Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
Stories and thought
1 May 2017
"I realize now that the most significant changes in life are just small changes that ripple throughout time for a while."
"For better or for worse," my gramma responds to me.
"Exaaaactly. For better... or for worse."
"You know, I wanna ask a physicist about entanglement," she introduces, "Like how does it happen? You know? When there is an atom over here," she positions her right hand to the right of her body, about a foot in front of herself, "and one over here," she positions her left hand on the adjacent side, "and when something happens to the atom over here," she wiggles her right hand, "then something happens to the atom over here," wiggling her left hand.
"Hm, I wonder how knowledgeable of a physicist you'd have to be to be able to answer that question with substantial confidence,” I respond. “I know that I have seen a movie, or something--like--I have seen a bunch of images wherein outer space is the background and some scientists were trying to show two particles, with physical distance between them, reacting to eachother like that: like when one thing happens to one of them, then something happens to the other one--somehow. But I don't recall an answer to how the particles get like that.”
"Yeah, that's what I'm wondering. How do atoms become entangled?" she pauses, "When I worked with your dad... up in Tioga?... well, I was fired. That's when I met Dan. He asked me to move in with him, and I lived with him until he died," she said.
Wow. "How long were you with Dan?" I respond. I figured this was going to tie back sooner or later.
"He and I were together almost four years. He died of cancer."
"Yeah, he kept complaining about pain," she brings her right hand to her upper-left pectoral/shoulder area, "in his shoulder area here. Oh, but he was really aggressive. And we went on a vacation once to Tahoe, and I told myself 'when we get back, pack your stuff and leave him,'" her body shudders. "But one day he slipped and hit his shoulder, and it just broke. We brought it to the doctor and the doctor suggested an MRI scan, and the MRI scan said that it was cancer. Then,” she circles her stomach area with her hands like cassette wheels, "they checked his abdominal--yeah, abdomen--and discovered that it was kidney cancer." Her words start reaching me more quickly, "He had complained about shoulder pain for like two years. The doctors found a tumor that had metastasized all the way up there," she motioned from her kidneys to her shoulder, "from his kidneys, and--"
"And so you couldn't leave him," I understood.
"Yeah. So I took care of him," her body shudders again. "Anyway, he was a computer guy. And now, ever since he died, I see ones and zeros usually when I look at the clock. I mean, ones and zeros are the most likely thing to see on the clock, so maybe it's just in my head but..." she situates the ice packs wrapped around her knee area.
"Wow!" We made eye-contact, and I knew my gramma to be rich with spirituality. I take another hit from my joint, tuck in the recliner, and make my way outside with my brother’s sack of sand constructed especially to be methodically kicked. I had barely set down my joint and phone, and played a couple short bouts, before my gramma was outside on her crutches, knee ace-bandaged. She's waiting for my attention.
"Hey!" I say.
"Hey. So I was sitting there on the couch thinking to myself, and I was like, 'I should only have ice on this for like twenty minutes,' but I don't actually know what time I put them on," I remember that I had gotten the ice packs for her, "but I checked what time it was anyway. And it was 11:11." She raises her eyebrows.
"Oh my goodness! It's still happening!" I respond almost involuntary, laughing to myself as I turn away to continue playing hacky-sack.
She has a point though, my gramma, about the fascination of atomic entanglement. Asking how it happens really reveals to me the void of knowledge that my conversations about it may but only revolve around--never consciously filling that emptiness. I think that if I were to fill it, then I would disappear into it and become part of the emptiness... like if one were to touch a black hole. I think of trying to understand love when I try to understand atomic entanglement. It's a revolutionary feeling. Revolutionary in the same way that a black hole is at the center of the galaxy, our sun is booming 20 kilometers per second in attracting to it, and we are tailing the star at astronomical speeds in some linear revolutionary state. That's the prominent thought when I struggle to grasp atomic entanglement or love: gravity; I've heard somewhere that gravity transcends dimensions. When my gramma attempts to grasp atomic entanglement, she thinks of somewhere between love, time, and binary.
Thoughts of mine seem to become one with the whole, like tied back to the beginning, when rationed into some form of revolutionary entropy.
It’s 5:40am, I have school in an hour and a half, go back to sleep.
You’ve snoozed once, it’s 5:50am. You know how mornings are. Better start now.
You’ve snoozed twice, it’s 6:00am.
You have 40 minutes until you gotta be in the car. …
…. … You done yet? ….
It’s 6:15. You still haven’t had coffee. You have 30 minutes. You’re an idiot, man. Get up, come on, let’s go.
Wow this body is dense machinery.
… and the thought processes go on like that until the coffee kicks in or the dreamland’s overstimulated by sensory perception. I generally live inside of myself.
Maybe I'm too high too often.
I deep-dive constantly. At what point would I be able to tell if I've submerged into drug induced psychosis, considering that all concepts of reality are of the mind? I guess psychosis really refers to being unable to connect to a reality perceivable by those around me. And I can still do that. I'm fine. I can smoke. My head aches. I could get high? I've been told pot helps with headaches. Gosh, am I high already though? I mean, I did smoke already, but that was hours ago. How long does it last? I smoked this morning, and only really noticed it blanketing on my brain. I never noticed a turn again into how life was before I got high. But I also haven’t ‘woken tokin’’ for a while.
Hm, my head doesn't hurt as much anymore. Maybe introspection is the remedy for headaches. Woo! Raw solution.
I feel like I tell myself to not smoke as a coping mechanism for anything, which is to say that I should only smoke when relatively (to bored) happy. But I also feel like everything is a coping mechanism for some form of pain. Food is a coping mechanism for the pain of hunger. School is a coping mechanism for the pain caused by being completely ignorant, a complexity so ingrained that one is required to begin fending it before understanding that he/she is doing so. Love is a coping mechanism for Independency's inability to self-actualize, using the world as a gateway to satisfaction through connection. Calling something 'a coping mechanism' does not make less of a reality, or something that doesn't deserve attention. That's like someone saying, 'This leg is injured, let me provide care," to which another responds, 'It’s supposed to be injured like that when in this environment.' Everybody's right! What's wrong is the very idea that there is a disagreement in thefirst place. Just because someone uses a completely different word, that doesn't always indicate a completely different meaning; everything connects. ‘Yes, it is supposed to be injured when bent. But if I expose it to a special environment, it will heal.’ So yes, smoking pot is a coping mechanism whether I call it one or not, but when I don't have it, I miss it about as much as I miss school during summer vacation: enough to realize that my life was seriously wrapped up in it, but not nearly enough to leave me in life-hindering declines. Life-altering? Sure. But not life-hindering.
