I was replying in my ongoing conversation with my friend, who doesn't see any real evidence for expecting an afterlife, but is as kind and genial a person as you can know!
I think "spirit" is a highly-imaginative (not necessarily non-existent but not empirically documented, though occasionally suggested) way of blending consciousness with the deeper fabric of space, and its pondering is something like a swimmer floating across a great deep that is much too vast in which to stand. I think the inability to cope with someday not existing, however, motivates, on one hand, thoughts of legacy, in the positive, and on the other, self-centered thoughts based in panic. Legacy is very contingent upon the memories of survivors, and by the cosmic clock, that's still a miniscule blink! The marvelous fact (?) of our present existence and the continued renewal of the moment is the source of a remarkable diversity of experience. Should the continued renewal of the moment cease in the future, I won't be disturbed at that point, then, shall I? Consciousness is likely something we only need for our material existence, and so practices may be like depositing money in a bank that doesn't exist. How one seeks to accept their part in that which cannot be created nor destroyed quietly dictates, or reflects, the way of being in this world.
Love, Kindness, Beauty, Creativity, Expansion, Abundance and Receptivity seem infallible conduits for purpose, from whatever source keeps bringing us and all around us here. There is an undeniable wonder to being kind in this lifetime, and I think it stands on its own! After all, the moment is all we will ever truly have. Aleister Crowley made the interesting point that the present itself is already a kind of memory, and memory, the totality of our consciousness.
Some of the other strange synchronicities to which we may perceive patterns and convergences, since they are the stuff of this life, tend to be more my wheelhouse. The constant re-convening of independent events, i.e. for the word I'm reading and the word used on television to occur together in a moment, a very frequent occurrence of the sort that usually happens several times in a given day when I note it at all, is the sort of oddity, the sort of co-incidence, that re-enforces that poetic, noetic sensation of texture in my life, though what that mystery means, for all its comforting peculiarity, is uncertain.
A confluence like the child-like play of the wooden wands
we bought from our friends' children and a gratifying rain of decisive break-throughs, culminating in the wonderful advent of the dolphins, adds to the rich poetry of my life and convictions, which remain cheerily uncaptured by laboratory methods. We generate adaptations that make us feel less a victim of life's random draw of events ---an Angela specialty---or to comfort ourselves into a state more congenial with activities likely to spread delight and build bonds of this lifetime, such as the ataraxia of sensing my father's loving presence while I draw (or converting the decision-making voice to creator Jack Kirby's, so as to feel a sense of guidance and greater creativity). I don't have to have a spiritual basis for enjoying my father's continuous re-appearance in my dreams, always as agreeable company affirming his love even by his casual presence; what matters is that I am not emotionally hobbled by his absence in this world, which still, in practical matters and some emotional ones, naturally asks me to acknowledge a void that is based on appreciation. It is part of that chosen body of Memory which enables the consciousness of the brighter person I create from my being, whose successes do tend to fall into that ineffable realm encountered by those seven faces of intention I mentioned above! Yet, there is a reliable reaction that comes of the love and cheer in others, in which I can participate with the flow of my being and insight of its potentialities that furthers a humanitarian and benevolent heart.
I also crystallized some of my thoughts on the hard but necessary decision to simply stop talking to someone I loved who strongly resents me, which I have tried to understand, benefit from, and move on. If someone's troubled, I wish to help all I can, but in this case, avoiding direct contact seems to be the prerequisite, as I have been marked as an irritant, and so, there's no desire to force the matter when I can see plainly. I responded to her approval into rewarding the negative behavior of someone I thought might share mutual benefit in our continued lifelong friendship with continued outreach, which may well have dissolved into defending my life, which harms no one, while ignoring the dreadful consequences of children growing up around bitterness and self-loathing, which is actually, while incidental, very, very irresponsible, as your example and love matter every bit as much and more as material support. From what I could see, there was never any need to criticize his parenting in either of those aspects, so of course, I never did, and never looked down on their happy family. I wrote, but did not in entirety send, the following: my thoughts on my singular troll, the only one who will ever matter as we were companions in days gone by. What any others will say, it's, as Mom says, "like water off a duck's back," but this was from someone I thought (despite some evidence to the contrary, like vanishing without explanation for years when we lived in the same neighborhood) squarely in my corner...someone whose life, at least, gave me inspiration. If I had my way, it would've never have been different, but alas he thought along the way his own inspiration was some sort of sham and apparently decided I was wrong about myself and him, too. Since he is the one who has so much to gain from seeing the inspiration he is and can be, I'll have to disagree with that!
Agree on the personal matter. When he or they are ready to talk about what bothers them OR encourages them without being so needlessly defensive and critical, I'm open to doing so, but while I miss their unique presence and so will find myself going back to their place at my mental "table", my eyes opened to the fact that, if they are not enjoying being part of my life or have a love/hate relationship with it that I personally cannot afford to have and do not wish to have about them, then I don't actually need them, and found their company and correspondence fairly difficult to enjoy, though, paradoxically, loving them and encouraging them, even if THEY didn't take it to heart, was easy!.
