Thoughts, Reflections and Stories

One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star...
Massoud Abbasi

Of First and Last Things

            Your Joy and your pain. Your love and your hate. Your passion and your apathy. What you fear when you are awake. What you dream of when you are asleep. That which brings an irrepressible smile to your face. That which locks your jaws and forces you to clench your teeth. Your beginnings, and your endings; at least in how you perceive them to be. What of these things? What are they? They are first and last things. They are the things that matter most. They are the seminal acts and scenes in the play of our lives, yet we are often not even the playwright. We tarry and toil all our days, seldom satisfied, always craving more. How can man live off bread alone, when there are so many appetites to sustain and nourish? Does prayer sustain you? If so, good, for it is a conversation with your soul and such a conversation is never in vain, though often it may be heavy. Does another sustain you? If so, good, for in sharing of yourself with another you come to enrich yourself through them, though often it may make you more vulnerable. And so what of these first and last things which cut deep into the veneer of our spirit, while conversely healing the very same wound. So what if the white of our soul is soiled with the blood of their effects. Are they not that for which you continue on in this journey called life?  That which you protect and shelter and feed so that you may continue wandering in the woodlands of existence. Is not the sharp knife with which you saw into your delicacies made of the steel which was forged in great fires so that it could be tamed and given teeth? Is not the porcelain plate which holds your delights the same material which was crafted in a great furnace? Is not the wine you sip, and sip, and sip away into blissful calm on a cool autumn night not fermented grapes, which have been pressed with man’s feet and left to rot so that they may make your spirit levitate when it meets your tongue and rests inside your body and swims through the many rivers which are your veins? So then that which brings you pleasure can also bring you pain, for without some pain, there could not be pleasure. Yes, this is the nature then of life, of man’s life, that he is beholden to first and last things for his happiness and his misery, and often he is not even aware of what is first and what is last. Precisely these things are first and last, along with family, vocation, inner peace and outer purpose. And of course dreams. Yes, an abundance of dreams. So heed these things, and think of them often, but live them and do them even more, these first and last things.

 

            What of love, then, they may ask? Well, what of it my friends. Is this not what you and I want most and that which we all secretly envision as our life’s singular work and purpose? Love is blind, some shout out. Yes, indeed, it may be impaired in its ability to see clearly, but that is only because it is an eye so thick with joy that its ocular abilities have become impaired, like a drunkard who tip toes and lops from one side to the next, like a fool. He is so inebriated with freedom that he simply does not care. Love is what defines us most, sustains us most, and nourishes us when the nutrients in the soil in which we rest are too poor to give our spirits a luscious colour. Love need not be some panacea or some rare, exotic fruit which has a single texture and taste, and is always sweet. No, love in all of its forms, for all things, in all ways. That feeling that lifts one out of silent slumber and into active mechanics early in the morning before even the sun has risen above the equator. That is love. That feeling with which you relish the moment and speak to yourself before a mossy hill beneath a great valley beyond which there is a great mountain, the likes of which Moses himself must have ascended when he felt his calling, when he felt his love. We speak only of this love to all others for it is the only love that matters. It is the light which infuses the darkness and leads us out of dilemma and conundrum. How often do we retreat to her for succour and comfort when all else seems awry? Always and only. Where does an infant seek its love when it is hungry and all it can do is wail? It finds it in the bosom and breast of its mother. Always and only. Where do you find your comfort and hope and peace and direct your prayers? Towards whom you love, towards your God or the universe. You do these things yet you are often not mindful in the doing. Do you a love a thing? Great, is it a good thing, will it bring you a genuine smile and inner peace or only boost your ego and false sense of security? If the former, then bring it forth as often as possible, but if it is the latter, apprehend it next time, look at it, and ask it: Who are you? Why are you? Why do I feel I need you? Are you even my love, or are you my fear dressed as my love? Do you love a place? Great, go there often? It is far, it is inaccessible with my resources, some may say. Fine then, continue pining for it from afar while time drifts away and your never land recedes further out of sight, whilst you continue making excuses. The rooster has crowed and you are still in bed. Won’t you get up, even when animals are singing for you? Is it producing something, with your hands, with your heart, which you love? Great, then go ahead and make that which brings you joy and multiplies your love, for no one is as blessed as he who creates and crafts from possibility something into actuality. So then, all the continuing questions abounding regarding love notwithstanding, make a plea with them first, so that they too may understand what you now have come to in your right time, that in the pursuit and embrace of your love, in any form, in every way, you can’t go wrong, It is what matters most, yields most and is the most sensitive, so tread lightly. But ensure that you tread nonetheless, for nothing is more worthwhile than this first and last thing. This greatest of things. Nothing is more worthwhile than love and passion.