So maybe I'm too high too often… but I'm 18 in 2017, I'm experiencing a reality never before experienced in evolutionary history. I do not need to self-hate for preferring to be under the influence of psychoactive drugs as long as my relationship with others and myself continue to thrive. If I'm going down the drain, I know that people will stop telling me that they like me. People will try to help me, rather than trusting me for help. Me going down the drain is me losing passion, and void passion is an obvious vacancy. I have learned that I’d rather kill myself than stay alive passionless, and passion is lots of fun in practice so seems way more inviting than death anyway. My love for life is delicate, but my love for passion is the intensity of the fucking sun, so anytime I’m hating life I can just delve myself into something I’m passionate about and therein become happy to be alive. And in that, I’ll survive through to my next happy moments. So I’ve learned to find the loveable parts of everything. It keeps my conscience high above the surface of this quicksand pit that’s life; it’s the only way to live. However, the price of doing that honestly is seeing the bad and the ugly too. I’m dark. I’m light. I’m mixed. It’s life.
“No, yeah the roach clip’s over here. I got it,” I respond to my grandfather’s wandering body language. He silently jumps for joy in his laid back recliner as I hand him the clip.
I shake my left hand from right to left, like I’m saying ‘hello,’ in order to say ‘No. thank you’ to his offering, after having been draggin’ on it beforehand. I take out my phone, and shift my attention.
I cannot tell, for the life of me, what animal that person is trying to imitate. An alligator? Hippo?
“A wild boar!” someone says.
The guy on stage sticks up his thumbs and laughs a little. “Yes.”
Eli, on my left, sticks his sky-pointing finger in front of me and get’s close to my ear with his lips, “There is only one philosophical question:” he decides, “Do I kill myself, or do I not kill myself?" What he means is: Is the happiness of being alive greater than life’s pain? Oh Eli, if only a conversation could answer that question. Sounds like Shakespeare got to you. You are so bored.
I think of a reason to disagree with what he says, "I disagree. What about the questions: Are you a body? Or do you have a body?" realizing that if one were to believe that he/she has a body then killing his/herself would mean something different in comparison with that of someone who believes to actually be the body. Thus, the 'Do I kill myself?' question only stirs up another equally relevant question, making it not the only one. "Hm." He rotates his head back to the stage. Ronnie, a pensive heavyset stoner like Eli, had been actively engaged. He rotates his head from the stage, and his face stops in eye-contact with me, "Yo, did I tell you about that time I did shrooms?" using an upward inflection on the last word. "I'm not sure. What are you referring to?" "I took some shrooms one day after school, and during the trip I just wanted to kill myself," he explains. "No, What? Why?" He starts light, like a confused child, "Alright, so I was on shrooms right? moving this dresser for for my friend's grandparents," speaking but entrapped within his retrospective mental scene, and then he takes notice of me again. With this, he struggles to make the connection between his reason for suicide and this scene he's describing, holding onto the ends of words with that slightly voiced croak indicating thought process "aaaaand and it just SUCKED man."I laugh like an automatic weapon. He laughs too. Then we take notice of the people around us, so speak quieter than before. He reiterates, "No seriously! I was there on one side, Eli across from me, and we were just moving a dresser and I was thinking. I just didn't wanna like... like I was just thinking that like we're just humans on an Earth man," saying it like it's an epiphany, "We don't matter! Like, in comparison to everything else, we're so insignificant," he has his finger and thumb in a pinching position while keeping them just barely from touching each other. "I don't know, I just didn't wanna live anymore for some reason,” he solemnly concludes.
"No man, I getchu. But you're here in front of me, so what changed your mind?" I try to seem upbeat a little.
"Well, I mean, I had to move the dresser. That's why it SUCKED SO BAD. But I guess I got distracted by something else... and here we are!" we chuckle, "But yeah, every time I think about that I'm just like 'wow... I really don't matter.'"
You matter, Ronnie! "It's all about angles man."
“Yeah, you’re right man.”
Ram jumps from the boulder’s top to the pad set down beneath him. He’s breathing heavily, but bringing himself back to normalcy pretty quickly. Ram and I stand in silence long enough for me to want to speak. He’s not climbing, and I’m not climbing, so I introduce a topic.
"So the other day, at school, I was going around asking people whether they considered themselves a body, or the owner of a body,” I start. “Most of the people said that they consider themselves the owner of a body, but I don't really think of myself the same way.” Ram nods, eyes closed, casting his would-be gaze to the ground. "I think I am a body," I continue, "because I feel like the 'I' pronoun, when I use it, refers to the desire this body seeks to fill due to the current chemical configuration that forces such a body to perceive experiential reality as such. Like, all of the 'me' is completely dependent the chemical makeup and configuration that make this body. If I were of a different chemical structure, I would not be the 'me' you know now. What do you think?"
"Yeah, ya know, that's what I believed until recently. Since my dad died, something happened that just..." he seems to struggle grasping the memory, as if it were sands that would slip away when trying to grip them but then recollect in the hand after noticing the sands’ absence, "convinced me. I don't know. I just…” Silence. This must have happen real recently.
"Hm. Wow. That's good! That makes me happy, man." It came out choppy, but it came out honestly.
"Yeah, it was really crazy. Just like, after my dad passed a few days ago, I experienced something that just..." his right hand's fingers meet at the tips, along with his left hand's, his fingertips all touch his forehead and then make a motion that represents an explosion shattering his skull.
“Wow. Yeah, no, like I said, I’m happy for you. That’s awesome.”
He shifts his front to the boulder at my right, sizing it up. He tightens the climbing shoes around his feet, chalks his hands, and holds himself against gravity in initiation to 'solve this problem.' Watching Ram scale 'problems' is like watching water curve around an object, but backwards, towards the sky. He breathes rhythmically, exhaling upon exertion, vocalizing upon exhaustion, clinging and transferring with power and method until he throws a massive 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock swing with his left... half a finger shy of the final niche... sending him to his padding below.
