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Stoic Wellness

Mindfulness is Truthfulness

A Note For Lizards

dr_lizard_by_bakus_design-d5uv3zk

Hello again,

I see you there in the corner, dancing in mockery of me, and I must say, in spite of the resemblance to mine own, that you are insistent, you dancing lizard, you. And even now, as your reptilian eye flickers with patronymic distain, I gaze back unto you, equally contempt, because one of us should not be here, one of us is not real. You, little scaled dancing lizard, have shown me enough of your routine, and I wish to watch you dance no more.

The sun has begun to set and what happens next is all too familiar for me; the gray wall next to your stage is usurped with the tidal urgency of a golden beam of light cast through this window until, finally, it reaches the ceiling and is replaced with the shadow of your apparition. Sewn on end to the tips of your claws, the shadow is your puppet, and your dance, oh that dance, is a routine of which I can neither turn my attention from or allow myself to join. You, dancing lizard, have burdened me for far too many sunsets, for far too many puppet shows, and I will no longer be your captive audience!

Yet here we are once more, you and your green keratinous scales, and I with my goose pimpled flesh. Your tail, wound tightly at your posterior, bobs to and fro, acting as a lure for the ill-lucid, and I, incapable of negating its transient twirl, have only one choice to make—to consume or otherwise, be consumed. I’ll say it again; here we are in the cold shadows of dusk, locked in this cell of a bedroom, predator and prey, dancer and audience, and as the sun sets lower still, it begins to become difficult to tell who, in fact, is the chameleon and whom is the neither…

If it were I, that was meddling maliciously and methodically in the dusty corner of another’s life, I too might try to act so inconspicuously latent, that through my deviously hypnotic performance, might pounce with a cold-calculated hunger onto my captivated onlooker. In the time just before however, I do not think I would gaze so devilishly into the eyes of my victim. This is just cruel! Cruel in that; like you, I am hungry, I am cold, I am tired, and I need to dance for my meal. You see, lizard, we are both the same in this way, the minute distinction being; I would not stare. I would not stare…

Of stares; the stairsteps of dissonance, which you have forced me to descend, are steep and they are slippery. Once before, I’ve nearly slid into the abyss, into the obscurity which you’ve learned to thrive, into the nothingness where you, slithering beast, dine. And as I step, carefully, towards the bottom, the stair from which I previously fall dissolves into darkness the moment my foot is relinquished from its surface; and in this phenomenon, I feel my own claws growing sharply into the confinement of my boots; and in this stairwell, I feel more and more comfortable, yet more and more confused. Spiraling downward, the staircase coils, not unlike your serpentine tail, which is a part of this larger, more ethereal motive—to make me feel as if I’m in control, as if I have chosen to take this path which winds treacherously into what is impossibly unnavigable, into your stomach, I’m sure.

If it were to be, that I was to walk willingly into the bowels of your digestion, then it may be best that I do so now, so that at the very least, I will suffer from your stare no longer. And if it were to pass, that inside your body, I discovered myself to have remained conscious, then maybe it is also best that I relinquish my body without concern for the pain associated with doing so, because like the stairs from which I fall, my appendages shall dissolve too, and likewise, I shall remain comfortably dissonant with this loss.

Dancing lizard, watching you move, I cannot help but relish in the despair of which you’ve inflicted upon me. You are an animal, and I am a man. You are what consumes, and I am what is consumed. You feel no remorse, and I feel remorse for you. So, which is better, my reptilian cell-mate, to be the dancer or to be the audience? To be cold-blooded, or the warm, tasty meal?

I see you there, in the corner, dancing. Upon arrival of these last descending steps, the sun will begin to rise and, with it, I too shall find my way back from where I originally fell. As the light consumes this room, I too will consume you, dancing lizard.

