On friends

February 28, 2017

Friends are always good. But never use them to ward off loneliness. As when you do that then all you’re really doing is using them like a crutch to fill up the emptiness deep within you. And when they’ve gone or moved on…you will always be lonely again.

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‘The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely – that is the first paradox of loneliness. The second is, no matter how many people this man may surround himself with – he will still feel lonely.

But the man who dedicates himself to the deep study of learning how to be whole mentally and complete spiritually alone can only be at peace with his own loneliness.

I have discovered this to be third paradox of being alone. As at some point. This man will prefer this reality to the illusion of merely superficial companionship. He will feel so at ease with being alone – that is all he wishes for in this world.

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For many years I could barely fathom what makes some men retreat away from the world into the quiet solace of the wilderness – where they might live all alone in a deserted windswept nowhereville far removed from all other forms of human interaction.

At first I was inclined to believe it may have something to do with despair or an epic fall from grace. Gradually as the years passed. I started to realise how meaningless some things in life actually were. Money only seems to be everything when one has none or very little of it – the irony is when one comes to money, it’s like having a orgasm. After that brief ripple of ecstasy – there’s really nothing else after that.

At some point it becomes very meaningless.

I do however envy those who believe in the idea of a creator. I even know they aren’t faking it – it’s the way their eyes glisten and their voice quivers ever so slightly whenever they speak about everlasting love that leaves one in doubt…it could really only be god that they’re talking about. There have been many times when I have looked up into the myraid of stars and asked – are you there? But nothing. Always nothing.

It’s not as if I didn’t will all of my being to believe. I did. And much more. At times, I even reckoned the act of believing was like running a marathon, where one may begin with laboured breathes only for it to get easier with time only to eventually plane off happily when one crosses that mythical line when pain gives way to runner’s high. But it never came for me.

Never…

From time to time I still ask – are you there? Is anybody there?

But there was always nothing.

That realisation was always followed by the sensation of feeling cold like a frigid carton of milk in the fridge. For some strange reason – I remember always wanting to drink cold milk whenever I was assaulted by the finality of how I stood apart from the rest of the world.

It was as if, I was always on the outside peering in – when I was surrounded by people in the city. That familiar sensation of estrangement was most acute – I remember one time some years back ago when I revisited the city after a prolonged expedition deep in the jungle – everything felt like pins and needles in that dreaded moonscape – the pavements were all so flat I found myself losing my balance; even the air felt as if I was breathing in needles. The texture of the linen sheets had the texture of sheet metal and everything about the city merely served to confirm the terminal state of my alienation from the rest of the world – it’s as if there’s my world and theirs and no matter how hard I tried to fuse these two worlds into one – they simply couldn’t quite mix without separating like oil and water. Soon the chatter of the world would die out and all that remained was the silence of my own world – my reality, which I eventually came to accept as my life.

I guess what I am trying to say in a round about way – was I went into farming because I needed to live without the need of putting on a mask for everyone, including myself. I needed to find myself, might turn out to be someone I didn’t like. But that didn’t matter to me – to journey into the nucleaus of my being was at the very core of this impulse to return back to the land in the way a fish flailing on land would yearn to jump back into water. The core of who I might really be as a man not to other, but myself.

My plan to find that mystical core consisted of three changes of khaki clothing, a pair of sturdy work boots, three changes of underwear (two of which disintegrated leaving me with one which eventually became a cleaning cloth) and the daily litany of rituals.

Labor that tested not only every strand of muscle and sinew – the sort where a man would have to get dirty, walk in rain till he could no longer remember how it felt to be dry any longer. I didn’t particularly have much fondness for the work. But physical work has a charm about it that strangely appeals to me. The sort of repeatitive work resembling litany where one seems to be able to continue doing what one does with roughly the same processing power it took to tie shoe laces especially appealed to my body – day by day without me realising it. I was reclaiming the person who I was really meant to be. A sort of man who didn’t need numbers in the face of watch or even require hard lines to make him feel oriented.

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You could even say somewhere in this endless wheel of grind. I even became aware of a kind of spiritual need to go far enough to leave everything I had ever known in my life, the need to touch the hard edges of who I really am, and begin from there.

By returning to the quiet moments of wonderment when I was a boy holding a crystalline ball of ice lashed with colourful syrup, of pure attention, to become aware of myself and things around thru my own perceptions rather than thru the borrowed perceptions of others.

I was learning to trust a more generous reality, one that even made plenty of allowances for my impatience – one where I was even prepared to accept myself though all I could really see was a jumbled heap of a man in the mirror.’

Excerpt of a log entry from the Suriman Expedition into the jungle.

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