Passages: Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl

Time and time again I read what I need to read, when I need to read it. I had read Man’s Search For Meaning before; although, as I get older, I find that my own increased experience adds additional dimension to things. Such was the case here. The words of Viktor Frankl, published in 1946, are profoundly significant. I think you will find them of value as well.

As part of my Passages series, I have transcribed my favorite passages below.

Note: Man’s Search For Meaning chronicles Victor Frankl’s time in multiple Nazi concentration camps – as well as the premise of his school of therapy, known as Logotherapy – and while the book clocks in at just over 150 pages, many of the passages I have selected are related more to the psychological value of the book than its historical content. Nonetheless, I highly recommend you purchase a copy of the book for yourself. It’s easily one of my favorite books, as evidenced by its inclusion in my Passages series. 


“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent. To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and the conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

– p. 44

“‘Listen, Otto, if I don’t get back home to my wife, and if you should see her again, tell her that I talked of her daily, hourly. You remember. Secondly, I have loved her more than anyone. Thirdly, the short time I have been married to her outweighs everything, even all we have gone through here.'”

– p. 55

“Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person a prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him, mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.”

– p. 66

“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.”

– p. 67

“This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she told me. “In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.” Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, “This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.” Through the window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. “I often talk to this tree,” she said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. “Yes.” What did it say to her? She answered, “It said to me, ‘I am here – I am here – I am life, eternal life.'””

– p. 69

“The Latin word finis has two meanings: the end or the finish, and a goal to reach. A man who could not see the end of his ‘provisional existence’ was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future, in contrast to a man in a normal life. Therefore, the whole structure of his inner life changed; signs of decay set in which we know from other areas of life. The unemployed worker, for example, is in a similar position. His existence has become provisional and in a certain sense he cannot live for the future or aim at a goal.”

– p. 70

“A man who let himself decline because he could not see any future goal found himself preoccupied with retrospective thoughts. In a different connection, we have already spoken of the tendency there was to look into the past, to help make the present, with all its horrors, less real. But in robbing the present of its reality there lay a certain danger. It became easy to overlook the opportunities to make something positive of camp life, opportunities which really did exist. Regarding our ‘provisional existence’ as unreal was in itself an important factor in causing the prisoners to lose their hold on life; everything in a way became pointless. Such people forgot that often it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself. Instead of taking the camp’s difficulties as a test of their inner strength, they did not take life seriously and despised it as something of no consequence. They preferred to close their eyes and to live in the past. Life for such people became meaningless.”

– pp. 71-72

“Any attempt at fighting the camp’s psychopathological influence on the prisoner by psychotherapeutic or psychohygeinic methods had to aim at giving him inner strength by pointing out to him a future goal to which he could look forward. Instinctively some of the prisoners attempted to find one on their own. It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future – sub specie aeternitatis. And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task.”

– pp. 72-73

“I remember a personal experience. Almost in tears from pain (I had terrible sores on my feet from wearing torn shoes), I limped a few kilometers with our long column of men from the camp to the work site. Very cold, bitter winds struck us. I kept thinking of the endless little problems of our miserable life. What should there be to eat tonight? If a piece of sausage came as a ration, should I exchange it for a piece of bread? Should I trade my last cigarette, which was left from a bonus I received a fortnight ago, for a bowl of soup? How could I get a piece of wire to replace a fragment which served as one of my shoelaces?

….

I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think only of such trivial things. I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject. Suddenly, I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room. In front of me sat an attentive audience on comfortable upholstered seats. I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp! All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the remote viewpoint of science. By this method I succeeded in rising above the situation, above the sufferings of the moment, and I observed them if they were already in the past. Both I and my troubles became the subject of an interesting psychoscientific study undertaken by myself. What does Spinoza say in his Ethics? – “Affectus, qui passio est, desinit esse passio simulatque eius claram et distinctam formamus ideam.” Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”

– pp. 73-74

“The prisoner who had lost faith in the future – his future – was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline and became subject to mental and physical decay.”

– p. 74

“As we said before, any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in the camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal. Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how,” could be the guiding motto for all psychotherapeutic and psychohygeinic efforts regarding prisoners. Whenever there was an opportunity for it, one had to give them a why- an aim – for their lives, in order to strengthen them to bear the terrible how of their existence. Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost.”

– p. 76

“We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment, Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny.”

– p. 77

“The uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.

– p. 80

“Let me explain why I have employed the term “logotherapy”” as the name for my theory. Logos is a Greek word which denotes ‘meaning’. Logotherapy.. focuses on the meaning of human existence as well as on man’s search for such a meaning. According to logotherapy, this striving to find a meaning in one’s life is the primary motivational force in man. This is why I speak of a will to meaning in contrast to the pleasure principle.”

– pp. 98-99

“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a “secondary rationalization” of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which can satisfy his own will to meaning. There are some authors who contend that meanings and values are “nothing but defense mechanisms, reaction formations and sublimations.” But as for myself, I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my “defense mechanisms,” nor would I be ready to die merely for the sake of my “reaction formations.” Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!”

– p. 99

“Thus it can be seen that mental health is based on a certain degree of tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become. Such a tension is inherent in the human being and therefore is indispensable to mental well-being. We should not, then, be hesitant about challenging a man with a potential meaning for him to fulfill. It is only thus that we evoke his will to meaning from its state of latency. I consider it a dangerous misconception of mental hygiene to assume that what man needs in the first place is equilibrium or, as it is called in biology, ‘homeostasis,’ i,e., a tensionless state. What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the struggling and striving for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

– pp. 104-105

“One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his opportunity to implement it.

As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he  can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by becoming responsible. Thus, logotherapy sees in responsibleness the very essence of human existence.

– pp. 108-109

“The emphasis on responsibleness is reflected in the categorical imperative of logotherapy, which is: “Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now!” It seems to me that there is nothing which would stimulate a man’s sense of responsibleness more than this maxim, which invites him to imagine first that the present is past and, second, that the past may yet be changed and amended. Such a precept confronts him with life’s finiteness as well as the finality of what he makes out of both life and himself.

Logotherapy tries to makes the patient fully aware of his own responsibleness; therefore, it must leave to him the option for what, to what, or to whom he understands himself to be responsible.”

– pp. 109-110

“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become filly aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”

– pp. 111-112

“It is one of the basic tenets of logotherapy that man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has meaning.

But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering – provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be is psychological, biological or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

– p. 113

“Logotherapy, keeping in mind the essential transitoriness of human existence, is not pessimistic but rather activistic. To express this point figuratively we might say: The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after having first jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people whom he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities the young person has in store for him? “No, thank you,” he will think.

“Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I am most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”

– pp. 121-122

p.s. The exclusive use of the male pronoun is not so much a defect of the book as a sign of the times in which it was written; however, for being a 73 year old book, its wisdom holds up incredibly well. A treasure, no doubt, for any human’s search for meaning.

Go With The Flow: Trust It

Growing up, my dad often told me to, “Go with the flow.”

As with other things he said to me growing up, this only came to have meaning to me after he was gone (…the people we love have a way of gilding us like that, even after they are gone from our lives…).