"Oh! Haha, you're spectacular!" I project. Ram’s face is frustrated, his arms move, but his hands are frozen, searing with the fire of self-support against 'this problem.' He blows cool air onto them, truly unable to focus on anything else for these few moments following the fall. He walks away a few steps, then returns to his padding after wiping his hands against his legs, breathing normally now.
"It was really weird, man," he continues, "I feel closer to a new layer of Truth. And it's realer..." his voice is careful, like if an ember were to tell me a secret about its color. I decide that he's trying to locate a platform to elaborate.
He begins his response literally a moment after I finally ask "What happened?" and we make eye-contact.
"So I was playing at The Shack with 8 Legions Under, right? I was on guitar," his eyes trail off as his sight focuses retrospectively, "and... and we were playin… playin…” his body is playing air guitar, “then, suddenly, my transitions were water man, just smooth and easy. I was playing better than I have ever played before, and..." his sight connects to mine again, "and I knew I was playing with my dad," his voice light, humbled. "I mean, 8 Legions Under has been part of my family for forever man, the guitar was my dad's, and..."
"and he was there with you," I say. But like my gramma said about entanglement, I just don’t know how. Even if I weren’t to believe Ram, he believes himself, and that's really the only time a human can vocalize a sense of truth. But I believe what Ram tells me.
"And then I was at my house, in front of my bed, you know? And this is when it gets trippy: I was on my knees, my hands on the edge of my mattress," he continues, I see Ram with my eyes but he's barely there, somewhere between the rock and his dad, moving to wrap his arms around his diaphragm, "and then I felt him come down from above me, and hug me. I felt my dad hug me. Then... I reached out my hand," his right hand now positioned out in front of his body as if he were holding a maglight, "and... and not like touched," he closes his hand around the air, "like... not like this," he's palpates the boulder, "but... not like this either," we laugh as he opens and closes his hand around thin air.
"Something in between," I say.
Progressing through science depends on our ability to perceive, identify, and categorize everything... and the idea of spirituality depends on a selective meta-reality, like objects of the mind. What's the difference between an object of the mind and an object outside the mind? Dense matter is just what most senses focus on, so the few that sense beyond the given real are themselves less focused on. Good actors believe themselves during an act, good writers develop in high definition, good work takes concentration and confidence. Is it too self-involved to believe that the presence of a spiritual realm is dependent on the focus with which I am willing to use my mind's eye? Is that not the same of sensory perception in terms of what our understanding of it depends upon? But Ram doesn't want to hear that it was all in his head, and that what he thinks was his dad was actually 'just a coping mechanism of his brain.' What does that even mean anyway? That doesn’t mean it wasn’t spiritual. That experience for Ram was just as real as reading. Without believing our experiences, life would be impossible. I don’t think that my gramma’s tendency to see ones and zeros is insignificant, having no correlation to her past. I don’t think science and spirituality are mutually exclusive. When consciousness catches a glimpse of how a past event has rippled into the present moment, I say 'exercise the vibration.' It's like water: if I put my hand into the ocean, or take my hand out of the ocean, the entire ocean feels it. But for another being to feel it, and apply it? That's kind of how communication works, and it’s happening all the time, which is the point. Without any form of communication, time would stop altogether. (Nowadays, human communication has become so advanced that people are unknowingly traveling through time at astronomically different rates.) When the body of Ram’s dad vanished from the realm of physically enacting change, change caused by the presence/absence of Ram’s dad continues to ripple throughout time. If it didn’t, that would be implying a straight up fracture the time-space continuum. My gramma is reminded of Dan when she sees binary on the clock. After Ram’s dad passed, Ram gathered an experience of what felt like his dad hugging him. It can all be communication.
I have several memories of my dad, and that's it. If he died, I would cry only because I don't know him, and would then never have the chance to understand who he was, and is, and why I don't know him. But I don’t know if I would feel him hug me. Why? I don't know that either. But trying to understand reminds me of atomic entanglement, and gravity, and love. If my stepfather died, I think I’d feel him with me. If my mother died, I think I’d feel her hold me. When I die… shit… this mental entropy shit is real shitty. I don’t understand why nature made me this way.
To more massive things, smaller things are attracted. That’s gravity. Who’s to say that gravity doesn’t transpose to an environment of the mind? I think that The Self gravitates towards what thoughts are most concentrated, or what I think of as having the most ‘thought-mass.’ My stepfather used to tell me, ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right,’ and his logic is based on the nature of The Self gravitating toward what has the most thought-mass. But if all my thoughts are based on a mass relativity, then I would imagine that thought-density has a positive correlation to the focus with which I am willing to use my mind’s eye coupled with the amount of time spent in this high-focused state because dense objects outside the mind are considered to be ‘highly concentrated.’ Basically: meditation is a powerful mode. Meditation is the state in which I am able to personally establish which thoughts are to have the most mass, as I often lose focus on the things that are most important because I get distracted by how many little things there are and therein make them seem more massive. But I imagine the universe expanding, and it reminds me of an expanding consciousness. When the universe expands, is more mass created? The Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy says no. Well, that being said, it’s true that energy turns into matter and antimatter, then annihilate, then return into energy. So more nothingness is formed? Oftentimes, it makes sense to me to imagine consciousness as a version of nothingness. Like, my consciousness is the summation of realizing what matters, then also realizing that subject’s opposing force. Consciousness the force that molds my desire, and my desire itself is an emptiness that takes on various shapes. Only absence, in some respect, triggers desire into pursuing satisfaction, hence consciousness being the guiding force and conceivable as a form of a real vacancy; a hungry person desires food when conscious of the lack thereof; a student desires understanding when conscious of the lack thereof; a writer desires communication when conscious of the lack thereof. If all was satisfied/fulfilled, there would no room for desire, and no events could happen. So a consciousness expanding like an expanding universe would imply a growth in desire as opposed to a growth in solid thought. What if there is denser desire than there is solid thought? In that case, I imagine my desire would be like a black hole, a singularity, attracting to it even light… where ‘light’ is synonymous with ‘knowledge’… leading everything toward annihilation. As I grow older, I am realizing that my wants are growing with me, and that all my solid thoughts revolve around the black hole of desire at the center of my mind. So if I focus only on my desire, then my mind’s black hole grows larger and consumes my solid thoughts, which encourages my pursuit toward solidity. Everything that matters tends towards annihilation so, to me, life doesn’t seem to be about the end. Life has more to do with revolutions, and with that, the most massive thought of them all: love.
