Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Books We Read

By Justin Cude

I’ve read tons of books lately. Hold on. Bear with me. I don’t say that with any type of pretentious. Its just a way to start this piece. But, seriously, lately I have read tons of books. From Self-help horrors to border-line erotica novels. From the lone pessimists attempt of optimistic existentialism to the bonding painted along a band-of-hippies psychedelic rove. Books which reign the top 100 to ones spawn from the endless graves of underground novella. I’ve read deeper into the works of authors I truly love, and have flirted with the lines of authors I’ve only just met with a glance. I sat down yesterday and read a whole damn book. I’ve only done that once in my life, years ago, and it felt wonderful to experience this again. But, this piece isn’t about the number of books I’ve read through in the last few weeks, but rather about what I have noticed, as I have before, by doing so.

The books we read influence us. Greatly or subtly, it doesn’t matter. They teach us. They touch us. They lead us and they push us. Some can hold you back. Many will move you, either which way. The ones we love, we do so for many reasons. There’s not just one reason we read and continue to. We read for many. And, we keep reading because those reasons are always further affirmed the more words we finish, the more pages we turn, the more books we try. We know why we read, individually, and our knowing of that is enough to continue forth. Every book I have ever read has provided me with at least one line of life; life learned, understood, challenged, gained, lost, made aware of, or changed. Even if only a line. I read for that one line. That one line that provides the life I needed to experience as to allow my own life the right, or the acceptance of, to just be, and for me to just be along with it. For life to be what it is, at any given moment, during any given experience of its provide. And, for me to be who I must and who I choose to be in response to and in demand of that greater providing.

I read for that one line. And, I read for this one life. Because, the books we read provide the life of others, while we’re out learning and living towards the writing and the sharing of our own. There’s wisdom there. There’s trial and error. There’s love and the exploration of its layered and endless complexities, along with it’s simplicity. There’s death and our questions. There’s wild stories from all walks of life, and there’s devout peering into the uncertainties we face. And, there’s us, reflected in the words so humanly placed. The books we read are shared closely with the lives we live. The lives we live are steeped in the richness of books we read.

So, I encourage you to read on.

What More?

By Justin Cude

What more is there to say?

What words are left to write?

You’re born from the sun,

you live with the day,

and you die into the night.

I know there are tricks in between,

but all we can do is live,

try to figure them out,

and love while we try.

The Way Things Happen

By Justin Cude

“It’s not suppose to go a certain way, it’s just suppose to go.” — Unknown

We all carry with us expectations, for every facet of this life, it’s path and the way we envision things to go.  This is dangerous, and we know this, though the temptation of it truly does invite one in with a certain seductive appeal, one that ignites our desire, puts flame to the fuse of our strive. There is nothing wrong with these feelings of passion, pursuit, of tenacity; they are the spice of life, the feelings we all long for, work for, dream of, crave. What is wrong here however, within our blinded view of their true existence, is our naively hopeful presumption of encounter with the byproduct we believe their pursuit-of, or withholding-for, promises to provide. We hold our expectations, feel down to the bone their premature existence, surer than death of their inevitable arrival, left ignorantly vulnerable by a belief system we have curated in our own mind, made real by a psyche ran wild, by faith chanced on a baseless mirage, delusion. Expectation blindfolds our deeper need of actualization; the makings of reality, not an ideal, more convenient alternative. From actualization, further actualization is made available through our efforts; I hope you find where to direct yours. From expectation, further illusion ensues, understanding impedes, knowledge narrows due to ones dwindling view. Expectation impetuously promises everything and delivers nothing. Actualization provides the world, in acknowledgment of the way things happen no matter our feelings towards this. The way we want things to go strangles us with lies. The way things happen provides freedom in their unbiased telling, their steadfast here-ness, and in our…

“Objective judgement, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance — now, at this very moment — of all external events.”

— Marcus Aurelius

The Internal Narrative

By Justin Cude

Many times in our lives we are the only one’s keeping our story or our narrative alive, through the internal dialogue we choose to let run in continuum, many times allowing it the autonomy to remain on repeat; stop this, unless of course you remain entertained by the story you partake. Become more aware if you don’t.