My father’s advice of ‘Go with the flow’ is majorly resonating me at this dawn of this new year; you could say it’s dawning on me now. Exactly when it is supposed to; for this is the flow. Things happen for us in their proper course and time.

While this notion of going with the flow may strike some as new-agey, it really is an ancient idea that goes back at least to the Tao Te Ching, or ‘The Way’, wherein we are taught that:

The most submissive thing in the world can ride roughshod over the hardest thing in the world – that which is without substance entering that which has no crevices.

This is why I know the benefit of resorting to no action. The teaching that uses no words, the benefit of resorting to no action, these are beyond the understanding of all but a very few in the world.

Lao Tzu

This non-action is known as the principle of wu-wei, or non-doing.

From the wu-wei Wikipedia we read:

In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu explains that beings (or phenomena) that are wholly in harmony with the Tao behave in a completely natural, uncontrived way. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Lao Tzu, the attainment of this purely natural way of behaving, as when the planets revolve around the sun. The planets effortlessly do this revolving without any sort of control, force, or attempt to revolve themselves, thus engaging in effortless and spontaneous movement.

The Stoic philosophers, who were pantheistic and believed that the “divine spark” was in everything, held a similar view, in that nature ruled the world and that whatever happened was natural.

The Stoic Roman Emperor-General Marcus Aurelius, wrote in his Meditations:

Every instrument, tool, vessel, if it does that for which it has been made, is well, and yet he who made it is not there. But in the things which are held together by nature there is within and there abides in them the power which made them; wherefore, the more it is fit to reverence this power, and to think, that, if thou dost live and act according to its will, everything in thee is in conformity to intelligence. And thus also in the universe the things which belong to it are in conformity to intelligence.

In short, he’s telling us that there is an intelligence guiding things that we should revere, acting accordingly to its will.

Go with the flow.

And to the Stoic, anything else would be madness.

This is why they are stoic; nothing is disturbing their soul, which was seen as an “inner-citadel”.

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”

— Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics were wise, in knowing what they could and could not control (Stoicism became the basis for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), but they were neither fools nor new-age pollyannas. As Marcus Aurelius writes to himself:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

Go with the flow.

These words, of course, possess their own meaning for you.

For me, at the core of my personal mythology and center to my very being, there exists this deep and abiding “sense of destiny“. As if it is all going, and has always been going, according to some plan.

This plan does not mean I live in some ivory tower, free from pain. It means that the pain is part of the plan. As a programmer and sci-fi-minded person, I would say that my experiences have “programmed me” – perfectly.

The other option would be to believe that my experiences have been at random and that I wasn’t destined to write this, to be who I am at this moment in order to.

As Einstein said:

There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.

Or, as Jung put it:

Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.

Going with the flow is my eyes.

I lose my cellphone in my house before writing this: I’m not supposed to have it then. I walk around, stumble on an old journal in a box, and open it to a passage my soul needed to read tonight.

Whatever happens is supposed to happen. Maybe this is predetermined, my karma, I don’t know. I just know there is a flow to life – a plot if you will.

When you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect.

— Schopenhauer

And the river of plot runs both ways: forwards and backwards.

As Jung writes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections:

When I was working on the stone tablets, I became aware of the fateful links between me and my ancestors. I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.

So there is no resenting past, future, or present – this is not to say abandon yourself completely to wu-wei, but if you do, you are meant to.

Just as if you suffer some inner or outer situation willfully, and continue to, you are choosing to.

However, our pain usually ends up making sense – giving us meaning. It’s nonetheless difficult to endure, but I say aleap into trusting all of it. The pain too.

Leap into the wholeness of the flow. Release your assumptions about how things are supposed to be (Ego is the part of us that wants things to be or not to be a certain way).

Synchronistically, I’m listening to Van Morrison on shuffle via Alexa as I write this – he has a huge catalogue btw – and the song on now, he is singing:

On thing I’ve learned after all these years, you’re gong to save yourself a lot of tears….

You’ve got to roll with the punches. Man you’ve got to try and go with the flow.

We must. We really have no other choice when we think about it.

And I’m far from advocating passivity. I’m advocating receptivity.

This is a feminine principle. The Tao is feminine. Our western religions and ideas are very masculine. Our history is. But as we enter a new age, our thinking and our feeling can shift to a different state. One of allowing rather than controlling.

Jung writes in The Archetypes of The Collective Unconscious:

Emptiness is a great feminine secret. It is something absolutely alien to man; the chasm, the unplumbed depths, the yin.

The chasm; this is what Joe Campbell was telling us, same message:

A bit of advice
Given to a young Native American
At the time of his initiation:
As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm. Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.

We have to jump into the flow. You see, the chasm is not bottomless, waiting to spit us out: it’s waiting for us. We need only follow our bliss to find it.

Campbell again:

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

And where there is bliss, there is flow. Where your flow is, there is your bliss. To borrow ‘flow’ from ‘go with the flow’ and apply it to the ‘flow-state’, we have a double meaning with a whole new level of depth.

My flow is in writing, reading, nature, exercising, dancing, singing, self-care, these are all flow spaces for me.

And while I wish I could exclusively apply myself to flow-activities, I’m not there yet. I still have obligations, spaces where I am having to push myself. But that’s flow too. It’s the yang to the yin. And we have to also direct the flow (of ENERGY).

We can’t just float lazily down the river of life. We are the authors of our stories. We have to swim against the tides too.

From Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

We must oppose our troubles. Life takes will. Life takes work. But often we are suffering from troubles that are really our own children, in that we have borne them in our minds – yet, were we to go with the flow and focus our energies on the true causes and effects of our lives, we might find a lot more power available to us.

Flow is focus. It’s focusing on the things that matter and accepting the things that don’t.

While none of us are Gods yet in a truly omnipotent sense, our Wills are nonetheless capable of directing flow now.

In the 1903 Self-help classic, As A Man Thinketh, James Allen tells us:

You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, ‘environment,’
But spirit scorns it and is free.

It masters time, it conquers space;
It cows that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown and fill a servant’s place.

The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervens.

Be not inpatient in delay,
But wait as one who understands,
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.

So, I implore you to “wait as one who understands” flow.

And when your spirit is ready to rise and command, things will begin to happen.

I think the problem is that we often want certainty. This is masculine thinking.

We need a balance of certainty AND trust in the uncertain. What we are talking about when we talk of leaping into the chasm or going with the flow, is entering the LIMINAL space. This is the threshold, the gap between what is and what WILL be.

In every rite of passage and throughout magic, witchcraft, alchemy, and shamanism, the liminal space is an important aspect of the transformation. Vital because it requires a trust in the unknown. I think of the liminal space as the necessary unknown. If you have taken a entheogen, you have been in the liminal space. You’ve leapt.

But a mushroom trip won’t make our dreams come true. We need a deeper, longer dive into the unknown.

This is a new year. It is the unknown. We are at the dawn of our desires, goals, and hopes for the year.

To reach them, we must go into the unknown, we must go with the flow.

It will carry us there.

If we can only trust It. This is the leap.

All we need do is trust ourselves, the universe, life.

Isn’t that what 2019 should be about? Flowing.