Or is love like a black hole? Even love seems to be subject to the revolutionary nature of a quantum reality, energetically transitioning between phases of complete solidification and complete absence. It is defined by both what is sensible and what is merely perceivable. I feel like love is closer to fulfillment than it is to emptiness, like solids that revolve around solids tending not to focus on the emptiness. Like everything but love is mostly empty space. Love seems to be very little empty space… such few gaps in fact that a gap’s presence sticks out like poison oak on the face, itching and itching until a fortuitous mindset or external forces separate the individual from scratching and making the problem worse. ‘True love’ perhaps is a bond that claims no emptiness.
The bell rings.
“Was that the first bell?” I ask Lucy.
She takes out her phone, looks at the time and says, “Oh yeah, it’s a short schedule today. Um, I think so. I don’t remember another bell before it.”
“Sweet, so does that mean 15 more minutes?”
“Yeah,” she assures me. We sit on grass, my spine against the back of a cement staircase leading to the drama room, and Lucy rests herself against my lap as she allows my arms around her body. We hold the love as physical contact and silence for the full 15 minutes.
The bell rings. I sigh. She sighs.
“I don’t want to leeeaaave youuuu,” I respond to the ‘why haven’t you left yet?’ guilt that’s building up in me.
“I knooowww. I don’t want you to leave either. But you gotta go to class, babe.”
A thought comes to mind, and I know I have little time but this won’t take long: “You know when like an animal or something is transferred from a point of comfort to a new environment,” my left hand becomes an animal, my right hand becomes a new environment, and I enclose my right hand around my left, “and there is that settling-in stage that happens where the animal, or whatever, is erratic for a bit,” I shake my left hand, “before its behavior becomes observable, or at an equilibrium? Like, you take a bird from its nest and put it into a ‘wildlife habitat’ and the bird starts out ramming itself into the walls or flying around aimlessly before exhausting itself and settling in. You know what I’m talking about?” I ask her.
She speaks with confidence, “Yeah, yeah, no I get ya. Why?”
“Well my brother thinks that the nature around us, like everything that isn’t you, is experiencing that phase due to human invasion. Like imagine a bunch of humans migrating across the land, making environments that the surrounding life have never experienced in their evolutionary history--that even humans have never experienced their evolutionary history--globally! And because this would be on a timeline of hundreds of thousands to millions of years, this ‘erratic phase’ ripples throughout time generation after generation. And he thinks that this erratic phase of nature trying to adapt to the global human-driven changes, the Anthropocene, has resulted in the extinction of an animal called megafauna, the recent evidence found on global warming, ocean acidification, and, it’s suggested, that also the next mass extinction.” Her head tilts down and her eyes gloss over with a thick film of pensivity.
“Wow…” she utters. Still not really fully in front of me
“Do you get what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, no I followed what you said. It’s just crazy how much sense that makes,” she pauses, “Yeah, no I get it.”
“Just something to think about,” I say. I lay my hand against the side of her neck and feel like I’m touching a dragon for the first time. Her visage is as royal as the open ocean’s majesty, and as my lips go to ripple her waters, I find that rather an equilibrium sets in. I love this girl. We part shortly after, but both know our connection to be timeless.
We stand up, brush off our bottoms, and set off in opposing directions.
“I love you! See ya later!”
“I love you too! See ya.”
It's often difficult to remember to move with the mishaps. But it's those mishaps that tend to be the small significant changes rippling throughout time, so we either move with them or we have to restart.
I'm playing hacky-sack with my older brother. It's fun. We don't talk much. I think we're alike though; the scope through which he perceives himself and the senses that structure him are fractured like sunlight from a prism. As post-storm rainbows, he is both brilliant and captivating. However, sometimes it seems he dwells on the reality that he's composed through the same nature which crunches lighting and cinges skin. So we get eachother. He has decided that he's not going to smoke anymore, which makes sense being that the doctor and family seem to keep pressuring him toward some sort of character rebirth, where smoking is just 'one of those things that gotta go, you know?'. He's taking medication that is suggested to encourage manic-depression to be less harmful, while smoking pot encourages him to cycle through his emotions quicker, the apparent conflict gives reason to his doctor’s recommendation.. It's difficult to judge the justice of the situation. Martyn 'doesn't even know what happened anyway,' he was suddenly happier than usual and then his surroundings forced him into the mental hospital. He’s following the mishap and learning about this life.
Anyway, Martyn’s squinting from the sun, I'm baked on my granpa's 1000-day-old high-content CBD weed, and this game of hacky-sack is aging me. Martyn stands across from me about 1.75 leg's length away. He lobs the hacky-sack and I bounce it off my right foot's inner-side. The object sails to his right as he bends back his right leg and echoes it with his right foot's outer side. The sack reverberates off of me using the same move, but with more power, so it's casted way up high at a slight angle. As it flies to his right, Martyn repositions himself to be able to knock it back to me, and I stay still. The hacky-sack plummets upon the inner-side of Martyn's right-foot as the foot swings in my direction, but the ball veers to his 10 o'clock and my attempt to rescue it proves fruitless.
My head is slush. "Gosh, I really need to remember to move with my mistakes. Like, when it goes way up and over, to just move with you," I say, "I bet it ends up being more fun and professional-looking anyway." Martyn laughs and agrees. A pause. "Alright," I assure myself. We reassert ourselves to be about 1.75 leg's length away from one another, and he lobs it to me again.
'Keep three things in mind when playing hacky-sack:' I tell myself, 'lift, step, and move with the mishaps.' (I'd focus on focus too, but I've learned that such thought is actually rather distracting.) Lift, step, and move with the mishaps… where does not that not apply to life? Not only does that encourage continuous step-by-step focus, which the ‘one day at a time’ adage implies, but forgetting to lift, step, or move with the mishaps generally ensues termination of whatever’s happening. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it makes sense for now.
