Posts Tagged ‘meaning of life’

A Tiny Question Of Dubious Importance

July 12, 2014

Today I stumbled over a little pebble on my road. I had gone this way many times before with senseless pride within the river of my peers, but never noticed as much as a tiny bump under my soles. The definite unevenness in the pavement had never hindered my routine of walking in a straight line towards my goal. But today it made me stumble.

It is as if that little pebble had been pushed up just a bit, just enough to catch my foot. It is as if something down there had risen from the underworld, and on its hunchback that unevenness had been given the opportunity to grow. That little pebble had caught my foot as I was walking firmly and made me fall.

It twisted the rhythm of my walking so sharply that I found myself tumbling, wildly gesticulating and finally falling flat face forward with the million pieces of my shattered dreaming sprinkled around my humbled self arranged in a perfect circle.

It took me a good while to gather my thoughts and to realize what had happened. While the bruising on my body was negligible the event had sent a shockwave through my system. The adrenaline rush had heated up my forehead and my pulse was racing as if I had just finished the Boston Marathon.

I looked around to find out if somebody had noticed my mishap but to my relief I saw everybody else still walking busily and distractedly towards the destination of their routines. The misery was mine and mine alone. I rubbed the two reddish scuffs on my knees, checked my elbows and then tried to clamber up on my two legs again to continue my journey of duty. But I found myself unable to rise from the ground. As if gravity had increased tenfold my limbs where heavy as lead and they clearly didn’t want to obey my command.

Again I looked around to my companions, this time longing for a helping hand. Their determination had transformed to indifference, some sent stern looks in my direction and I became aware that I was rapidly becoming an obstacle in their paths. Still I was too shocked to become alarmed and a wave of curiosity overwhelmed my civil reasoning. What was that little culprit of my falling?

The unevenness seemed to consist of a small pebble wedged between the cobblestones. I pulled myself up on my knees and crawled towards it. With my thumb and forefinger I managed to pry it lose and I held it up in front of my visual curiosity. It was roughly pyramid shaped with a triangular base and three sharp ascending ridges. These latter ones must have been the reason it had managed to lodge itself so firmly into the crevice between the cobbles. I slid my fingertip gently over the serrated edges and my eyes continued to examine the rough-hewn surfaces. The even sided one, obviously the base of the miniature pyramid, had a coat of dry mud encrusted onto it, so I started to scrape it away with a notion of distracted tidiness. To my great surprise the face underneath it had been polished and started to shine now in a deep and brilliant black. Into this perfect plane there was an etching and once all nicely cleaned up, three letters stared back at me and triggered the very instincts of my intellect. It all begun with the letter W, followed by an H and then ended with a Y.

All I was left with was a dizzying turmoil of pondering, luckily I was already sitting down! The fall had triggered the questioning of the very reason for my actions, the very source of all existence.

It was all too obvious that I had been running. Driven by an imaginary need I had decided to join the crowd and participate in the race. It had been a deliberate and calculated decision. The remembrance of what it feels like to run under a life long contract of condemnation had started to fade and since this is the cruel destiny of the overwhelming majority of mankind, there was the clear duty of re-acquaintance. Because, and I must put it in very simple terms, the privilege of living an ecstatic life of joy and fulfillment can only go so far until it collides with the dull misery of 97.3% of mankind, who live in material or mental misery, or both. What is it that makes us such willing participants in this short-lived experiment with blind consumer comfort? Step away an inch or two and you see the myopic madness in this race of systemic exploitation. But few of us do step away. Will we really learn to curb the craze before we’ve grazed every corner of our plane down to Easter Island doom? Why? Why?

