Poem: That’s Life

Destined to be great

(One thinks)

Suffering must have a purpose

(One hopes)

Future full of riches

(one dreams).

 

All to stay sane,

insanity knocks at the door,

letting in it would mean that you accept:

loneliness,

pointlessness,

meaninglessness,

(The truth).

 

Stay ignorant, friend,

so you can smile, but sooner or later the absurdity of life will strike you,

dragon fire,

see death and be cleansed,

reborn once you ask ‘why’,

babe,

naked, alone, terrified,

(It’s true),

but if you’re brave it can have endless possibilities,

(That’s life).

Is Having A Conscience Worth The Trouble?

Do we innately know right from wrong? Is that what a conscience is? Is our conscience shaped by our environment? If so, would it not be compromised by the biases held by our environment?

I wonder about these things because it was Henry David Thoreau’s belief that we should act upon what we believe to be right, regardless of what the law says. Thoreau wasn’t just all talk either, for he served time in prison for his refusal to pay his taxes because those taxes would then fund the American-Mexican war which he opposed. So, the man stood by his principles and acted upon them. That’s very commendable. But there aren’t many individuals like Thoreau. I would classify Thoreau as a true individual because he was able to unpack what he desired, what he needed, what he wanted, what principles structured his life and what his limitations were.

All of this came from his deep self reflective nature, much of this is documented in his essay Walden where he spent two years living in a cabin. Thoreau was able to dissect himself and in doing so, came to the understanding that we should be governed first and foremost by our conscience.

But most people are not like Thoreau. Many of us rely on others to tell us what we should believe in and what we should oppose, the hive mind is real. The principles that structure our lives are set by other people, from the laws we follow, the way we behave, what we believe to be right and wrong, all of this is downloaded into us from a young age. Unlike Thoreau, who uploaded his own beliefs, we spend most of our time following trends set by others and in doing so, we get further and further away from our conscience.

Thoreau believed that corporations, like the government, don’t have a conscience but if we have individuals with a conscience in a corporation, then, that corporation could become conscientious. Such ideals are great but the issue isn’t the corporation, it is the individual. How can the corporation be expected to be conscientious when most people rarely find their conscience?

Thoreau was just one of the few who troubled himself in the search for his conscience but who knows if it’s worth the trouble. Life is definitely easier if you just go along with the trend. But is that really living or is that just existing?

Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. it is truly enough said, that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily agents of injustice. (Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience). 

 

 

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Reflections On The Meaninglessness Of Life

We act as if the world cares about us. As if there is a future which is predictable and certain. If you follow the right steps that you may be happy at some point in your life. If you match the steps of people that have come before you, that you may find this life worthwhile. Our minds are meant to be chained to some meaning so we grasp at what is comfortable, what is easily attainable and believe that to be the truth. We seek stability for in a stable world we can make progress, we can make plans for the future, we can project ourselves 10 or 20 years from now and see the improvements we have made and thus, we can keep going, living the same rhythm of life that we have been living.

Such a belief is absurd. The world does not care about our needs.

It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Beings”—this is important. Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. It awakens consciousness and provokes what follows. What follows is the gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening. At the end of the awakening comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery.

Such a feeling may strike someone “on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door” as Albert Camus put it. The feeling of absurdity. The absurd is the divorce between what a man wants and what life can offer. What man wants is meaning. A “why”, a reason for his struggle, for the hardships he faces, for the pain he endures. What’s heaven if not a prize for handling the hardships of life with grace. A possible reward for being a good boy. The same way we treat children or our pets. Behave yourself and you may get a treat, but there is no guarantee.

The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.

There is freedom in this silence, in the meaninglessness of life. That freedom being that one is free to be who he or she wishes and do what they like. You are not destined to be someone. Your life has no fate. You can give your own life meaning without having to be chained to the coping mechanism of other people like God or the rat race to get to the top and buy the newest car and live in the most expensive house. You are not chained to such things because such things are just man-made concepts to keep the absurdity of life from overwhelming you. But the absurdity can be freeing if you embrace it and understand that your life can be completely your own if you figure out what matters to you, what you truly desire, what you want and through this, you can figure out what gives your suffering meaning and your life meaning.

Most people rather not go through the trouble of giving their own lives meaning. They rather just follow the prescribed formula imposed onto them by others and be fine going in circles, over and over. It’s hard to blame such people because life is difficult and it is hard and it ends rather quickly. Why torment yourself further by revolting to the world, confronting your beliefs, examining your limitations and constantly seeing the world anew. Such revolt may give your life value but it is also a struggle to live this way. It may be simple just to conform. Hence why there are much more conformist in the world than there are true individuals. I suppose spending your life trying to act as if life isn’t absurd is one way to cope with its absurdity.

