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Photo by Christian Heller

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I’d like all the odor of your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

Antonio Machado

*

Why do you want to be great?…So, as long as you are trying to be something other than what you actually are, your mind merely wears itself out. But if you say, ‘This is what I am, it is a fact, and I am going to investigate, understand it’, then you can go beyond; for you will find that the understanding of what you are brings great peace and contentment, great insight, great love.

J Krishnamurti, Life Ahead

*

Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.“

- Alan Watts

Trying to be what we’re not is a common human malady. We admire those strong voices that speak their own truth, but we make the mistake of imitating them instead of finding our own connection to Truth. The hard work of affirming who we uniquely are is sidestepped because we’re intimidated by the apparent rules of success.

Success is misconstrued to be money or renown, when it’s really just being true to who you are. If we were all aligned with our original self, the world would be full of geniuses. Instead, the world is full of inferior copies of some agreed-upon template that nobody can fit into. It’s easier for the forces of social order to deal with robots and automatons than with geniuses. Geniuses make bad soldiers and assembly line workers. They have their own ideas.

The bosses don’t want you if you have your own ideas.

A brilliant energy comes out of people who know and respect themselves. That vein of originality is not lazy, it’s electrifying. People connected to themselves this way can’t be shamed and intimidated. They can’t be cowed. They’re a force to be reckoned with.

Our country is in sore need of such people at this time. It’s worrying to think that such people are rare because, if you have somehow been falsified by the system, your instincts are skewed. You can’t distinguish true from false. You’ll follow any bloated idiot who appeals to your childish constructs if they are showy enough.

Our democracy is in peril because too many of us are easily fooled. We vote with the wool pulled over our eyes, never suspecting we’re destroying ourselves along with the world itself.

If we can’t see the difference between truth and lies, we’re a mark for every shyster who comes along. The rest of the civilized world is holding their breath, hoping we’re going to come to our senses.

The strange thing is, the outcome is in doubt. What does that say about our maturity as human beings? The endless parade of criminal cruelty and stupidity was briefly broken last week with a more aspirational picture of our country, an image and an idea of who we are and could still be, a hope that there is still hope.

But we’ll have to fight for it with everything we’ve got. The forces of entropy have the bit between their teeth now. They’re on the move and won’t be easy to stop.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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