Fate, Hope & Despair and Rubbage Smubbage

Fuck Fate.

I am sure some will cringe reading that.  And maybe those who do will think my use of the expletive “fuck” is offensive, or as a minimum you consider it (even me) crude.  But it is not; nor am I.  Although, I will concede to these people that for in sooth the sentence includes crudeness, albeit one of a more sublime sort, one that we so often use in our daily lives and yet never give much deep heed to its implications: fate.  Fate is crude.  Fuck Fate.

I have my sense for what Fate is and is not.  And the neo-classical sense of the word is a cancer that rots the life and ruins the soul of people who conjoin themselves to it.  Whenever we Hope (and we will get to that shitty word in a moment) that the gods or God or even three sisters sit somewhere eternal ordaining for us our destinies then we allow ourselves an opt-out clause from reality.  Fate is not something decided for us, it is decided by us.

Fate, if there is such a thing to begot in this world then is merely the intersection of potentials turned into kinetic form: this is fate, not Fate.  Two people meeting for the first time is representative of such an intersection.  What they decide to do with that opportunity–or not to do as the case may be–is the whole measure and sum of fate.

In my desertion of Fate as some crippled, infirm of purpose denizen of ill-got nether-dreams, I implicitly declare to you that Life is not at about passively hoping for “sonorous moments when Time stops itself for us”; I instead declare that we must fully commit ourselves and exercise our Time on this Firmament to find for ourselves the things we need.  Live our Life in the Now and only the Now, awaiting neither godly proclamation or Fate to make Heaven on Earth for us.  Do the needful, even be the needful, but never be the needy.

And while we are on this topic.  Fuck Hope.  And fuck Despair, too.

Right on the heels of Fate is Hope.  If there is nothing else to live in than the Now then there is no Hope, nor its dire sibling Despair.  More precisely, there is no need for Hope or for Despair.  These are both borne when we are unable, even unwillingly, to embrace Now as it is (and is not).  It is only in that moment when we forsake both any resignation to our Past and fear for some indeterminable Future that we step fully into Now.  And from this place–Now–that we will find neither room nor need for Hope or Despair.

Life has no memory of the former Nows, the things we collectively call Past.  All those Nows exist separate and distinct to each other even as one Now leads to the next Now.  Yes, the gestalt–the form of Now–is sum total of all previous Nows but it is so without sense of judgment or perspicacity.  Future is not yet born as it were; more accurate it is to acknowledge that it is never ever really born.  Future exists only as a concept, a conceit even, of the sentient mind that projects itself from this very Now onto some other Now not yet realized.  Hope and Despair are then children who inhabit this Future we form from our very minds.  Neither are real or necessary; their very existence is contingent upon us requiring a belief in some pre-ordained nature to the Universe–Fate.  But without Fate and that unreality we call the Future we can eject fully from our Lives both Hope and Despair.

And thus this is how I awoke this morning feeling neither Hope nor Despair in Life.  In the modern canon of Society it may seem to many that I awoke in a stupor, a resignation to the World around me.  But this is the farthest thing from the Truth.  I feel no Fear for the things I care most for nor or the people I Love.  And trust you I believe I Love more truly than any other previous Now in my Life.  It was only when I awoke this morning in the absence of Hope and Despair that I discerned that both Hope and Despair as stony buttresses to a prison that held me captivate to some Future I felt Fate might once engender on my behalf.  Indeed there is still fate but no Fate; indeed there still is an infinite set of intersections in the Life that I have remaining.  And I will decide upon them as they come, never before their time nor after in reflection, but only as I can, only as I meet them Now.

A little faith, please

In Words Redux I tried to differentiate between to love and to be in love; however, in the process of conversing with a friend I was presented with a conundrum: they did not agree with my usage.  Naturally, not agreeing is oft times the very hallmark of a good and meaningful conversation, and as such is of no real concern.  What is important is to understand the other, though.  This person reserved to love for friends and family and to be in love for someone very much more, a soul-mate.  As such, their own usage encompassed other ideas that I reserve, in part, for to love.  Which is to say, the more we talked the more I realized we were trying to express the same sentiments albeit using terms differently.