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the heartbeat of the universe.

— Joseph Campbell

Bucking The Lazy Cowboy, or How The Little Prince Usurped Peter Pan

Life would seem so easy, as if we could just say: “I want to wake up early and write everyday”, and it would happen. 

Only, there’s a fly in the ointment: we don’t always do the things we want to do; sure, we wish them to happen but things don’t happen according to wishes – things happen according to actions. That’s how life works. Call it the difference between intention and action, wish and fulfillment. 

This is why I am writing tonight: because of that difference; because there is a difference; because I am not going to wake up tomorrow and write fiction – as I wish to. 

Why? You tell me. 

Why don’t you work out? Why don’t you eat right!? You know what to do. You want to look and feel better but you eat pizza and chicken sandwiches for dinner. 

I am speaking to myself but I think it’s a fair analogy: I do what I feel rather than what I should. 

Only, I am tired of not having what I want. Tired of not feeling better. Tired of not being happier. Tired of not being Lawrence Black: builder of self, mover of mountains. 

I admit, I brood. I get into modes of self-pity. These things happen; however, I am trying to be more than my moods; I am trying to transcend them so that I may bring my dreams to life, and I need to overcome my nature in order to do that. Because me, left to my own innate nature, I am kind of a lazy cowboy; contented with the basic essentials: whiskey, women, food, fire, sleep.

Fun for a weekend, but it’s not a life to just get by / it’s not a life without progression. Because there is one kind of life I know to be amazing: and that is the life you are excited to wake up and live; the life you are thinking about when you go to bed at night because you can’t wait to wake up in the morning and live it. 

I know this feeling: I have felt it before. 


Part 2: The Little Prince Usurps Peter Pan

And this is where I fell asleep. We were watching The Little Prince on Netflix and I was tired, and the muse had run out of gas on this topic. Fortunately, however, I awoke five minutes ago – after a few hours of deep slumber – with an idea clear as day; I realized that it was no longer serving me to live without care for my responsibilities. Allow me to elaborate. 

For a long time, Peter Pan was my spirit animal. Well, in a more archetypal manner but nonetheless Peter Pan was a strong muse for this Puer. Ask my exes if this sounds familiar. 

And I love Peter Pan but I can no longer afford to let him take the wheel. I have responsibilities, and as Wretch 32 sings:

The weight of responsability’s grown on me. 

And it really has. 

I lost my Dad to cancer not many weeks ago. Now I am the man of the family. And this isn’t just some abstract idea or feeling; I am thinking about my mom’s future. Furthermore, Sarah relies on me as a provider and as a romantic lover: she believes in my dreams and she wants to live them with me. This is why we moved to the mountains: so I could write and so we could rejoice in one another’s solitude and companionship. But I can’t afford to rest on my laurels simply because I know I am destined for greatness. That is classic Peter Pan syndrome. 

Peter Pan never grows up. He refuses to. In fact, the world is introduced to Peter Pan through the work of J.M. Barrie, who titles his play: Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. 

Here is Wikipedia on Peter Pan’s personality:

Peter is an exaggerated stereotype of a boastful and careless boy. He claims greatness, even when such claims are questionable (such as congratulating himself when Wendy re-attaches his shadow). In the play and book, Peter symbolises the selfishness of childhood, and is portrayed as being forgetful and self-centred.

Peter has a nonchalant, devil-may-care attitude, and is fearlessly cocky when it comes to putting himself in danger. Barrie writes that when Peter thought he was going to die on Marooners’ Rock, he felt scared, yet he felt only one shudder. With this blithe attitude, he says, “To die will be an awfully big adventure”. In the play, the unseen and unnamed narrator ponders what might have been if Peter had stayed with Wendy, so that his cry might have become, “To live would be an awfully big adventure!”, “but he can never quite get the hang of it”.

I am painfully aware of the relevance here for my life; however, I didn’t realize how much of a shadow archetype Peter Pan has been for me, meaning how unhealthy this “spirit” has been in my life. 

Contrast Peter Pan’s laissez-faire, self-serving existence in Neverland with that of The Little Prince, who lives on the tiny asteroid planet B-612, which he maintains and cares for (Weeding the volcanos and trimming the ever growing trees), before eventually falling in love with a rose, with whom he has to deal with her vanity. Although she apologizes for her vanity and they reconcile, the petit Prince nonetheless vows to go explore the universe. 

Whereas Peter Pan never wants to leave Neverland except to recruit children from the Darling household. In fact, even when Wendy falls for him and wants a kiss, Peter simply sees her as a surrogate mom. And when, in the end of the story, Peter has a chance to be with Wendy, he declines – opting instead to stay with his Lost Boys in Neverland. In short, Peter Pan is a self-absorbed boy who refuses to grow up. 

Meanwhile, our Little Prince leaves his love (The rose) and his planet, B-612, to go learn about the universe. He is just a boy but he is intrepid and brave. And despite being a boy he sees the foolishness of the adults on each of the asteroids he visits. From Wikipedia:

The prince has since visited six other asteroids, each of which was inhabited by a single, irrational, narrow-minded adult, each meant to critique an element of society. They include: a king with no subjects; a vain man, who believes himself the most admirable person on his otherwise uninhabited planet; a drunkard who drinks to forget the shame of being a drunkard; a businessman who is blind to the beauty of the stars and instead endlessly counts them in order to “own” them all (critiquing materialism); a lamplighter who wastes his life blindly follows orders and extinguishing and relighting a lamp once a minute; and an elderly geographer. Like the others, the geographer is closed-minded, providing a caricurature of specialization in the modern world.

Our Little Prince is learning about the world. And unlike Peter Pan, he forms real, meaningful relationships with the people he encounters: loving the rose, taming the fox, and teaching the narrator about life. 

While Peter Pan teaches us to remain adolescents and hold onto our childhood, The Little Prince teaches us about growing up and letting go. And this is what life requires: maturity. 

The truth is, it is not serving me or my dreams any longer to be Peter Pan. There was a time when the Peter Pan spirit kept me going, when it made me daring and brave, enabling me to walk away from my own Wendys so that I might follow that inner voice telling me that I wasn’t home yet. But now I am, and this lazy cowboy is ready to become a little prince. No more living in Neverland. I’ve got a universe to explore. 

So what’s the meaning of all this inner alchemy? What is the outcome of these paradigm shifts?

Well, I’ve got responsibilities to tend to. Work, writing, health, love. 

And I can no longer afford to ignore them, I can no longer remain a boy. 

And so it is, I will invoke the bravery of The Little Prince, and I will face life with faith in myself and trust in my journey, much like Peter Pan gave me faith in myself as a boy; only, I need different heroes as a man: heroes capable of inspiring me to take action rather than simply dream. 

Note: here are a couple good follow ups for anyone interested in the Puer (the eternal boy) and The Little Prince:

Two Psychoanalytical Readings of The Little Prince:

https://icu.repo.nii.ac.jp/index.php?action=repository_action_common_download&item_id=4032&item_no=1&attribute_id=22&file_no=1&page_id=13&block_id=17

The Problem of The Puer Aeternus, Marie Loius Von Franz:

https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/micmac108/puer-aeternus

The Suck: Choice is Yours

Melancholy days. I still have them; usually they happen when life doesn’t live up to my expectations. 

