Not Exactly Ghosts

How did you come across the book?

Umm… I was researching Victorian ghost stories… you know, like Christmas… like those scary ghost stories in that Christmas song. So I started just reading different Victorian ghost stories around Christmas and it’s just been… kind of uh… sending me down a worm hole of all these different authors… and so, the author was just somebody that cropped up when trying to find other ghost stories.

So far, what perspective have gained from this book?

Umm… unlike a lot of other Victorian ghost stories… not exactly ghost stories is… just that; they’re not exactly ghost stories. I mean, the tradition, you know… tends to be about haunted love stories… they tend to be romantic as well as scary. This stuff is all… well, one of these stories was about this little kid who had heard one of the neighbor kids had fallen down a well and they heard another kid screaming for help, and so it scared the kid… and he didn’t find out until years later that it wasn’t a ghost… that it was somebody he in theory could have helped but he didn’t realize because he thought it was a ghost. You know… so it’s… it’s an interesting riff on the Victorian ghost stories in that they tend not to be about ghosts.

… when asked, “do most ghosts stories tend to happen in that way?”

No… that’s just the one that I finished most recently. Yeah… they tend to be… like for instance, one of the ghost stories was actually just about a haunted writing desk that compelled people to write grave stone epitaphs… you know… and, it turned out that it was once owned by this guy that had gotten in trouble for slander and so… because he was writing these horrible little poems about people and… so his spirit had made people write these non-sense, little grave stone things… you know … but again, it wasn’t really a ghost… it was just this idea that this man’s ill temper had gotten into the desk and compelled other people to be… grumpy, I guess.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I honestly don’t know if I would recommend it yet… umm… yeah, I suppose that I would but… I would say that if you were… you know… a person who is reading a bunch of Victorian ghost stories… it’s a nice change of pace because it’s clearly written by somebody who had spent a lot of time reading them and just decided what he wanted to do different with the form. I just don’t know who that person would be.

What is a Prospector?

What is a prospector? It’s someone who believes it’s out there; who wakes up every morning, again, and again, and again… and again… believing it’s out there. And then it’s not. Right? It’s not. And he’s standing on the edge of the desert, staring a new days sunrise right in the eye, and he hears that little voice, and that little voice says this… “go ahead… keep walking”. And the sun gets higher and higher, and it’s shining down on him, and it’s really hot, and he doesn’t have any water to drink, and everybody that came with him wants to turn back, and eventually they do turn back… and there he is… and he’s all alone, with the belief that it’s out there. That’s a prospector.

We are all prospectors, ones of our own taking. Our experience, one we have coined as life, entails day after day prospecting; for meanings from our past, for context from our current, and for potential from our future, though the median should be of our only concern. We all have our own visions for what it is we want out of this life, and our own reasons to justify those visions, this serving as a force to live. However, when we catch ourselves falling for illusory prospection, both of the worn and of the uncharted trek, for something outside of our own unique truth, there inly reason for concern, reason for redirection back to our original basis of prospect. It is in these moments of realization that we must turn back to our truth, to our core, to our self, beginning again in pursuit towards a deeper understanding of our own existence, towards becoming more conscious of our own being.

Whereas a prospector by profession canvases the land for areas of opportunity for the excavation of earth’s internal trove, a prospector of life surveys the moments, for the creation and the validation of ones internal vision; again, their vision for their purpose of this life. In this I am not speaking about ones ideal profession nor their moment-to-moment plan of how they will live out their days. Instead, I myself in search, want to learn more and express upon further the fathomless, internal depths of our collective and individual existence; our morals, our beliefs, our values and our motives. It’s easy to think, less so challenging to convince ourselves, that we are all motivated the same, driven by the same promises, chasing the same outcomes, and doing so by the same means; but, we all innately know this to be false, though we may sometimes catch ourselves a part of it. Dependent upon many factors this life exposes us to, be them cultural, spiritual, natural or synthetic, experiences we encounter, our derived meaning from those experiences, and our choices of decision leads us, whether woke to this or not, towards the creation and the living out of our own unique truth. You have one, I have one, we all have one, but even I will admit that sounds limiting; bear with me.

“All we had to do was look. Open our eyes. The gold was wrong, the find too good. Why did no one look? Cause no one wanted to know. We all wanted to believe. Why? It’s been going on for centuries. We all want to believe….”