This got me to cogitating upon what is it exactly about love that I am trying to express.  And more importantly, I wondered if there there might be a better word that encompasses, even if only for this particular person, these (my) concepts.  Ironic as it may be, I had to reach back to my youth to discover a word that I rarely use out of its ecclesiastical connotations.  The word?  Faith.  It is ironic, as it were, in that I walked away from the Church many decades ago, although I never lost my faith in God-god-Life-Universe [1].  But that evening found me returning to the teachings of the Bible and to the story of the kingdom of God made whole on this Earth.  I started to wonder if the prerequisite events required to herald the creation of this kingdom is not the return of “(our) lord and savior, Jesus Christ”, but instead something both quite extra-ordinary and even more simple?  I wondered if maybe, just maybe, we might instead see “Heaven on Earth” not dependent upon the big-letter “F” Faith in God-god-Life-Universe but upon the little-letter “f” faith in another person: our soul-mate.

In this manner our soul-mate becomes both proxy and mirror for god, whereby our soul-mate transforms into our alpha and omega, the beginning and end of all things.  But we must remember that our soul-mate is our equal; therefore, the transformation of one is also the transformation of the other.  In this way, I very much mean we exhibit both the humility toward our soul-mate as we would god, but that we also exhibit the very qualities of god in ourselves through the act of compassion.  We simultaneously put our soul-mate before and above us, all the while exhibiting love through acts of acceptance, forgiveness and charity.  As in our Faith in god which does not waver or falter and is eternal, nor does our faith in our soul-mate which is to last till the end of our days.  In this manner we find some deeper wisdom in the traditional vows of marriage, for indeed “in sickness and in health, in richness and poorness till death” we discover these very qualities of godliness expressed in this simple succession of dualities the clear statement: we devote ourselves to each other through our faith in each other, that we forever aspire to be true to each other at all times even as we, as imperfect humans, are tried in so attempting.

In this light we might reexamine the words “love your fellow man as you love god” to mean something more deeply, more personal than a mere question of religious fidelity, but humanistic harmony.

Continue reading “A little faith, please”

The Most Dangerous Pursuit

I love analysis.  I may love it too much.  I do love it too much.  But it serves me well in my career as a technical mutt; I can suss out the root causes of problems and try to place a framework or taxonomy around a system to better understand and interact with it.  Analysis at some level is a process of reduction and refinement, a process of finding patterns and invariability to attach a “what” to things.  It is ultimately a process of discovering entities and illuminating their important relationships.

But once you have the what, there is in your arsenal the remainder of your primary interrogatives: who, when, where, how, and why.

What happened?

Who did it?

When did it happen?

Where did it happen?

How did it happen?

Why did it happen?

And lo! behold how the danger grows as we move down this enumeration from who toward how and why.  Naturally in the business and political arena all questions must be seriously entertained; however, once we enter into our personal lives all these interrogatives remain safe to ask but one: whyWhy as interrogative morphs into inquisition, forcing us down a very dangerous and very real rabbit-hole that will likely terminate with our, well, termination.

For myself, I believe asking why is a question best left to historians and sadists.  Yes; certainly it is a useful tool for limited introspection, but little has ever been gained and much more lost in asking why of another person.  The seed that most often germinates into the question why is an emotional inability to accept the what, not understand the why.  Someone did something we did not like or otherwise made us uncomfortable; a cosmic injustice occurred that does not meet with our world view and model.  We want a why, we need a why to re-establish balance with this schism between what we believe should be and what is.

It is not mere grammatical convenience that I used the word “should be.”  Should is a strong marker for a judgment taking place, it is the sign of a critical state of mind; judgment walls us from our ability to love (accept) the world around us.  Asking why is promulgated by the belief that the universe operates on reason.  Yes, the universe operates on mathematical laws but that is not reason, but just happenstance of a mathematical convenience with no consciousness necessary.  Why does not apply to the universe: it just is.  But why wants to dig into the conscious and subconscious motives of the what, the what being that we were hurt by and the need to bring the external world and our perceptions of said world back into alignment.  Why is fueled by our need to heal a hurt, but is retarded by our inability to accept the source of the hurt, the what.  Sadly, asking why more often than not is an attempt to re-align the external world to fit our perception of what should be, not the opposite; which is to say we ask why to warp reality to our expectations, not the rational inverse.

