Kuben

Så var jeg der, i midten av ørkenen, skal et sted, kanskje ingensted. Vindet var styrk og i store vindkaster blåste sand tvers ansiket mitt, men jeg var rolig, for det er hvor jeg burde bli. Da skjedde jeg opp på en kube, som ligger i midten av ørkenen. Det var små, større enn handen min, og skapt fra noe metall, some bronse eller wolfram. Skrivet på det var ord, men jeg kunne ikke ler dem, selv hvis de virket så fortrolig.

Da så jeg en hull, bak og på høyre, i det var en tre stige som går ned. Plutselig så jeg en hest, føran meg, ved siden av hullen, med en enkel sal. Ingen pakker og baggasjer, ingen rustning, verken gamle, eller nye. Forskjellig, som hvis det var mer om hesten enn jeg kunne se. Hvordan hadde jeg ikke sett det før? Noe uvanlige skjer her. Og da, plutselig, var blomster, alle rundt meg, kommer inn fra avstand, blomstering som ringen strammet. Tusen om tusen blomster, sånn langt som jeg kan se, og forsatt kunne jeg se sanddyner på avstand, sånn store fjell rundt meg.

Og så til slutt, på avstand, over sanddyner, dukket opp en styrk storm. Det stormet inn, men jeg var ikke redd. For rundt meg, og hullen med stige, hesten og kuben, og under oss var sand, sånn det var før og det hadde ikke endre. Bare bortenfor begynt blomstene, og jeg følt stormen ville ikke skad meg. Her var jeg med meg selv. Og selv om alt rundt meg var større, alt var ment å bli oppdaget.

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I refleksjon av kuben test – en japansk psykology spill

The older I get, the less I know

The older I get, the less I want to say. I can’t help but think of the opening lines to “Crusades” by August Burns Red: “I use to be so young, and invincible. The mistakes of my youth are finally catching up to me. The face that stares back in the mirror should carry nothing but pride.” I echo those feelings and in my brief time here, I feel like I’m so much less certain about things than I was when I was slightly younger. I was more certain about my views on faith, on goodness, on honour, on just about everything. I thought I knew what was true, black, white and grey. I wrote more often, thinking I was putting out salient observations about the nature of it all. Now I look back, and it all seems so much more complicated than what my younger self thought.

The older I get, the less I want to say. “It’s Not Enough” by Dustin Kensrue outlines so many life accomplishments, many laudable, many that I have so desperately desired – and yet it seems to suggest that none of these things are enough to “make me whole.” What is important and worthwhile? Family? Friends? Connection? Service? Honour? Wisdom? Happiness? Peace? Having abandoned so much of these in my own ways, by various life decisions and by leaving home, I question at my core what makes for a good life. As I reflect on my decisions and on how they have shaped me, I honestly wonder if I have done more harm than good to myself, and if that even matters.

The older I get, the less I want to say. One of the fundamental purposes of writing this blog was so that I could leave something, some record or tracking of my thoughts and reflections for my offspring, that they might understand me better, or at least see how I got to where I am – and judge for themselves whether I was right or wrong. And yet, I confess that I do not know if that shall ever come to pass. And then I question as well if that matters, whether I should continue to write, and to what ends.

The older I get, the less I know. And yet like a broken record, I remain fairly certain that love is the key, and that it is the right driving force. You can’t necessarily learn things through love, as it will never teach you what happens at the center of a star, what lies at the bottom of the sea, or what the fabric of ultimate reality is. But properly exercised, love can direct you to do the best, perhaps the most worthwhile things with your time here. It’s too bad that the older I get, the more I realize that love is something I know very little about.

Owning One’s Destiny

Recently the 14th Dalai Lama has been quoted saying “We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.” While he said this statement in response to questions about his opinion on the recent Paris attacks, I think there’s an important lesson here for all religious people, myself included – and it has been one I’m trying to integrate into my life.

It is important to recognize in our lives, and in the lives of others, that we are – at the minimum, co-authors in our destiny. While it is easy to blame God for horrible things that happen, or to pray for God to fix it, the issue often lies with us. We make many decisions that positively or negatively impact our life, and I think it`s massively important to recognize that.

It`s not that I want to advocate that we take on a view that prayer is useless, but rather one that accepts that we’ve got our own proper faculties. If we were created in the image of God (as Christianity would have us believe), it seems like we’ve been given the capacity to learn and to think critically about our decisions. Let’s do more of that, and take responsibility for it.

Some thoughts from Vigelandsparken

It is not certain whether we may be creatures like angels or demons, forming into that which we will become in some later existence. What is certain is that we are human now, and here there is both heaven and hell incarnate, and it is up to us to choose which one we would prefer to help build. For if the kingdom of heaven can dwell in the hearts of men, so can the dominion of darkness engulf us as we are. We need but look out into our world and see where evil has spread.

