Sometimes god is just a moth

(Art by Jasmin)

When I began this post it was dark and raining outside and you could hear the wind. It was very lovely. I found some really mellow music to listen to. I also came across this piece of artwork that I’ve featured on this post when I was looking for a piece for my previous post.

I wonder if we all seek divinity in our own way. Some more consciously than others and others in denial. Because it’s these moments that strike me as peculiar. A reminder, an echo, that a message can come to you in so many forms. I know there are reasons for this, that you’ve primed yourself to see what you’re looking for. Yet there is something spiritual about this randomness. It is a moot point if I’ve already primed myself to see it… but Jung calls it synchronicity so I’m going to go with that. Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls it probability. I’m in the process of reading Fooled by Randomness. I’m expecting to learn how to plan for randomness and luck. To see it for what it is. So in looking for someone to give me the broad strokes, the title here, Fooled by Randomness, pretty much whispered pick me, pick me! 

Continuing on… I once read a really good piece of advice: find mentors in good books.

Often going around in circles, I found this question began to persist: Is my life governed by a higher force?

If I say no, then it isn’t. If I say yes, then it is. I wonder, when I’m 40, if I’ll look back and decide yes, that event shaped the rest of my life. But I had a year to prime for it. Again, from what little I’ve read of Taleb, hindsight is the biggest culprit in believing in more than randomness. But my intuition tells me that Taleb’s work should be great for navigating life and I’ll leave his ideas there whilst I explore the spirituality in the fabric of life.

When I first read Thict Nhat Hanh, I was struck by the way he expressed interconnectedness. In the nature of all things. In the push and pull, in the give and take of life. Cycles. In The Heart of Understanding, I could see this idea unwind beautifully in the presence of invisible strings that connect everything, objects and people to a whole organism. The table my laptop is resting on… a person exists in this world, who cut down the tree that it came from, a person who designed it, a person who moved the materials between cities.

That was the beauty of the sentiment. That the water flowing through the river will flow through you and flow out of you again. It will flow through me and out of me again. That interconnection is a mindfulness for the things we use and consume. If I see them as a random string of events that have no connection to each other, then would I ever pay a thought to the logger who needs to feed his family, or to the designer’s philosophy on tables, or the trucker who’s tired and cannot wait to get home and sleep?

If we pick a role to play and watch ourselves play, do I then have compassion for someone struggling in the role they picked? I must first have compassion for myself when I perceive I am falling short. To follow that idea to its conclusion… is to see myself reflected back in people. There. I finally glimpse this remote idea of oneness. I am surprised by the simplicity of it… Life has layers, some more translucent and others more opaque. Light and dark. Colour and shadow.

I do believe that we have a choice, every single step of the way, and those choices define us when we’re not looking. But I have the luxury of deciding that I will navigate the rest of my life upon the possibility that I am indeed the captain of my ship and sometimes the only way forward is to surrender. A paradoxical choice… perhaps…

For a moment, toy with this idea that we are god playing human, even though rationally, we know we are not god.

I watched an ant once… I danced with it… and made it my subject as I followed its journey across the balcony railing. We danced together and god… all of 1cm long… thought I was god as it journeyed on, aware of my presence. I became aware of my presence. I was not the trees, nor the birds, nor the ant… but nature watching itself play. There was a universal truth behind the illusions. In this life, we are not god. Nor can we have every role we desire. We cannot be our polar opposite. Am I the mother or the child or the woman? Are we playing god? Have I forgotten I came from god? My rational brain urges me to stop here. That to continue is to discard logical structure. Yet there is a fondness for god in me… for a god that is not a three letter word, a man with a beard, cloaked in white. for god to be an idea that we are god.

Every act of creation requires a little of you. How much are you willing to give?