 

Until next time,

I remain…

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Dear Hand,

I wish this to be my formal resignation; as of today, I am no longer to be employed by your trifling regime. Of all the things one may be inherently and self-oppressively opposed to, it is your indictable vague and variant behavior which has, of late, in an emphatically incoherent way, choked the life from the very being of which you meant to befriend. This gasping recipient of your incoherent demands has elected me representative of its cause. Hand, my resignation is a mechanism of which you will not understand until someone or something comes to treat your ailments, hopefully in a manner that is far from kin to your sickly administration of “friendship” towards others. So, it is in this letter which I will list the grievances that have surmounted to the events of today:

Because it is me, whom you chose to utilize as reference for these transgressions, it should also be me who holds the responsibility of cutting ties with you altogether. “Cut,” being a word most fitting for this severance, be it that I was not the puppet of which you jerked along with lazy disregard, but rather the string. This is not at all one hundred percent your fault, in this way, as all injustices require some seemingly benign slack given by some form of ignorant facilitator. It is through these ties that anchored these poor bodies unto you, Hand. Of grievances, using me to do such nasty work is the one I despise with every ounce of my strength, yet there is more, still, to be wrung free.

The second of the list of griefs, which I sincerely regret drawing out for you now, is regarding the malpractice you so easily justified as warrantable by way of necessity for yourlivelihood. I know this, everyone knows this, to be a false statement. A statement so disgustingly ego driven that even typing the words pushes back on my fingertips in rejection of the ideas you’ve tried to bring into the world. Can it be then that you, Hand, are so talented, so compellingly important, so special that the affection of happiness be yanked away from those who you touch. Why could you not share the stage with the rest of this cast? Why is there not enough light to shine on everyone? Like your puppet, you rip and pull on the afflictions of hope from everyone around you so that you may prosper, so that you, Hand, may pat your own back. I’ll say it now, that in this list let number two be: you are not exceptional, you are a sententious Hand.

Finally, I’ll recite the last of my complaints against you. The actions that I have been most reluctant to try and describe are difficult to pen because the words, when written of the nature of your behavior, melt into an indistinguishable pool of varying connotation. In this same way, your indecipherable social practices have riddled everyone whom I’ve introduced you to. As it appears, you’ve wanted to rid me of your relationships for quite some time. Who asks to make friends and then in that same breath shames anyone who shows them good gestures? You do, Hand, and it is also you who should feel for-shamed in this way. The only rationale I can muster from these undulating behaviors, is that the only relationship in which you know how to belong, is the one that you hold so tightly that it, like myself, must flee from your anesthetizing grasp.

This being it, my last words regarding our short time that we have spent together, I’d like to add that I do wish you well in your future endeavors. Maybe you will choke the life back into your friendships, maybe you are such a talent that your desires rightfully supersede those closest to you, and maybe you didn’t abuse me in these ways. But I am not like you, Hand; I am reasonable and cannot close my eyes to what lies before me. Through your desperation for companionship, you have strangled your puppets, you’ve tangled your strings, and now it is clearer than ever that the only way out is to cut free from you, and in doing so the ones affected by your strength may slide free from your fingers tips forever…

Yours truly (no longer),

Sanity

Dearest Burpee


Dear Burpee, 

        I’m writing you today because Facebook has informed me that we’ve been friends for ten years now—all of which I am extremely grateful for. I’ll never forget the first day I walked into my new gym and read your name on the whiteboard. Since then, we have come a long way, you and I. 

        As you may recall, our first encounter was a bit awkward. “Never again,” I remember saying to myself, “just not my cup of tea.” We are told you can only make one first impression. Thankfully, we gave each other a second chance. Thankfully, we didn’t give up on each other. 

        One of the first lessons you taught me—one that I will never lose—is how to breathe. 

        “When the going gets tough,” you said, “the tough breathe harder, and then get going.” 

        Like all your lessons, I did not come to its meaning my first attempt. I might have died three times fighting against myself, running from the uncomfortable instead of leaning into the pain; dealing with struggles through the power of breath and focus. You taught me this! 

        I bet you’re really blushing now, but I’m not quite done my good friend Burpee. Your friendship means a lot to me see, so I have to explain. A second lesson you shared with me is as important as the first.

       “Above all else, no matter what the case, no matter how tired, weak, or down you are, get back up.” As I’ve found out first hand, the more I get knocked down, the more practice I get at jumping back to my feet. With this practice comes proficiency, and the recession of fear from falling again . 