This can be hard. This is hard. But, it doesn’t always have to be.

Lately in many ways I haven’t been entertained, but I will admit, in a few I have, but that’s not what this is about. Walking down the street today after grabbing an unusually timed coffee to sip on, I caught myself, well, thinking.

Catching yourself thinking can be an enlightening moment, and today it was for me. I realized today, as I have realized before, but have failed yet, until now, to write on it, that by catching yourself thinking you are grabbing a moment of complete awareness of you and of your long running, usually tumbling, narrative you have playing within. And it hit me. In the moment, surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces, embedded within a place becoming more familiar by the day, I alone am the only one aware of my own internal narrative, and I don’t necessarily know how or what to think or to feel about that, which is probably the reason why I’ve chosen to write on it. I want to see where this thought takes me.

Lately I’ve been in my head a lot, and not in the most productive or endearing of ways. Though I have understood where my mind has been of late, I admittedly have not been able to make much sense of it, finding myself overwhelmed by an unorganized clutter. Even as I write this I feel there to be no point or direction, no ending to this thought, no clarity to its muffled presence. I don’t know where this will end, but I will continue to try to write anyhow.

With this I have felt lonely lately. Alone. Not in the physical sense, because I am surrounded by people everyday; ones who love me, strangers who quickly becomes friends, apart of a group even, working towards something that the collective gathering has deemed as worthy. To me it hasn’t been lately and I don’t know why. I just feel here, somewhere on the planet, with no grounded sense of place, no anchored sense of self. Yeah, that’s what it feels like. I’m here, I know that and I see it, but lately I have not felt it and I have not understood why. The only part of me lately that feels any type of anything is my mind, my thoughts, my internal narrative which I feel I have little control of. It hasn’t been running wild, though at times it has slipped away. No, it’s very much so been here, steady even, though too heavy to pick up, too frivolous to grasp, it’s been here and I am caught in audience of its oration.

I started writing this piece almost a year ago to-date. Having just recently revisited it, I am approaching it with a different perspective from which the life that has been had since its commence has cast its influence and provided more of itself.

The internal narrative is powerful. It’s with whom most of our conversing is had. Where ideas are honed and thought through, and where the thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs. That’s the big one. The thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs in the internal narrative we carry with us, and that influences our lives a great deal.

Throughout our waking moments, of any given day, the internal narrative is playing. And, usually we allow this to occur without our influence. We just let it play and we find ourselves lost within its rolling. If its words are sad, we are sad. If its words are joyful, we find our selves joyful the same. If they are lost, we can’t find ours either. And if they are directed, we focus on their point. Whether this is good or bad, I truly do not know. But, if the question is asked whether or not we have influence on this, the answer most definitely is yes, if only we practice such awareness, of ourselves, of the narrative, and of the relationship between the two.

Awareness is not concentration. We do not have to focus solely on either participant of the relationship (the narrative or ourselves). Rather, we simply must be aware of the relationship between the two, the conversation they are attempting to have, and the influence both have over the other. Neither is in complete control of the other, and I don’t believe we should allow it strive for this to be so. That may seem frightening, given that we like to think we are in control of our mind, or equally as frightening to think that our mind may be in complete control of us, but the relationship is one more of involvement rather than of control. Like any strong and meaningful relationship, this is one too built upon communication.

View the narrative as open space for dialogue. Interact with the words of the narrative and communicate back with your own. If they align at moments, allow them their connection. If they don’t, given no mind to it. Give space and they will find each other again. Both will always be there. They are able to coexist in harmony or in disagreement, and they will. Nether is the end of the other. It’s a relationship to be maintained. A dance, sometimes a fight, to be had. And, simply, it’s the most meaningful conversation you could have. The catalyst for every other relationship within your world. Acknowledgment of this dialogue, awareness of its exchange, becoming apart of it rather than an a sufferer to either, ends the horrific monologue it can unrequitedly and unrelentingly become.