There is, of course, the adage that, happiness is reality minus expectations. It follows then, that we are, for the most part, responsible for our own happiness or sadness; however, I find value in all emotional states: the sour is a valuable part of life. 

Some days pain is going to visit you, and you will look in the mirror and know that you are better than this. Now, whatever this is, it’s what your life happens to be at the present moment.

Does that mean there is no changing it? No. You can change it, but you’re going to need to be honest with yourself about what needs to be changed and what is going to be required of you. 

What do you want? Remind yourself. Never forget; even if those expectations cast a thunderstorm above life as it stands today. You musn’t scale down your expectations because they aren’t met. That’s resignation. 

I think the path to mediocrity is an easy one: it’s the path most are on. They resign themselves to life as it is. I, on the other hand, would rather have days like this, knowing that they are reminders of what I want, what I deserve, and what I am capable of creating. 

As John Mayer sings on The Heart of Life, “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood”. So too is sadness, melancholy, and pain. These things are the feedback system within us, designed to let us know that shit sucks. 

Because sometimes – contrary to what your Facebook feed might lead you to believe – life can suck – and that’s okay, not just normal, but healthy. For without days like this, how are we ever to grow, to evolve. We need days like this. In fact, I would argue that without days like this, we aren’t living full and honest lives. 

Sure, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am neither disputing nor forgetting that. Fact is, anyone who has been through what I have gone through does not forget to count their blessings. I am a fortunate fellow. I’ve got youth, health, passion, intellect, and a wellspring of potential, which I am fully aware of. It’s just X, Y, and Z – the flies in the ointment – that really upset me. 

So I have two choices: I can let the suck cripple me, essentially relegating me to my bed as the suck tends to do – or, I can make a plan to change the suck.

Life is a game of potentials but it is won by wills. You cannot allow the suck to break your will or to weaken your resolve. It has to fuel it, it has to embolden your cause, serving to act as nature’s reminder that life can be more than this. So put pen to paper as I am today. Make a plan to change X, Y, and Z. It’s either that or you accept it. The choice is all yours but the suck is here regardless. It’s what you do with it, what meaning you allow it, and how it changes you. So use it. Let it push you forward. Let it spur you to change what you can, which is either the cause of the suck, your beliefs about the suck, or how the suck makes you feel. Chances are, however, that the latter element is futile: it sucks. There is no changing that. That’s what the suck is. But it’s not all it is. The suck presents an invaluable opportunity to change your circumstances, to refuse to accept what is, and to grow and evolve. 

As Henry Ford said, “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. 

That’s kind of what the suck is like. But, if we can look past it and we can see things honestly for what they are, we might just be looking at the chance we have been waiting for, which we ought to be grateful fortune has bestowed upon us. 

So no, I won’t embrace the suck – but I will welcome it as an opportunity, seeing pain as a messenger, and I will turn adversity to my advantage. This is how the hero plays the game. As I always say, you are either the hero of your story or the victim. Choice is yours. 

I’m Proud of Myself

For knowing that my story is not what happens to me but what I make of it
For teaching myself to sail when I was 14
For falling in love again and again (My heart is like the fucking energizer bunny).
For moving on
For the success I had in my twenties
For the success I am building again now
For allowing myself to rediscover and reappraise who I am
For letting go
For forgiving myself
For being lovable
For writing on here for almost 8 years
For the books I have read
For the book collection I have amassed
For teaching myself to code
For building businesses
For picking up new hobbies at thirty
For taking psychedelics
For serving in the Navy at the age of 17
For moving to Santa Barbara alone when I was twenty four
For moving to Seattle when I was twenty five
For moving to Milwaukee alone when I was twenty six
For moving to LA when I was twenty seven
For having been loved by the greatest women I have ever known
For being a good boyfriend in all of my relationships but not always
For self-awareness
For growth
For being a great dog dad
For learning to like myself (Amen.)
For learning about depth psychology
For moving back home when I had to
For letting myself fall
For not letting the world get to me
For knowing exactly who I am
For continuing to evolve
For never giving up
For building that boat when I was 16
For cutting shitty people out of my life without apology to myself
For facing all of the dark things in me I needed to face in my twenties
For confronting life head on today
For being a damn good person and not letting an ex permanently convince me otherwise
For not making heroes of tragic figures
For not being the victim of myself
For loving my fate because I know I am the master of it
For taking care of my body and health and learning about those things on my own
For knowing how to cook a perfect roast chicken
For having the self-respect to be a dick when appropriate
For not letting any doctrine rule me
For not letting my heart turn cold
For not being a nihilist
For not believing in a human god
For being a humanist
For having my own, unique, rational and intelligent beliefs
For trusting life today
For trusting myself
For evolving my style to reflect who I am
For holding onto my true childhood ideals
For the love I gave
For snorkeling so many days last summer
For wanting to buy another skateboard
For having the dreams I do and knowing I will do them
For all the time I spent alone, just sitting
For loving all the right things
For what I have learned on my own about stoicism, mythology, and psychology
For being my own best friend
For being a good friend to others
For learning to not take shit personally (Huge)
For being confident and comfortable
For being such a huge Ed Ricketts fan
For overcoming my circumstances despite everything! (u have no fukn idea bitch). lol
For taking charge of my life
For being serious about my dreams
For turning my biggest defeats into my greatest motivators
For speaking up for myself
For not pitying myself
For knowing that consciousness is a computer
For teaching myself and writing poetry
For being a friend to those who need it
For protecting myself
For being such a conscious, loving parent to my own inner child
For becoming myself
For being a strong person
For being the hero of my own story
For all I know about hip-hop, cars, watches (growing), beer, cactus (growing), etc.
For speaking my mind and never being a calculating, manipulative person
For defining my circumstances rather than letting them define me
For revisioning the past so that I am no longer afraid of living in it
For being spiritual
For being the better version of the person I wanted to be
For not being afraid to ask or to act
For knowing exactly where I am going
For having no regrets
For having so much gratitude
For getting new tattoos
For remembering my spiritual grandfathers
For being whatever the fuck I want – society’s boxes be damned
For being the biggest hippie/yuppie/edgy/nerdy paradox in the world
For still loving my exes
For not being bitter anymore lol!
For laughing
For cultivating my tastes in the things I love
For not watching TV (lol, that shit’s not for me)
For having had such great pull out game that I didn’t have kids haha
For taking the time to write this
For being honest
For staying curious in my ignorance but comfortable in my knowledge
For hacking the fuck out of my mind so that it’s so good
For being humble, sweet, and kind
and for walking onto the rugby pitch for the first time

I’m proud of myself for living my creed.

I’m proud of myself for making little Lawrence proud.

Here’s to living your secret childhood myth.

The Past: Writing on The Revisioning of My Life in The Summer of My Years

I know where I’m going. 

I thought that I had known before, as a young-man of twenty four sometimes does, but I know now that the present could only ever get me so far in life. Eventually, if you are to have a future, you have to go back. You have to enter the cave you fear to find the treasure you seek (Joseph Campbell).

