Conversations with myself – #2

Stop feeding off my pain. I cannot take it any longer. The burden, the weight, is far too great. I am no longer your scapegoat, your bearer of misfortune. My pain cannot heal you. I am not your savior.

Though I love you,

I need my strength for me. For me and for them.

(When my son hurts I care for him. I tend his wound, soothe his ailing body. How is it I know what to do?

What of his inner pain? How do I care for that?

When he cries out in pain, I hold him. When he can’t sleep for fear, I reassure him. When he looks down at his feet, reluctant to face the world, I cup his chin in my hand and lift his face toward mine. When he needs me, I am there for him. But even he…even he must someday care for himself.)

I avoid what should be done.

What must be done? What must be done?

(And by must I mean should, as should demands a moral choice: No other choices have meaning. To live with meaning, then, one must choose what should be chosen).

Care for myself as I would my son.

Not so deep within lives a little boy. And when he is afraid, he screams out so loud. A deafening, piercing wail. Screams to be saved.

Silent now. Do you hear him?

The fear of pain becomes the pain.

Fear of loss, of regret. Fear of mistakes. Fear of making an active, as opposed to a reactive, choice.

Through all this. Thirty-five years six months and four days later. That seems to be what I have learned. It all comes down to this: becoming a mature adult man, father and husband and citizen of this world, requires a choice.

Make a choice! Shoulder responsibility, or, rather, make responsibility my own.

I have avoided choices. Certain painful choices. Particularly risky choices. I fear an uncertain future. I sacrifice my present to the morning, but the morning never comes.

I fear an uncertain future, and the morning never comes.

Day in. Day out. Month after monotonous month.

The autumn breeze blows in winter’s chill. Melting ice reveals nodding snow bells, bowing to summer’s rising sun. Around, and around, and around this globe turns in its celestial ellipse. And I, my childlike existence, twirling and spinning and twisting limbs akimbo, orbiting my hard choices, year after bloody year.

(There are only so many seasons the flowers will bloom before these lights go out, and I feed the roots of next spring’s annuals).

I hover in childlike existence. I wait for someone to make the choice. To take it. To move the waltz along. I am not yet finished the dance, the high school wonder. I haven’t yet the courage to take her hand; or to turn my back. I haven’t the fortitude to say yes, to say no. Or anything much, at all.

Days into months, seasons into years; and there it is, nonchalant, uncaring, oblivious. Passing, turning, passing and turning.

Oh how the days pass me by, and the seasons turn their back on me.

And aging.

Thirty, Thirty-one, Thirty-two, Thirty-three. Now thirty-five. Now thirty-five and six months. Now thirty-five and six months and four days.

And it, nonchalant and uncaring, passing and turning. The seasons of my life, orbiting the hard choices, my choices, waiting for someone to make them.

Waiting for me to take them.

I only move if you push me

It is slowing down.

The letters, the words,

only now a trickle.

A sign of change.

Healing, optimism? Or the opposite:

resignation?

This….this is my life.

This is my life?

Resignation.


Someone, oh someone pick me up!

Bathe and clothe and nurture me.

Point the way, or better yet, take me there.

Oh, someone please pick me up!

(I scream into the Abyss and only I can hear).


I have shed a million tears. And I am still right here.

I only move if you push me.

I will shed a million more. Fill this room to overflowing.

And I will not swim.

And I will sink.

And I will be right here.

Conversations with myself – #1

I can’t force the parts of me to emerge, to come out from hiding.

That is one of the paradoxes here: set the mind to let go of control, make that a goal, and the mind automatically elects an executor, gives it the label ‘I’, and sets to work.

But by that very act, the goal itself becomes unattainable.

Letting go cannot be consciously willed.


There is a thought here about OCD. Something fleeting, out of reach. It has to do with an intuition, and the realization that explaining, arguing, defending the intuition with logic and reason, would in and of itself be all the argument I would need. The very act of arguing is itself the argument.

OCD needs control. Intuitions are suspect.