“You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference.” — Anthony De Mello, Awareness

Change, As It Is

By Justin Cude

“It’s funny how people just won’t accept change.

As if nature itself — they’d prefer — rearranged…


If you have followed my writing for any stretch of time now, you will have noticed that most of my words dance with some form of change occurring in our lives (love, place, ideas, thoughts, wants, people, ourselves, etc.); reflection on how that change comes to be, observation on how it proceeds, and how it can hurt and or teach us something in its stay and its passing.

With this piece however, I want to try something else. I want to acknowledge from the beginning line that change is already set to happen, not to be shocked by this, and with this steadfastness, I want to try to be understanding, aware, welcoming and OK with that. To emulate the Stoics way of naming such practices, lets call this one: premeditatio mutatio, or premeditation of change.


I’m sitting here at my little brown desk in Beijing, China, typing away at an article that I hope to post soon, in a room that’s not mine and where I won’t be forever. I just poured myself a cup of coffee that I had heated just moments ago, and am now waiting for it to cool just enough so to drink from it. Sitting here, thinking of the words to say, only to delete a few which sounded right and then which didn’t, only to try again to maybe like their sound better and to continue on, with this line of thought and work I am also thinking of change and how I will meet it again, or rather how it is here always working, not behind the stage curtain, but apart of the same play as I, as all of us, always and forever.

I notice this now as it consumes my mind that I have always viewed change in a past tense sort of perspective. Never really having ever greeted it when it had arrived, only looking back on it after having noticed its supposed departure. And with this thought I realize that this line is wrong, but I will keep it here anyway as to track this thoughts progression. It’s not that we ever have or are even given the chance to greet change, or to say goodbye to it for that matter, either. Again, as said just a few lines up, in the paragraph above, change is always around, as active as the breath which keeps us alive, autonomic by the same nature.

This is not to say that things are ALWAYS changing, or that what we know now will not be the same as what we know tomorrow, but that little by little things are in fact ALWAYS changing, never stagnant, no matter the efforts of our wrestling with them to be here always, never to budge, never to fade.


The coffee is cooled enough now to drink it. A connection comes to me. The cooling of the coffee in a way describes what it is I am trying to say. The coffee cooled, just sitting there, in the same cup I had poured it into, without my influence and without my tampering. It changed, though not drastically or even visually noticeable to the degree of my vision, right in front of me as I was sitting here thinking of how to proceed with this piece, only moments having passed. And, not only did it cool, but it decayed, spiraled within its confines, sent steam into the air which faded, heated a circular area of the little brown desk of which it sat upon, became sweeter or more bitter due to the origin of it contents and the influence of the environment it now occupies, and so much more, again only moments having passed.

And, as I scan around the room at all of the inanimate objects surrounding me, none of them are the exact same as they were only moments ago. It sounds crazy I know, but it is true. I may not notice the changes visually, I may not be able to touch the changes or taste them, or to hear their movement, their transitioning from what they were to what they are, onto what they will be, but not one thing in this room, if left untouched, if not tampered with or influenced, would remain the same forever, and that shows further what I am attempting to say. Everything, all of this surrounding us, down to its biological level, is constantly changing, from one form on into another.


There’s a little bug in front of me now just weaving and hovering through the air only a small height above my desk and all that is positioned on-top it. And now that same bug is gone, away from my visual field. He could be behind me for all I know, because he is not making enough noise for me to hear, doing the same thing; just hovering or weaving. Or maybe its tired now and taking a rest on my shoulder, on the TV behind me, on the clothes rack, on anything. I look back. I don’t see the bug. But, I do see the city outside through my window. The bug is back. And now gone again. I look outside the window again. The world is moving. The cars seem to be gliding silently atop the road given that I cannot hear their rumbling-along from here, through the single paneled glass window, from this distance. Through that same window still, I see the newly sprung Spring leaves of the trees waving with the swaying wind. The bug returns, still weaving and hovering. Leaves again. A cough that I’ve had for a few days now barks, then fades. The coffee even cooler now, I notice as I go to drink from it again. I hear the person in the room directly behind the wall in front of me click his lights; on or off I do not know. The little fridge behind me to my left creates a noise. The bug returns. Gone again.


