His life was a study in geometry. All boxed up in squares, walking well-trodden circles, maintaining awkward relationship triangles and gazing longingly at nondescript archways you’d never notice but for the laughing couples disappearing into them.
You know what I love? It’s the warm glow that spreads from my smile to my toes when my eyes collide with those of a cute stranger on the street, or in her car next to mine at the lights, or in a café. I love the freshness and passion of the ensuing 30-second love affair in my mind which races or slows given the lusciousness of the scene unfolding: her scratching her arm and twisting her pursed lips around her straw while considering how to respond to my question about why she loves the piano accordion (her expression and poise so unselfconsciously endearing it makes me want to kill myself); the first time I touch her, just a brush against her cheek (and her brief shiver with heavy-lidded eyes in response); our first kiss, warm and wet and almost accidental (and the tension neither of us knew was there melting to reveal a dull throb in anticipation of what’s coming next); our wedding, which is unlike any of the mundane weddings of my friends (all the guests dissolving the moment we see each other across the suddenly inconsequential abyss of the aisle, their existence eclipsed by her enormous chrysanthemum eyes, nose like a razor and smile where you can see all the top and the bottom row of teeth); our first real fight which we resolve and tumble, laughing, into bed to make love (with urgency and fervour, shaking our fists and biting our thumbs at the looming and unavoidable demise of our egos, who we are together, our way of life); our first child and the utter exhaustion we feel as we support one another unquestioningly (because in this moment I see the bigger picture and know that it’s all worth it); the first few grey hairs and the spreading lines on her face (each of which captures another beautiful story in our shared history); the hard times we inevitably go through (any unhappiness white-washed away, gracefully countered by the unstoppable fusion reaction that is our love for each other); our sharp decline and the complicated satisfaction I feel looking back on a life I would not have spent any other way.
And then, paralysed by the disparity between the perfection in my head and the stark contours of reality where I’ve never had the balls to make a move, I take another sip of my double espresso and go back to reading the business section.
Viva la Evolucione!
I finished Ken Wilber’s A Theory of Everything not long ago, a remarkable and very different perspective on evolution, which was so incredibly intense and full of such enormous words that I had to keep putting it down (either to pick up something less mind-fucking – in a good way – or to grab the dictionary). While I think I managed to absorb no more than about 30% of it (at a stretch), some fundamental premises he laid down ring so very, very true. One of the ones that I really liked is that our view of reality evolves as we evolve. We dig deeper and find more in all directions of reality (physical, mental, spiritual) as we evolve. My own experience has supported this theory, and so I will attempt to outline my own evolving philosophies, at least where they are at the moment.
The Four Pillars
First cab off the rank: responsibility. Take it on, completely and utterly. My belief is that we have to take ultimate responsibility for everything in our lives. Life may deal us a bleak hand, but shirking responsibility, attempting to point the finger at some external antagonist will get you nowhere. Shit happens, people hurt us, our friends die. Grieve, mourn, be sad – absolutely – but continue taking responsibility for your life. Of the activities that keep you alive, take responsibility for as many as you can right now. And then work to take on more. This starts with emotions, mental states, health (prevention is better than cure) and may go as far as growing your own food, creating your own clothes. There is something incredibly empowering about taking responsibility, taking control of yourself (the only thing you can control).
Of course, I say “may go as far as” because I’m a city slicker and have many things done for me, but I have found the more I take control of my life the greater the opportunities and experiences I am granted.
They’ve been singin’ about love since time immemorial and I’ve got to admit I subscribe to the ‘it’s all love, maaaaan’ theory. With one caveat. I think love needs to be assertive, in the sense that if you’re in a damaging circumstance you need to assert yourself. Head for the door, but continue sending love over your shoulder. Make sure you look after yourself (you have a responsibility to do this), and don’t let a poor situation develop to the point that love turns to fear or resentment (i.e. synonyms for hate). Love, baby, love.
Awareness. Mindfulness. Stop replaying the past and rehearsing the future. Easier said than done but it might be useful to remember that your conscious mind comprises only a tiny proportion of your entire awareness. Cultivate mindfulness. Focus on your breath. Meditate. Connect with your body and the world around you. Once connected with yourself you will be able to connect in a more meaningful way with others, including intimate partners (the basis of tantra and intuitive love making). Self-awareness and self-connectedness seem to me to be the basis of all other philosophy, in that it was the starting point of all this for me.
This is an interesting one. Mostly because I first drafted this blog on Jan 15th (really only with headings) and my views have changed slightly already. Honesty is tantamount, but truth is contextual. Don’t get confused between living honestly and telling the truth. An honest life, to me, is one where you honour yourself and your needs primarily. Not to the exclusion of anyone else, incorporate them into your honest existence, but you must look after yourself first and be honest to yourself and those around you with your developing needs. Also know that truth, the moment it is said, is no longer true (borrowed from Taoism). For me, this is evidenced by things like this blog. We are constantly evolving and changing and as soon as you’ve read this it will no longer be my truth or yours.