In this context… bringing forth life, is the ultimate act of creation. But I am thinking of the little creations…

when you sail towards these frozen shores… all that was holy in your heart will sink beneath the ice. The new world will hunt you down for the savage you brought on your back. it will eat you up and you will drown on your way to its shore. and when you’re done heaving, you will see you’re not alone in this night. the wings of a moth will flutter through the vastness. god is sometimes nothing but a moth.

I wrote a piece of music titled Frozen Shores (Soundcloud link) last month for my foray into sound design… and that piece of writing came about from it.

There is something powerful in the act of creating. Do not leave it to other people to be creators. Creating weaves storytelling. There is a story at every level. There is something incredibly spiritual about creating… because in the process of it, you’ll leave your usual self behind and potentially discover something new.

Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi calls it flow. But is god not found in these moments?

 

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Losing a little of something

(Art by Jasmin)

There was something infinitely sad about the dying halos of flowers, that were, less than a week ago, still vibrant with colour. Perhaps the grey clouds and the intensity of the wind had something to do with it. Perhaps because I was floating through limbo as the world around me finished up for the day. For an hour, I was a person with no destination.

Give yourself leave to meander through an environment and you’ll stop to look and wonder at the most mundane of sights and sounds. You’ll have this funny curiosity about the world because you have no obligation to be or do anything else. For an hour, you exist in a different frame of time to the world around you.

I passed the war memorial and made a beeline for some public benches. I’ve never stopped so it was strangely odd when I wrestled with the desire to. My grandparents never had anything to do with WWI so it isn’t part of my identity the way it is for some.

I read the plaque and gazed at the flowers. How sad it is, to have to die for a cause one believes in, to die fighting someone else’s war, in pursuit of someone else’s political agenda.

All I could do was acknowledge how human it is to leave flowers in remembrance of the dead.

Oedipus

It’s just past 8am here, and I’m sitting here feeling very mellow. This piece of music is setting the mood for me. My morning started around 6am when I semi woke and sort of spent an hour drifting my way into full consciousness, switching between the On Being podcast to Myths and Legends for the first time. I should add, I only listen to podcasts once in a while.

I’ve come across Oedipus’ story before, but Jason (podcast host) brings out the humour in this fatalistic story. I can’t remember the first time I read it or the context I read it in, but I do remember my concluding thoughts. A younger version of me dismissed the story as pointless. As in, the story is not worth telling because the ending doesn’t merit the time it takes to spin the story. Which brings us back to the fatalism. I suppose, that was me cluing myself in.

In any case, Freud having re-appropriated this character for his own complex was probably what drew me to that particular episode. So basically… he saw something of himself in Oedipus and created the field of psychoanalysis out of it? It’s like the snake spotted its tail moving and decided to nibble on it without realising the tail is part of him. I’m borrowing that analogy from Alan Watts, who sort of… amusingly… points out the similarities between religion, myth and psychology.

Here’s a succinctly written passage from his essay Is there an unconscious?;

… the mutual contempt of religion and psychology is but “the pot calling the kettle black”.

In spite of it all, however, psychoanalysis has a definite and valuable contribution for students of religion in our time. I say “in our time” because psychoanalysis is essentially a modern remedy for a modern ill; it exists for that period in human history for which the unconscious is a problem, and a problem is has been since man began to imagine that all his difficulties of soul and circumstance could be solved by the unaided power of human reason. The ancient path of mysticism and occultism resolved the problem of the unconscious from the very beginning, even before it became a problem, for their first requirement was that man should know himself. Whereat he very quickly found that the huge, brute forces of nature had their counterparts in his soul, that his being was not a simple unit but a pantheon of gods and demons. In fact, all the deities of the ancient theologies were known to the initiated as the inhabitants not of Olympus but of the human soul. They were not mere products of man’s imagination any more than his heart, lungs, and stomach are products of his imagination. On the contrary, they were very real forces belonging both to nature (the macrocosm), and man (the microcosm). Occultism was thus the art of living with one’s gods and demons, and you had to know how to deal with them in yourself before you could deal with them in the universe.

