Before any undertaking, an individual must come to certain realisations about themselves and the task at hand. These are the first steps towards the promised land.
Dust settles in an old house
Wind whistles over earthen mounds
The sun shines lacking lustre
And despite all the life we muster
Time merely proceeds on.
Until even the ashes turn to ashes
And the dust
Why on earth would I start my very first blog post, the beginning of this little journey, with such a morbid piece of poetry. I mean sure, it’s beautiful in a sad kind of way. I suppose it captures some of the essence of the human condition. Actually, it’s just rubbish and I’m foolish for using it. Well, all of these would be valid responses, but there is a particular reason I have started off with this poem. (If anyone is interested it’s called Passing, and I wrote it two years ago).
May I direct your attention to the tagline of this blog… it reads, “Wake from death and return to life.” I believe that many of us live in a state of death. It’s not that we aren’t alive, it’s that we aren’t living. We go about the motions without engaging in anything meaningful. Sometimes in our sleep of death we dream about life- that’s what you are doing when you plan holidays that you will never go on, when you say ‘I really should start exercising’, when you read a book that gives you that little feeling of something greater than yourself.
Before I go further, let me address the fact that by now (early though it is) some of you are thinking that this sounds a bit cliche. We’ve all heard the self-help gurus. We all know that we aren’t ‘living life to the fullest’ according to capitalism’s standards- and bugger those people who try to make us believe that drivel.
Well, you’re right. It does sound cliche. It has been said before.
The difference is that I am not saying this from a perspective in which I am telling you so that you can help yourself. Instead, everything I am typing on this page, down to this very line, I am saying to myself. Now that that’s established let me explain further.
The very purpose of writing, putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboards, is to express yourself in a way that allows you to communicate your thoughts. The purpose of reading is to breathe in the thoughts of another and exhale your own understandings. The purpose of sitting in a forest, in silence, listening to your own thoughts, is to understand yourself in a way that you have not understood yourself before. Our ability to think allows us to converse with ourselves and ponder the very nature of the universe. These types of things lead us to look for ways to better our lives. For some, material goods are all they believe they need, but for those who find themselves lost in the melancholy words of a poem…
I shall miss you most, when twilight brings the rising mists to hang upon the reeds… – unknown, the Man’yosho anthology
Those people, we need more and less- at the same time. We recognise, or perhaps simply feel (indeed we might be deluded), that we are sleeping in death. It is in doing simple things such as rituals, in religions, martial arts, tea ceremonies, where we give the grandest of meanings to the most mundane things to observe an unthinking, unfeeling object act with a sense of humility and duty that no human possesses, that we begin to wake ourselves up.
Does it perhaps now seem apt for me to start with my poem? I think there is no better way to christen this journey to life than with a short recognition of death. And why must death be morbid? Even in the seemingly darkest of circumstances we can find beauty- perhaps this is why we create our great religions. It is not a sense of comfort that we seek, but a way to explain the underlying beauty of darkness that we know exists but cannot seem to find.