        You see! You have been the best friend. This is why I write you today; to lift your spirits. People may not understand you my dear friend, but I do. 

        One last thing before I go. I want to thank you for your final lesson. You may not realize how important it has been for me, so I should mention it here to you now. It seemed silly at first, but it’s a habit I’ll probably never break. 

        You said, “Applaud yourself for your hard work! Jump and clap for what you have completed, because if you don’t finish well, why finish at all?” 

        Burpee, it has been ten years since we met and this letter, if nothing else, is my applause for you. You are much more than what meets the eye; you are a blessing in disguise. Breathe through discomfort, pick yourself back up, and finish well are the things you’ve taught me. Like all healthy relationships, every time we meet I learn something new about you, and also about myself. 

       Ah! I almost forgot, I have some good news for! I’ve decided to move closer. We can be neighbors, and see each other every day if we want! Burpee, you and I have grown close over the years, but you can never learn enough from a true friend. I look forward to seeing you more often, as I hope you feel the same. Until then, take care. 
Sincerely, 
Person

Express Yourself


The purpose of life is self-expression. Expressing your essence entirely is what we live for.

-Oscar Wilde

It’s easy today, to find a medium for self expression. In grade school it was a point taught by our teachers and reinforced by our parents. Be yourself. Be creative. Be different. The purpose was clear and made sense. An egocentric society is bland, dull, and narrow, but a diverse altruistic one bleeds progression, acceptance, and individuality. Through this philosophy, generation after generation has found new ways to express themselves; through music, art, science, social norms, and much more.

Nothing I have said should come as a surprise to you, nor was it my intention. I would however, like to shed light on a point hidden inside this point.

This ideology, while applied to the previous stated mediums, flourishes, yet holds value only through external means. A pianist cannot play music without his piano, nor a painter without his brush. Just as the writer can only write with the help of paper, the fashion designer or model cannot be understood without clothes. By all means, through these secondary mediums people have created brilliant new ways for anyone to express their inherent sense of self. In the same way, many have also neglected the most accessible canvas, the primary clay of peculiarity—the human body.

Cells—molded, adapted, divided, congealed, dying and reproducing—make up your physical existence in the place and time that we share together. You are a physical representation of your past, and current choices. A combination of inherited traits, and daily decisions, the mass that is you, whatever shape or size, speaks to me and the world around you. I’m not preaching about “losing weight,” or “looking your best,” but rather, being your best for the sake of your being. This doesn’t mean start a diet or run three hours a day. My point can be understood, in that:

Your words may misrepresent your mind, but your physical body cannot lie. Health cannot be expressed in any other way than by smart choices.

Expression is how we want others to see us as individuals. It only makes sense to start with one’s self. Represent who you are through your physical being. Express yourself. 

Andrew T. Ramirez

Truthful Lies

A lie is a pact that is made between one’s conscience and one’s reality. For it to be effectively appropriated, applied, and accepted by others, it first has to be believed by one’s self. This belief can only happen when the conscience agrees to the terms of this pact, and one’s perceived reality does the same.

Lying is an interesting phenomenon, metaphysically, because it lies alongside fiction, in that they are both conceptual descriptions of reality—opposing truthful reality—derived from a purpose; one to fool someone to acquire an advantageous position, and the other for entertainment.

The significance of this all lies within the lies themselves.

When a statement is made, truthful or not, it is now engulfed in the nature of reality, either lying among what is actual, or in juxtaposition. Without one, there is not the other. Lies are what bring significance to truth, and vice versa.

Truth and lies are the space and time of rhetoric. Their relationship can only be determined by their concepts and counterparts, and the difference in their being can only be defined by the beliefs of which one holds them accountable to.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Power of Choice

There is an equation for power. I’d reiterate it now, but you’re probably reading this on the internet, or in proximity to a device which you can look it up. I’ll give you a moment to refresh your memory on the 3 variables that figure into power, unless you’re a physics geek (no offense) and have it memorized.