As I stand here playing hacky-sack, the eye through which I retrospect contrasts the past from the present in ways unfamiliar to me. It’s Experience, of course, culminating as a conscious thought. So most every moment can be viewed at varying angles. Tomorrow is my 18th birthday, Martyn is 21 in a month, and I remember so much of my life. Yet I feel like my umbilical cord is being cut again, except this new world is met with familiar questions I now realize I never understood:
What are you doing?
How are you doing?
Do you believe in God?
Are we different?
Where are you going?
Why is love so hard to understand?
What’s a spirit?
I’ve read once that in order to escape from the solipsistic web of one’s own being, we must first abandon the academic principle that just because a question can be asked that there must be an answer.
I am living.
I believe that nature is deeply fractured. I don’t know if I believe in unity. I trust that things grow, and that things fall apart.
Yes, we are special. We are the most dominant force on the planet.
I won’t know until I’m there.
Love isn’t difficult to understand, it’s difficult to touch and still feel capable of defining.
A spirit is what presence is felt upon feeling atomically entangled with an individual through love, bringing the individual vividly into the mind’s eye. Wait, no, that’s not what I mean. A spirit is the resonating energy of an individual that continuously affects the present moment until there isn’t enough constancy in the environment to sustain it.
But I seem to want to answer everything. And I believe myself most of the time, which I think is unwise. Paradoxically however, if that’s true then that would mean that it’s probably untrue … leaving me feeling metaphysical. Moving with the mishaps is seeing conflict, and then focusing on a state of mind that flows with the reconstruction of my desire, often developing into the ‘there-but-not-there’ state of mind wherein my belief in something’s existence outweighs the external forces that signal its absence. This reminds me of Ram and his father, and my feeling metaphysical when seeking to understand self-trust. This reminds me of energy making matter, which is then annihilated by that same photon’s concurrent progression into antimatter. Moving with the mishaps takes liquefaction of the desire which shapes one’s actions. It takes the off-average rupture that shifts attention, the analysis which judges the practicality of object-realignment versus the practicality of self-adjustment, then action, experience, and finishing the revolution with take-aways. This is hacky-sack. Lift, step, and move with the mishaps.
Martyn is really intellectual, and writes/performs music. When he was my age, he made an album with his best friend, and I recall a line of Martyn’s that said he was about to “… abandon all I know just for the pursuit of knowledge, and it’s terrifyin…. ‘Cause what’s better, the girls or the grades? The love or the mission? Hell, it’s all the same position.” I’m reminded of this because I’m going to move to Denver, to begin pursuing a degree, in autumn, which is three months from now and I’m frustrated and nostalgic. One, my last relationship ended while I was studying abroad in Italy. After having been together 8 months prior to my departure, I found that Natalie’s love for me did not exceed her need for me, and ultimately I was in love with the idea of being in love more so than actually banking on our everlasting companionship due to our undoubted paralleling character traits. However, it’s true that Lucy and Natalie differ almost through and through. And two, like a sound wave changing frequencies, my mood goes up and down at unpredictable rates, but every incline/decline reminds me of a sense of self that had been ignored prior, and the pendulum has been swinging daily. I can’t understand it. Randomly, I feel in myself the passion with which I feel urged to completely obliterate my surroundings. Rather than destruction, this feeling is expressed as a cold and calculating sense of self, and my emotional attachments clear out like I’ve been placed into a vacuum that diffuses emotion. It reminds me of my step-father and his malfunctioning frontal-lobe. I’m reminded of his love in the form of his primally daunting figure using its voice to snake the spine out of my back, and my ensuing existentialism. I’m reminded of my granpa’s post-traumatic stress disorder swallowed down with blunt smoke, then regurgitated against the inadequacy of my ability to follow directions as a child. I’m reminded of Martyn, and what used to be his apparent frustration with me being his sibling. I’m reminded of my mom’s warmth, and my mom’s fire; I imagine the heat of her stress disintegrating my nervous system; I imagine her arms and eyes and ears and words around me, truly a display of love. On some other section of the coil, I’m a beam of brilliant sunlight dancing and singing and loving and helping in a miracle of a life that feels purely an experiential bliss. It’s thorough, and zippy, and rushes by all at once. I think of the world, the galaxy, the universe, and feel in touch with truth, like a Buddha. I compare myself to Buddha. I relax into the intertwining of nature and the reflexes of time, and feel an ineffable serenity. I’m reminded of how Baron Brooke Fulke Greville ends his poem Chorus Sacerdotum:
We, that are bound by vows and by promotion,
With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites,
To teach belief in good and still devotion,
To preach of heaven’s wonders and delights;
Yet when each of us in his own heart looks,
He finds the God there far unlike his books.
I think of any imbalance, and solutions form in my mind like they’re homogeneous, but the energy with which this work is accomplished feels inexplicable without words like ‘balance’ and ‘connection’ and ‘trust’ and ‘nature,’ but even using those words never prove to be enough. It’s mania.
Things are more solid now than my past reflects, and my spirit lived through every self-destruction I felt mentally take hold. I’ve learned that dwelling on misfortune only densifies the thought of experiencing adversity, gravitating my mind toward the nature of that thought, self-inflicting depression.
Is that all sadness ever is though? Just a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or does manic depression emerge cyclically in my DNA? If I don’t think about it, it turns into ignoring myself as if my depression were a dog barking in the basement of my consciousness. However, this makes my focusing capabilities extraordinarily finite, as true concentration walls my senses from the unquiet environment of my mind, causing peace. This attributes to my love for passion, as passion and ‘being so enthralled that I lose myself’ go hand-in-hand. Thus blossoming my passion for art.
Despite it being 2017, wherein contemporary career advice revolves around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, I think I could live happily as a successful artist, and so want to begin the scholastic process by pursuing a major in graphic design. The college I chose would be close to Martyn’s college and it gave me a scholarship that leaves only $500 left for tuition, which is incredibly low. Unfortunately, the cost to be a student in a college without dorms, as at the California Institute of Art + Design, would have me taking out student loans that would heavily burden the incipience of my adulthood.