How many times have we found ourselves in pursuit of the inauthentic? Not due to the pursuits lack of authenticity, for any chase can mean something to one and nothing to another, but due to the routes direction away from our individual align. How many times have we caught ourselves believing that this end, or this ownership or attachment, that this find, will provide us with the feel and the experience we desire? This is not to say that goals achieved nor projects completed fail to bring about a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment, because they do, or rather they can, if these efforts truly matter to us and are extracted from our deepest truth. But, that’s where we can easily become lost, and where most of our feelings of worry and dislocation stem from. We all want to believe that there is a map we can follow, one that will deliver us to our find, and once there, that that find will provide us with our happiness and with our joy. Why do we believe this? Because we want to. We want to believe that it’s easy, that it’s set in stone, that it’s out there waiting for us. Why won’t it be? Because we didn’t look. Instead we have chosen to be fooled by false pursuit before ever opening up in vulnerability to ourselves. Rather than digging deep and finding what candidly aligns with our truth, we drifted, took someones else’s path, found it to be false and started again, only to find this method of search poor in its lead towards ourselves, for the only way to find ones self is to look; to look inside and to be honest with and courageous in the face of our own truth. What is it for you?

“… Don’t let me die out here for nothing…”

Are these detours detrimental to our truth? I would argue not, for I believe they, dependent upon our view of them, facilitate potential for deeper understanding of ourselves with opportune for gain of traction back towards our path; in many respects, they are needed. However, where these detours can turn into derailments occurs in the continuous decisive moments to ignore ones self, falling for the “what should be’s” and ignoring the “what is”. It’s important to understand that this perspective is not based on situation nor circumstance, but instead focused on the individual and their internal being; please do not confuse this with “I am who I am, so I am”, but rather “I am who I am, because I do”. Who we are, what we envision, what we pursue, and what carries meaning for us is found in action, whether by means of force or with a yielding passivity unique to our own reasons, for both can be considered action when meaning of decision is understood. However, be careful what you pursue.

“… I never cared about the money; I cared about the gold…”

Figuratively speaking, but with examples of warranted existence in our lives, money in the aforementioned quote can be viewed as the collectives declared possession worthy of pursuit, whereas gold in this light represents our own unique individual formation of something innate to our selves and righteous in our exploring. Whereas the striving for and attaining of what the majority views as the all encompassing acquisition may lead to moments of external reward and abundance, this same path orients us into position for the destruction of our truth and the disunification of our being; again, be careful what you pursue.

There is no map, there is no guide, and seldom is there actionable and decisive aid, that is unless the route declared is constructed in your own design; in which case, markers towards your find will begin to appear. Still however, remain mindful of your truth. In the same tone, we should not respond to this with feelings of overwhelm, but rather a sense of vigor towards our advantageous turn of now; the prospection of what we as individuals deem worthy of our beings. I will not attempt to provide any relevant succor, for it wouldn’t serve in its intend and I truthfully would not know what to impart. However, there is a truth I believe we all know, but far too often neglect; that our gold is found in the authentic, in the loyal and in the willing, in the connection, in the love and in the appreciation, in the struggle, in the trying and in the failing, in the work, and in the overcoming, all of which are unique in light towards our individual align and towards the earned fruition of our vision. So, why not choose towards the aim of your gold, whatever that is for you? Family, friendship, love, a career, a state-of-mind, a location, health, wealth, some sort of creative endeavor, a cause, a movement, all of the above, etc. The choice is yours, the moment for your avail. And in the end? Good luck! Your area for prospecting is ready for your taking. As we’ve all heard before; fortune tends to favor the bold. So be bold. Be clear however of what that fortune is to you.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

How did you come across the book?

In a thrift shop, I saw it and I thought… well my boyfriend likes this writer so I thought, “OK, this looks like a present for him.” But now, I started it myself!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… I’ve found interesting this writer; he’s really detailed, you know, with all of the personalities. I don’t know… I think… maybe there just are so many different people… you know… we all have a life.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah… I would! I’ve read things before from this writer and… it’s fiction most of the time but still it’s so close to reality… and I think it’s like… I don’t know, it’s… I would recommend it to… hmm… people who are interested in things of the world!

The Way We Live Now

How did you come across the book?

