I find myself again at the water’s edge, for the muse flows through my soul tonight like sand through an hourglass. The calm, moon-chilled air gently draws at my face, pulling me inward to greater depths, to a place more real than the day behind me. My soul, like all awake souls, was born to seek the place where still waters run deepest; here I can reflect as clear and true as these Monet-like clouds.
I will sleep well tonight having delivered myself here to discourse with my soul before bed. For me, writing is a conversation with my innermost-self and, appropriating the words of Maya Angelou, writing allows me to, hear the voice of G-d in the quietude of my soul.
Like Macklemore’s, my art is my religion: the conduit through which I feel and express. Before I knew what it was to be an artist, I used writing to define myself. I still do today – only now my powers of clarity and expression are far greater. One of the best decisions I ever made was starting this blog, a word I loathe, as I do all twentieth-century words.
Nonetheless, five years writing underground – and personal blogging is just that – has acquainted me intimately with myself. It’s also allowed me to evolve consciously: rather than simply becoming a product of my life, I’ve become a product of my thinking.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take work for me to be a good man; being a good boy came natural for me, being a good man is a different animal, a man is a different animal: his path beset by more visceral temptations, more tempting vices. There are no children in AA meetings. Being a man requires self-discipline, self-control, self-knowledge, and self-honesty. As a man I know what can cure me and what can kill me, but less than that, and more importantly, I know what has the power to impede my advancement toward my goals.
Seven years ago, two years before I ever walked into that Seattle bookshop and purchased Meditations, thus marking the genesis of my Stoicism, I had my heart broken wide-open and in the aftermath found myself thinking: I just want to be a good man.” In response to this yearning – an inclination no doubt fueled by my insecurity about what kind of man I would be without my first love – I wrote a creed to define myself and to ensure I was not lost to the world, swallowed up like Jonah.
The creed I penned at twenty-three follows:
Be confident and unselfconscious. Be sincere and kind. Be modest. Be compassionate. Be effortless and relaxed. Be consistent in public and private. Be mature. Be passionate. Be brave. Be all the things that are so much rarer.
Earn it by living well. Feed your mind, body, and spirit. Keep your commitments. Look ahead and cultivate relationships. Have good taste and do interesting things. Have ‘generosity of spirit.’
Have a good time and don’t bother with people you don’t think well of. Treat people with respect and don’t take shit from anybody.
Those were the things I felt needed to be at twenty-three, and I’ve done well by some – others I fell short of; suffice to say, there stands room for improvement – not only in my fidelity to the words but in the words themselves.
Tonight, I am rewriting my history and my future; at six weeks past thirty, I’m ready to redefine what I stand for. Here we go Lawrence:
My Creed, revised
Listen to the teachings of your soul. Feed the mind, care for the body, and nurture the spirit. Have inner peace.
Live a life that animates you. Daily commit and give all to your craft. Be successful in the pursuit of your goals. And above all, believe in your own sense of destiny.
Thus shall begin my mornings and end my nights. As an aside, prior to this, upon waking and before sleep, I have an existing habit of reciting the things I am grateful for (After dream recall and journaling). This is something I implore you to do. It’s a conscious act of choosing to focus on the good and learning to see it.
I am not sure how much is due to the aforementioned practice, but I have the rarest kind of happiness today: internal happiness; that beautiful habit, which gives the wise man an unwavering sense of inner peace and calm. I am blessed.
I do not fear grey hairs or wrinkles; I only fear falling short of my dreams. It’s been said that expectations are resentment waiting to happen, but I don’t subscribe to that kind of dogma. I will my own expectations into being. I expect my dreams to happen. If it’s possible I can do it. That’s why we have dreams. Desire of the heart is G-d’s promise to you that it’s already yours. My past is only a shadow of what’s to come.
This must be. For, my past has been great, a great cloud over me. That young heartbreak, which I alluded to, like Gatsby’s, and Fitzgerald’s own, crippled me and I never quite recovered from it. I don’t know what to say after this confession. Only that, as Jung stated, “Until we make the unconscious conscious it will direct our life and we will call it fate.”
Back then I knew a different kind of happiness, bound to external conditions that would prove themselves beyond my control. But the sun did shine, as it does on a first love; however, like Gatsby, I believed you could recreate the past, and I did – for a time. Then I unfairly tried to create it again with another woman, willingly chosing self-deception over a reality I wasn’t ready for; offering myself as a martyr to a fate I could not design. Today I can no longer afford to lie to myself; I can no longer live with ghosts I loved too much to exercise.
There comes a time when our bloody grip on the strangling ties that bind to the past must be released, and in doing so we begin to take hold of ourselves.
I tried to be Jay Gatsby as Jay Gatz did; we all know how the past ends. We can either move on or ahead from it;; we can either beat on borne back ceaselessly into it or we can beat on with it, at peace with our past, towards a green light of our own kindling.
p.s. To become one’s self rather than one’s past, you must know why you have done what you have done, otherwise you’ll go on committing the same mistakes forever – and so, the journey continues…