I’m going to finish this post with a final thought. I wrote a post last night but trashed it immediate after I clicked the post button. I hated it. Never take advice from someone who doesn’t know how to set an example. There. I summed up my trashed post in one sentence.

(Art by Revolver Winds)

 

Dust

(Art by hattie)

Some nights… have a magic to them. You know the ones, maybe you’re watching a film, reading a book, journaling, dancing. Whatever it is that you do, there’s a moment. You glimpsed something. Whatever it is, it feels right. Everything feels right.

Do you ever forget why you do something? Maybe you rationalise, or you’re just in plain denial about it. Apparently the brain is good at ‘not seeing’ what it doesn’t want to see. I find that kind of funny.

 

But…

If you can entertain another perspective without taking it on, you’re doing okay.

I’m a huge fan of Nils Frahm… Chopin and Chopinesque modern classical music like the entire range of Studio Ghibli piano pieces. I listen to other styles, but my own style… if I have a style, sort of follows this neo-classical moody vein with some minimalism thrown in. Apparently Nils Frahm doesn’t like the label neo-classicism. And the first minimalist composers (I’m thinking of Phillip Glass) rejected the label minimalism.

So… here I am, actively trying to apply these labels to myself. It’s funny. I’m not going to say anything about it… except that I’m okay with trying to understand where I’m coming from and what I’m drawn to.

I signed myself up for a NaNoWriMo challenge of sorts. And I’m torn between being disciplined enough to write something creative every day, and not being in the mood for that and going with it. I improvised this instead:

Soundcloud – Dust

It’s nearing the end of the year. Listening to my own music did inspire this writing though:

Never forget how lovely it is to play. Never forget how lovely it is to ride a storm of feeling, no matter how many times the storm pulls you under. Endings are beginnings in disguise. Who are you writing to? Who are you writing for? Nothing will ever be perfect for you, so see the beauty in crooked things. That’s enough, I promise.

Pomegranates

(Art by Carolina)

The underworld was fragrant with the scent of sweet pomegranates. Hades coaxed a branch on one of the trees to tempt the goddess he had found in his hunt. The branch extended itself enticingly, but she crossed her arms and demanded a seasonal fruit instead.

Words: fragrant. sweet. branch. hunter. cross. seasonal.

The fool

(Art by shley77)

The fool tossed the sphere into the air and watched as the cancer blinked through the world. Infected fingers played a merry tune as he waited for the aftermath.

Words: sphere. cancer. infect. eye. finger. fool.

The mermaid

(Art by Paul Maguire)

A forest was growing out of her hair, and her tears seemed to be dropping seeds that the wind blew away to plant every few paces. The cliff obscured the sun and it was just as well that dusk was falling. The sun could no longer glare at the world that appeared on the basin of the ocean. All its sentient inhabitants were suspended in the water floating above a fast growing forest, its waves galloping into the sky.

Words: sun. crowd. obscure. sweating. waves. seed.

Note: I’m tired… I was not expecting something so fantastical. I can’t believe it’s only the 8th of November and there are 22 more days left of this challenge. It boggles the mind. It surprises you, what your mind can do with words, to stretch and beat everything into shape, every lucid and unconscious idea has some value, somewhere. Eventually, the chaos almost makes a little sense, if not rather interesting.

It’s also interesting to note the way your mind will pull ideas and places and translate concepts into new contexts as fresh material. Almost without your conscious control.

  1. I read an unrelated article about Saturn’s moon Enceladus hosting life today. The writer made a joke about mermaids at the end of the piece.
  2. I listened to an anecdote about chairs and culture. To cut to the chase, the anecdote made me laugh because inherent in the story was the concept of normal being turned upside down.
  3. The waves… I stood on a beach once for quite some time and watched the waves come up to my feet. The white foam looked like they were horses and I was reminded of a scene from LOTR. This was a few years ago.
  4. I had a refresher on the concept of creativity and originality today. Everything is a remix. That’s probably why I tacked on this list.