Preface, past

Growing up, I was never one to cave into societal pressures, be it partying, drinking, dating, keeping up with fashion trends, or trying to fit in. It just wasn’t up my alley. Instead, my energy had been dedicated to working on creative projects behind closed doors. With the explosion of ideas in my mind, I felt most fulfilled when I was drawing theoretical and visual connections, and transferring them into tangible projects. Thus began my all-nighters at a young and tender age.

Yet, however exhausted I might’ve been, I felt a deep sense of contentment. I had a vision, I had a purpose. I answered to my own inner guidance. It felt liberating to work with my own schedule and with my own set of rules, and to be accountable only to myself. Even today, the prospect of settling into a path where there’s no room for creativity, autonomy, purpose, self-mastery, and growth, is enough to send shivers down my spine.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

— Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Specialization is for insects. I choose breadth over depth, and to utilize all my faculties. A robotic existence in which a human being is reduced to a mere machine is stifling for the soul — it’s moral and spiritual decay. The modern man and woman — what fascinating creatures. Bellies full of food, a comfortable home, experts in their field. Yet lacking self-knowledge and lacking in spirit. Estranged from each other, estranged from nature, estranged from their essence. The walking dead.

When I first began blogging on Tumblr in 2010, I’d stumbled upon a quote that touched me deeply. It said the following:

I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we love and want to be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.

For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.

— James Kavanaugh, There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves

I’m one of the searchers. I speak of the solitary men and women sitting on the outskirts of society. Not to be shaped or boxed, they’re the eccentric revolutionaries, the wild dreamers, the restless adventurers. Always searching, always longing for a different horizon. Their hearts beat a rhythm that can’t be uttered.

Taking notice of their suffering is like trying to notice a newborn’s heartbeat. You’d have to plant your ear next to their hearts and concentrate with your whole being so as not to miss a single sound. That’s the cry of their souls — subtle, tranquil, evasive. It takes no outward form and leaves no perceivable traces. Yet it’s powerful enough to penetrate the core of their bones, leaving them feeble and gasping for air.

It’s not enough to describe or verbalize it either, for what’s true and authentic is never named, but only experienced. It’s excruciating, it’s unbearable. And until one experiences it, one can’t grasp it. Empathy and compassion is one thing, but to live it deeply and utterly — that’s another story. Wide awake until the early hours of the morning, only the moon bears witness to their souls — a most loyal companion who lives to tell the tale.

These are individuals of principle and integrity. If they judge rules to be appropriate, they’ll humbly nod and adhere; otherwise, they’ll relinquish them. They’re no marionettes. They are those who dare to stand erect and speak with unswerving conviction even if their hands tremble. They’re free because deep within them is a steady awareness that they alone are responsible for all that they are and all that they become.

They’re the creators and the created. They’re the sole masters of their lives. They have no fear of death, for to fear death is to fear life. They live for something, whatever that something is, which keeps them standing when the ground beneath their feet begins to falter and break apart. In the midst of adversity and defeat, it is that which keeps them moving forward while gritting their teeth and clenching their fists.

They’re the men and women of solitary thought. They live to exercise the faculty of the mind. They seek refuge in their storehouse of knowledge, while being deeply aware of its limitations. They live to learn, to discover, to explore. They’re the skeptics who seek to challenge, to be challenged, to stir, to expose, to subvert. Cold, calculating, ruthless. They walk the streets with impenetrable armours.

But they’re soft. Oh so soft. For the bold who dare to penetrate the minefield around their hearts, beneath the sticks and stones are beds of flowers. Supple and sweet, their hearts are a sea of hopes, dreams, passion, love. These are hearts imbued with innocence and optimism — no, not a child’s naiveté — but an innocence seasoned and enriched by the perils of life. Hearts filled with loving kindness and compassion, and large enough to set the world ablaze.

Their task isn’t to compete with fellow mates. Their task is merely to overcome themselves. To tackle their own inner demons. To free themselves from their chains and from all preconceived notions and identities. To remain firm in the midst of disorder. To sink to the depths of despair, only to rise again, with a passion for life. To rise above and with humanity. To live an authentic life. And above all, to love.

They wish to love deeply, wholeheartedly, and unconditionally. When they dive, they dive deep — to the depths of the sea. They give without want, without expectation. They don’t seek to own, to impede, to cage, for they understand that each individual is an inherently whole and autonomous being. Thus, they grant the other the utmost freedom — the freedom to grow, the freedom to achieve their heart’s greatest hopes and dreams. They wish only to stand in the distance and be a pillar of strength and source of inspiration and protection.

They ask for very little. They ask that they’re not handled roughly or gripped or chained, for they’ll slip away like water. Handle them gently, and they’re yours for the keeping. However, make no mistake — they don’t belong to anyone. Not now, not ever. There’s no mine and thine in love. Love knows no possession. If they love, they love also the moon, the stars, the earth, and all the beings that tread this fine universe. For love, the highest and purest love, does not discriminate.

2 thoughts on “Preface, past

  1. “For wanderers, dreamers, and lovers, for lonely men and women who dare to ask of life everything good and beautiful. It is for those who are too gentle to live among wolves.” A lovely post. Thanks for adding Kavanaugh to my to-read list. 🙂

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