Dear California Institute of Art + Design, I am truly sorry to inform you ofthis, but I will not be able to register as a student for the Fall of 2017 due to the high cost of living. Once again, thank you for having offered me such a large scholarship; having to write this email breaks my heart. Perhaps I can register in the years to come. thoughtfully,Alexander Isthmus
California Institute of Art + Design is the only college I applied to. However, the community college here, Columbia College, is considered to be a great school, so, by default almost, my registration at the community college is but pending. Two things strike me as interestingly entangled to this financial mishap: 1) While still in the midst of a poetry recitation contest that ended recently, I practiced for the national finals in front of the folks who judged the county contest. I did this once, outside my personal volition, but during it met a man of particular interest; his wise tone of voice and expressed intellect coupled with his liquid aura and tranquil mannerisms touched my heart involuntarily. We conversed at length following my recitations and he half-begged for my attendance at Columbia College so he could ‘teach me.’ I was surprised, and flattered of course, but sent forth a void as I informed him of my desirous pursuit toward the California Institute of Art + Design. He understood, and upon our parting we mutually voiced our hope to cross paths again soon. And lo and behold, despite my greatest efforts, art college did not work out, so Columbia College it is and sure enough our paths shall cross again. 2) Lucy. Not only was our relationship founded on her initiative to contact me, but her residence is to remain in this county for the next few years, hence my prior frustrated nostalgia of a long-distance relationship. But such distance is not a fear anymore, thus a crevice in time is formed wherein she and I may foster a bond (or develop a detachment, but I’m trying not to provide that thought mass).
And I don’t know if I’m out of reason. It’s such a common mistake to confuse chronology with causation that I often get stuck in that metaphysical confusion over deciding if I can trust myself. But either way, the financial mishap is proving to be a benefit.
I’m at school.
“Hey Alex, whatcha up to?” my school counselor inquired as I entered the front-office. I hadn’t scheduled an appointment, but I need to make sure I know what I’m doing for college registration; I’ll have to do it ‘now’ sooner or later.
“Hey! So, I’m no longer going to art school because the cost of living would be too high,” she furls her brow in empathy, “It’s okay, really.” I speed into my point, “So I decided to do Columbia instead. Would you be willing to help me make sure I know how to register?”
“Of course! Follow me into my office.” She averts her attention toward another student who is sitting down, “Sorry Jacob! Just give me one second with this young man real quick.” I follow Ms. Cruz to her computer, sit down, and she begins to show me the website to go to and the links that’ll transfer me to pages with more links that’ll transfer me to the page that requires me to type in my information for registration, and then she stops. Her head rotates to the right from her monitor, slowly, as if she had just been told tragic information. “I just had a brilliant idea. Oh my gosh, if this works out it would perfect.”
“What’s your idea?”
“Well, you know Bauch Zurich?”
“Yeah. The CEO of ForwardStep. He came into Leadership recently, like just the other day, and spoke to the class.”
“Yeah. Well he’s giving away 10 full-ride scholarships to students planning to attend Columbia College, but only seven people applied. So he came to me, and he was like ‘I think I need to broaden my horizons,’ because before he was only giving it to those who had none to very little financial aid. So now he’ll just pay for whatever isn’t already paid for. The deadline was actually like 10 days ago, but he said that he’d accept late ones due to his change in applicant-criteria.”
“Yeah. So, I mean, if you’re willing to do an essay--I think the essay prompt is like ‘why pursue a college degree?’--if you’re willing to do that and fill out a standard application, then I can give it to Ms. Edgeton and she can send it to Bauch. Here,” she begins moving, “let’s just go ask Ms. Edgeton, yeah?” She motivates me to my feet by standing and walking out of the room. Ms. Edgeton, the other student-counselor, is roomed like eight feet away. Ms. Cruz is in there by the time I’m out of her office. I hear them speaking.
“So I have a student, Alexander Isthmus, and he’s recently decided that he’s not going to go to art college, and instead is going to go to Columbia,” my heart sinks a little, “While I was showing him the registration process, it dawned on me that Bauch Zurich has that rolling application thing for his Columbia College full-ride scholarships. If Alex filled that out, could you send it to Bauch?”
“Uhhh, no unfortunately the deadline is today, so unless like...”
“Ohh.” Ms. Cruz stands in the doorway to Ms. Edgeton’s room, but turns around at this last voicing of disappointment, and repeats to me that today is the last day for applications and that she is sorry for the false hope. I walk over to the room.
“Can’t I just do one today, then give it to you?” I ask Ms. Edgeton.
“Umm, I mean, yeah,” she glances at Ms. Cruz, “You’d have to do a standard application and an essay today before school ends. I’ll email Bauch right now and make sure he’s still accepting.”
“Sweet! Thank you!”
“You’re lucky Alex,” Ms. Edgeton reminds me, “one more day would have been too late.” Ms. Cruz and I start off towards the building’s entrance/exit, saying goodbye and thank-you to Ms. Edgeton.
“Thank you, Ms. Cruz. If this goes well--”
“You’re welcome, Alex. I hope you have a good day.” She looks at the kid who had been patiently waiting, “Alright Jacob, sorry for the wait, come on in… ah… one thing right after the other.”
8 May 2017
Why Pursue a College Degree?
If knowledge were to be luminosity, then to a young adult the media is blinding, and darkness is often found within self-validation of an observational study. I, understanding my journey to be just beginning, seek focused light and a slow shutter-speed. I know that I know little, and acknowledging that is the first step to filling those gaps of knowledge. The next step of this endless process is staying attentive within learning environments. Pursuing a degree is nothing but consciously and continuously inserting myself in an environment fit especially to take grasp of the complex aspects of life that would probably blind or slip by me otherwise. I choose to pursue a college degree so I can form high-definition depictions of the realities beyond my immediate surroundings, as opposed to just blurry conglomerates of various details, which is unfortunately what is formed upon trying to learn independently. Ignorance is not bliss. So, in college, the environment is what I pay for; the information cannot be owned. Without the ability to pursue a degree, life would seem to halt after high school, as though high school were the extent of knowledge that any one person could be exposed to. This, of course, would be devastating to any right-minded individual, and insanity to any creative individual. College, in reality, finally allows my newly blossoming consciousness to specialize on an aspect of life that has thus far piqued my interest. I pursue a college degree so I can turn potential energy into energy that does work.