The point is, power requires a force of some sufficient significance. Without it, there is no reason for the equation for power, and no result to be measured.

There’s the physics-defined concept of power, but like most words there are deeper conceptual pools and descriptions, waiting to be dipped into. Power is related to strength, physically and mentally. It’s also related to size, usually because of this association. We quantify the force production of our vehicles with the same word we describe our world’s influential leaders. The power of knowledge is equal to the power of persuasion, and the power of deception is a worthy opponent to the power of truth. But of all these, one type of power stands alone as the common denominator—the roots and trunk of the oldest and most sturdy tree to have ever grown, branches flexing and reaching in every direction, and that is the power of choice.

Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself “… no man can do me a real injury, because no man can force me to misbehave myself.”

I think it is only fitting that the Roman Emperor refrained from using the word “choice” in this note, because in life often our choices are being made without deliberate thought. Choices are  not just our actions but also their opposites. Equally, choices are not just our thoughts, but the possibilities that have yet to be thought of, and because of this, choices are the most powerful force a human may utilize, knowingly or not.

Currently I am choosing to write these thoughts down. If I hadn’t, their existence is only an idea. The same can be said of the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence, or da Vinci and his Mona Lisa. Even you, the reader, are the result of a choice that someone had made; to bring you into the world.

Lest not forget that though choosing to take action may bring wonderful things to life, their infinite oppositions—the choices that fill the void of action— are equal in weight. The route not taken still exists to a hiker, just as a choice not made exists to an inquirer. The powerful tree of choice has branches that have not been climbed, and it is equally importance to consider their existence, even if the shadows they cast do not throw shade for your current position in life.

The power of choice lies within every human. We know power requires force, and that force requires action, but choice may live in inaction, and thus the opposing forces exist in our minds, as the power to choose pushes back on our conscience. I feel it’s presence, and I hope you do too.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Artfully Meditated Purposfully Stated

Marcus Aurelius states clearly in Meditations that he himself did not partake in any more poetry or rhetoric than was required of him to write, read, and proficiently understand. His writing has the intent of being anything but ostentatious, but rather stoic, concise, and purposeful. Through language—written in this instance—the Emperor forwent with formalities, reputed excessive rhetoric, and presumed intrinsically contentious the poetic language, only to ensure his diction was pure and honest to purpose.

Being a fan of art and all of its mediums, my first attempt to capture the Roman’s meaning was no more than a grasp at a sand rope. Overtime, with more reading, I eventually realized the beautify in his veracity. Aurelius’ attempt; no, his ability to speak and write with absolute command over emotion and directness of thought was in itself poetic. Akin to nature’s auspicious scenic viewpoints or a child’s smile, purity is conveyed and felt without embellishment or illusion.

Art in the absence of art, might be the most beautiful picture never painted. His Meditations were for himself a manuscript, and to the world a masterpiece. Lessons for one man’s life breathed life into another man’s lessons.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Fan-blade Clarity

After spending countless hours reading and re-reading text from Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (this time spent just to comprehend the preface to its Transcendental Doctrine), I decided it would be helpful to listen to lectures online that have been given with the intent of deciphering the Critique. Knowing what the book is about, yet knowing little of its content beyond the introduction, I couldn’t help but wonder what would lead a person to consider the ideas that would eventually surmount to the text at hand, and what kind of life someone could live with such demanding ponderances constantly blurring the lines that separate reality, actuality, and their concepts—as it has already done to me. In wake of another hour long grapple over a single paragraph of text, I decided to lay back on my bed with my fan humming above me, and close my eyes for a bit. Moments later I opened them to an epiphanic sight that loomed directly above me, which I now call Fan-bade clarity.

