the aisle,

looking for another book that might tell him what to do now,

or one that might ask him where did that laughter go that used to come with him.

Poem: Be Alive

You’re just some flesh and bones,

blood and muscles,

an animal like all others,

nothing more, nothing less,

the cosmos don’t care just as you don’t care about the ants in the wild,

the sun shines regardless and not especially for you,

the planets revolve around it, this one included,

you revolve around it and not the other way around,

here today, gone tomorrow,

your life perhaps will make the tiniest ripple,

if you’re lucky,

if you’re blessed,

one day you’ll be ashes,

the same as all that know you,

and yet,

your daily thoughts are concerned about others,

your ego trips over itself,

thinking people care how you look, what you do,

dimming your own hopes and dreams as not to attract unwanted attention,

blunting your experience of life just to fit in,

the days are numbered,

it’s all for nothing,

meaningless,

yet the handful of days you’ve got left,

you can make them worth something,

give them meaning,

through a leap of faith,

by going towards the unknown, the uncomfortable, the uncertain,

and making your life an art,

for once it’s gone, it’s all gone,

here for a second,

from nothing, back to nothing,

ashes the final form,

in between the nothingness, be alive.