I left my desk for a moment and just returned, the thought of all this still with me. I’m going to move on now from noticing and attempt to get back to thinking.


Again, things don’t change as drastically as we expect them to. Not all the time at least. Sometimes they do, and we notice those, the big ones. They hurt us. Maybe some excite us. But, either way, they force change because we notice them. We don’t notice the smaller ones. The every day subtle changing of things largely goes unseen, unnoticed, unfelt, unbelieved. And because of this, when the big ones happen, though they have always gradually glaciered towards being, they catch us by surprise, and again they tend to hurt us. Some excite us maybe. Either way, they are demanding change, which they themselves will abide, but which we tend to argue with, reject and resist, and claim victim to their “harassment”.

This has always been my relationship with change. Though I myself, and others in my life who know me well, believe me to be open, understanding and even courageous with the changing tides of life, and though I am, maybe more so then I am not, they have always bothered me, changes.

I am unashamed to admit this. Even the exciting ones. Not just the ones that hurt. I’m a human and I like to know my surroundings. I like, and strive, to have some sense of comfort and security, gathering “resources” and stock piling “abundance”, whatever form that may be for the time and place and purpose, because they promise loyalty and steadfast protection. Even living a life thus far which disproves this, which has both shown and thrown me into states of scarcity and limitation, deprive and unknowing (I’m grateful for this ) we believe having protects us from the transitioning of things. It doesn’t. It never will.

This is not to say that having more so than not having doesn’t provide any type of benefit or worthwhile promising of pursuit for, but rather that having or not having, either one, doesn’t protect us from the every day subtle changing of things, and on towards their subsequent perceived-to-be colossal transitions, from what we know now onto what we don’t. With or without, nothing protects us from this.

But, is there anything about this that we need to be protected from? I think this is a better question to be asked and to be examined.


Premeditatio Mutatio, or again, the premeditation of change. In other words, the practice of noticing the subtle everyday changing of things, and the attempt to understand that things will not always be the same. Anything. Nothing.

Nothing which we as a species have monumentally constructed (cities, walls, infrastructure, systems, etc.). Nothing the world itself with all of its controlled and relaxed might has provided (terrain, environment, weather, resource,etc.). Nothing which the mind has attempted to maintain and or progress (religion, science, understanding, reality, etc.). Nothing which the universe itself contains (space, matter, limitation, unknown, etc.). Nothing about the vehicle which is our body nor the conductor of this vehicle, which is our mind. Nothing about anything remains the same, besides the only truth which has yet to be disproven; the changing of things.

So I revisit again, is there anything about this that we need to protection from?

I’m going to go close my eyes for a little while and allow my mind to just be. I will return to this later on.


It’s the next day.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop I have come to frequent quite a bit lately. The sun is burning the back of my neck as my head casts a shadow across the screen and keyboard of my computer. I like it here and I like this feeling. I won’t go into line by line detail of what I am about to share, but sitting here aware of it now, it is amazing, truly, just how many things have crossed my mind, have come and gone and influenced, since the beginning of this piece just yesterday, just about 24 hours ago exactly now.

Another example of the movement of things. Nothing is stagnant, even when they seem to be. Our thoughts, our beliefs, our understandings, everything which makes up the integrity of our contemplative consciousness, even this is in constant movement. Thoughts repeat, beliefs aren’t easily budged, understandings fight for their footing, but none are able to withstand or to go against the evolution of every moment, of everything within the confines of what we know as life and its moment by moment evolving. And, time doesn’t just evolve, but it fleets and it also continues. It may fleet for us, and for other living creatures, due to our ultimate demise, but time itself fleets from nothing. The mere fact that we will die, and that time will continue on its usual course, again supports the reality of change. We die, time evolves, and this is all manipulated in a moment by moment evolution, onward from now on into something else.