But.  But, indeed.  Asking why is born of a real and vital need to both heal and safe-guard ourselves against future occurrences of the same what to avoid a repeat of the current hurt.  And this is no small thing nor a thing we should ignore.  But while the motive is noble, the means is better served with a different question.  Instead of asking asking why it happened, I have found that asking how it could be different gets to the root of the real need and motive.  How could the what be different next time?  Asking why will not change the past; the hurt has happened.  We have a simple decision: accept what is or not.  Trust you I, choosing the latter (not) will end in you broken on the rocks of reality, a reality indifferent to the devastation wrought by your futile, fatalistic rally to change it, to change what is.  While we cannot change what was, we can help influence what might be.  And that is no harder than accepting the past, looking from the perspective of our acceptance rooted in the now, and facing toward the future asking: How can tomorrow be better?

Words Redux

In my last post, Words, I ended on the word alone and the self-actualized person.  But there is another set of words, to be in love and to love, that come to mind as another fine example of the conflation of causal over casual relationship.

To be in love is the both the great gift and possibly even greater scourge to come out of the 12th and 13th centuries economic and religious doldrums, swirling down the courtesan halls in both handkerchief and corset alike in European courts of the 16th and 17th centuries, culminating with Romanticism in the late 18th century that heralded arguably the modern age where we find ourselves now.  The great emotion!  The greatest of emotions?  To be in love is to to be in a continual state of ecstasy, an endorphin rush of sing-song dance and technicolor bliss that washes away all mars of age and life, leaving us and the target of our fixation as unblemished, godly perfection brought down from the Heavens and put on this earthly firmament in human guise.  This is nothing to be trifled with; to be in love should be put in a medicine bottle with one of those caps that requires monkey-like dexterity, cunning intellect, and herculean strength to open.  Potent stuff, indeed!

I am tongue-in-cheek with this state of human arousal because it in part enjoys such a deep seat of reverence in our culture, one that is at times deserved but more than not misplaced.  And let us be clear, this is not the stuff that fuels only the girls who grow up dreaming of being swept off their feet; boys, too, want to find their soul-mate in love and live happily every after.  It is part of culture, one that is never challenged or explored but accepted and expected. But what if to be in love is a mere feat of the external form, a consequence of a potent concoction of chemicals in our bodies?  How then do we examine this thing, this emotion?  It is just one form of lubricant before another kind of lubricant, all but to help get an improbable rock rolling down the hill, we then falling into the bushes and nine months later three walk out?  To be in love is a grand thing for sure.  It is a wonderful thing.  It is a splendid thing. But it is an emotion, not a state.  And it is as dangerous as any sin when we conflate it with love itself.

But before we get to this mating as it were of to be in love to to love, let us first clear up a potent conflagration of words when we use to be in love with someone who we attach the label “soul-mate”.  I have experienced from both ends the devastation of attaching our sense of soul-mate to the person we are in love with.  It is quite understandable, even natural, that the person who is the center of our emotional universe should also straddle the center of our spiritual and substantive universe.  But no matter how strong this connection appears to us, I can guarantee you that if you are in love with someone now then eventually, eventually indeed, you will not be.  There will be a morn, some morn, when you wake up, turn over to them and you realize you are no longer in bed with a person you are in love with; whatever passionate fire that consumed you for them will have been utterly, completely extinguished.  It may indeed also be very true and likely that some morrow after your passions will be rekindled, but in the interim you will not be in love with them.  Period.  Full stop.  Given this then how devastating indeed is it for us to attach the most sacred role one can occupy with another person — soul-mate — in connection to at best a perennial emotion: to be in love?  One moment we are in love with our soul-mate, the next moment we are not in love and they, too, then are not our soul-mate?  Sound ridiculous?  It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.  But in our culture this is the norm, not the exception to the gestalt of being in love, we confuse our lovers with our soul-mates but then wonder why we find ourselves confused and disappointed when they “disappear.”  They did not disappear; they never existed as our soul-mate in the first place.