So, I was actually reading a review for Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ on GoodReads and one of the comments recommend Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Way We Live Now’. If you want to jump into a classic, without going for after ‘War and Peace’ this one is a nice step. It’s a book for adults, but it’s not… you know… as intense as ‘War and Peace’ but it’s sort of a nice book to read before.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Perceptive?… I think what has really stood out to me so far… I mean I’m only a hundred pages in, but I guess… across eras, and centuries and varied societies, how wealth can distort relationships between family members; its fascinating! Even now… now we believe it to be a modern phenomenon, but… I mean… over a hundred years ago, you have family tension over wealth… or resulting around that. So, its interesting to see something just never leave, even though they are decades old… centuries old. That’s it exactly… the same themes remain throughout history.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would highly, highly recommend it… particularly to the readers who would like to expand their vocabulary. Of course, as you know… given that it was written over a hundred years ago, the language is different, but there are a lot of nice, old English words, you know, that people use in their day-to-day vocabulary… ones that I am trying to incorporate into my day-to-day vocabulary. So, for the avid reader who likes to expand their vocabulary… who likes time pieces… and who may be interested in wealth as well… I would highly recommend it to that reader.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

How did you come across the book?

Well, today I was… I’m going to Italy on Friday, and I was looking for some books to read on the plane, but… I’m already almost half way through this! Anyways… so I saw The Reluctant Fundamentalist and it looked very interesting so I picked it up.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Umm… well…. do you know anything about the book? (Where as I answered, “I have no idea”) Ok, so… it’s a great book. So it takes place in New York, I think right after 9/11… well, it kind of flip-flops back and forth between him, the main character, and Lahore, speaking to an American and then kind of flashbacks between him coming to university in the United States and then getting a big job at this firm. So right now he’s talking about “it just was 9/11” and he was flying back from Manila when he got stopped and learning about whats going on. So… it’s pretty intense!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would definitely recommend it! I think I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t traveled that much… because I think… well New Yorkers may be a little different… but, I think Americans in general don’t travel very much, so they don’t get a chance to develop a sense of other peoples perspectives and… I mean, I’m only on page 76, but so far you’re gaining a really good perspective on why someone may view the United States, or Americans, in a certain light.

Neil Young on one’s Fervent, Unyielding Search for the Fabled ‘Heart of Gold’

I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold.

With an air of melancholy surrounding his tones entirety, Neil Young momentarily encapsulates the enduring travail of ones search for a treasure in its purest form, a search fed and deceived by the minds’ susceptibility towards yearn. In one of his many depictions of love, Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ both recites and reflects on a life lived in pursuit of the undiscovered, a token of fabled purity of the song’s naming; a heart of gold. Laboring away in search, expressions of love remain withheld, repressed and hoarded in hope for eventual outlet in the finding of a heart deserved. However, the search remains and time awaits no one: “And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.”

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold.
I’ve been in my mind,
It’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold.

This pursuit has no barriers and chooses to forage rather then to remain idle, impatient and reluctant to receive, instead anxious to find and claim. Our world is vast in sense of its physical traits and in the sense of our human spirit, sub rosa of course to ones selected expressionism. Where one can travel in search for this treasure within the confines of our physical world, the same can be done in the mind with far less restraint and with far more expanse, dependent upon ones perceived attributes towards a heart of this taking and the extent to which their creative imagination can concoct it into reality; unfortunately, a reality only of the mind. There remains a fine line between what we want and what we need, what we envision and what truly exists, more so in the realm of love than in any other facet of our experience. However, obsessed and unyielding with our preconceived notions of this treasure, the search remains and time continues to await no one: “And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.”

Keep me searching for a heart of gold.
You keep me searching and I’m growing old.
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.

Resisting the need for acknowledgement of truth, one continues ones hunt, weathered by the journeys lacking return of invested sacrifice, but unwavering to the minds promise of loves holy grail. Keep searching one does, willingly ignoring the love which exists already, bypassing the current gleam of believed to be lesser-in-value treasures for the mining of a longed for, more precious in mind metal worthy of appreciating. Keep mining one does, discarding the nickels, the coppers, the silvers, the still worthy but devalued by the majority’s incognizant appraise, for the one believed to contain what we want, what we need, what we so wholeheartedly convince ourselves will finally be enough. But… the search continues and time, staying true to form, awaits no one: “And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.”

Simply put, a heart of gold does not exist. So easy it is to convenience ourselves that it does, choosing to remain in quest for someone we believe is worthy of our love and who will return that love with the same intensity and style. Remaining delusional to this understanding, we fall for the fairy-tale that someone, somewhere will be exactly what our heart desires, unfortunately turning the search into an outward aim towards someone-else, somewhere-else, ignoring our current love and it’s opportunity for deeper experience which already exists in our lives; a scenario more true now in our world of perceived to be endless options.