Man is always prey to his truths.

The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays by Albert Camus.

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Poem: First World Problems

Overindulgence of pleasure, immediate

satisfaction of misplaced needs, technological

era constantly produces new and better ways to feel pleasure, to

be disconnected from the self as connection with strangers is pushed, to

rely on machines and not the body, selling

products to improve your life, to

make life easier and yet it is the struggle we all admire, needs

of man are the same as they once were, yet

through manipulation of such needs, we are cornered into believing we need the,

new, new, new.

 

Need friendship, not the new phone to talk to your friends

need freedom, not the new car to go where you like

need thought to understand your anxieties, not

anti-anxiety, anti-depression, anti-emotions, anti-feelings, anti-self

pills of disconnect

new and better pills

solve your problems?

No?

new and better pills

now? addicted?

solved.

 

Easier and easier to be lost

new apps to find your way

daily suicide of the self

new ways to join groups

wish to improve yourself?

follow me, new gurus arise each day

want my life? Follow these steps

lies for popularity

prostituting the self for likes

can I get a like?

 

Shell is yours but what is inside it isn’t you

you mouth the words of other people, without

ever using your mind to think, puppet

on strings, move like others

the individuals are slowly dying

the group is rapidly rising

more new technology

less connection

new being

less human.

Poem: War, War

My hero; your villain

we mourn; you celebrate

we praise; you despair

right; right

wrong; wrong

each says, as

we die; you die

war, war.

 

Born a year earlier; later

thing land; that land

hero’s become villains, then,

villains are hero’s

from celebrating to tears

from dejection to jubilation

all cause the groud changed

but not the emotions or understandings we feel

war, war.

 

Detachment not attachment

love for man not for land

traditions, religions, and cultures secondary to the

individual, sapien and being

not a patriot, archaic like nationalism

nor a puppet moving on strings

neither your beliefs told to you

then

war, war

no more.

 

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Joseph Campbell’s Advice to Artists

Should I study law? Should I become an accountant? A dentist? A painter? Should I devote myself to writing? How will I pay the bills? Can I make a living doing this?

I need __? I want __? Should I do __ or __? How can I __?

So many questions plague the mind when you focus it on the future. There is fear in not knowing what to do. Some might think that if you figure out what you wish to do with your life then that fear might subside. I found that not to be true. Making a living through art is never guaranteed. With anything there is uncertainty. Knowing what you wish to do is very different from being able to do that thing and even that is different from making a living doing that thing.

The questions of security, stability, happiness and purposeful living always revolve around such decisions.

Joseph Campbell also had similar thoughts. He understood the need to pursue a life of art but at the same time not wanting to be dead broke the entire time. He knew the consequences that could arise from living the “artist way of life” and that penniless living is just filled with struggle and hard times. That life is not for everyone. In order to help ease the decision between pursuing what one loves and what might give them stability, Joseph Campbell differentiated between work and job.

From Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion

The normal situation is that, perhaps for years, you work away at your art, your life vocation, your life-fulfilling field of action, and there’s no money in it. You have to live, though, so you get a job, which may be a low-degree activity relative to what you are interested in. You could, for instance, teach people the art you are operating in yourself. So, let’s say you have a teaching job, and you also have sacred space and time to perform your own work. Your art is what I would call your work. Your employment is your job.

Having separated what you love and how you make a living, Joseph Campbell goes further and talks about what to do if you are given a raise in your job.

Then, you are doing so well in your job that your employer wants to move you into a higher position. You’ll have to give more to the job than before, and you will receive a higher salary, but your new commitments will cut down on your free time. My advice is: don’t accept the promotion.

Time is what people do not have and cannot control. It goes quickly and you need it to do what you wish to do. Your art requires time. What happens when you spend more time on your job? You have less time for your work. In this way, you quickly spiral further and further away from your work as job commitments become more demanding along with higher pay.

It’s like doing your exercise: you set aside a time when you’re going to exercise, and that is a holy time. With your art, you should do the same: give a certain number of hours a day to your art, and make it consistent. Then, whether you’re writing or not, sit there for those hours: it’s a meditation on communication and expression, the two factors in the art work. What will happen, ideally, is that gradually – and it might not be this week or next or even this year – as your given responsibilities drop off, there will be an expansion of the time available to you for the practice of your art. The point I’m making is that your work – that is, your art – and your job must not contaminate each other.

At the end of the day, the dream is to have your job and work be the same thing. For some people that comes early and for others, it happens much later in life. And for some, that combination never takes place. Regardless, a pursuit of stable living does not mean death to the artist inside of you. One can find the proper balance.

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