But this is a mischaracterisation of the nature of evil, and as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite would maintain, evil is truly the absence or corruption of good. For nothing was ever created or formed from evil. Furthermore “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” And so must we recognize the place we all have in bettering the world.

Do something then. Build up heaven, here and now. Not in defiance of divinity, but in honour of that which we esteem to be – creatures of beauty, creatures of love.

Further Lessons From Brokenness

As I reflect during a time of intense emotion, and resolve what I must do, I contrast what I desire, with the contents of my heart and the ailment of my body. I am now the combination of chance and choice, but mostly the latter. I believe many a thing about what inner strength is, and I am postulating that there is yet another lesson here: brokenness need not be defeat.

I believe that being vulnerable is a sign of emotional strength, and to lay one self bare does take courage; or at least for me, resolve. But to simply do that and let myself be defined by that brokenness is destructive. You do not better yourself in such action, unless it becomes the opportunity for you to fill those gaps. But no useful thing has ever been always under construction. It is built, used and repaired – all for the cycle to begin again.

Another thing: I often think of brokenness like shattered shards of jars of clay. Well perhaps the goal is not to be simply shattered and mended, but to not be a jar. Be malleable, but strong, ready to be crafted into something more than the dust from which you were wrought.

A Dichotomy of The Human Mindscape

Any one who reads my reflections would get the sense that I value reason above a good many things. I try, rather stoicly, guide my actions through my rational “directing mind,” as Marcus Aurellius would say. However I’m often confronted by the simple fact that despite desiring for much of life to boil down to some logical decisions, I am often faced by the feelings I have about things (or the lack therefore). At times, I have disdained the concept of emotion;  it’s messy, complicated and has a knack of landing us in the worst of states.

But the essence of humanity is a beautifuly complex mosaic in which both reason and emotion reside. To ignore one, and in my case the latter, is to miss out on the artwork. I’d like to admit that this concept is a confusing one when I actually think about it. How can I do both? Of course, naturally I do, but it often seems like a struggle of will. Is one better than the other because they feel more, or because they think more? It’s unclear, and perhaps that is also part of our mosaic – that we express differents points  of that spectrum.  Hopefully I can learn to respect those who think differently than I, especially those who think more with their hearts than their minds.

#Hope2ConquerFear

When I first heard the theme for Vision’s Camp 2013, I was impressed. It seem like such a strong theme – that of conquering fear with such an abstract concept as hope. Fear is so palpable, one must but begin to think, or see that which perturbs them and suddenly it is present. Fear can change us, and break us. It can poison the hearts of men, and weaken our resolve until we act like beasts, reacting senselessly to our immediate environment. How can such a thing be conquered?

Love conquers all things, and love has many, many faces. As we discussed this week, and as we dove into the depths of ourselves, we discovered that which frightened us and then we looked past; we look into Hope with which we can truly conquer such a terrifying master as fear. Hope is the theme in nearly every epic that touches our hearts. Hope is like a candle that banishes the darkness, and no matter how small that flame is, it will make light. Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that grows larger as we go towards it. Hope is the future.

When we consider that our fears exist only here and now, and there exists a time yet to come, we can see that hope is the vehicle we use to get to that time. It can guide us to the most unlikely of possibilities, and when we follow it, we can change our entire lives. To those who have fear, I urge you to Hope for more then this. Strive for that time when you will be stronger, and hold on to that vision. With that, fall in love with all the things you can accomplish, and become that person. You will see as you press forward that you will conquer all your fears.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

 – – Litany Against Fear, Bene Gesserit
      Dune by Frank Herbert

On Being Remarkable

Like many people, I’d like to live an interesting and fulfilling life, and while doing so, I’d like to achieve something amazing – something remarkable. I’d like for it my life to be so important that it’ll be noted in history books round the world, so that centuries from now, people will be reading “Troy did this,” and I shall become a household name. But really now, how many of us really make it to such heights of grandeur. Over the course of history only a select few. In fact, it is mind-boggling to consider how many names and people have all simply faded away into hateful darkness, ushered out silently by the passage of time. It’s a sobering thought to know that odds of attaining such brilliant glory are so ineffably slim, it seems pointless.

