Awaiting Discovery Within

Make a mistake.
Go outside with your rake,
Take take take;
It’s time again to placate

Listen to the breeze and let yourself believe that the rustling leaves whisper to you. Allow yourself this one break.

Reason says otherwise, and I surmise that it’s choices which have me temporarily paralyzed. Forget to realize that the leaves aren’t alive?

Atop the fragments float, tethered to nothing – we drift further apart. Do you remember the start? Remember thinking I was so smart? All that’s left now are frozen embers some might call art.

Where does it all go And who really knows? Do the islands that time split apart ever mend back into a continent again?

If the answer is no, would it not be better to pretend?

Defend against the horizon for it brings darkness and takes away our days; Pretend with the sunrise that our spirits will be raised.

Deafen oneself from the beating drum from the ceaseless march of time. Better to say that we are fine than to waste anyone else’s time.

Decisions of Motion

Why is it that whenever something comes to an end we tend to, or inevitably succumb to the urge, reflect back upon how it all began?

There is a part of me that wants to refuse the tug of the past and instead continue steadfastly moving forward, with my gaze fixed upon the potentialities held within the unknown mystery of the future. Thus, I’m also pulled forward by my anticipation of what lies hidden and awaits being actualized, while simultaneously being tugged on by the past’s allure to be reflected upon and mined for gems of wisdom and treasures of meaning. The result is a state of tension and disequilibrium; my inner world stirs with the restlessness of indecisiveness of where to place my focus – which direction should I place my attention and, subsequently, galvanize my energetic resource to pursue.

Life is held in this dialectical tension, if by nothing else, by the law of entropy, which is solely responsible for the arrow of time. Consequently, we fill our time with busyness working tirelessly against disorder while also hoping to arrange our lives in some order that we find a sense of safety or security in – at the very least, a sense of familiarity. We crave normalcy and, to some degree, we cling to the delusional notion that someday our lives will be suspended in some abstract fixed state of continual satisfaction; we desire a state of being where all of our needs are met, so we conjure goals from our hopes, dreams, and role models to develop some plan of action for setting out on this quest.

However, the undertaking is tricky for two main reasons: first, future goals have a way of branching off into additional goals and/or dividing themselves into numerous subgoals that serve to continually postpone our attainment of the initial goal we set as our target; second, even when we have attained a particular goal, inevitability dissatisfaction and tension finds us once more, and we are left feeling as if we’ve drifted back to the shore from which we’d initially set sail. The cycle repeats once more.  

Many people convince themselves of their eventual conquer of this journey and spend their lives committed to this belief, even until their last day. Others, also convince themselves of thoughts more comforting than the truth and pretend that all their needs are already met, so there is no need for them to strive.

It is challenging to confront these distorted beliefs held within ourselves because to do so requires some degree of both acceptance and humility. Both of which are praised as virtues, when viewed from a distance, such as abstractly, but seldom do we genuinely wish to adopt and embody these virtues in the experiential realm. Rather, we decide that an intellectual appreciation of these virtues will suffice and, once more,  dodge the actual challenge presented to us by life.  

We spend most of our lives trying to avoid the realities of life by either convincing ourselves or allowing ourselves to be convinced by others’ fictions about life. This cognitive maneuvering allows us to sidestep the discomfort experienced when life’s challenges are indeed acknowledged as an obstacle. We prefer to become like Sisyphus destined to exert effort toward a task that never ceases in the rest of completeness but provides the illusion of progress by conflating motion with progress. Unlike Sisyphus who the repetition of his task to be his punishment, we harness our creative powers of meaning-making and allow our imaginations to construct grand narratives of how our work and task-pursuit are in fact of the utmost significance.  

There is real meaning to be found in the tasks we choose to undertake in our lives. However, issues tend to arise when we choose to deny the reality that we will never arrive at the fixed permanent state of satisfaction, which we so crave.

This issue resides within ourselves. We lack the sufficient self-knowledge necessary for us to properly identify what tasks, goals, and pursuits provide us with the meaning, purpose, and satisfaction we seek.