As depressing as this may all seem, it is not.  Let us return to our other infinitive form, to love. While I have no inkling of the relative closeness or distance between the etymologies of to live and to love, for myself the only significant difference I can tell between the two is the one I can spell: i versus o.  For myself, to love is life made manifest and whole, it is taking all the potentials of our the world and people around us and making it wholly manifest through our simple act of acceptance.  To love is to be in a state of acceptance, no more nor no less.  I do not believe you can both love a person and also judge a person.  We can and should love every person we meet — it is both our sacred duty but greater still blessed gift to learn about the world around us through the act of accepting people for who they are and are not.  If we believe the world must be good then it is difficult, even impossible, to truly love everyone we meet.  We create a schism whereby we must sit as judge over people, putting them in our various arbitrary camps of good and bad.  And if we wish to throw the Hitlers and Stalins of the world into this argument then we confuse the extremes with the middle.  We are all humans; we all, every one of us, are imperfect.  We do both good and bad things even as we are all good people.  At least in my own experiences, people who judge others are most often the self-diagnosed victims, too hurt and angered by the indifference of the universe and prompted by their misguided belief that the world should be fair, that in their act of self-defense that they lose the ability to recognize this simple fact: good people do bad things.  I am hungry to make this point that judgment is in polar opposition to love.  Love tempers us, tenders us with the capacity to forgive.  We forgive the people we love who hurt us for that simple fact that good people, all people, do bad things.

When we do finally come to accept the world and more so accept ourselves as whoever we are alone then do we have a chance to find on the most intimate level, the most sacred of roles our soul-mate.  And it is only in this state of acceptance that soul mates can be found let alone nurtured and sustained.  Note my use of temporal change through the words nurture and sustain; soul-mates are not born but grown through shared experience.  When we accept (love) a person for who they are and are not, we are ready to take a journey with them through life.  We are able to accept the many forks and cul-de-sacs they take as they learn and grow, making mistakes and even doing bad things all the while remaining a good person and all the while we loving them for who they are and are not.  In this context we are able to grow with them and they with us; we are willing to let the road lead us on and forever on, and we find ourselves in places and in states we could have never have foreseen or imagined the long years before when we were merely in love but had not yet found love.  And once something as precious as love is found, I guarantee you there is no way to unfind it with the days you have left in this world: love truly is eternal and forever, it is life itself.


I never stop coming back to some words.  In reality, I come back to a great many words. I do not find too many remain stable for any rigorous intent using a single invariable, inviolate denotation. In the colloquial, words are slippery beasts.  Words are inarguably both as concept and as tool one of the greatest inventions of the human story.  Words set us free to express emotions, thoughts, and ideas, encapsulating in succinct sound-bites whole abstractions and experiences into easily digestible chunks that are transferred endlessly from person to person, long after their first utterance is made.  Words are a short-circuit between everyone’s disparate realities, ever-rolling through time, compressing into inexpensive, cheap even, alternatives of the real thing.

Words themselves never lie, albeit they oft times fail to convey the truths they are entrusted to represent.  It is easy to hide (from) assumptions that come embedded in words; entire civilizations’ core values and wisdoms become mashed, boiled, and then finally, brutally distilled into a form often far afield from their original inspiration and intent.  Words, so intended to liberate and transcend us past the temporally-trapped nowness of our existence, can equally imprison us into perceived realities that neither listener nor speaker understood or intended.  What fascinates me even more than simple deviation between denotation and connotation, intended versus perceived meanings of words is when words that are apparently, superficially congruent are instead subtly in diametric opposition.  There are two that come to mind: alone and lonely; to love and to be in love.

Etymologically speaking, lonely is the adjectival form of lone.  And lone is merely the aphetic shortening (dropping of the initial, unstressed sound) of alone.  And alone is a contraction of all ana (all by oneself), or more literally wholly (all) one (ana).  I write all of this to evidence the fact that these two words are deeply related to each other, at least linguistically; however, in my own experience this is as far as the two words go in terms of relationship; linquistic but no more.  Lonely, and its first-cousin, loneliness describe an emotional state; whereas, alone merely describes an observation of the physical state.  And here is where I found myself making a near fatal mistake: lonely and alone do not form a tautology; to be in one state does not imply the other state is also true. To be alone does not mean lonely, nor does to not be alone mean you are not lonely.