Once you do that, you’ll find your treasure. And once you have your treasure, you’ll never lose it. 

Now that I’ve begun to Re-see my past, to revise it, it’s up to my visioning of the future to carry me the rest of the way. 

As 50 Cent raps on ‘Don’t Push Me’: “I need to know where I’m heading cause I know where I’ve been”. 

I relate to this line, having now an increasingly compassionate, healthy, and empowering understanding of my [past]. I know exactly where the fuck I’ve been and just how damn difficult it was for me – as life is difficult for all of us in ways. 

I spent the better part of my first twenty-nine years of life nearsighted to the breadth of available reality: my happiness was narrow and my sorrow wide. 

Furthermore, I was shortsighted to life in that I wasn’t able to look ahead very far: I didn’t possess the clarity or the trust to understand life and thus my future at twenty six. But I don’t think I was meant to understand it back then. 

Twenty one year old me couldn’t create what thirty-one year old me has. Twenty-fucking-one me was a sensitive uptight prick. Thankfully, a good dose of heartbreak would fix that: upgrading me from a complete cock to more of just a regular dick. #levels. Huge improvement – but we’re not quite there yet; however, as fortune would have it, the fates would axe my life path more than I could have ever known, sending me down the road back to myself, again and again. 

I’ve loved and said goodbye to a coterie of marvelous, wonderful women. A couple of whom maybe didn’t break me as badly as losing bunny or mousie, but still, I have been loved by every woman I ever fell for. And I can only hope for them what I have found, which is that the heart goes on. And I hope they have grown from their mistakes as I mine. In due fairness, I too was pretty incomplete back then. 

Such is love in the spring of life: often fleeting. 

But now I find myself in the summer of my years knowing that, like Sinatra, come autumn, I will I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, from the brim to the dregs, pouring out sweet and clear. 

I was a guy who thought my story was over a time or two, or fifteen. To quote Rollo May’s definition of depression, I had an inability to construct a future. 

Ironically, I also had a terrible relationship with my past. I treated my adult past like my childhood past: I buried it in pity. I repressed it all beneath a tomb of sorrow. But I never grieved. I never honored it. 

Tonight, and lately, I’m finally looking back on the past with clear eyes. And I’m doing it because I finally am mature enough to, but also because I’ve come to learn just how important past is to one’s mythology. (Thank you Rollo May: Man’s Search for Himself, and The Cry for Myth. Also to the most high, C.G. Jung). 

We think of myth and we think of made up stories. But myth doesn’t mean that. As Rollo May explains, myth comes from 

…. (too tired to grab book, read this). 

To me myth is the truth, and I was blind to mine for a long time – consciously. So I lived the unconscious one, the repressed stuff, as we all do until we learn the facts of life we live blind to. 

And it’s mind blowing stuff. 

Don’t believe me? 

Fall in love again. 

Take a trip

Fall. 

Go.

I did, again and again. I never gave up. I never will. And not just because it’s great today, but because I went through the fucking shit I did to get here, and I know what I am made of. 

It would have been a terrible crime against myself to take a purely stoic perspective on the past, saying: I don’t have to suffer anymore; it was all psychological; it was all in my head. 

As much as that’s true, as much as my my mind has opened, it’s been the opening of my heart to life that has opened my eyes. And this, I owe the past for. 

The Young Actuals

12924416_1156070307750254_1734732197348032226_nThis is me; having realized that no matter how much of a writer, hippie, or bohemian I am, I am also a guy who enjoys success in business.

After all, you wouldn’t want someone else to judge you through a single lens or label, so why do it to yourself.

You are not this or that. You are whole. And to recognize the parts of you that exist seemingly in direct opposition to one another is the essence of wholeness.

The trick to happiness and inner peace, for me at least, is living in a way that holds the opposing parts together – not neglecting one or the other, but living in a way that honors both the billionaire and the Buddhist in me.

The Young Actuals of this world are those who understand that freedom is not meant to be wasted living a mass produced life in which we are at best imitatable – and at worst: miserable imitations.

For the Young Actual, to fear what others think is suicide; to envy others: insanity; for we believe in our own originality, and in the quiet intuitive knowledge that God was always only ever an archetype for man.

And, tired of living with the results of backwards myths, we have no Gods but our highest selves.

Our religion: the private experience of living a personal myth.

Our existence: a creative rebellion in which art is once again made loyal to man’s interior truths, through which the invidvidual once again hears her own inner voice.

For we are not products of the collective, but the producers, and the stewards of consciousness itself.


Young Actuals ethos inspired by Ayn Rand, Albert Camus, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Finding Excalibur: My Journey to Knowing Confidence in Myself and My Path

I have been following the muse in my sense of destiny and in my path of learning and self-discovery, awareness.

Yes, I have clear goals – clearer than ever – and yet, as of late, I have chosen instead to follow the muse rather than my goals; for my intuition is strong – stronger than it’s ever been. This I understand to be something of an act of faith, which has it’s place (Something I will touch on again); yet the more I follow my intuition – a kind of hybrid between faith and reason – the more I am led toward something more concrete, something that looks like an intelligent plan [1].

And this plan, as it comes together, feels almost like a reward, a relief – an end to one journey and the start of another.

It’s taken me a long time to rebuild trust in myself – trust I lost, and rightly so, simply via ignorance; for truth has a way of outgrowing itself, and life sometimes – in its process of upgrading you – necessitates a reformatting of your software, and in humans, this basically is the awareness realization (Often after failure) that we don’t know shit – or, rather, that our old paradigms are simply no longer valid. There just comes a time when the things we thought were true fail us – whether by our actions or those beyond our control; there just comes a time when our lives outgrow our understanding of life.

And so, if we are brave, we trust in the universe to deliver us through a kind of alchemical process of entropy in which we go through a chrysalis of sorts, returning to the ashes before we rise as the phoenix. To borrow the grandest metaphor of all, from Joseph Campbell, There is no resurrection without crucifixion. This is what I refer to as quantum change, a term I heard John Mayer use in a radio interview, in which he said something to the effect of, ‘I believe that we are capable of true quantum change, maybe once or twice in a lifetime.’ And I most certainly, no doubt, am undergoing – have been undergoing – such a thing. Go through my writing over the past sixteen months, and you can literally see it in the paradigms I’ve birthed and put to death. To me it’s nothing short of remarkable, because, really, you’re coming out of the other end a different person, but more you – and perhaps even the real you – for the first time in your life.

All that said, I know the end to my quantum change is near, and perhaps even here, for I know what the beginning looks like. It’s my goals – goals I possessed the desire but not the will or the understanding for. And this I know is a fundamental necessity in order to do them, to live them [2]. So it has been that I have let my goals marinate in the marrow of my bones down to the depths of my soul, where I ventured in hopes that I might find the will and the way.

This path was, I admit, largely one of faith; for what else does a man with nothing left have but that sense within him, that therein lies the pearl of great price. This is the treasure we seek, which, as Joseph Campbell tells us, lies in the cave we fear to enter. Thankfully for me, I had nothing to lose. And I don’t mean this with any measure of self-pity, which I know all too well, but, rather, in gratitude. This, I concede, comes in hindsight, but regardless, I am grateful. I smile on what seemed so dark.