To regain traction, to get back to my proposed question from yesterday, I do not belief there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.


I stopped typing this and am just now revisiting it two days later, now. I am no longer at the coffee shop, but back at my little brown desk in the room I currently live. I had nothing else to say that day, but I feel now that I do and I hope to finish this piece and to move on to another, or to other projects of mine I need to work on.

To continue…

I do not believe there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.

I started reading a new book which I purchased just a day ago, ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello, and in its reading came across the following quote:

“The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You can’t fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. “

It’s a powerful thought and its deeply true.

I am not, and I am sure the same for you reading this, afraid of what is to come. In the past I never was, and currently in the present I still am not. I was however, and again I would bet the same for you reading this, afraid of what I had lost, of the understanding which I had before the changing of things; of myself, of my environment, of others and of anything which made up my consciousness of which I was aware. The future doesn’t scare me and never has. Again, its always been the idea or the actual transitioning or realization that I had lost or had moved away, been pushed away, pulled away, fallen away, from a place of understanding, from one of knowing, to a place without either, and was scared to turn away and to proceed without them.

Another quote stuck with me from my reading:

“Because if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Yet again, powerful and deeply true.

By attempting to keep things the way they once were, our understanding of what is is unable to be. By yearning and focusing on what has been, we remove any possibility of understanding and of knowing what is. By hoping they still were, we are blinding ourselves from knowing that they are no longer, and of what is right now, this very moment, this existence.

But, what leads us to not wanting things to change? Why are we so against these transitions?


“All of our miseries are nothing but attachment.” — Osho

If there is nothing to fear in the changing of things due to our ignorance of what is to come, and if the past is an ever fleeting place of which we have nothing physically to grasp on to, attachment to once was is where our agony, our anxieties and our fears are born from.

Simply put, we hold on to things that once were but no longer are…

… and I do not know exactly why. I am sure there is someone out there who understands with greater depth the mechanism in our brain behind this, but I myself do not have the answer. What I do somewhat know, whether it be backed by proof or not, is that somewhere within our thinking brain, we are able to turn away from this and to cast our focus towards the ever present now. And, in my experience, this is done by noticing more of the moment to moment changing of things. By being more aware of the transitioning of life from one moment to its successor, and so on.

But, how?


Days have gone by now. I didn’t finish this piece by the first deadline I had set for myself. But, here I am, back at my little brown desk, sitting here drinking a perfectly tempered coffee in the morning hours of a clear-sky, Beijing day (I’m grateful for this). I have other places to be soon, but I want to be here now, working on this, so I am and, well, here we go.

Just above I stated that I didn’t have the answers as to why we hold on to things from the past, and I still don’t. I’m not necessarily looking for a version of this answer either at the moment, or even for the finishing of this piece. But, reading a post from a writer I like, which had within it a link directed to another post, a New Yorker article titled, ‘The Possibilian’, a piece by Burkhard Bilger focused on the near-death experience of David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and author, and what it taught him about the mysteries of time and the brain, I stumbled upon ideas which invigorated me to return to this thought.

“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” 

It’s an amazing article, one with great depth and a variety of insights, one which highlights topics ranging from near death experiences to a theme park ride coined SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) sending people free-falling from ungodly heights somewhere in the middle of Texas, from drummers and their superhero sense of time to the great Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan and how he gathered intel from throughout his empire. However, though it does not directly deal with what I am attempting to say within this piece, again, it did invigorate me and by doing so provided me with more knowledge to attempt to piece together and to say. What stuck out to me the most, with this work-in-progress held within my mind, was the concept of time and how we perceive it in certain moments.

Another quote:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala, he explained. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Re-read that last line. Here it is again:

…The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Though the piece at large and the quote above are speaking of time in terms of life-threatening scenarios, I believe this same phenomena could serve in our favor towards the awareness needed to acknowledge the moment by moment changes we are constantly subjected to, but also usually blinded to, and by doing so, lead us in the direction of better handling and experiencing the thing we all seem to fear the most; change.