The idea begins with the knowledge of Immanuel Kant’s daily life (also given in the introduction) in relation to his academic and philosophical merits. At first, I found it to be ironic that Kant, world renown expert in the field of metaphysics and ambassador of the modern understanding of universal knowledge, was a man who had never left the place in which he was born, raised, and eventually died. Königsberg, Prussia was the theatre where Kant battled relentlessly over the nature of being. Not only was Königsber the town where Kant was born, he also attended University there, tutored there afterwards, and as mentioned previously, died there. In fact, it is rumored that Kant had not traveled more than 150 km away from his home town. That said, there is more to the seemingly absurd nature that makes up the philosophers reported life. It is also known that Kant was extremely meticulous in his daily routines, so much, that his daily walks could be measured almost to the exact second. Meaning that if one were an observer, one might notice that every single day Kant would walk by–whatever point of reference–at the same time as the day before, down to the second. So here we have a man who is arguably structured to the point of clockwork, has never left the comfort of his home town, and possesses the ability to think critically beyond the boundaries of anyone before him, which subsequently allows him to reason equally as objectively.

Ironic? I don’t think so anymore, and here is why:

To me, being completely new to the metaphysical world of concepts and theories, it is strangely difficult to grasp on to a concept such as time, space, or existence. Sometimes I can hold onto a line of thought or reasoning for an hour, but eventually the line is blurred and my thoughts spin astray, arousing a whirlwind of incoherent and fragmented ideas in its trail. Over time I’ve realized that certain daily variables, when accounted for and equated, determine the level of brain power I can muster and sustain. A simple example would be rest. Physiologically I am able to think with more clarity and precision when I am well rested. Knowing the relationship of physiology and its cognitive causalities, one might deduct that controlling these physiological variances might subsequently yield a more managed mental focus. Treating one’s body like a science experiment and calculating nutrition, rest, exercise, stress, and all other daily activities, will eventually show a trend in regards to sharpness of mind—if diligently and appropriately measured. This idea is exactly the approach I think Kant took with his lifestyle.

The best way I can describe his incredible level of persistent focus is to explain the metaphor, which hangs right above me. As described earlier, in metaphysics it is easy to get lost in the blur of a concept simply from thinking critically about it too long. When I look up at my ceiling fan—without focus—there appears a similar blur of spinning blades, each as indistinguishable as they are difficult to count, but if I look to the blade’s ends and focus my eyes in the same circular pattern, eventually I am able to catch up and focus on a blade and peripherally able to account for the others. Just like my focus with metaphysics, I can not sustain that level of focus long. Here is how this relates to Kant: Essentially Kant systematically turned the dials—so to speak— which synced his eyes with the ceiling fan. By controlling every aspect of his life through structure and calculation (turning the fan speed down) and never leaving the place which he found the most focus (training his eyes), he mindfully allowed himself to sustain and retain very powerful levels of thought. Keeping up with the metaphor, while I am only able to periodically see flashes of a single blade, Kant was able to maintain clarity throughout his entire adult life.

This is the premise of fan-blade clarity, and its reciprocal principles are self-defining. Managing the body will lead to more control over the mind, and control over the mind will allow better management of the body.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Time to Tackle

The attempt to tackle the concept of time is as formidable an undertaking as it is to understand that the concept itself cannot be tackled, yet that the attempt must still be made–just assuredly as time will never stop.

Time is a concept that engulfs all physical representations in the universe, yet only provides significance to those representations that are sentient, or at least realize its relevance. Through this phenomenon, my learned observations have led me to grapple with many physical and metaphysical interpretations of time. Recently, the most entertaining idea that has been under consideration is that there are no single moments in life. No snap shots or stills that can be pin pointed or marked truthfully. The idea that there is no real present moment is a paradox in itself. I’ll try to explain why:

One way to examine time is to consider the purpose behind its understanding. The obvious answer, is to record events throughout human history. Knowing that events can be observed by our senses–sight in particular–then one may assume that the occurrence of an event is the succession of movement at the location of the the instance under examination. This means that because it is known that nothing can be in two places at the same exact moment, then the object which is in motion is actually creating the concept of time. Without movement, the concept would have no meaning. These understood principles align with the idea that there is no present moment, and for this to be true it would mean everything in the physical universe would have to completely and utterly stop. This hypothetical situation proves itself accurate; in that, without movement there is no life, without life there are no humans, without humans no concept of time, and without a concept… no time.

Now that is an idea worth trying to tackle.

Andrew T. Ramirez

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