Consciousness from a distance, perhaps consciousness unclouded or uninfluenced by emotion or expectation or assumption, by narrative – perhaps that is dissociation. Viewing oneself as from the outside, and realizing that ‘oneself’ is not in fact one, is not a unified essence, but rather an association of multiple parts and systems subsumed by consciousness, abstracted under the simplified label ‘I’.

The brain abstracts. This is a fact. Is it any surprise, that once consciousness emerged, the brain abstracted itself? It has awoken to itself and given itself a name.

Just as the abstraction ‘tree’ denotes the concept of a tree, the abstraction ‘I’ denotes something, and not another thing. But what is that something?

Subsumed by the concept ‘tree’ are many types, forms, varieties. There exists a spectrum of entities with ‘treeish’ qualities. But, Plato aside, there is no form of a perfect tree, of which all actual trees are mere approximations.

No. At the extremes of the set of all possible trees will be trees that, for example, could arguably be classified as ‘shrub’. That classification would be a matter of arbitrary boundaries, imposed by humans on an evolved spectrum of entities.

What about the concept ‘I’? I know what I am not. I am neither ‘rock’, nor ‘tree’. But am I a unified entity as I sense myself to be, most of the time? Am I the actual ‘I’ in this sentence? What does that even mean? Does the question make sense?

In my more introspective, more passive moments, when I refuse or am exhausted from interaction with this world, I intuit I am an illusion.

I exist, and can be defined, only as concretely (if that!) as the concept ‘tree’. At the extremes of defining myself, I find a blurring of the me and the not me, and it becomes impossible to identify a clear boundary. It is experiencing this boundary, directly and clearly through introspection, that the illusion of a defined, unified ‘I’ becomes apparent.

This illusion is belied by the intuition of being united and disjoint, sad and happy, clear and muddied, young and old, wise and naive, SIMULTANEOUSLY! These are not sequential observations apprehended by the mind in quick succession; these qualities exist at the same time, in the same person.


Something unified, whole, one, cannot, in the strictest sense, contain contradictory parts. Show me a truly unified country. Show me any organization that doesn’t contain inherent oppositions. In reality, no amalgamation of disparate entities and divergent qualities is whole, is one, in the strictest sense. Harmony is constantly fought for, is hard-won, is at perpetual risk of collapse. Simple abstractions such as ‘I’, ‘Canada’, ‘United Nations’, masks these facts.


We could redefine the commonsense label ‘I’ to include all these disjointed, multiple systems and parts. We could do that at the risk of being misunderstood. Or we could speak with clarity, and say the person is a conglomeration of contradictions and strained relationships, that manage to coexist and, often, cooperate toward some greater end, such as reproduction,  democracy, world peace. Perhaps the simplification, the abstraction, performed by the mind on itself is a useful trick, a rule of thumb, to operate more effectively in a complex world.


Consider again the contradictory qualities apprehended by consciousness. I am inclined to say that these qualities, in fact, constitute consciousness. Consciousness and the ‘objects’ of consciousness are one and the same. Self-awareness then is a special case of consciousness taking itself as the object of consciousness.


‘I’, like ‘tree’, properly understood, must fall on a spectrum, if we insist on keeping the term at all. It is a useful term in fact. It does seem to denote something, that is, as opposed to nothing, or anything.

But the illusory ‘I’, the executor of your ‘free’ will (another illusion), does not exist as you think it does. It is a simplification, a useful abstraction, no doubt, but also potentially dangerous. It demands and often commands too much respect. It often weds the ego, or simply is the ego, and takes a life of its own. The illusory ‘I’, like the body it inhabits, refuses to die (which is perhaps beneficial to the body). But once its usefulness has been exhausted, it still clings to life, clings to the illusion it requires to exist.

To me, my ‘I’ represents the dictator of my life, is addicted to control, needs exactitude and axiomatic precision. Not only does it insist I be a certain way, demanding strict obedience to its dictates, but that reality be a certain way as well. Oh the arrogance! Conformity of reality to my boundaries ensures my deepest fears never become actualized (or, more precisely, I blind myself to their actualization), never bubble to the surface of consciousness, where they would need to be dealt with.