I sit down on my granpa and gramma’s green couch that reclines on each end, and seats three. I’m in the center, beside my (grandmother) grandpa’s first wife to my left and my grandpa, while my gramma is said to be laying down in bed after being in some pain due to her knee that is still healing. We sit among small talk and a joint for a few minutes before the topic of my A.P. Statistics exam bubbles to the surface. I had rolled another joint by this point, and my grandmother and I split it as I talk.
“I struggle with probability the most. But what I really love are confidence intervals because it’s a math about confidence,” I begin to relay to my grandmother, who had been a treasurer for part of her life so appreciates mathematical conversation. “It finds the structure of natural variability, which I like because it’s shining a light on what people often consider impossible to map. Like imagine you want… okay so on my statistics exam today there was a question that was like: a restaurant owner wants to know what proportion of individuals fill his/her cup up with a soft drink when they ask for a water cup,” I offer, “And so we use confidence intervals for this. The owner gathers a sample of 100 people and finds that 42 fill their water cup with a soft drink. So the proportion here is .42, and it’s referred to as p-hat which is our predicted proportion. But rarely are conjectures in absolute, which is to say that .42 would not be obtained in every sample. This is why the formula is referred to as a confidence interval. Here, I’ll just write it down.” I locate paper and a pen, find a surface, and jot down the interval equation
“So we plug in .42 in place of the p-hat, and 100 for the n because it stands in for ‘sample size.’”
My grandmother nods, “Mhm…”
“And the z in the interval formula is where I put the amount of standard deviations. Everything to the right of the ‘plus or minus’ is the value of the standard error. So by the end, we’ll have our sample-proportion plus the standard error, and minus the standard error--hence the ensuing interval that will tell us where the true proportion most likely is, based off of the sample”
“And the z-score is found by the bell-curve that indicates normality (where normality is achieved through large counts, like 100).”
“Right right right, the bell-curve shows up everywhere, I remember this,” she assures me.
I continue, “Alright, so the center of the bell-curve is our average, or what happens most of the time. You can see that the bell curve is highest in the center, and symmetrically descends toward the x-axis as you move your eyes to the left or right of this center. One standard deviation away from the average extends positively, to the right of the average, and negatively, to the left of the average, and between the -1 standard deviation and +1 standard deviation there exists 68% of the data. So, in a normal distribution of individuals, 68% will be hovering around the average. Between -2 and +2 standard deviations there exists 95% of the data. This is where we get our z-score. The confidence interval is always in an amount of %-confidence, so a 95% confidence interval will have a z-score of about 2, being that 2 standard deviations is about 95% of all the data points. When you plug it into the calculator it gives us 1.96 as our z-score. Thus in our formula
we plug in all of the information, and we can conclude to be 95% confident that the resulting interval includes the true proportion of people who get a soft drink in a water cup. It’s practical!”
“Yes, I’ve always liked the conceptual, less practical, math as well, but I definitely see the attraction toward more usable math like this.”
“Yeah, because if someone claims to know the proportion of individuals who do a certain thing, we can take a large random sample, construct a confidence interval, and determine if the claim is statistically accurate or not. Variability has a structure! And if we find that what that someone said is not within the interval, we reject his/her hypothesis on the basis that, if it were to be true, the sample-proportion that we attained to construct the interval would have been statistically significant, or rare. And if our sample was truly random, and truly large enough, then getting data that would happen like 5% of the time is not plausible. Therefore, the null hypothesis must have been inaccurate. On the other side of that, if we find that what this person claimed is within the 95% confidence interval, then we ‘fail to reject the null hypothesis,’ not ‘accepting it’ because statistics can only reject. And in rejecting shit, or failing to reject shit, we chip away toward revealing natural law. That’s why I like it so much: the natural structure of normality and deviation is revealed to us with statistics.”
My gramma, my grandfather’s wife, walks into the room from the hallway and, having heard me speak, concludes, “Well, looks like you’re going to be a chemist after all!” We laugh, but her words penetrate me as a serious outlook.
“Yeah,” I respond, “I mean, when people would ask me what I’m wanting to do as a career, I would always say that I would prefer a life in art but that I could easily end up in the field of chemical engineering. Being that I’m not going to that art college anymore, I’ve been considering the switch for a few days and I think that this acknowledgement is a good push over the fence.”
“Yeah, it’s a big jump, but people say that chemistry and art go together,” my grandmother adds.
“And it’s just more financially promising than pursuing a graphic design major,” I admit.
“My dream for you is to be a doctor. That way I don’t have to wait so long to get medical work done,” my grandmother adds. She’s serious. But despite how lovely it would be to act as a family doctor, my passion lies in existence’s chemical scaffolding and the conscientious manipulation of such construction in order to be a natural combatant to complex chemical corruption. Some claim that manipulation of the natural world is ‘playing God,’ which leads to self-destruction, but I say that humanity is part of the natural world and for us to manipulate it does not supercede our purpose, but rather is precisely within the human scope. Is it unnatural for a German Shepherd or Bloodhound to sniff out drugs? Is it unnatural for cancer to kill a human? Is it unnatural for a human to kill a human? Don’t people see that the quality of nature is a constant purity, that everything that exists must be natural? That escaping natural law is insane to believe in? Chemicals react within the bounds of chemical law, what that chemical law is and has the potential to allow is vastly available to grasp and to explore. Humans are composed of such chemicals. On average, humans can be understood within the laws of chemical interaction: smaller things are attracted to larger things, high pressure goes to low pressure, elements only move in an effort to reach equilibrium. There are few constants relative to the amount of variables. But if it’s constant, then to ignore it defeats the beauty of an energy driven consciousness: creativity.
I imagine that no amount of grinding will make sparks with a wet grinding stone. I wasn't in the water long, but a lighter submerged for like 5 seconds is long enough to soak the sparking mechanism to dysfunction. I decide that the lighter's child-safety feature hinders my ability to get a deep grind, and that a deep grind may strike beneath the layers of wetness, solving the problem. So I'm looking for a rock to smash the cover off and remove the child-proofing. The human that I love romantically stands waiting on the edge of what appears to be a barrier between us, afraid to enter a current stronger than the power with which she is capable of escaping it: a valid fear.