Few of us do step away! I was left sitting by myself while around me the madness continued unabated. Everybody running wanting to be amongst the first to arrive in the holy land, and nobody wanting to be left behind. We had successfully conquered most of our natural enemies and now we busy ourselves madly fighting imaginary ones. I look at the few new friends I’ve made, participants in the race, kind enough to show me the rules of the game, the basics, the ABC of survival that makes the madness bearable. They are cheerful blokes who all raise families with hungry mouths to feed and schools to pay. Hence their motivation is a simple one: fulfill your paternal duties or become an outcast, pay the consequences of your carnal lust or face emotional doom. Bliss, harmony and peaceful contemplation exist only in their dreams. But what about me? I, who have chosen to become a fulltime outcast and have found happiness and inner peace, what am I doing here as a willing participant in the race?

I have mentioned the imaginary need and now that I have succumbed to it and cowardly declared it real, I have to bear the pain it brings upon the soul. I have signed up for a temporary slavedom and I better not complain. The wind around me is picking up, blowing dust and debris in my face; and one more glance at the pebble in my hand is enough to show that the human touch on it has weathered. It has become once more just a very ordinary pebble. I carefully put it down on the ground where I had found it. It must have been in fact nothing but a test of my determination to see this adventure through to the end. I calmly collect my bodily coordination, realign my joints, tune my tendons and frown the fibers of my muscular motivation, before slowly rising to my feet. The crowd has thickened and the flow of grey clad workers grown too strong to resist. Very deliberately I start my walking, adjusting the gait to match the ones of my peers. Before me in the distance but rapidly approaching the factory gates are swinging open ready to swallow us all. We are marching, now hand in hand, one synchronized brotherhood towards a predetermined destination.

What It Is All About

December 7, 2012

When I did finally emerge from the depths of unconsciousness the skies were bright blue with a sparse brushstroke of cirrus clouds smeared across one half of it. The winds, while still stubbornly South of Southeast, had eased to the point of making me spring to action straight away and put the big main sail back up. Now we were happily speeding along at six knots and life was good. Without any pressing matters at hand the brain swerved helplessly back into the past. Before signing off last night on the last little slither of cellular coverage while still in sight of Kadavu Island I had done one last email check and there was a thought provoking message from somebody who quite obviously had done a bit of soul searching of his own:

Hey Beat,

Hope all is well and that your new MacBook is working out. So I have a simple question or at least a short one – what’s it all about?  You have been out about on the blue sphere for several years. You are a vagabond, a traveler, a small spot on a big sphere. Is it the travel by boat, the people, existing within the constraints of oligarchs, fading commonwealths or tyrant dictatorships or is it just life, life you could find in a little abode somewhere on the forgotten path?

Thomas

Just in case I might run out of things to ponder in the sweet loneliness of the days to come! I wrote a quick answer back with a sticky bit of advice:

Leave the mind out of this. It will only make a mess.

While sounding rather smart and containing a good bite of the truth, it certainly did not put the issue to rest in any way. Quite obviously sooner or later the mind does need to answer to that essential question, and our lives might be in such a helpless and hapless disarray because we do tend to dodge that question ninety-nine out of every hundred times it comes knocking at the doors of our perception with the persistence of swarming sand flies after two days of heavy rainfall.

clouds

After having had quite a bit of time at hand for museful pondering I came to the lofty conclusion that the first step towards an honest and reasonably practical answer is to understand that the very act of posing that question emanates from a discontent somewhere deep down there where we don’t want to look, a frustration about the present state of affairs. At the same time it longs for an easy way out, a way to control things back to square. We expect the mysterious existence of some magic formula that would realign me with the life force that’s been fading away from me without me having to implement any major changes in my well-organized daily routines. We wish for some do-this-and-do-that-and-you’ll-be-happy-again kind of trick that would allow me to remain cozily coiled up in my comfort zone. As with so many other realms of vital importance we simply want the solution without having to face the problem!