 

            What of fear, they may ask next? Well, and what of it, my friends? Is this not what you and I loathe most? Do we not all secretly wish that we could slay and vanquish this great flame spewing dragon-demon of ours, believing that if we could, we would then propel ourselves forward towards our desired fate, unhindered by the many fetters the world seems to put in our way? Fear is overwhelming, and love stands no chance, many of them chant, beholden to their fears by a thick, invisible collar like a powerful animal whose strength is restrained. All these fears, these reasons ‘why not’ abound and we treat them like some unassailable, eternal truths, like the square root of Pi, which forces us into corners and forces us to give up our pursuit of love. Fear is a first and last thing, but it is not an eternal truth like love, it is merely a bridge to love.

 

          So what of fear then, in light of this? Fear is the great mist which blinds whole scores of men and keeps them from traversing great landscapes in pursuit of the many treasures of existence which lie untouched, unfound, unborn. How often have you encountered a familiar environment which you know well enough but cannot approach until some form of light is shone upon it? Fear is the absence of this light which illuminates that which you already know deep within. Fear is the darkness that clothes a forest and keeps us from entering where only a few hours ago we ran through it like children with no care. It is the doubt that precedes an action, the hesitation that precedes a kill. Fear kills, categorically. When do you feel most indignant towards life? It is when you are most fearful. Always and only. It is when you fear crossing a bridge because some of the trusses seem worn, though there is treasure on the other side and others have crossed it already. Always and only. It is when your love seems the furthest, the most bleak and  your heartbeat the slowest when you look upon your domain and feel that is has shrunk, been sold and is in the hands of a new owner. Always and only.

 

          The presence of deep fears within us which we do not share is the secret every single human being retains within them, day and night. A monster which mercilessly controls us as if we are the gear and it is the lever. Yet even fear has its purpose for it is in the very nature of first and last things to have their opposites, without which the other cannot exist. You cannot have dark without light, sweet without bitter, joy without pain. Things exist in their opposites by law, just as there cannot be nothingness without being, and vice versa. So then why do you fret, still, ephemeral human being? Why do you hold your love back in respect of your fear, in your addiction to it and abject paralysis before it? What do you really think could happen, if you stepped forth on the precarious and creaky pier so that you may ascend your boat and float away on the lake of life and into the ocean of possibilities? Do you worry that it may snap under your weight, and you will buckle, and fall into the cool and deep water? Perhaps, but can you not swim? If not, why not? How could you not have married yourself to the hearth from which life was conceived by now so that you two could dance together? Swimming is after all the greatest form of dancing. So then perhaps you are afraid you will drown? Fine, and perhaps you might, but what if it doesn’t break, what have you missed out on? And even if it does break maybe you can still maintain enough composure and kick and push your way to where the boat is so that you may mount it and still have a chance at the adventure on the seas which contains your love? Isn’t that worth a risk, a danger? Are you not going to pass anyhow one day? In the greater picture, your life is but a speck either way, whether thirty years or a hundred, so what if it were to end at the former before your time in the pursuit of your love? Is that not worth the risk? And confused looks are seen when this is spoken, for even the thickest minds are momentarily beholden to the incredible and mesmerizing shimmer of a flash of love. It is like a meteor that illuminates the darkness all around it, burns through fear and shines light on where there was nothing before, and where now all treasures are illumined. Like an explorer who lights up a kerosene lamp in a deep cave, and sees the refracting glow of the great many hordes of jewels and gems he has stumbled upon because of his love. How many hearts in our brief history have beaten to such lofty heights? How few have caught a great meteor and rode it to the heavens on earth? Look what happened to Daedalus, though, some may say? He rode too close to the Sun against the admonition of his father Icarus, and his chariot melted, and he fell to the sea and died. Yes, and so what? He died flying towards his love. Is there a more noble defeat than this? Would you prefer to live long and die in a slow state of fear? So why then are we so morbidly confined to small squares, the great majority of us, by this great first and last thing? There is nothing to lose, have we not attested witness to this truth by now? Your days are numbered either way, and in a blink they are come and gone, and only love can allow your soul to live forever while your body is feasted on by other elements and vanishes away like a soft, warm draft that crosses a mountain and caresses your face, before it disappears, as if it never were. Precisely when you have gleaned and felt and embraced this truth will you come to truly understand first and last things, and only then will you have completed the circle and known that all things in the middle, in between the first and the last, are distractions, albeit sometimes necessary distractions, in your pursuit of understanding, in the pursuit of the manifestation of your life, will and destiny. One begets the other, but one shall ultimately be overcome, where the other is to be fully embraced once the overcoming has been completed and achieved.  So come to an understanding of your fears for this understanding is vital for the circle to be rounded and finished so that you may return to your love, whatever, whomever, wherever it may be resting. Conquer your fears, which is to say conquer yourself, lest you live your life a captive to them until the end. What a shame that would be for you, for your love is infinitely greater than your fear, and you have it within you to cast off this albatross which keeps you from your fate, your paradise, your bliss.

