“Stopping the Noise” in Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living (Sounds True. October 31, 2017), Mark Nepo:
“Often we’re cast about by the noise of the world and the noise in our heads. Often we’re mesmerized by the stunning cacophony that masks itself as excitement. And though there’s much to be gained for being in the world, we can’t make sense of it till we stop the noise, till we go below the noise, till we go below the habit of our own thoughts. But it’s impossible to be still and quiet all the time. As a whale or dolphin must break surface, only to dive back down, only to break surface again, each of us must break surface into the noise of the world, only to rest our way back into the depth of stillness, where we can know ourselves and life more deeply, until we have to break surface again. No one is ever done with this crossover between noise and stillness. Not even those committed to a contemplative life. Not even those who are blind or mute. For the noise of the mind never dies. It can only be put in perspective, quieted until we can hear the more ancient voices that give us life. At every turn, we need to stop the noise, our own and everyone else’s, not to retreat from the world but to live more fully in it.”
Durante degli Alighieri (commonly known as just Dante) was an Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. Famous for writing The Divine Comedy.
One of my favorite verses was the last verse of Inferno 34, which he wrote:
"e quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle"
(translated into “and thence we came forth to see again the stars”)
Others have also translated it to: "we emerged to see—once more—the stars"
Tim Ferris: "It's not what you know, it's what you do consistently."
Instead of looking at others, telling yourself your usual story about who people are, visualize every person you see as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the very embodiment of compassion. Deeply doing this, there’s no way you can feel negative toward them. It’s impossible. Instead of misery, they give you blissful energy.
Photo from here
We must be willing to challenge the stories we have told ourselves and the stories others have told us, as these stories impact the ways we see ourselves and others. That willingness takes effort, just as it takes effort to be willing to examine and communicate the parts of a relationship that have been, and continue to be, nourishing. With these efforts, we stretch. Our stories can become more flexible, and each moment with ourselves and with others can offer a fresh opportunity to see aspects of our experiences that we may not otherwise notice.
Stretching our fixation to our stories is an act of love we can give ourselves each day, whether or not we consider it in the context of romantic relationships, or even close friendships. It is real love for ourselves to be able to notice a judgmental thought we’re having about ourselves. We don’t deny it’s there or try to convince ourselves of the opposite; but we watch its power decrease as we make the choice to see it as a story.
Full article here
She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.
- Shel Silverstein
Here's a snippet of DFW's hauntingly beautiful Kenyon Commencement Address in 2005. Click here for full transcript. I strongly recommend it. Life changing stuff.
Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.
Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race"-the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
"We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as [humans] is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks [we] take a long time to accomplish, that’s all."
"Of whom and of what indeed can I say: “I know that!” This heart within me I can feel, and I judge that it exists. This world I can touch, and I likewise judge that it exists. There ends all my knowledge, and the rest is construction. For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers.
I can sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up. This very heart which is mine will forever remain indefinable to me. Between the certainty I have of my existence and the content I try to give to that assurance, the gap will never be filled. Forever I shall be a stranger to myself. In psychology as in logic, there are truths but no truth."
You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous, because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in– It’s actually kind of tragic because it means you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.
If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything.