The red apple

Archive for the category “Meditations”

Coriolism

Humility is quite an interesting thing. The more you know, the less you believe you know. The more of this world you see, the more this world grows on you, and you realize you’ve seen nothing at all compared to the grandiose scope of this planet.

It is a baffling idea, albeit obvious, that I will never see all of this world. Mounting an adventure to go around this world is tiring enough. But to place my feet on every plot of land, to gaze at the stars under every night sky, to rest in the shade of every tree, is a project I shall never be able to complete. The world as it is, stands under my feet, waiting to be explored, viewed by my curious eyes. The world as it is, is distant from me, and it presses on my heart to be found. Yet I know that I may spend every minute of my life exploring new places, but there will still be some cave, some field, some shady grove that I will never lay my eyes on in this lifetime. That I came and went from this world, having never even laid eyes on that place. It is a frustrating and infuriating fact, that some parcel of earth is just outside the reach of my entire life. That no matter how I live, no matter what I do, there is always some place that I will never experience.

And so, I believe that existence is a human experience. We live on this planet, swarming like ants, each experiencing another corner of the earth. Filled with the incessant desire to know this land. We, like the fingers of a hand, roam over the plains and climb the mountains, the way a man brushes his fingers over his lover’s body. And together, the human collective knows what this world is.

And in doing so, we mark our place in this vast oblivion of a universe. In the hurtling darkness that is space, there is one place where life was given meaning, and time had significance. In some way, shape, or form, the Universe had a purpose, because of earth. Like one man saving a whole city, the earth gave this universe meaning, and in the abysmal depths, the universe smiled.

Permanence

Life is a desert of shifting sands, a restless landscape.

People who come and go. Joys that melt into sorrows, and pain that blossoms into bliss. Sunrises and sunsets that cloud over into acrid rains. Youth, and age, weighing down the soul each day.

But once in a while, you find something in life that makes sense of it all. You find an oasis, a pool of respite, where you can rest your weary soul. And should you be so lucky, you can take this oasis with you on your journey. And it grants you life. In your dusty lungs, you can once again breathe freely, and life surges through your veins. The shifting sands no longer matter, and you are no longer lost because you’ve come to find a landmark that stands tall over the horizon.

The human condition is subjected to wandering the earth. To come and go, always seeking, always needing, and never finding refuge. But man is more than a beast, he has a soul, a spirit. And this spirit is armed with one thing to combat this restless landscape. He has his will. A man’s will is his final refuge against the endless desert of uncertainty. His will creates empires out of a desert, and blankets everything he sees with a coat of steel. Like God, he can create permanence with his word, a mere utterance against the rising tides of variations. He can set his course, and carve a path through this world, leaving behind a legacy, a temporary memory that imprints this world for years after his death.

And suddenly, man knows the future. He can gaze into the next day with certainty, like he gazes into the horizon. His feet no longer wander, but are given direction, and are planted with confidence. No winds can shake him, and no doubt can assail him.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds. Nor the next day. I only know what I will set out to attempt, and with all the audacity of my renegade heart, I will seek you.

Thus is the permanence of our lives. Thus is the rise and fall of empires, and the furious love in between.

Derelict Diatribe

As I write, the sky weeps outside. The bleary black sky was still just a moment ago, stonewalling the earth with stoic sentiments. But in an instant, water poured forth angrily, uncontrolled, onto the parched earth. The torrential waters of the heavens fell, as the night sky could no longer control itself. Thus is the nature of emotion. A derelict diatribe against that which is out of our control.

Life is a study of life. We forget that we are creatures. We instill in ourselves the idea that we are landmarks of this universe. That the universe has whispered our name. That Time has carved our image into its wrists.

But men are meager monsters. Men are enslaved to things that they cannot see. Things that they ascribe value to. Fame. Wealth. Lust. Sell a man a promise of the things he desires, and watch him work his life away, grateful for the opportunity. Sell a man the idea of something he wants, the mere scent of a woman’s hair, and that man will take a knee to your bidding. Such is the nature of modern slavery.

A man will spend his lifes in quiet desperation, toiling day after day. Until one day, two men can sit together, and for the sake of profits, they create a monster called a ‘company’, with which they enslave other men. To which they themselves are not truly free either. Our world is no longer one of governments and politicians. It is not of the bullet and the bomb. It is now a world of revenue, and the sharp blade of acquisitions. The realm of profits and shareholders. Men have created these machines that run without them, and devour the lives of men. We watch them with a silent fascination, intrigued at what product it may spit out next, or what news it will belch as it takes our sons and fathers, mothers and daughters.

The rain has ceased now. The earth drenched. This exchange has ended, this outburst, this negligent dissent.

And the night is still once more. The sky stares softly, watching what we will do next.

Wrath and Retribution

10-27-13

I had another one of those dreams last night.

I was once again brought before a pivotal moment, one that I had made years ago. Yet in this dream, I stood before this choice again. As the Colonel looked me in the eye from behind his desk, in a room surrounded by Marine sergeants and officers, he asked me to reconsider. I had a chance to go forward and complete my training, give my four years to the country, and then go forward with my life, having accomplished a chapter of my life in good will towards my nation and my character. A feat that I had yearned for, feared for, cursed myself for. On that fateful day I had said no. I left the opportunity behind, because I had such a life to consider. I justified it, by telling myself that it would be difficult to find a good relationship with a girl when I was moving around in the military all the time. I told myself that I didn’t want to be around grunts, and that I was confused by the clash between staff NCO’s and Officer ranks. I said that four years was too long a time to give to a nation without a just war to fight, and that I had no call to arms, like my predecessors had. But the truth was that I was weak. I had nothing to offer, and I knew that. Should we go to battle, I would be a fraud, that I was not good enough to lead Marines to their death and glory. I gave the Colonel my honest answer. He replied with a rumbling voice, “Well don’t you worry about what you can offer. We can train you for that. Will you let us train you to lead Marines?” I respectfully declined. In those few weeks, I encountered fear that I succumbed to. I met with my weakness that I could not overcome. I have a deep seated fear of failure, one that I could not overcome. One that I set out every day to fight, and in trembling self defeat, I hung up my sword, hoping that I never face battle, that I would never discover failure.

So in my dreams last night, I said to the Colonel a resounding yes. I went back into the throes of military training. I became accomplished. And the guilt of my self defeat was lifted from my shoulders.

This was not the first time I’ve had this dream. And I doubt it will be the last. I carry a fear that I hate, a fear that is crippling and self defeating. I could say that I inherited this fear from someone else. But it is useless to even pay mention to this accusation, for in the end, this poison is in me, regardless of the source. This poison is in my blood, and it seizes my heart, strangling my breath.

Last night, in my dream, I said yes. I accepted the call to arms, not to a war, but to life. I accepted the challenges of life, to embark on a journey that would liberate my soul. I said Yes.

For many months, years perhaps, I’ve been wondering what my dreams are. I hear of people around me building their “dream career” and transforming their lives into a passionate pursuit of something they love, in which they carve out their place in this world. I’ve miserably answered the question each time with a resounding thought, “I have no dreams.” Even at night, my imagination is not consistent enough to paint a portrait of a life worth living. But last night, I dreamed of saying ‘Yes’. The pain, struggles, and suffering that followed were no measure against the guilt that was lifted from my shoulders. I began to live in my dream last night.

Before I left training, a First Sergeant spoke to me, and tried to dissuade me from leaving training. He told me not to leave, a warning that I brushed off as mere propaganda. He looked me dead in the eye and with the gravity of the Sun, he told me that I would regret this decision, and that it will haunt me as the failed dream that it will become, the aborted child of weakness and ambition. I told myself he was paid to say that. My cynicism ran deep, and it is now bleeding me dry.

Now I am paralyzed by fear. Fear that each decision is the wrong one. Fear that I will not accomplish what I set out to do. Fear that my failures will amount to rejection, and that I will never have a place in this world. The fear of failure.

Yesterday, my pet Ball Python struck and bit me for the first time ever. I had forgotten to feed him for several weeks, and as I lowered a mouse into the cage, the snake lashed at my thumb instead. I cursed, and in wrath, wanted to strike him in retribution. He had never bitten me before, and he had no reason to do so. He had always hidden from me, rescinding from my touch, though I fed him, and stroked his scales with my fingers. I too have never had reason to fear him, for he has never harmed me. He had no reason to fear me, and I had no reason to fear him. But in that moment of wrath and fury, I was reminded that he was a serpent, and I was a human. There is a natural discord in this universe, an innate fear placed in our hearts by our creators. A reminder of what is, and will always be.

The fingerprint of our creators, left in our soul, is fear. Fear wrought by wrath and retribution. Fear of wrath, from beings greater than us, or from ourselves. Know this, and become your own God. Know this, and crush fear under the heel of your foot. The debilitating poisons that course through your blood shall become wine for your lips, should you master your own wrath and retribution.

The base of all things.

What makes you a God? Your view of the world, or the world’s view of you?

To return to the base of all things, is to need nothing.

The universe needs nothing. Mankind may need the earth for food and water. The trees may need the sun for warmth and nourishment. And our planet may need the sun for gravity. The galaxy needs the universe for space. But the Universe itself, as a whole, does not need. It has all, contained within itself.

Our world is a mess. A slurry of whimsical desires and unguarded ambitions. The tragedies and triumphs of each day are more than enough to paint the canvas of time, yet it continues, it perpetuates from generation to generation, all through history. All of it driven by relentless needs of simple creatures. But as a whole, this world is beautiful. It is wonderful, and it is mesmerizing.The world has a beauty, and an ugliness to be reckoned with. It is complete.

Therefore one should be complete. There are so many incomplete people walking past us every day, unfinished transactions that drive this economy of souls through the world, coming and going, listlessly searching for the answer.

But as we search for things to plug our many needs, we forget the aim of the search altogether.

The aim is to no longer need.

We satisfy our needs, so that we may no longer need. As mortal creatures, we are on this endless pursuit of the unattainable.

Should an individual find their way to this end before all other means have been exhausted, well, that makes him some sort of legend doesn’t it?

And should the world see you, they will not understand you. They will read these ideas and count them useless. They will wonder for your sanity. For all beasts need. The beast of the earth must need, water, food, company, shelter. Try and kill a man, and see how hard he will fight to live, even if he has no reason to live.

Should a man develop a base of needing nothing, and not being needed, then he will always have a truth to return to. He may venture forth to savor the delicacies of human nature, of passions and love, of affection and nurturing, and with a careful discipline, he may indulge in these human ways. But when they leave him after the season has passed, he will be no less of a man, for he knows who he is when he needed not, and was not needed.

Thus, the base of all things is to need nothing.

The Arrogant Leaf

My father loves life.

For as long as I’ve remembered, my father has always lined his office walls with bookshelves, and covered the walls with books. Hundreds of books. Each time we moved houses, my brother and I were faced with the daunting task of helping my father pack and unpack those books. He was a man of God, a scholar, a preacher. So he read books diligently. One day in my youth I asked my father if he liked books.

“No, I don’t,” he said. “People give me all these books. I get books from around the world, from schools, from bookstores, from publishers. I get them for my birthday, for Christmas, because everyone thinks that I love books just because I’m always reading them.”

He shook his head. “No, I like growing things. Plants, grass, trees.”

He grew up on a farm in rural Taiwan, destined to be a farmer like my grandfather. But he chose to go to the city for an education, to study, and pursue a career, thus ending my grandfather’s farm  and the family line of farmers. But it was at this farm that he had learned to endear life. That beauty was to be found behind every blade of grass. The simple joy of watching a sprout push through the dirt, and endeavor to a short life under the sun. There is an arrogance, an audacity that comes with living, and fighting to live. But it was so damn beautiful to see, even from a single green leaf.

And to this day, his love for growing things has never ceased. He filled his suburban back yard with sugar canes, peaches, olives, basil, onions, and plums. The man has an affinity for life, especially when it takes the shape of a leafy green plant, he finds pride when it grows, and worries when it slumps. He prunes the trees, and waits patiently for the harvest.

In his spirit, my father is a farmer still. A sentimental soul who finds his place under a starry night in the summer breeze.

Thus every man has a craft. A calling that he must not forsake. For it is how we honor this universe, and hold our ground against the tides of eternity.

Season of the Spiders

Every year, at the same time of the year, the place where I live is overtaken by Orb-Weaver spiders. They place their ornate webs overnight, tangling your hair when you walk out the door the next morning to go to work. And they hang patiently in the center of their webs, these massive insects, like miniature demons hovering in the air.

But where do they go during the summer? When the flowers have bloomed and bees and insects fill the skies in abundance. Why do they hide in the Summer, and only unroll their threads when the sun grows distant and the air turns frigid? Like the caretakers of a neglected house, they take their place in this world at the end of an lively season, mopping up the leftover summer insects that outlived their welcome. The spiders place themselves squarely between abundance and a bleak, wintry demise. Their stay is counted in a matter of mere weeks. Perhaps if these long legged friends had claimed the summer to be their time, they could feast on the clouds of fruit flies, and savor the ballads of bees whirring through the air, under the summer sun. That would be a splendid place for these majestic insects. But every year, they bide their time, until Summer has ended and Winter is well on its way. They make their presence known, and hunt in the frosted misery. They know their place, relegating themselves to the gloom of October, like natural creatures of Halloween and horror.

Thus I wonder, is man’s place in this world a mere matter of weeks to a greater being? Is the rise and fall of our civilizations, our empires and our knowledge, nothing more than a beautiful web that we cast across this globe, between the Summer and Winter of this Universe? Have we wedged ourselves between eternity and oblivion?

And are some men relegated to the frigid fates of winter, while others are joyful subjects of the summer?

With all our religions and our songs, our jobs and our plans, we spin them like webs, scampering across them to feed on the morsels of events and things that become entangled in them. But every now and again, a strong wind blows, and our web is no more. And so we are, spiders of our own season, coming and going, loving and hating, living, to die once more.

The Void

They say that intellectuals tend to be unhappier in life than the blissfully ignorant. But why is it so? Why is ignorance blissful? Why does deep thought and musing lead to a depression of the soul? Thought is the evolution of life. Thought is what separates man from other creatures, and is used to extend our reach beyond the purely physical, into the imagined and implied. Thought is what creates and destroys, and it is our mental fingers with which we grasp this universe and explore it.

But think too deeply, and you peer into the vastness of time and space, and for a moment you see what no beast of the earth should ever have to see: the darkness of the void. To see the infinite expanse of time, beyond what you were, and what you ever will be. It is a sight that you will not fully know until your death, but in the mystery and depths of the Cosmos, you see that you are truly alone. Understanding our place in time and space is enough to drive a man into madness. It is a thought that no beast should have to ponder, yet, I find myself thinking of it each night when the night skies fill in. On passing into adulthood, I’ve come to find that this universe is intrinsically bleak and beautiful on the same side of the coin. Living among the young and the old gives me a perspective into the past and the future, and I feel as though I am standing on the shores of a land that I should never leave.

Think, but do not peer into the void. Speak, and know when to be silent. Love, and know when to be still.

Live, and know when to cease.

An Eastbound Journey

I have a need. 

I sat at the red light, waiting for it to turn green. I ran my hand through my hair, perplexed by this simple notion of lack. Something was missing. My mind read through a list of physical inventory of needs, in hopes of finding what it was, and satisfying it.

I had just eaten, so I wasn’t hungry. The day was still early, so I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t thirsty, didn’t need coffee, or a smoke. I was stumped. What could it be? I had a need, but it was something so deep that I still didn’t understand it. It must be something so complex, so intricate and interwoven into the very fabric of my being, that a simple checklist couldn’t address its existence. It was like finding a drop of blood on your clothes, but not knowing where you were bleeding.

So I drove. Into the night, through the swirling darkness, I drove and I wondered. And more importantly, I began to fear.

Fear seeped into my heart because for once, I was facing a need that I could not satisfy. A need that I didn’t even know how to satisfy.

This new faceless urge, this depraved desire, was something of the heart. It had no name, and was attached to no limb or organ of mine. It was within me. It drove me, and it could wither me away before I ever realize it. I feared this Need because I couldn’t fix it.

But do I truly have a need?

Should tomorrow come and pass, it will do so with or without me. Should this “Need” crush me in my sleep, then the rising sun will simply greet one less face on its westbound journey.

And in this meditation, there was peace. For I was headed to the East with each sunrise. In life, or in death, there is peace in movement.

For in the East, there is no need. I was headed to the east, as the sun reached for the west.

Hunger

There is a peculiar facet of human life, and that is our hunger. This emptiness that encroaches our minds, as we go about our numbered days. The emptiness that compels us, that gathers us, and drives us apart. It is something that sharpens the human experience, like a blade on a painter’s canvas. In hunger we pass the delusions that are our daily lives. In hunger, we discover the boundaries of our world, the edge of our existence. In emptiness, we have the drive, the madness to travel far. We have the instinct to not sit still, we have the urge to hunt, and to kill. This hunger makes us primal, and it makes us aggressive.

So food to the stomach sedates us. It makes us complacent. Tired.

Music on the radio fills our ears, it deafens us to the rattling of our engines, the roar of traffic, and the lonely whisper of the night wind.

Our jobs occupy our time, and pressures us to think of our nights as precious.

And in this way, we will have died before ever living.

For our stomachs were never meant to be filled. Our time was never meant to be occupied. Our minds were never meant to be cluttered.

There is an emptiness of the soul, an emptiness that is a requisite for a full life.
This life, we creatures, were never meant to have reached satisfaction. Were never meant to have achieved rest. Cain was never meant to be forgiven, and Eve was never given anesthesia. We, the scorned sons of earth, have stolen from the gods the intellect that let them understand the universe. But with our primal shells, we love, hate, lust, and hunger. We figured first a way to end our hunger, for that pestering ache – gnawing at our bellies – could never lend a hand to our march towards progress. We filled the void of emptiness with abundance. But that emptiness is simply meant to exist. It was never meant to be turned into a 100 calorie meal. It was never meant to entertain. It was never meant to serenade. It was empty, and nothing more. And in this way it is far more beautiful than anything else we have known, for it is simple, and it is natural. Into this life we were born empty, and as we master this world, we fill ourselves to live and to grow. But the further we stray from emptiness, the more lost we become. We have only grasped tangible things, things of matter, wood, metal, water. We have not studied that which does not exist, and cataloged the intricacies of not being. But this emptiness is meant to be, and forever will.

It is an emptiness that calls our names, and while we run towards the all, we need the nothingness.

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