I am sure this, at some intellectual level, is a mere curiosity that is quite apparent upon casual inspection; it may even be to elementary to you, the reader.  I can assure this was not the case for me.  I know for myself these distinctions alluded me at some level deeper than mere cognitive recognition for nearly the entirety of my first 35 years of life.  I grew up believing that the cure to my loneliness was to not be alone; if only I could find another person to share my life then I would no longer be lonely.  Why?  Because, simply put, alone and loneliness were at deep, primordial level a tautology to me, interchangeable words that only varied by grammatical usage.  Yes, I could be heard quipping “I am alone, but not lonely” and sometimes this was true but I also felt that this kind of existence was better left to a once-and-awhile-kind-of-thing; much better be it if I were to share my life with another person and therefore avoid all together the whole rather icky matter of “alone but not lonely”.  Loneliness for me seemed like a permanent, perennial condition of my existence, and what I lacked to combat this depressed state of existence was a deep connection with another person to ward against this even deeper sense of emptiness in myself.

It was not till my recent divorce that I finally came to understand the insanity, the very untenable position, of this tautology I was trying to maintain between alone and loneliness.  I vividly recall my then fiancee and I — both recovering from our failed first marriages — sharing with each other our belief that being married to each other to share our lives with was a great and noble means to obtain contentment.  But embedded in that sentiment of sharing our lives was also a deeper fear that our loneliness stemmed from our being alone; ergo cohabitation through the virtue of marriage would nicely cauterize the bleeding we both felt at being alone and lonely in a rather cold and indifferent world.  Some two years later we found ourselves in a relationship to each other, not alone but feeling lonely.  For my wife the solution was divorce; but, that is another story which I wish to return but later and on the matter of being in love and to love.  Nevertheless, I found myself again alone, and most poignantly so for me at a point in my life when I was looking forward to starting a family with my wife, comforted in the then irrefutable fact that I was going to spend the rest of my life with the person I deeply, deeply loved.  It was unbearable beyond words to discover all those dreams one moment here, the next moment fanciful memories.

A month or after she left I was taking a walk with a very close friend of mine who shared with me something that became a watershed moment for me.  Let me first put some things in context.  This friend of mine has the life I had hoped to build for myself, a person who in many ways I both envy and admire.  And because of this fact, I have often looked to him to suss out clues to the secrets that I was missing.  He turned to me and said as if he was telling me the weather, “Some days I just feel all alone in this world.”  Casual as he may have been, it was anything but for me.  It was like someone telling me gravity was up, that rain was dry, or snow was hot.  This could not possibly be: he lonely?  Surely, impossibly not.  He comes home to a wonderful wife.  His two children adore him and want nothing more than to play with their father when he comes home.  And when night comes they together put their children down to bed and then turn to each other, close the bedroom door and find sleep and comfort in each others warm embrace.  How could anyone be lonely in this context, I wondered.  But in the same moment I was wondering this was the very same moment another part of my brain snapped and the assumptions about causality between loneliness and alone exploded, and in their ruins remained a mere coincidence, a juxtaposition of linguistic curiosity and etymology.

Certainly I am not trying to speak universal truths; only that what I write next is my universal truth.  I have come to realize that the loneliness I felt is not the feeling of being separate from other people, it is the feeling I have when I am separated from myself.  And by separated I mean to imply uncomfortable: I was afraid being left too long to my own self.  And in this way the etymology from all ana makes startlingly sense: wholly (with) oneself.  More startlingly still is that loneliness is not some complimentary sister to alone, it is its very contradiction.  If we accept our original denotation of all ana then to be alone is to be wholly oneself then we are only true positively alone when we are wholly comfortable with being with ourselves, whole and separate from everything else.  The fact, even argument, that we do not feel lonely when we are with other people is explained best as a parlor trick of smoke and mirrors, a bit of sleight of hand whereby we misdirect our own mind from the discomfort we have being left in our own company.  Viewed in this light, alone is not just a state of physical existence but it becomes a critical virtue of the self-actualized person.  Alone is not something to obliterate, it is something to embrace.