I think that we are often convinced by our culture here that to be remarkable is to have achieved our best, and it’s natural to equate our notability with the amount of good we’re doing with our lives. However, I don’t think that becoming an icon, to any degree, is really the purpose of life. Consider this: the best version of yourself may ultimately be plain, normal and unexciting in terms of fame and glory. By this I don’t mean to say that you can’t have such renown presence, but that maybe it is literally, and in a real fundamental way, the best thing that you don’t.  It is after all every day people, like you and I that build the world. We make friends, meet people, meet lovers, have children. We teach, we sing, we write, we work, and we play. All of those things are wonderful, and so key to the humanity that we’d mean nothing without it. Great love, a perfection that I cannot emphasize enough is a thoroughly simple thing. To be a brother, a sister, a friend or a parent is to exercise that which is the greatest we can do, and it has nothing to with the world knowing our names. It is in our ordinary lives that we can become truly great, and for some it is their passion for life that led them to be remarkable people – as they should be.

When I think this, I consider that I may never be a remarkable person. But perhaps that isn’t important, and that will never stop me from living the good life. Be kind, love others, be just. I can do that which is always best, even if the world will never know.

Negativity

There are times in our lives when we are placed in difficult positions. Positions that, despite our best efforts, cannot be avoided, and you must simply deal with it in the best way you can. But that doesn’t take away the frustration of being in that situation, or other raw emotions that could spring up from such an occurrence  Depending on the situation we can feel helpless, angry… sometimes guilty, even though we did the best we could.  I think it’s important to face those feelings, and see their root cause, because although we should accept our feelings, we shouldn’t dwell on these negative ones for long.

Our thoughts can be very powerful things, especially when they come attached with emotions. As naturally as this may occur, I believe that part of the benefits in being a human being is that we can use our will to direct our thoughts to varying levels. You’ve heard that positive thinking can be beneficial, and in fact, I believe there are a number of studies out there that would suggest that, and the corollary as well – that negative thoughts could be harmful. Negative thoughts, if left un-checked can cloud our judgement, and leave us at a loss. Depression works like this, although on a more severe and chemical level – and those who suffer from in find it nearly impossible to cease dwelling on their misfortunes. I’ve heard, and have had friends paralysed so much, such that they could not even muster the strength to leave their beds.

I am as susceptible to this as anyone else and I personally find it to be a struggle at times. What I’ve learned though, and what works for me is analysis of the current situation. How did I get here? Where did I participate in making this happen? If I did participate, this is the time to reflect on it briefly, depending on the gravity of the situation. But once I’ve understood what I did, or did not do, it’s time for me to move on to find a solution. I need to change my mental gears and do some positive, creative thinking. It’s not always easy to detach oneself from the situation at hand, but it’s a good idea to stop feeling sorry for oneself, when it no longer serves the purpose of education. There is, after all, a future beyond this present. There is little point in dwelling on the past.

Chasing New Experiences

Some of my closest friends have, at times, confronted me about my sporadic desire to try new things. One of my pals even wrote a list of all the various hobbies that I have, or rather the things that I currently wanted to do. I won’t lie, the list was extensive, and there items on that do not have the faintest of relations to one another. There’s an idea that maybe I’m spread too thin, and that prevents me from giving sufficient focus to any one thing – and by extension, not really getting much done.

… But I don’t think that’s true. I stumbled upon a youtube video by zefrankenfriends that echoed some of what I feel about my hobbies, as well as encouraged me to keep doing the things I love. The fact is, I’m still fairly young (at the time this post was authored), and I’ve got some time yet before I settle down. However, life is short, and there is so much that I would like to see and do, that I’d just regret it if I passed up an opportunity. Also, while I’m still so young, I’ve probably got more youthful energy, and mental plasticity that I should cram as much as I can in now while I should!

That said, I wouldn’t want to ignore the concerns of my peers. So it’s important to be critical about one’s goals. What’s the cost, and is it really reasonable to do it now? What are some intermediary things I can try that will determine whether I like that activity or not? Can I turn this into a productive outlet?

For example, I’ve wanted to travel to Bolivia & the Middle East for some years (the relation is they both have deserts). Well, why haven’t I gone?! Cold hard cash, and the unallocated time off. And for me that’s just a reality. Giving up my job, or not paying my bills to go on a trip is simply fool-hardy. Especially since I could benefit from some sick trips later on if I stick around.

It doesn’t always mean you have to wait around though. I’ve wanted to make salami for about 2 years now, but there’s some special equipment, ingredients and knowledge necessary. So in the interim, I decided to learn how to cure some simpler things like beef jerky, and worked my way up to making sausages. It’s not salami – yet, but the learning process has been great, and I haven’t spent a mad amount of cash doing it!

The point is if you’re anything like me, I’d like to encourage you to try new things, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. You may not like every crazy idea that pops into your head, so start small and simple. Curiosity is one of the best human attributes, and we should, as much as is reasonable, pursue it to the maximum.