In a world of total control the substance of fear cannot form, cannot organize, cannot act. In a world of total control, fear is banished and forbidden to enter. The illusion of control: that is the reason my ‘I’ is so reluctant to die.

Quote #5

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Dissociation

Stop that grasping,

and just let it go.

I don’t exist,

and never have.

This body, this mind,

these cells of bone, muscle, nerves and skin.

I am an illusion,

emerging from a neural network,

unifying through gross abstraction,

these multiple, interacting, embedded parts.

I am and I am not.

I am here, but I am elsewhere.

I feel anger, but simultaneous joy; pessimism and optimism; strength and weakness. I am both heavy and light.

These are no mere metaphors,

turns of phrase,

figures of speech.

In no way am I speaking in analogy; it is not as if I don’t exist; it is not as if I am multiple yet one; it is not as if I speak to myself across infinitesimal chasms in my mind.

‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘myself’, as descriptors, do not suffice.

There exists no single point, no central hub, no captain’s chair, where I take the helm and direct the show. But instead, there is system and sub-system feeding into itself and into the other; system within system of inter-networked biochemistry and electrical spikes. The sense, the illusion of self emerging from this near infinite complexity and potential.

Stop that grasping, that clinging, that clutching, that hoarding;

Stop that pining, that longing, that needing, that demanding;

Stop that storytelling, that narrating, that ascribing, that moralizing;

and let the illusion go.

Words do not suffice.

Let it go.

 

Twenty-four fountains

Twenty-four fountains. Spitting vertical spouts of clear water a foot high. Each stream pulled down on itself by gravity; unfurling liquid ferns held together by surface tension. At the tip of each transparent crystal frond quickly accelerating towards Earth’s center, fracturing and division as multiple single droplets break free; the droplets pit patting, pit patting, pit…pit…patting, the grey concrete paving stones. Tapping out a plot, a rhythm rich in meaning, just for me.

Twenty-four transient translucent authors, communicating amidst the jostling bustling hive of unaware humanity. Secretly, just to me.

Lyrics #3 – Goner – by Twenty One Pilots

Check song out here.
Goner
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I wanna be known by you
I wanna be known by you
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I wanna be known by you
I wanna be known by you
Though I’m weak
Beaten down
I’ll slip away
Into the sound
The ghost of you
Is close to me
I’m inside out
You’re underneath
I’ve got two faces
Blurry’s the one I’m not
I’ve got two faces
Blurry’s the one I’m not
I need your help to
Take him out
I need your help to
Take him out
Though I’m weak
And beaten down
I’ll slip away
Into the sound
The ghost of you
Is close to me
I’m inside out
You’re underneath
Though I’m weak
And beaten down
I’ll slip away
Into the sound
The ghost of you
Is close to me
I’m inside out
You’re underneath
Don’t let me be gone
Don’t let me be gone
Don’t let me be gone
Don’t let me be gone
Don’t let me be!
Don’t let me be!
Ah
Yeah
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I’m a goner
Somebody catch my breath
I wanna be known by you
I wanna be known by you

How to end a conversation before it begins

‘How are you?’ ‘How are you?’ she said.

In a floating transitional state, waiting for the cosmos to give me the sign. Where are my legs? And gravity?

In a hyper-(ir)rational state. Am I sure of my arithmetic? Who says the world is logical? Logic to prove logic seems, well, ill-logical.

I am tense. But that is not my tension. My muscles vibrate with anxious intent. But they are not controlled by me. My hair is thick (yet thinning on top). But that hair crowns another man’s scalp.


Through the windows of the eyes, in the place where a soul might be, staring back in the mirror, something unborn, non-existent, flickers. Possessing a living host, it digs a tiny hollow, one fingernail scraping at a time. Piece by agonizing piece it widens its enclosure, allowing fresh air and light to fill the concave spaces around it.