But it was this darkness that led me to faith, and faith that led me to something more. Again the dots connected, as they only do in hindsight, but now I feel the dots are beginning to connect looking forward. Where then I only had a sense of my own destiny, now I have an understanding of it.

Ironically, I originally meant to write this to decry faith as something inferior to knowledge [3], but as I write think-aloud, I realize it was faith that got me here, which, of course, destroys my entire thesis, giving way to a better different one, which I suppose is more a conclusion; hence: the reason purpose for which I write.

Writing, in this way, is a kind of math, in that I arrive at – not forgone – but predestined conclusions. Facts, if you will, about life. For this is what all this journeying down my rabbit holes is about: solving problems. Chiefly, how to live my life as only I can live it.

Thus it is for my answers I write tonight, to reach that light at the end of my tunnel – the will and the understanding by which I can achieve my desires and live my goals.

That something more, which faith led me to, contains the truths I will use to attain the fulfillment of my desires. And these truths are all that I lacked, all my unconscious mind led my intuition to appercieve through experience, assimilating my perceptions into a consciousness capable of completing the tasks my soul has bestowed upon me; in a word, I lacked the requisite cognitive abilities to fulfill my mission.

Note: I understand these are concepts most people don’t live by, but in the vein of my heroes – as my spiritual grandfathers have – one ought to pursue nothing else [4].

My intuition, as I understand now, knew that in order to complete my mission, I needed some things I lacked, namely confidence and understanding, which I would come to find were directly related. It was, as I described above, through faith that I was able to trust in the process of quantum change to carry me here, to the following realization, which prompted me to write this:

The root of all confidence is in recognizing (Understanding), acknowledging (Internalizing), and developing (Pursuing) your potential.

This may seem simplistic and even recursive, and perhaps it is to a degree – as the above statement seems to say no more than the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, that the obstacle is the way. But it goes deeper than that, because if confidence is rooted in recognizing, acknowledging, and developing your potential, then the question that remains, is whether you posses the will required to do so.

And will, like the other factors in this equation of words, is something I have touched on recently – in fact, it is something I’ve only come to learn the value of this year, when I realized that life is a a game of potentials but it is won by wills.

‘Will’ – Synonyms: determination, willpower, strength of character, resolution, resolve, resoluteness, single-mindedness, purposefulness, drive, commitment, dedication, doggedness, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, “the will to succeed”

All this [will], merely comes down to our ability to believe in ourselves – to believe that we have the power to decide on our options, and furthermore, the capacity to act on them.

And this is where I began thinking of the distinction between belief, faith, and knowledge, when I set out to write this entry, because I realized that I had gained more than belief or faith in my ability to decide on my options – I had gained the power to decide on them, based on my understanding of my potential – a concept I only truly awoke to this year.

For once you have an understanding of your potential (Something that comes from altering your perception of it [5]), you can begin to shed the dogma that has trapped you for so long in what you believed to be reality, and once you do that, life takes on a new meaning.

And it is within this new meaning of life that you see the true limits of reality, by which you gain the understanding necessary to act on your options. In short, you really realize that the only limits of reality are your potential, and the only limits of your potential are your reality.

This is neither faith nor belief, but knowledge. And it is more than self-knowledge but self-knowledge gained by knowing the world around you is a human construct, and – in the words of Steve Jobs – ‘created by people no smarter than you‘.

And this palpable knowledge, based in your understanding of reality and your own potential, is such a palpable shift from belief, that no faith is required. You have, in fact, at this point, exited the tunnel and made the shift from self-belief as some esoteric faith based thing to something very malleable, which allows you to understand both your options and your capacity to fulfill them. And this is, in essence, self-belief confidence in it’s truest and most powerful form. It is the confidence that comes from knowledge.

So, it is not that faith or belief is inferior to knowledge, it’s that knowledge is true, whereas faith is the belief that leads you to it [6].

I used to think I had confidence in myself – and I am not referring to confidence as a personality trait or a social marker, but confidence as a precursor to ability – but what I really has was self-belief (Rooted in faith). I believed in myself. I believed that I could understand the things I needed to understand in order to pursue my desires confidently [7]. But now, looking back, I see that I really viewed confidence as some esoteric elite thing that we either had or we did not, and much as I tried to fake it, it never worked. Bunny would tell you, I tried to fake it, but there was a failure to launch. And in light of my newly realized confidence, which is, as I said above, rooted in a true understanding of one’s potential, I see that fake it till you make it does not work, for me at least; however, what does work is self-belief rooted in faith as a means to confidence [8].

The root of all confidence is in recognizing (Understanding), acknowledging (Internalizing), and developing (Pursuing) your potential.

Where self-belief comes from faith, confidence comes from knowing, from a true understanding of your options and your capacity to fulfill them.

At this point, the conclusions may have been forgone, but they needed to be written, as this is my path. I needed to mark this moment; for this moment is far more precious than any before it, given that I have my Excalibur [9] now.

This confidence, as I posses and understand it today is the sword by which I will claim my throne. This is the linchpin of my success that I have been missing. Lord knows I have the will [10].

From here my intuition is very clear on the remaining steps [11] before going full limitless [12] mode with my desires.

What’s next, wait and see; it’s only a matter of time.


Footnotes:

1. Whether it’s an intelligent plan or an intelligent design, or  – as I would be apt to suspect – a combination of both, I know not; however, I suspect my life will be, and is – for me at least – the answer to this. To me this is an esoteric question, one I likely do not posses the intelligence to answer; although, perhaps the wisdom and intuition to do so, which, as it is, I am attempting to by living what I feel to be a spiritual or inspired life. /irrelevantfootnote.

2. One’s goals aren’t to be done – they’re to be lived.

3. The original title of this entry was Confidence vs. Belief, which the following I had begun as a facebook post:

I think we place way too much faith in belief, in faith itself as capable of creating our reality. I think – spirituality and religion aside – scientifically and pragmatically understanding life as we are capable of living it, is much more powerful. Not that belief doesn’t have a place – but knowledge, knowing, is far more powerful. In a word, it comes down to confidence; I must have faith in belief, but I may have absolute confidence in knowledge.

4. Thomas Moore’s Care of The Soul is a fantastic book anyone looking for a deeper connection to themselves should consider reading. In it, Moore outlines what he believes to be the biggest problem vexing modern man: our lack of a connection to our inner world – and consequently ourselves.

5. I awoke to my potential via a shift in my perception, a worthy topic indeed, and something I may write on in the future – provided it is necessary for me [5.1].

5.1 More likely I will bake this paradigm shifting inducer into one of my novels, as these kind of intangible concepts do not translate well into non-fiction, or, rather, the narrative of reality in which we live is not big enough to present a new myth within [5.2]

5.2 This will all make sense one day.

6. The truth will set you free has new meaning for me.

7. Exhibit A, courtesy of Mr. Walden Pond himself:

HDT

8. My path is my path, but it is my hope for you, my dear reader, that the paradigms I present provide shortcuts through the wilderness you may find yourself in, standing on the banks of your own shores.