 

            And the inevitable question of what comes in between these first and last things shall arise. Yes, and what of that which comes in between? Why are we always so concerned with noise and chatter?  What does the tiny details, the prosaic parts of our everyday lives matter when we know it is only a middle way between here and there, between past and future? Most of us get caught up amongst the ruins left behind by those who came before us who never made it out of the gauntlet of ‘everything’. Do you concern yourself with what came before you were conceived? It is unlikely for it is impossible to do so. Then why do you concern yourself with what may follow after? That is equally impossible. No one has left and returned with a convincing tale of what we should expect when our eyelids descend over our all seeing eyes one final time. So why worry about anything other than first and last things, of how you will face and overcome your fear in the pursuit of seducing and winning over your love so that existence may become a blessed affair, one in which all elements are drawn together in the most magical of proportions and design, like a flawless diamond with exact geometry and magnificent splendour and shine. So then my friends, why worry about anything when you can come to a realization that life is inherently both everything and nothing? Do you have faith? Yes, great, then question it to ensure it is a faith that gives you wings, not one that grounds you. That which leads towards love, any kind of love, whether for a person or for some purpose or pursuit, that is a good faith. A faith which guides you away from your bliss and that which makes you happy is misguided and false. Question your convictions to make sure they are right and sturdy. After all, what good is a thing that has not been tested?  Does your faith support you, or suppress you from seeking and reaching your love? Does it fill you with hope, or terror? Does it bind you or open your hands up from the noose that contains them together? Even worse if you lack faith, for then you are merely  without a compass of some sort, and will remain lost in the desert like the Israelites, for many days and many nights, and perhaps forever. Where does one find faith if they do not have it to begin with? Does a baby come into the world capable of surviving on its own? No, it requires its mother for so very long. So then depend on mother-nature and the mother which is life and other people to provide you with your faith so that you too may find something worth believing in and living for. It can be anything and take any form, as long as it is composed of love and hope and is not afraid of fear being in the mix to ensure the mixture is well balanced and honest. Remember that even in the sweetest of pastries, some salt is always required to catalyze the yeast and make it rise. Without faith, some kind of faith, you are then like a leaf on the tree of life, depending on the seasons and the roots and the branches for your existence and non-existence in accordance with the cycle of the seasons. Is this how you would like to live your life? Powerless, scared, at the mercy of other people and other things to sustain your existence, to provide you with your bliss? No, verily it cannot be, so then focus on all things, on first and last things, and embrace them equally, love and fear, with the faith that one begets the other and completes the circle, but that one, love is what should ultimately be sought where the other, fear, should ultimately be overcome. Only then may you know the bitterness that makes the sweet so very, very sweet, and how much you prefer it over the bitter, even though you are glad you tried that too, for at least now you know which you prefer, and which tastes better.