"Are you able to cross?!" I belt from beyond her boundary. Both her eyebrows and eyelids raise while she concurrently squints them, she adjusts her head in order to directly point her left ear toward my voice, she cups her left hand, and positions it as to enlarge her hearing range. I reiterate with heftier projection, "Do you think you can get across?!" I admittedly really want her to make the journey; I know she has the build, the focus. Or, I mean, do I? What if she's pulled beneath, rendered unable to breathe, then hitches an appendage in one of the hundreds of crevices of rock-bottom, her passionate struggle to break free from the suffocation uses up all of her body's oxygen, and her lungs collapse? Then Alex's pressure just forced Lucy to the catalyst of her death. I think I better remember why I'm here.
"Um, no, I think," she connects her sight to my eyes, "I think the current is too fast. I'm afraid of losing my grip, you know?"
I remember why I'm here. "That's okay! Here, I'll just come across to you, and we can head downstream together back to that swimminghole we passed up, yeah?!"
She looks back at the current, then reconnects her eyeline to mine, "Yeah, I think that's better!"
"Alright, on my way!" I conclude. Of course I want to keep going upstream; that's my nature: against the current, getting closer to seeing the current's origin, holding on concentratedly when the current's tough. But this is not about me. To me, it's about Lucy. Or rather, about Lucy being here at the river with me, nowhere else and nobody else, not her corpse being yanked dead-weight by the frigid rapids.
I find a rock from the water, hold the lighter against another rock, dent the aluminum, dent it more, and then successfully displace the grinder cover. My lackadaisical aiming busts the grinding roller out of socket, but, after realignment, my plan recovers to be functional as the lighter produces a solid flame.
"Babe!" I hold up the lighter, "Look, I got it to work!" I try firing it up, but the spark doesn't ignite the gas, and I respond with a facially expressed disclaimer. I dismount my rock perch, and find myself parallel to Lucy, not yet within the current.
If my mind were planar, it would be a fabric, and my thoughts would be pieces of matter on the fabric. Everything would tend toward the thought that mattered the most. The trick is to maintain a plethora of concentrated thoughts without allowing them to conflict. Oftentimes, Lucy is the Sun of my mental gravitational system. She becomes the center of my cognitive processes and the more I focus on her, the more she matters.
The amount I am moved by this fabricated gravity depends on the amount and quality of concentration put into a given subject. Why? If concentration didn't cause movement, then concentration would be arbitrary, void; focus is a response to a lack thereof, fulfilled upon a realization of what is absent, and the realization of that absence involves rearrangement of the available elements, otherwise called movement. This gravitational force makes my consciousness, a self-consciousness, desire itself. To elaborate on that: imagine Figure 1 doesn't want a green ball; Figure 2 decides to want the green ball; now Figure 1 wants the green ball; Figure 1 desires the green ball because Figure 2 desires the green ball; Figure 1 is conscious of his/her lack, and also is conscious of Figure 2's satisfaction, so Figure 1 desires the object of the thought that already has desire/focus/attention/concentration in it, which is the green ball in this case. Consciousness desires desire. I can’t tell the difference between what Lucy wants and what I want.
Things become larger once there is more concentration in them. Larger things have a stronger gravity because there is more of an area to become a part of them, there is more to be attracted to. So here's the real question: What force guides the balancing of concentration among the objects/subjects of reality? What force controls the distribution of gravity? What controls desire? Me? But do I actually have total control over what I want to focus on? Is there really free-will? What if I want nothing? Is that possible? Does free-will only come to those who can concentrate on nothingness to the point that all matter is dwarfed in comparison? When meditating, do I distribute thought-mass amongst what objects of thought I want to matter most, or do I clear my mind? I clear my mind."See? The current isn't pulling me under, you just gotta stay balanced, and aware," I reassure Lucy while she watches my traversing, "and slow." It's difficult to find the balance between being admirably advisory and annoyingly pedantic. Anyway, I safely travel to her lips, and we set off downstream."As long as you're open to it," she offers as we approach a chest-deep waterhole, "I'm cool here." Facing downstream, the right-flank of the white-water rapids eddy off into this hemispherical crater. "Yeah, no, I'm fine. We can stay here." I'm just cold, in reality. The past rainfall was heavy enough this year to make the snowmelt essentially flood the river with torturingly chilling waters; I don't see myself swimming. Lucy, in contrast, subsides beneath the water's surface, followed by her hair flinging up with the graceful tossing-back of her cranium.
"Woohooo!” I exclaim in the rush of my vicarious living.
“Are you gonna get in?”
I do really want to. She’s an aquatic dream. But this water sends sea-urchins up my spine. “Umm, I think I want to go down to the lower one. You can moonwalk there. The river is deep enough to stand up and be fully submerged. You know? Like, when you get a big rock and walk with it beneath the water, on the riverbed?” I don’t know if this will solve the frigidity issue, but being by deeper water is a more meditative experience anyway.
Lucy seems tranquil, “Okay, yeah, that’s fine, let’s go.” Our bodies surmount and otherwise maneuver through the various solid and aquatic obstacles that separate us from our destination, a place to moonwalk. Our arrival dawns on us not too long after our departure, after which I release the bag of resources from my hand onto the boulder-top we’ve halted at. Facing upstream, we stand at river-left, snow-colored water cascades into the pool in front of us, and the sunlight blanketed against the outer-edge of the valley wall naturally shadows our immediate surroundings and illuminates the adjacent valley wall. When the journey began, the tools with which I had planned to incorporate tetrahydrocannabinol into my body were foolishly left within my pocket as I had waded through one section of the river. That being so, I go to rest the joint on the boulder to dry, and although the joint does end up being there, the soakage had weakened the rolling-paper and my joint splits in two upon my attempt to pick it up for transport from the metal guitar-pick case that I had kept it in.
“Well, now we have two joints,” I respond to myself. Lucy laughs a little from in the river, then gracefully falls backwards allowing the water to curl around her body like a lysosome around a microorganism. “Wow.” She doesn’t hear me, but I hope she knows that she’s a mesmerizing water animal.