9. Great name for a yacht…

10. There were times in 2014, when I would work literally days on end. If I told you the hours on end I would pull, you would not believe me. But without the confidence, as I have outlaid above, my will was impotent [10.1].

10.1 That said, will is the foundation of the strength you will need on your journey:

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

11. Tomorrow I will revisit (read) my previous entry and in particular the link contained within the edit, in order to diagram my own reality and wants (desires / potential) with the models laid out by the author for ‘Elon’s Software’. And I will also revisit the notes and lessons from Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting The Devil, a book I feel contains some very complimentary insights into the attainment of my pursuits.

Edit 11/14/15: Just published an entry titled, Hacking an Open Source Cognitive Model for Goal Prioritization and Attainment, which contains a follow up to the link I referenced above on ‘Elon’s Software’.

12. Back in 2011, in my quest to pursue my own path to actualization, I wrote a series of entries titled, Real Life Limitless; however, at a certain point I feel I owe my readers a redo of this in light of all that I have discovered, only this time I will wait until the proof is in the pudding.

Note: Featured Image from Wikipedia Commons, Excalibur

Real Life Inspiration: Ed Ricketts

I heard an anecdote recently in relation to John Steinbeck (Prayerhand-6god-emoji) guy pal (And total bad ass) Ed Ricketts (Add another prayerhand-6god-emoji).

EFRicketts_42
Ricketts, photo taken aged 43 in 1939.

Ed Ricketts is a man whom I deeply admire. He was, like all the people I admire, a stark individual.

“His mind had no horizons,” as Steinbeck wrote of him, or rather, as “Doc”, the Ricketts inspired beer-loving bohemian science-philosopher who cut himself out of the granite-like sardine-packing population of “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches.”

Yeah, Ed Ricketts was a fucking cool guy.

Perhaps one of the coolest who ever lived. Ricketts is most definitely one of my “spiritual grandfathers”. In fact, he inspired another spiritual grandfather of mine: the great mythologist, Joseph Campbell.

Essentially Ed Ricketts = Star Wars.

And if you get that reference, you might actually be kind of cool too.

If you didn’t, hold on tight.

So, the anecdote with Ricketts is that he basically learned how to like himself through others. He got the idea that if other people could like Ed, then Ed could like Ed.

So he did.

And from the myriad legacy he left, we can only surmise that his comfort in his own skin made it very easy for others to like him. And I can surmise this, because I know the opposite to also be true: having experienced how discomfort in one’s skin ultimately manifests itself in ways that strangely serve to push others away.

I actually, as a treat, just found the Ricketts anecdote, which is from perhaps the man who knew best knew Ed: Steinbeck.

The story is quoted verbatim from the philosophy laden ‘The Log of The Sea of Cortez’, Steinbeck’s 1940 month long inward journey with Ed, then aged 44, to the Mexican sea of the same name:

Once Ed said to me, “For a very long time I didn’t like myself.” It was not said in self-pity but simply as an unfortunate fact. “It was a very difficult time,” he said, “and very painful. I did not like myself for a number of reasons, some of them valid and some of them pure fancy. I would hate to have to go back to that. Then gradually,” he said, “I discovered with surprise and pleasure that a number of people did like me. And I thought, if they can like me, why cannot I like myself? Just thinking it did not do it, but slowly I learned to like myself and then it was all right.” This was not said in self-love in its bad connotation but in self-knowledge. He meant literally that he had learned to accept and like the person “Ed” as he liked other people. It gave him a great advantage. Most people do not like themselves at all. They distrust themselves, put on masks and pomposities. They quarrel and boast and pretend and are jealous because they do not like themselves. But mostly they do not even know themselves well enough to form a true liking. They cannot see themselves well enough to form a true liking, and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.

So, Ed is helping me like myself in the very same way that I can like an admire my friends – only, I get to be less critical of myself now. haha

Sadly, Ed died too young. But he made sure to live before he did. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

You’ve really inspired me Ed.

Thank You.

This past weekend I was up in Monterey (Guest of a girl I have been trying to date), and seeing the life-sized versions of Ed’s lab and some of his things, just really made me feel blessed. I’m just grateful to have found people I can admire and look up to in the ways that they too once looked up to their own little ambitious and upstart part of themselves.

Because I really am. I’m looking up to things that feel true in myself.

And it’s really nice. It’s nice to finally be at home with myself, where there are no horizons.

horizons
“His mind had no horizons.”

If Not Now, When?

So many drafts; just like my life: my business a draft, my books drafts – my success a draft – my dreams a draft.
But alas, life is no rehearsal; I play starting squad on a team of one every single day.

And here as I sit, shoulders haunched, stomach slightly pudge and paunch, this is who I am: a California Thoreau; a yuppie-hippie – candlelit and lovesick – my boyish heart beating a stone’s throw from my boyhood home. This is as whole as I will ever be.

Sure, I, like my drafts, am unfinished; and I may become more complete as they do, but I’ll never be more the bard than I am now – I either have it or don’t; the gift, the magic, the love of humanity. I believe these things exist within me.

This is my myth, the story I am living, and it terrifies me. I have been blogging writing underground nearly six years. And this waking dream I call 7saturdays has evolved with me – from the online diary of an ambitous twenty-four year old, to a neverending letter to myself, my future readers.

And, until I finish those drafts, I know I am placing messages in bottles to no one. Because I know that, like the still waters before me, my life holds them all captive. The lack of flow, of digging deeper to push these letters downstream, holds them all back. And they are adrift, like ships in a fog, at the mercy of the current, and the current is what waits for no man; for the current is time; and I: the moon, master of the tide.

The tide won’t wait. And then, there is only the dread of the rocks. No redemption for my soul, no reaching millions with my books. Not if they are drafts.

I must shape the world as I see it fit to live in; I must build islands in this sea. Otherwise the bottles float on, lost forever.

It is my hope – my deepest desire – that I will become one of the greats. Not to be great – to do great. I think it was Jung who wrote: Goethe does not create Faust, Faust creates Goethe.

And in this fashion, I aim to complete my drafts and in working on them to work on myself, to work on the world. In this way, my life’s work will become part of our human story, our history. For what does a writer do if not write the biography of the world? His work capable of permeating past, present, and future.

But, oh the dread of the rocks!

However, I must look to my library, to the men and women who cast off before me – to the poets, philosophers, and writers who have landed on my shore – to the ones who invited me to this great wide sea. And it is with deep appreciation and great awe that I read their works. I read with the hope all writers have: the hope that through some mystical, intellectual osmosis, their gifts will inform mine.

There are a thousand reasons books at my home, all beckoning me forth.

Beckoning me to sing along, lest my swan song be a mere death rattle and not an echo for eternity.

I wish G-d would whisper to me now, and maybe He is. Maybe the desire in my heart is a promise; and I would like to believe it is, which is, I think, a sign of fear – as is the case with all things we would like.

I fear greatness. I fear people thinking I am a fraud, a wannabe. As if I will be rejected for thinking I could build telescopes that let people see the stars.
But that is what I want my books to do. It’s what Shakespeare did. He took people to places in their hearts they had never been. He expanded the depth of the human heart. Joy, sorrow, laughter, ire – reading Shakespeare teaches me that these are part of a human life, part of the beauty and fullness of living. I too would like to be a steward of humanity.