As the cocoon about shudders and frets and lurches this way and that, the weightless non-entity bounces and spins freely in padded enclosures, thick organic walls of muscle and bone, pliable, absorbing the shocks of a chaotic existence.


‘How are you?’ ‘How are you?’ she said.

‘Oh, me, well I’m fine,’ would have been the reply, the sound carried reflexively up the throat, rolling over the tongue, out the lying mouth.

A colossal misunderstanding, and we both must be excused. In this universe the laws of arithmetic don’t always hold; but how could she have known? And I am tired of lies.

‘Oh, me, well I don’t exist. But thanks for asking.’

Ego metamorphosis

Trapped in this skin,

A developed presence trying to break free,

From the lower back, up along the edges of the spine, over and around the middle of the head: a pulling, wrenching pressure.

Something long dormant has awoken,

Cracking the thick, drying skin,

Snapping the taught sinew and corded muscle,

Breaking brittle bone, relieving tension.

Emerging, curled up, soft and rumpled folds;

A new body, a fresh wisdom and refined ego, stretching and extending, filling this old space with something new, hungry and invigorated.

Quote #4

Hitting bottom isn’t a weekend retreat. It’s not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO! – Tyler Durden from Fight Club

The fortress nursery

I am a play-acting leader wandering aimlessly,

Trudging up and down each ridge and valley,

Marching headstrong on twisted paths unknowing;

Eager to say ‘Here is the way, follow me.’

 

I set off young, ill-equipped, and eagerly,

To a distant snow-capped peak I aimed to journey,

Heavy burdensome pack filled to overflowing;

Doubt, inexperience, arrogant insecurity.

 

In each palm five tiny digits clasped firmly,

My delightful, loving, innocent responsibility,

Yet cradled deep within another growing;

Swaddled in armoured layers deceptively.

 

I now know I am the king of a fortress nursery,

Revealed to me by their lips curled mockingly,

To veiled contempt, through muffled laughter owing;

They all scorn the child I refused to see.

 

Now too great the burden’s intensity,

A suffocating pack and no hands free,

Foundation’s cracked, there is no more going;

Deep within a child cries desperately.

 

In this storm of clear and urgent necessity,

Heed those mocking faces – growth requires honesty –

King’s garments stripped as the tempest continues blowing;

I, reborn and naked before you, stand awkwardly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lyrics #1 – The Grudge – by Tool

Check out video here.

Check out lyric interpretations here.

Writers: Adam Jones, Daniel Carey, Maynard Keenan, Justin Chancellor

The Grudge

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.
Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Terrified of being wrong. Ultimatum prison cell.Saturn ascends, choose one or ten. Hang on or be humbled again.
Humbled again.Clutch it like a cornerstone. Otherwise it all comes down.
Justify denials and grip ’em to the lonesome end.
Saturn ascends, comes round again.
Saturn ascends, the one, the ten. Ignorant to the damage done.

Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity.
Calculate what we will or will not tolerate.
Desperate to control all and everything.
Unable to forgive your scarlet lettermen.

Wear the grudge like a crown. Desperate to control.
Unable to forgive. And sinking deeper.

Defining, confining, sinking deeper.
Controlling, defining, and we’re sinking deeper.

Saturn comes back around to show you everything
Let’s you choose what you will, will not see and then
Drags you down like a stone or lifts you up again
Spits you out like a child, light and innocent.

Saturn comes back around. Lifts you up like a child
Or drags you down like a stone to
Consume you till you choose to let this go.
Choose to let this go.

Give away the stone. Let the oceans take and
Transmutate this cold and fated anchor.
Give away the stone. Let the waters kiss and
Transmutate these leaden grudges into gold.
Let go.

Narrative seeds

Severed narratives. Ego, understanding, security, perspective, ripped asunder.

Open, festering, emotional wounds.

Who am I?

With what do I build again? How do I see again? Where does the nightmare end and the future begin?

I repeat: where does the nightmare end and the future begin?

Optimistically uncertain. But afraid. Nervous. What parts of the old me are worth holding onto? Which bits scattered afield should I collect, pick up and place in my bucket, to be cleaned and reassembled?