Another quote:

“The best example of this is the so-called oddball effect—an optical illusion that Eagleman had shown me in his lab. It consisted of a series of simple images flashing on a computer screen. Most of the time, the same picture was repeated again and again: a plain brown shoe. But every so often a flower would appear instead. To my mind, the change was a matter of timing as well as of content: the flower would stay onscreen much longer than the shoe. But Eagleman insisted that all the pictures appeared for the same length of time. The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them. The shoe, by its third or fourth appearance, barely made an impression. The flower, more rare, lingered and blossomed, like those childhood summers.

Re-read the bolded line above. Here it is again…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

Hell, read it one more time…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

I’m not going to attempt to speculate here, or to turn these words or these findings into something that they are not. I’m not looking for a far out connection here. Instead, I’m saying something that we may all already innately know, which the example above proves, but which we are too lazy or too tired, too distracted, too asleep or too dead to apply the energy or the will needed to experience life in a different more engaged, more aware, more understood and accepted way, to tap into our moment by moment existence as it is rather than what we believe or wish it to be.

Simply put, life requires our attention. The more unfamiliar we view our lives, the more information our brain writes down, and the more slowly time seems to pass.

But, how do we make our lives more unfamiliar?

Remind yourself constantly that you know nothing, then look around.

I just did this right now while writing and I already feel more emerged from my smug sense of knowing and engaged with the vast and unknown world around me.

Try it, now…

Did your perception change?

If you say no, you’re lying to yourself. Or, you’re just not aware. You’re not ready to be awake. You’re still asleep in the dream of knowing.

Keep trying.


But how does this apply to change? What is it exactly I am trying to say?

I started this piece unknowing of where exactly I was to take it or where it would, in the typing of its words, take me. All I knew from the beginning is I wanted to view change as inevitable, or rather as infinitesimal, as occurring moment by moment despite our awareness of its activity. Having gone back and re-read each line, from beginning to end, I notice that I have attempted to fulfill this action by bouncing back and forth between thought and observation, thinking and simply looking. And, after having reached this point, what I believe at this moment is:

Time and change are indistinguishable. Inseparable rather. They are identical twins. I might reach to even say they are conjoined twins. Or, two deeply harmonized lovers, maybe. Whatever the correct analogy may be, either way, two separate phenomena, however entangled with each other and dependent upon one another for survival, for harmony and for continuance. They move together, running along the trail of eternity. Running isn’t right. Dancing I believe is. Running implies their movement to always proceed linearly. This has been disproven, both in time and in change. Both are plastic. Malleable to the forces, emotions if you will, of life. Running doesn’t explain this properly. Dancing does. Twirling, spinning, stomping, jumping, leaping, pacing, strutting, waltzing, stepping, toeing, etc. Their coexistence is a dance, a dance however which wouldn’t exist without their conjoining. Without time, change impedes. Without change, there is no marker for time. Time is tracked, noted and observed by the changing of things. Change is seen only in the passage of time. Given their conjoined coexistence, they are subjected to the same laws of nature, most notably our ability as a species to attend to the world around us, to provide attention to the workings of a mechanism. The soul of the universe (time, unknown, infinity, space, understanding, etc.) is in constant flux, infinitesimal change, and so to its body (matter, nature, inanimate objects, living creatures, us).

How can we experience this awareness?

The more attention we pay to the moment by moment account of our lives, the more detail our brain notices, and the slower time seems to pass.

So by relation,

The more attention we pay to the moment to moment changing of things, the more detail our brain notices, and the greater our understanding of change becomes.

Change, as it is, not what we believe or wish it to be.


…So hard to move on when you’re down in a hole,

Where there’s so little a chance to experience soul.”

— George Harrison, The Light That Has Lighted The World


I’ll probably revisit and revise this piece again someday. But for now, this will do.

Dreams, Suffering and Love

By Justin Cude

“Only three things can change our life: Dreams, Suffering and Love.” — Paulo Coelho

Think about it.