Consequently,  if we haven’t allowed ourselves to succumb to the illusion of pursuing tasks like Sisyphus, then we may find ourselves aimlessly wandering from place to place searching for others to tell us about where we should look within to discover answers to what propels our internal restlessness. This movement of outsourcing may even be taken so far as to alter how we perceive our inner world as to align ourselves more fully with the direction we’ve allowed others to corral towards. 

Yet, this too is fruitless and leads to feeling stifled or as if one were an imposter. Nevertheless, many choose this path because it supplies more comfort and security than embracing the alternative; that is, the recognition of what an incredibly challenging, ambiguous, and arduous task it is to become an individual.

A word of caution feels warranted here because of our proclivity to gravitate toward extremes. To be an individual is to understand, appreciate, and embrace the inherent uniqueness of oneself and others; it does not necessarily entail that one must become solely an individual concerned only for oneself and own self-interests.

This is an example of how often we take a particular point about a specific matter and then run ahead with it, applying it to a whole host of other ideas. Quickly, and often subtly, the result of this type of hasty generalization is a product that has lost its connection to, or hardly even resembles, the initial point from which it was derived. Consequently, this too leads back to another method of deceiving ourselves.

How significant must this force be that we try everything within our powers to wriggle our way out of having an encounter with it by means of avoidance, suppression, denial, and the list could continue ad infinium. Nevertheless, despite any of our attempts, like Sisyphus, we are not capable of such a maneuver, as to sidestep or bypass this force that imposes upon us, since, to succeed in such an endeavor would be to contradict our essential quality of being. For what confronts us is the task of becoming something with the being that is inherent to our existence. 

While the temptation to delegate the contemplation of the topic of being to the domain of the philosopher is an enticing way to, once again, duck our responsibility, we are nonetheless incapable of escaping the task placed upon us by life itself to discover what it is that we are, both as an individual and within the context of society.  

We know that we are something; we know that we exist and can quickly provide a list of identifiers to prove our existence within a societal context; that is, by utilizing the tool of language to articulate the ways by which we identify, or distinguish, ourselves from that of others. However, does this articulation of an inventory of individual identifiers truly resolve the task placed upon us by life? Is there not more to our existence and to who we uniquely are than merely that which can be articulated in a manner as to communicate it to others?

However, since these aspects to which I refer are definitionally ineffable, their existence becomes easy to merely dismiss as sophistry and continue navigating through life operating purely from what can be explicitly stated or objectively shown. Moreover, science and empiricism offer further validation that it is only the manifest, the quantifiable and the qualitative, that our existence is justified. Consequently, that which is unable to be spoken nor seen must then not actually exist. Yet, how much of our life is undermined and/or dismissed if our sole criterion for evaluating existence requires some sort of external or externalizable proof before being eligible to be deemed as being something “real”?

A Return to the Beginning

We start our journey today with a different approach to writing, so I want to set the initial expectation for this piece of writing as one of being-in-process; that is, I am process writing, and you are reading with my flow of consciousness (for the most part).

My issue with writing is typically, when I want to write, I fail to think of a topic worthy of the time and effort needed for writing. Although, when speaking casually with family, friends, or colleagues, I have an abundance of topics that I wish, at the time, to write about further in the future. When the future comes, I feel stagnated, and often, this is enough to stop me from taking the initial actions necessary to express myself in written form.

As I reflect on this issue with writing, I am reminded of how frequent and ubiquitous this issue is—not the issue of writing hesitancy—the issue of being unable to think of the intermediate parts and/or the end products for a given flow; thus, this mental poverty provides me with the justification never to start the task.

In some ways, what I am referring to sounds almost like a self-fulling prophecy (and it possibly is). Nevertheless, whether what I am describing is precisely defined in the term self-fulling prophecy or my description is something similar but not yet encapsulated in static language makes no difference.

Words or phrases are just shorthand signifiers for the broader definition or concept that they represent, so in this case, I am more focused on analyzing the definition of the phenomenon I am describing and less focused on what symbol (word) is used to signify the concept that I wish to explore.