I survey the fields. Empty. In need of nourishment. I survey the fields. A hollow shell.

Who am I?

A father. Aye! A father! I am that. Indeed I am. And what else? A fighter. Aye! A fighter! I do indeed care enough to fight. And what else? Alive. Aye! Breath still enters these lungs. And what else? Principled. Yes. I am grounded in principles.

And what are those principles? What grounds me?

Truth. Yes truth, and self-awareness. Avoid, at all costs, self-deception, willing blindness. Avoid, at all costs, refusal to peer within and assess, comprehend what you see.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and respect from others. Accept only so much deceit before moving on. People lie for any number of reasons. You have the power, the right, to move on, to no longer accept partnership, subjection, to another’s consistent lying.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and forgiveness. Understand we all, everyone of us, make mistakes, are sometimes led down dark corridors, can lose our true paths. Forgive others and forgive yourself, but never forget. Don’t become naive. Don’t blind yourself. You can forgive, but you must not allow yourself to become the victim of another’s consistent, disrespectful, harmful actions and words.

This aids truth.

Truth. Yes truth, and self-confidence. You are as capable and as good as you currently are. Have you reached your potential? Continue the struggle with confidence, head held high, looking skyward, until you do. You are only as capable and as good as you currently are, and nobody can ask more of you at any given moment than that, including yourself. There is no reason to get down on yourself. Control only what is in your power to control. The hand you were dealt belongs to a cosmic lottery, the same one played by every single person who exists or has ever existed or who will ever exist. Compare not with envy and longing yourself to others, but look hard into your own eyes and find where you can and are willing to improve. Control only what you can control, with confidence.

This aids truth.

The nightmare ends, and the future begins, at truth.

Not so hollow after all. I survey these fields, life-giving, life-affirming seeds in hand.

Quote #2

No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. – Carl Gustav Jung

Cleansing an obsessed mind

What is my problem?

I can’t control this anymore. Let it out. Let it out. Let it out. A million times let it out.

Do you want to be that person? No?

Let it out. Let it out. You don’t need control. Let it out. Let it out.

Let go of the control. You don’t need control. You don’t need control.

People get hurt; let it out.

People make mistakes; let it out.

One year, three years, one hundred years; let it out.

Oh my pride; let it go. It hurts, oh my pride. My pride it hurts; let it go. Oh my pride. Let it go.

Alone in this meaningless universe. But not really alone. No heaven, no hell, no god to guide me. Alone. But not really alone. Who shall lead? Me?

So insecure in myself; so very unsure. Why on my heart did you tread? Why?

Let it go. No why. Let it go.

No why! Let it go!

I shall lead or be led – no control, no pride, no insecurity, in this meaningless world. Let come what may. I shall lead or be led. No control.

Let that all go. Let that all out. Open the gates and watch the flood, the stress of a million doubts wash the barren plains of the soul. Cleanse the spirit with the deluge of doubt. Put it to good use for once.

Watch it go.

How beautiful!

How liberating!

Let it go.

Sunshine Blogger Award Second Nomination

I would like to thank DM at Pointless Overthinking for the nomination, which has further motivated and inspired me to develop this project.

The Rules
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and a link back to the blog.
2. Answering 11 questions that the Blogger asked you.
3. Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the awards and write them 11 questions.
4. List the rules and display the Sunshine blogger award logo in your post on your blog.

Questions posed to me:

1 – What phrase would you use to describe your future?

Optimistically uncertain.

2 – Which movie had the biggest impact on you?

The Exorcist…or maybe Braveheart…

3 – From all the things you do on a daily basis, which ones do you love the most and why?

Things involving my family and friends. It is with them I am my best person.

4 – What are you addicted of?

Ruminating. Oh, and coffee.

5 – What would you change about yourself?

Ruminate less.

6 – What do you do to relax?

Exercise, socialize, travel, write…sleep.

7 – If you have unlimited money, what would you buy and why?

…’a fur coat, but not a real fur coat, that’s cruel’…(look it up)

8 – If you could make a movie about anything, what would that movie be about and why?