Think of all the changes you have experienced thus far, no matter your age nor any other differentiating factor between you and someone else. Only consider the common fates of us all, our common lot and our common existence as human beings, and think all of which you have already endured and have transitioned from and to.

Really, I beg you.

Think about it.

Have dreams not lead you towards the facing of the biggest changes of your life?

Have they not demanded from you your answering of the most important questions in their confront?

The ones where decisions were heavily considered, subsequently hard fought against, accepted, second-guessed, approved again, rethought the same, and then finally made, maybe?

Has suffering and love not lead you towards the same?

Have all three not coexisted within the same moment of life’s changes?

Think about it.

In reflection of this now, I know this to be true within my own life. Every change I’ve faced, let break me, endured, overcame, reflected upon, all have stemmed from one of the three, but also, have contained a presence of the trios teaming.

Dreams have taken me places; some having been in their meeting, others in their losing. Some of the ones I’ve met, I have also lost with my understanding of them. Others I still pursue due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have followed dreams that weren’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost them same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m sure it will.

Again, the same with suffering.

Suffering has taken me places; some in its meeting, others thereafter its time. Some of the ones I’ve met, I also have lost with my understanding of them. Others I still find myself a part of due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have allowed suffering that wasn’t mine, readjusted and suffered through my own again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m convinced it will.

And, again, the same with love.

Love has taken me places; sometimes in its meeting, other times in its depart. Sometimes the love I have met, I have also lost with my understanding of it. Other times I still yearn for certain love due to its continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have pursued love that wasn’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I believe it will.

And again, in this process, the three have coexisted. I do not believe they are able not to. One tends to take the lead in regard to intensity and situation, but the others are always there.

In this, this is where the mind and the body differentiate, but where they are also subject to the same process of change. The body does not consciously chose what it will face in order to change; rather it takes on the challenges this life provides and does its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

The mind however, us as human beings, the pair, chooses, though choice is not always advantageous. Maybe this is a lesson where the mind can truly learn from the ways of the body; take on the challenges life provides and do its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival. Remove thought. Just act.

Some changes demand of us to accept them thoroughly for what they are, others we are able to manipulate their meaning. Regardless, we must face them, and we must adapt to them. There will always be a demand to change when facing this life. This you have no choice over. The body knows this. The mind sometimes, it forgets this.

Life will provide the challenges, and though the majority of them will originate from either that of dreams, of suffering, or of love, whether we are of the mind to confront them or not, we will have to, no matter. This will be hard, as it always is, when the three come from a place of authenticity, and in their changing we are truly affected.

If your dreams are real to you, they will bring about change, desired or not.

If your suffering is real to you, it will bring about change, prepared or not.

If your love is real to you, it will bring about change, understood or not.

Begin to understand this. Acknowledge it. Accept it. And, again, if they are real to you, then embrace them. Neither one of true meaning can exist without change, nor can it progress, nor can it grow. So, in their inevitable confront, choose to take on the challenges they provide, and do your best to adapt to them accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

For, without dreams, without suffering, and without love, life is meaningless, I do believe. And, without change, neither can truly exist. So, in accordance, without change life is meaningless. Our dreams, our suffering, and our love, they understand this. Sometimes, us… we forget.

Remember, you must die.

By Justin Cude

Death; oh, how it has flooded my mind lately. More appropriately, the thought alone has consumed my attention, stood defiantly in place against my hesitant rebuttal, and toiled with my attempted understanding of its ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of its inevitability and its swiftness, death’s ever lingering presence has also brought about a sense of compartmentalization, towards how I divide the allotment of my time, who I decide to allow my being, and what I deem as worthy within and of my life.

Death has a funny, and yet a not so comical way of bringing back to the moment reality. We all will die, yes, there is no changing this. Despite our various efforts towards a guaranteed life of longevity, no matter how cautious or how tame we live out our days, they are numbered, and they remain, with unyielding persistence, in tally; destination and departure unknown. With this… memento mori.