On a brief aside, what I have outlined above regarding language can be, crudely, summed up as bottom-up (definition to corresponding word/symbol) and top-down (word/symbol to definition through derivation). These terms bottom-up/top-down are used in a variety of domains and relate to many aspects of life; however, I am using them in the specific context of language.

I say this to take a second aside to briefly address how these two directions of language processing contribute to the ongoing, intensifying social-media-fueled cultural wars here in the United States. Social media floods our senses with sights and sounds, even physical sensations to a less direct degree, that are consumed with such frequency and quantity that our brains have become desensitized, to some extent, to the valuation of symbols—including words. Prior to social media and/or the internet, written symbols were not available to be consumed almost constantly and instantaneously, much less was there such an accessible avenue that allowed for these written expressions to become interactive with the engagement of others. Therefore, the abundance of symbols available in the modern age lessens the value of each individual symbol, at least, based on the principles of supply and demand ecnomics.

Even writing those last few sentences became complicated for me to track my initial point and how that corresponded to the intermediate point and the end conclusion. And, alas, we have returned from our aside movements to the opening example.

In my initial example describing my personal challenges with the writing process, I avoided taking the initial actions of preparing the necessary conditions for writing the intermediate parts and end products by using the excuse that I cannot think of these subsequent steps and, therefore, do not have sufficient cause to begin the endeavor.  

As much as I may wish that this issue mattered on an individual level, it truly does not. Still, when this same type, or form, of issue is amplified to the context of the structure of social media interactions in general, then there is likely something meaningful to analyze in the dynamics and constituents of this process.

To practice what I hope to preach, I want to be clear in defining the way in which I am using the constituent elements involved in my subsequent analysis.

First, I am defining social media as any platform or website that allows for interactions with other entities. Additionally, I am defining the internet as the broad physical and virtual infrastructure that forms the network that includes social media. The physical body can provide an analogy to better illustrate these concepts before continuing: The internet is the system and social media the various nodes. For specificity and foreshadowing future analogies, this can best be conceptualized thinking of the lymphatic system and the lymph nodes distributed within this system.

Second, starting with the definition, I am describing a process that operates in a sequential order flowing from the initial conditions, to the intermediate parts, to the end product; this process is scale-independent, meaning it can operate and can be applied to any level of a system (e.g., simple to complex, micro to macro, possibly part to whole – though this will be affirmed or negated through analysis).

Unfortunately, I lack a shorter term to function as a signifier for this definition in my vocabulary at present. Therefore, I will take the liberty of creating a term that I believe corresponds to the above description (I am open to alternative ideas).

Tripartite Flow is the term I believe best describes this particular definition in the specific way I intend to utilize it. To further elucidate the core concept that I am describing, here are a few familiar definitions similar to what I am referring to: Story – beginning, middle, and end; Time – past, present, and future.

Additionally, the body can offer another useful analogy for the concept of Tripartite Flow: One way neurons communicate with one another is through action potentials which are impulses that stimulate a cascade of events to occur that result in the transmission of information. In this example, the action potential is the intermediate step because once it is triggered, the transmission will produce an electrical impulse to move across the cell’s axon; however, the initial condition that must be present for an action potential ever to occur is a stimulus that is powerful enough to surpass the threshold potential to activate (a) the subsequent steps of action potential (b), and information transmission (c).

Before concluding this preliminary deliberation, I want to acknowledge that it is quite likely that much of what I have defined above may already have field-specific definitions (e.g., in the field of philosophy, psychology, biology, etc.). However, through today’s writing, I have realized that one of the purposes for this type of writing is to free myself personally from becoming bogged down with fretting about using the correct nomenclature. Instead, aware of the risk of possibly repeating elements of the work of others, I have chosen to engage in a stream of active deliberation that has produced fruits that are at least novel to myself. Moreover, this initial writing, both with its content and in its style, has provided a foothold for future writings, as I realized during the process how the various topics that continually manifest in my speech could be expressed through the written word if I remove some of the mental barriers imposed on myself that are limiting my expression.