I would write, direct, and (maybe) star in a perfectly accurate Kafkaesque portrayal of living with obsessive compulsive disorder.

9 – What’s your biggest fear?

Living contrary to my essence.

10 – What’s your biggest wish?

Living in tune with my essence.

11 – What word would you use to describe yourself?

Challenging.

My Nominations:

1 – Nameera Ever After

2 – The World Through My Eyes 

3 – Memoir Of A Writer

4 – Alex Markovich Illustrations & Photos

5 – Eclipsed Words

6 – Wonder Diary

7 – angelalimaq

8 – The Darkest Tunnel

9 – Navigate My Recovery

 

My Questions:

1 – Do you believe in free will?

2 – Which philosophical worldview best describes you?

3 – Cats or dogs? And WHY?

4 – Favourite book(s)?

5 – Do you suffer from an anxiety disorder? How do you cope?

6 – Is there an ultimate meaning to life, the cosmos?

7 – How best to positively influence the world?

8 – Is there such a thing as good and evil?

9 – What major change(s) would you like to see in the world?

10 – Are you living in harmony with your world?

11 – Glass half empty or half full? And WHY?

A rose sits atop a ladder of thorns

Just because it hurts doesn’t make it bad. And pleasure can be an insidious companion.

Addiction may bring ecstatic release; enlightened dedication, anxious suffocation.

The devil wears many guises, and a rose sits atop a ladder of thorns.

In this poem I am a god

I am sorry for the things I’ve done, of which I was aware,

And I am sorry for the things I’ve done, in my ignorance at the time.

But I am sorry more for the things I didn’t do, the things I didn’t do, the things I didn’t do.

I didn’t know – to be sorry makes little sense –

and I don’t care.

(In my poem I am allowed to be a god, and to render an apology for things I didn’t know)

(In my poem I am allowed to be a god, and to take all your pain. I am your saviour, because I want to be … and to render an apology for things I didn’t know)

————————————————–

What does she want?

————————————————–

I am sorry for the things I didn’t do, I didn’t do, I didn’t do.

(In this poem I am a god…and yet, I still don’t know)

 

Echo – (author (un)known)

Climbing rocks into the bowels of sky,

Ahoy! Ahoy, silent sailing voluminous fleets!

Black trees balance here their swirled tops to dizziness,

And I, sweat and dry, clinging the granular Death,

Gripping nails the twisted root,

Achieve a tiny ledge, a respite spot to lie.

Almighty Life! Almighty, Mighty Life! Inside I cry.

I, this immense mountain and sky!

An eagle level in my sight, his emperor screech,

Soars up feathered beast the wind-draft face.

Off below a big valley winds like a snake.

Wide mouth cupped, I hollered, ‘Who am I?’

And came, as from another place, ‘Who am I?’

‘Who am I?’

To somewhere gone, beyond my reach.

Positive pride: a remedy for hate

Hate, anger, jealousy need to be expressed. They do not, however, command such respect. They definitely do not need to be heeded. They want justification to exist. Well they have it! What more could they possibly want, why are they so insatiable? What could satisfy them? I imagine, not much.

I wonder: What if the whole world felt my pain, your pain? Felt sorry? Would that placate hate and anger? What if half the world felt it? A quarter? A single country? Your community? My street? A neighbour? Simply just you? Just me? Where does it begin, where does it end?

What do hate and anger want? To hurt? To hurt others? Me? You? To dine at the table of vengeance? And then what? Reduce the target of their existence to a heap of guilt, of ridicule and tears. Vengeance smells sweet, looks pleasing, but how does it taste? Bitter? Take the pain and inflict it a hundred fold. Would that act, that behaviour, lead to anything good, respectable, positive, forward thinking, upward looking?

Oh, I believe the act itself could feel good, cathartic, for a fraction of a moment. The consequences, not as much. I do not want to be enslaved by these emotions. Quite frankly, they do not become me, and they are tedious companions, exhausting. The desires whispered in my ear by hate and anger, the goals they think they would achieve, would never come to pass. They appear only to want to salvage pride, the ego.