Derived from Latin origin, memento mori, when translated to our modern form of the English language, reminds us bluntly, ‘Remember you must die’. In reference to the piece pictured above, from a perspective more poetically crafted, ‘Vanité’, master pieced by 17th Century French painter Philippe de Champaigne, displays through detailed expression the thin line of existence in which we abide. The tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time); life, our current experience, remaining in constant shadow of death, which we may encounter at any moment. The only guarantee between the triad conveyed at median; death.

There is no guarantee of a life, even less, if possible, no assurance of time. We aren’t promised a single breath, no law of nature ensuring us an abundance, or even a presence, of either element. So why are we so wasteful of it? Why do we engage with such petty occurrences and tasks? Why do we allow our lives to be consumed with such oblivion, with negligence towards its fragility? There remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again… memento mori.

As mentioned, I recently encountered death, not my life, but a loved one, and as I write this, with mind lost in consumption of its very nature, I find it, with slight grief, irresponsible and selfish of myself to only be aware of it now, in light only because of our latest confront. A loved one, so dear and close to my heart, to my being, to my life, almost taken away, by a true evil of this world, one which affects us all, directly and indirectly; addiction. Stolen it felt, robbed, if even only for a moment, with monstrous lack of care or of concern for all involved, for death does not carry with it a sense of compassion or refrain, only a duty, a duty to take, always too soon it feels, for death doesn’t, it only does.

How arrogant it feels though, how wrong and self-loathed it seems to allow the tribulation of another the right to provide you with any sense of pain, or for that matter, of thanks; he experienced this inevitably, you merely observed, for now. You have no mind even to what it truly entails, to what he truly experienced. Is there pain? Perhaps a release? How intense the struggle? Do we succumb with ease? Or, maybe, just nothing.

Enough, these thoughts, they’re needed, these feelings too, and it’s okay, life tends to provide the test first and the lesson later, death staying true to this form. Meditate on this however, understand what this is, this feeling, this experience, this will happen again, to you even, to another so dear, sooner or later, but no matter, for it will happen again, no matter.

But oh how it hurts when you are so near it, how odd and unsure the moment it provides, how abrupt it impedes everything, stops us on our path and challenges us to accept, for with death there is no other way, no alternative route, so accept. Death ceases life, but life itself does not cease, and that is the hardest truth to accept. Beyond you is more, beyond our loved ones, beyond this moment, the same, but no matter, nor you or I will be a part of that, we are only a part of this, right now, so the future, no matter, only now.

So than, what to take from this? Death is always there, here rather, around you and I, always, right now. You are already dead, your life already destined to end, finale inscripted, you just don’t know it yet, you don’t truly know it, and by the time you’re allowed to, you’re gone, too late.

So than, what to take from this? Live, live now, before it is too late, do not fear death, rather accept it, embrace its forthcoming with repose, for… ”nobody dies before his time comes, so I am calm. I know I am going to die, I just don’t know when.”

Thankfully, with deep gratefulness of fate and of circumstance, he is still here with us, still able to converse, still given time to express ideas and to share perspectives, to create and to learn, still capable of life and of love and of all that comes with it. We all are, remember this, you the same if you are reading this now.

However, this experience, as gratuitous its perceived purpose at the time, excavated from within me, from depths of inactive essence, from thoughts of idle action, an awakening and a forging of a practice, one towards understanding and of gratuity, towards acceptance and of regard, for this life, for death to come, and for the sustain of this moment… “thankful, for it is not ours to own, only to borrow. Death will come, know this, use this.”

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be a rather pessimistic piece, but I would argue against this innate impulse of thought. Allow this idea, or truth rather, to bring about a vigor for this life, for this moment. Again we all will die, yes, but now, right now, truly be grateful to be alive, I beg you.

Wherever you are, right now, reading this, look up from your screen, now around you, and find the beauty of this moment, better yet, bring beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world and its nature around you, understand the best you can with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful and amazed to be a part of it. You will die, yes, no matter, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, in our constant face with death, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breatheto thinkto enjoy,to love.”

And with this, memento mori.