And given the opportunity I have to do so, I feel blessed; and, as is the case with anyone who feels himself to be blessed, it is immensely humbling.

I do not forget where I come from: I was a kid who grew up in the proverbial gutter – and maybe that’s the problem: my inability to shake the feeling that life was hard. Then again, is a hard life not the fire in which writers are forged?

I write here to curate my living myth, my story. To pull the tide closer to my dreams. Dreams held back by excuses.

But, if not now, when?

There is nothing more to say, only to write.

Mindsight: Going Back to The Start

The imagination is the greatest ability we have – for what may be born of dreams extends far beyond the reaches of the eye, which is limited by our reality – yet the bounds of reality extend far beyond the morrow, all the way into the clouds and past the horizon. Mindsight – our ability to see past today, past practicality, beyond the abyss of fear and the cove of doubt – this is the key that unlocks doors where others see walls. It is through this magic of evolution that we may dream while we are awake, seeing what others do not.

If you think this is the stuff of mere daydreaming, fancies and whatnot, then you, my friend, are seriously shortchanging yourself.

Things do not happen by mere chance: that couple that is going to make love tomorrow on the yacht of their dreams, you think that is mere fortune? No. That, my friends, is the product of a dream, a plan, a goal, and, of course, hard work.

The problem is, most people confine their dreams to their resources rather than letting their dreams detemine them. If your dreams do not guide your reality, as a needle does a thread, your reality will guide your dreams. Unfortunately, most people lose their ability to dream – both through lack of use and the normal setbacks of life. We’ve all given up at some level.

That last sentence is heartwrenching, isn’t it.

You see – dreams need to be curated, protected, and evolved, but the difficulty is that we live in a society that applies immense pressure on us; our values, our goals, and our desires are constantly being dictated to us by our peers, our parents, and ultimately our fraglie and insecure egos.

I hit a point last year when I realized my dreams weren’t even mine.

They belonged to an ex or someone I felt I needed to best, or my wish to gain approval from someone who doesn’t matter. Ayn Rand was right; selfishness is a virtue. Luckilly, I can still afford to be selfish: no wife. No kids. No limits. It sounds absurd but it’s true; if you’re out there and you’re feeling sorry for yourself about being single, you are seeing it all wrong. No, you can write your own ticket.

But most of us, single or taken, struggle with this – with determining what is we really, truly want.

The irony, and the key to unlocking the mystery within us, lies in the past; before society replaced our dreams with things: flat TV’s, great shoes, nice cars, a great place, this is adult shit. Children, on the other hand, know better. We all know better. We’ve just forgotten.

Go back in time. Remember when you were a child. Remember that thing you did that made the hours pass like minutes. The thing that dissolved reality into a mere sidenote. That; the call you stopped answering a long, long time ago still lives within you, and if you pick it back up, it will ring as true today as it did on afterschool afternoons twenty years ago. It’s 1995, and you are on the floor in your room looking at a book, feeling like you just set foot on the moon. Fast forward ten years and you were working in a call center not even realizing what happened to you. Five years later and you just wanted what others had. It’s a sad story, but it’s the story of an adult life. Wrought down by the weight of living, we forgot what we loved. We traded in our dreams for flat screen TVs, twenty inch rims on our leased SUVs.

It is time to reach back in time and take back the light that once kindled your soul.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

Awaken. Please.

I am begging you, as the pain I brought on my soul has long begged of me.

I write this because today I am taking full responsibility for my childhood dreams: I own them once again, and I am no longer owned by the pressure of society, a pressure no child really knows.

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than books and boats. I read every book in my school library on sailing, even Kon-Tiki. Dove, Spray, Adrift – you name it. I remember one day, while reading a story of sailors eating hard-tack at sea, just wishing I had some old, stale bread in my kitchen. I just wanted to taste it, I wanted to live it. And for a time, I did.

But then life happened. That drug of love, and the desire to be cool, to be admired, the desire to admire myself for the things society upholds as measures of happiness and success took over.

I’ll save you my autobiography, but at thirty I am once again as bitten by those same bugs as I was at eleven.

It’s an incredibly beautiful and healing thing. This, my friends, is as true to myself as I can be.

Books and boats.

P.s. We may know the dreams most suited to us by the ease and comfort in which we can clearly imagine ourselves in them. So, try them on, until, just like Goldilocks, you find the one that feels just right. So chill out; you had it all figured out as a child. You need only remember. Now go get lost in it. Once more. For your own sake. Don’t let yourself down another day more. You read this, and I wrote this, for a reason.

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

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Once, while on a certain psychedelic substance (Ambiguous writer is ambiguous), I laid back onto the chaise in my living room and something told me that: I was in the safety of my late twenties. I’m not sure whether it was a prescient notion or an intention; as John Mayer sings: “I am an architect of days that haven’t happened yet.”

Last night I felt something else in my bones: I felt a voice telling me that another love was coming. And in midst of the awe I felt in light of this foretelling, I felt the voice tell me that I had made it through the worst; that I had graduated and grown and that I was going to be okay, I was going to make it.

Then I went to bed and woke up like a thunderbolt at 3:12 am: How quickly a life passes; we are here and we are gone in the blink of an eye, the voice told me. Then suddenly I felt very sleepy again, but I knew I had to get up; I knew I had to ruminate on this, for I knew it was a significant moment in my life, a threshold through which there was no going back to the before.

How quickly a life passes; we are here and we are gone in the blink of an eye.

And yet, we think we can’t do certain things. Bullshit. We must! We have only so many days and just as I woke up thirty, I will wake up sixty. Just as my parents have. And one day, I will be dead; I will die, just as my parent’s parents have.

On a day not unlike any other, I will die. And if I don’t birth them, my dreams will go with me. But alas, while I am here, I have an opportunity to live a life. And this is it. This is life. Today. Tonight. From the cradle to the grave, we live every day of our lives. So what is someday, it’s never. It is now or never. What do you dream of being?

I dream of being a famous writer, famous for the impact I have on the hearts and minds of those who may benefit from the dreams I pursue. And one day – not someday – I will also be a professor. Lit Prof Black.

Lawrence Black, writer. A man of the word, and of his he was. 1985 – ?

So, I must use each day to go toward my goals. To live not like I am dying but to live knowing full well I will be as dead as the cow’s muscle tissue I ate last night between two pieces of toast. Burger meat. An odd metaphor if I’ve ever uttered one, but I am no less mortal than the cow and my death may well mean relatively little more to the world than her’s; my birth certainly wasn’t a great deal to many. And so it is, it’s what happens between birth and death that matters.

And this is where an individual’s personal philosophy comes into play, directing his life. It’s our myths we live, for all the world’s a stage.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

From Shakespeare’s, As You Like It, Act II Scene VII

Life: it’s ours, in-between our birth and our death. So carpe the fucking shit out of that diem and gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

– Robbert Herrick, 17th century, dead.

Featured image: ‘Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, 1909, by John William Waterhouse, 1849-1927