Egoistic pride isn’t worth the effort. Egoistic pride can be hurt. But there is a type of pride to nurture, a positive, illuminating, motivating pride. Beneficial pride is progressive, not regressive, a spring of confidence and optimism, not a blanket for insecurity and doubt.

Beneficial pride cannot be hurt, does not bend to the whims of negativity. Deep abiding pride heeds not insults, nor affronts. Positive pride belongs to a confident soul; it is the engine of the motivation to do well, to do good for oneself and one’s community.

Positive pride is a monument to just deeds and deserved recognition, a stopping point on one’s life path, a sign-post, forever accessible on one’s journey, pointing forward, ever forward.

Positive pride says ‘saddle up, there is the way, you’ve made it this far, there is your way…onward! Onward, life traveler.’

Is it not said that ‘pride commeth before the fall’? This is the pride protecting the ego, leading to hubris, to overconfidence. This is the pride that can be vengeful, because it can be hurt, can become resentful and hateful. The good pride of which I speak is related to the feeling one has of good deeds attempted and desirable outcomes achieved, of the fleeting yet reinforcing admiration of others, by doing and achieving deeds and outcomes deemed worthy by yourself and the community. It is not pride that inflates the ego, that feeds off selfishness, that feeds selfishness in turn; it is the pride that indicates, that signals, that one is on the right path, a good direction. It is a road-mark, a checkpoint, a milestone. Beneficial pride is but a shadow cast by good deeds, an after-glow, an impression of great things on one’s emotional fabric.

To have a sense of pride is not a bad thing. Positive pride cannot possibly be dirtied or defiled or hurt in any way. It is but a corollary of good actions attempted and good outcomes achieved. It does not hang around, seeking undue admiration. It is not a garb to be worn defensively by one’s ego. It is not even a thing, in and of itself, for it cannot exist without the actions and results in whose presence it is cast. Beneficial pride is utterly dependent. It has to be earned, continually, through deeds confidently taken, outcomes deliciously obtained.

Positive pride is a shadow, and a shadow cannot be harmed.

Hatred and anger need a foil for their existence, they need a target for their justification. They are vengeful, spiteful emotions that want to inflict pain. Hatred does not point anywhere positive. Anger is all consuming, fueled by the positive essence of one’s being. Anger will burn until that essence is all used up. The only benefit of these emotions is to draw attention to potential and actual threats to oneself and one’s community. Many things are not okay. There is much vice and immorality in the world- Hatred and anger can draw attention to morally suspect realities, can motivate the identification, combating, and remediation of bad things. If bad things go unchallenged, the world is worse off. Hatred and anger are two emotions that motivate the challenge of bad things.

But hatred, anger, jealousy, can so easily lead to ruin, for oneself and others. The outcomes they effect may very well be out of all proportion to their cause. And what kind of outcome should one wish to effect, if not a positive one? What kind of outcome, that cannot possibly be positive, is desirable at all? We are no longer members of wandering bands of proto-humans. Anger and hatred have little reason to exist today, as our survival no longer depends on them. But our egos do! Our egos, if weak, dine on hatred, drink of pain.

Am I hurting? Are you? Yes. We all are, or will be, or have been. Would reducing the source of your pain, the target of our hatred, to an emotional mess, disgracing it in the eyes of the community, serve any positive end? No.

It is extremely selfish to think my pain, the motivation behind any form of vengeance, is more valuable, more worthy, than the pain and suffering my vengeance would create. What actually would I be avenging? My sense of egoistic pride? But that is not worth fighting for.

A strong sense of ego cannot be dismantled nor destroyed by anything external. A strong ego is forward thinking, upward looking, impervious to wrongs committed, yet not naive. A strong ego knows life brings many challenges, but that striving for good for oneself and one’s community is the highest, the most noble path. Take pride in leaving sign-posts and monuments along your path, provided they teach valuable lessons, distill wisdom, and point forward, ever forward.