What is the nature of that discontent that makes me wonder? Where in me sits that haze of dissonance that refuses to harmonize? I need to go there and get in touch with the pain and asking our question of the day will make me do that. The beauty of these kinds of highly philosophical questions is that if you go into them deeply with good and truthful intentions you’re bound to transcend the very limits of your mind. The fact that it is in its very essence incapable of providing any kind of reasonable answer ends up sharpening it, stimulating and heightening the perception. You listen, you look, you smell, you feel. You hear previously unknown inner voices, you see astonishing revelations right under your nose, you smell the daunting perfume of the irresistible temptation to let go and live, and you feel the secret connections that make things work around and within you.

palmhat

Here I’m sailing across a for once not so terribly bumpy stretch of ocean where beauty and crude cruelty are able to hold hands like drowsy lovers. I have left one place behind and have not yet reached another. My determination to reach the distant shore is tested against an endless vastness with no hold for reference and reassurance. Reason easily despairs, hope instantly disintegrates, faith corrodes, knowledge constantly crumbles, fear has boundless reign, trust is hard earned currency, and only the truly innocent can really live.

Lost in the brumes of disciplined thought, twisted by the sweet smell of rosy reason, strung from constantly curious contemplation, tortured by tenacious quagmires of illusions I stumble forward onto the foredeck, step on the beam while wrapping my right arm around the mast. Where is this vessel guided by automated self-steering leading me to? I strain my eyes to wander along the subtle curvature of the horizon, which after looking at it for a good time seems much closer than I had ever imagined. My gaze then wanders down to where the bows of the slender hull cut into the deep blue water, slicing into wet wavelets, parting without hurting a transparent element that wearily carries us along. Three slender shapes dance there amongst warbled pieces of clearly reflected heaven. My lofty reasoning grinds to a screeching halt.

Camera

The three two-feet long tuna fish look mighty tasty and there’s a faint hint of hunter’s impulse emanating from the primitive regions deep down in my brain stem. The what’s-it-all-about-contemplation-organ is now all of a sudden diligently immersed in brooding over ways and well-tooled means to sling one of those sleek muscle-packed movement machines out of the water and onto a slippery slope towards the frying pan on the galley stove. Two little flying fish have dried in the sun on the workbench at center deck after ending up there during my record-time slumber last night. I fling one into the water ahead of the boat and in a split second one of the fish has shot towards it, examined it, tasted it and quickly deemed it unworthy of further digestion. Once again the three swim in gracious formation, their tiny tail fins moving almost imperceptibly from side to side in perfect rhythm, their movement braided in synchronicity without the slightest hint of imitation. It’s a visual symphony, an optical sonata, a chromatic fugue and counterpoint. My very practical instincts have suddenly transcended the realm of bodily nutrition. I crawl forward on the port hull and sit down at the bow piece, from where I stare in awe down onto the trailing triple tuna transfiguration and there I have the answer to the burning question, served up in a silver platter. I’m not alone in staring! Little eyes are clearly bent upwards; slender muscle trunks swim slightly sideways to allow for a better perspective, while the bodies shift position so the eyes stay trained and focused on me. Exactly the same demonstration of curiosity radiates from these little critters as the one you feel when the dolphins come and check you out. For a good while longer I follow each sinuous shift in direction of my three little friends, wondering how I could ever have drifted towards planning the cold-blooded assassination of one of those supreme beings, created to glide in perpetual motion, lurking forward towards… towards other, slightly smaller supreme creatures to brutally sink their needle-sharp teeth into them and making piecemeal out of their divinely organized bodies without for one instant having to think. Much less do they seem to have to go through extended contemplations with respects to what it is all about!

Camera Camera Camera

Then again what do I know. Maybe they do! But clearly the fact that Aluna’s galley is pretty well stocked has my view of the world distorted. It has allowed me to lay a coating made of delicately cultured dreams like a silken veil onto the crude reality of life, and instead of being driven by the painful contortion of an empty stomach I find myself flirting with the curved crevices of an overgrown neural network pressing hard against the constraints of a bristle bowl of bones, demanding untethered expansion and absolute control amongst many other outrageous things. Go figure, now what it this all about!