Carelessly, we remain in search. Why? Because we have not yet found our heart of gold. Mining wherever we find solace, exposing ourselves to other precious metals, though not of gold, tarnished due to their laxity against the elements, beautiful all the more so given their unique mar, the search continues, the journey thus far overlooked. Why settle for the less valuable while the gold is still out there? Someone-else, somewhere-else, we tell ourselves; that’s why.

We picture this heart of gold waiting for us, wanting to be found as much as our desire to find it, sitting there, only to gleam in response to our presence alone. But, haven’t other metals gleamed before in our presence? This may be true, but not like gold, we convince ourselves, though we have yet to see it.

Neglecting the other metals, we subsequently have chosen to neglect an abundance of affection on the journey, in search for something which does not exist, never truly giving chance to experiencing enduring love. Even if we were to ever find a heart of gold, meaning some attributes align with our version of this, we would find that it is not perfect, for nothing in this life is. Like the other metals, it would be worn, it would be tarnished, and it would carry with it its own unique imperfections, from the beginning never truly possessing the capability of living up to ones expectations of what it should be.

In choosing to search for perfection in love, we have chosen also to not love, for the search will deprive us of the energy needed towards the fostering and growing of what we instead have chosen to neglect. Understanding that a heart of gold does not exist, we can begin to find beauty derived from love in the gleaming of other treasures. Refocusing our outward search for myth inward, towards a love contained in the raw sensations of now, perhaps we can experience and grow along with a love worthy and treasured in its purest form; an imperfect binding of imperfect beings, tarnished, worn and marred, but acknowledged and appreciated.

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For other beautifully crafted perspectives on love, pair this with Van Morrison on Love and its Dynamic Journey and Janis Joplin on the Urgency for Love.

Ticking Away

Awoken, laying in bed the other morning, every breath released I heard a ticking noise, like that of a clock. Honestly, it kind of scared me then, but I laid there listening for it all the more so. Whether real or imaginative, I realized truth in the moment. Every breath brought in and released from is one breath closer towards death. Typically, our natural response to such a thought stirs about momentary existential worry and anxiety about something which we cannot control. However, while engaged in the experience I reflected back to a quote I had come across just days before:

“You are afraid of dying. But, come now, how is this life of yours anything but death? 

– Seneca

Death surrounds us during every moment of our lives, and we experience it daily whether we are attuned to this truth or not. Deaths’ presence can be found in the most common and simplest acts within our days, of which take up a good amount of our time and attention; the eating of food which was once alive, the kissing of our loved ones goodbye leaving to take on the days tasks, the coming to an end of a day lived, the drifting back into sleep at night, and the act of breathing itself. All of these, though different in severity when compared to the actual loss of life, remain indifferent in nature; they all represent loss, permanent or temporary…but still loss.

Though we tend to view death as a negative part of life, one we try to avoid at all costs, it is still going to happen. Instead, we should acknowledge this truth, do our best to understand it, and come to the realization that it is out of our control. Death, no matter its mold, is a part of this world, of our experience, equal to or more so lifelike than any other truth our existence may hold. This should not scare you or bring about worry for it is simply what is; an unavoidable natural phenomenon with meaning bewildered:

“Death, like birth, is a secret of nature.” 

– Marcus Aurelius

Though you may have more behind you than ahead of you, none the less, every breath inches you closer. We can view this as a reason for our despair or, rather a potent force for our claim of life.  Was I listening to the ticking away of my life at that moment? It truly does not matter, for whether I was or not, the fact remains; every breath we are getting closer to the end. So… what will you do with the remaining?

“It is not that we are given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” 

– Seneca

Do not just tick away, for that would be wasteful of a life intended to be not. For all we know, this life is all we get. Do not fear what you cannot control. Be here now, for the entire concept of future is laid upon an ambiguous string. Again, this should not scare us for it is simply what is:

“The whole future lies in uncertainty. Live immediately.” 

– Seneca

Actualize this and you are free from the burden of failing in attempt for your control of it. However, for basis of anchor, realize that you are in control of one main component of this equation; how you spend your time, how you experience it, is in your hands. Let that provide you with your sense of control. Our autonomy is found in our perspective and there simply exists far too much good and beauty for us to worry about a perceived negative. Instead:

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” 

– Marcus Aurelius

Please, do not just tick away, for you are worthy of much more.

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P.S. For a healthy daily dose of this type of perspective, I highly recommend everyone to check out Ryan Holiday’s “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.” It has provided me with great thought and insight into a world that tends to confuse.

Additionally, check out DailyStoic.com, which provides Stoic Wisdom for Everyday Life. Another great thought provoking resource.