 

 

          The hallmark of man, and his ‘man mind’ is that he exists in a world in which he has not chosen to live in but has been foist into without being consulted. Nevertheless, it is a gift and blessing, to be alive. Yet because of how we come to find ourselves here, man often feels at the whim of life, and all its constituent parts and laws which direct and dictate so much of our lives. Yet even within this framework, he has been given an incredible blessing and gift: Free Will. Man can decide for himself but often cannot and shirks away from this great responsibility which life has placed upon him, upon us all. Free will is a fierce and strong beast, and such beasts are hard to contain, thrashing to and fro when you attempt to contain them. Yet if this beast can be tamed and handled, what a profound force it is for us with which to exercise control over our physical, mental and spiritual faculties and help us move forward through life. We shall then be free to think, act and work towards our hearts desire in crafting a personal story worth recalling in the twilight of life, many, many years from now, if we are so lucky. You too have this power. We all do. So then will you not utilize it? You can, you must and you should. Identify it. Tame it. Hone it and then use it to pursue an understanding of first and last things, of which many abound in life, the two primary ones which we know to be love and fear.

 

          These two phantoms of the human condition leave imprints that are etched into every crack, crevice and corner of our being. They linger in the hallways and corridors of our minds, and the many seas of our heart and soul. So seek them out, and that really means, seek yourself out. Climb into the cave which you are and understand yourself, and meet that which you love and that which you fear. The abyss that you are terrified by, it contains the treasure you are seeking. Go in there and meet these first and last things. Learn from them. Talk to them. Understand them. Ask them: Who are you and what do you want with me? What have you planned for me? When you have set out on this quest, and if you are strong enough, patient enough, resilient enough and faithful enough, for many dark nights and blocked corners you will encounter on this journey, one day you will begin to see an opening in the cave of your own being. You will now continue walking ahead, excited by the light which grows brighter, and finally reach the end and stand before the gateway through which day light showers through now and the ocean lies ahead of you. The water thunders back and forth onto the beach, thick waves whose loud whirr cause your soul to wake and stand erect before its awesome power, and you now look back into the cave and meet wholly and truly your fear, far back in the cave you’ve just traversed, and see it for what it is: Nothing. Fear is an illusion. It is life’s greatest phantom, and Lucifer’s greatest trick. When you finally have the strength and understanding to repeal this illusion which the world and your mind have created, you will no longer be its servant, but its respectful admirer and former pupil. You have confronted and conquered this chameleon tormentor of your mind which has long tested you and placed a veil over your eyes, and you are now ready to enter into the real world, the world of your love. In this world, people can fly, animals work side by side with men, and there seems to be ample daylight, all year round. In this world anything seems possible, and is with the right ingredients which are available to you. You have arrived. Those who have reached this place during their existence have often been heard to speak these words at the event horizon: “What is this I feel now? Life? Then what was that which I felt before, which I thought was life?” Are you even alive yet, or are you still just living?

 

          Your Joy and your pain. Your love and your hate. Your passion and your apathy. Your beginnings and your endings. What of these things? What of first and last things? They are everything. Seek them out, at any expense. The abundance of life is directly proportional to the ability of your eyes to penetrate the veil of illusion in which the world of man abounds. Seek and understand first and last things, and you will live a glorious existence in your own right. Work at this hard enough and you may even begin to whisper sweet things one day, for the rest of your days, as the sun rises above you each morning, pretty little birds chirp outside your window and you feel blessed for having one more day of this magnificence which we all feel, but cannot breathe in words. The greatest of poets have attempted to do so, none greater than Rumi, who once wisely spoke: “You are a shadow: annihilate yourself in the rays of the Sun! How long will you look at your shadow? Look also at his light!” So then, my friends, how long will you continue to be a shadow and not the light that rests within you? Seek out and understand first and last things, but especially love and fear. When you have, then you are ready to vanquish fear and embrace love. Just remember to give fear a noble death, for without it, you had no mountain to climb, and no treasure was ever found that was not hidden in a mountain, the mountain which you face, the mountain which is your life and contains your love-jewels at its summit. Fear is an illusion. Love is truth.

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Sam N | Reply 06.07.2014 19.41

Wow, this is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Love & Peace.

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08.12 | 12:21

Good reflexions and philosophy
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25.01 | 15:17

Profound with a lot of philosophical insights. I love the admonition of never abdicating the future. Thanks for sharing.

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06.07 | 19:41

Wow, this is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Love & Peace.

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19.03 | 05:49

Amazing to read and thank you for some beautiful insights.

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