After all, I haven't sought THEM out since I said, "tell you what, I'm going to at least take the year off from contacting you, and if you need me, write or call me"---and if someone can't take the best of you, it's no call to give them your worst. I was often uncomfortable trying to put things a certain way in our conversations, but I thought that challenge was going well enough. Considering the cost-benefit analysis of dealing with someone who despises your style of living, he or she may mean well in advising you to do things differently, but when it comes out as destruction and general disrespect without any specific care given to what details succeed and which may improve, why should they feel forced to participate in your friendship, when you have no desire to inflict your brand of charisma or style against their will? We both would like to be doing other, more affirmative things than fighting one another over a lack of purpose. He couldn't really be such a bad guy; he just needs to keep trying and give himself a break in the meanwhile. If he could've passed a firefighter test or I had realized, I, too, could become something like a diplomat early on, we'd like be good friends, happy with our service to humanity. It DOES seem like he would be less mad at me if I were more successful in the conventional sense, and it may be, to his thinking, all my fault for not trying harder to have commercial success or some greater purpose yet. I could think that way, too, but I know where he got the idea: from judging himself, as he's learned to do.
What if it's not too late for either of us? I tend to believe---I'm convicted---that I will still have years ahead for another career, whenever the time has passed for doing some of what I presently do professionally. My interests are like those of a diplomat, my way of learning, in line with these things, much like my former interest in the Peace Corp, itself still a possibility! At first I didn't want the government looking over my shoulder all the time in the Peace Corp, but I really have nothing to hide that they should care about, and maybe the bit of fear in the advice I heard need no longer apply? But I did not go that way; I tried to do what I could do if I had every choice. I still have the choice, I believe, it has not evaporated; the opportunity to succeed in many directions still seems possible, and we will continue to grow. With this perspective, you never know what combination of experiences will work best, or even if your most honorable choice will really lead to success. People are neither always idealistic nor meant to be controlled; the law, I guess, is the place where poetry meets practicality, but then, not every law suits that ideal, either!
All I wanted, in the days we were close friends, was to make people think, think for myself, and make people laugh, make my friends laugh. I had no idea how I'd do it...I guess I just thought ONE day I'd be a comedy writer, however you got that job...even though I wrote and forgot about so many stand-up routines along the way, and that's really where that job tends to begin. Submitting books to publishers, advertising our songs and shirts and comics and shows, promoting shows...that's where any "next level" of "success" will be. What has to happen then is simply a continuation of something I can presently appreciate almost always one person at a time. I hope it will still matter to me, what I can bring an individual; after all, I am only one person, myself. My partner and I contain a world of bright ideas, and who knows with what you are ready to experiment next? (Could always be our private stuckwayze jokes will be our big game changing contribution to humanity!) When the feeling to do it is most intense, the experience is satisfying of its own merits---but the reason the dream resonates with well-wishers is the possibility that in one task, we might contain multitudes...and his or her individual well-wish can live on, which is a great blessing for any gift.
In the meantime: who and what am I meant to carry with me, and who will my path share with the world? What I do has already taken along so many interesting people and things, and not only what can be had, but what can be SHARED, and what that bit of uplift given each individual time matters, completes the picture, and explains my happiness quite beyond a desire for greater status.
What if my job is to inspire and intrigue the teacher, the soldier, the business owner, the fireman, the diplomat? If I am attuning myself to inspiration, and taking whatever I get with gratitude and sharing it with developing abilities, is that not already a part of purposefulness itself? If one person or one million takes that inspiration, does not each one of them, each uplifting moment along my path, count? How does one build a consensus of a nation if they cannot champion the encouragement of a single individual?
That sense of purpose is one thing I can encourage but can't really convey, except directly upon myself, and hopefully by some inspiration to others. I know it's strange to think about resurrecting one's language skills to go into diplomacy on a day when diplomats died in Benghazi, but what if the good of their sacrifice was to highlight the importance of their work? What if it's not all just lies and heartless manipulation, but a genuine effort to lead humankind to maturity? I mean, I tried to subscribe to much of my friend's pessimism without realizing the price of seeing the world that way, and I'm sorry I couldn't change that for him, only for myself. When will I know I have run my course with what I now do, and will I ever be the foreign teacher, or just WHAT, anyway, is the way to do something intended to be heroic, if I cannot find it in my choices, today?
It's likely any attempt at friendship could be taken as instructions, more smug patronization, and therein lies the gap: the self-esteem it takes to be me, to be patient with the need to develop things further, seems impossible, to him, without arrogance, when in fact it demands humility, as I am in the meantime afforded no status nor guarantee of comfort in old age (which may never come!). I do believe he and I both feel I could achieve more impressive things, somehow, and I hope he finds nobility in what he's trying to do, and will try to still do noble things that suit his noble heart.
I love what the product of that confidence gives to people, and clear the channels to perpetuate it. If that is insufferable to him, that is his problem, and at present, I'm being as honest as possible with myself so that it is not MY problem. I don't feel the pressures he does to live up to who-knows-who's expectations; I am learning not to be crippled, as it is, by my own, as they require patience and generosity towards myself as the servant, and so, my witness self must be kind and wise.
Meanwhile, he "humbly" punishes himself with feelings of futility and unworthiness, which enforce more of the same---and for what? To please whom? Where does right and wrong originate in his convictions, and what lies beyond a warring of these dualities? Why does anyone else's opinion of what is right over ride his own attunement's value? I am simply choosing not to be cruel to myself. He has so many pages and thoughts from me, that if he cannot resist being cruel to me and attempting to fill me with doubt as opposed to discernment (and I am wary of demonizing him), then he already has more of the best of me than most people, and if he cannot shine down on me with a general vibe of appreciation, I cannot afford the cloud of his disdain. I never directed the hatred and judgmental words towards him he has towards me---I never felt he deserved them; while I may have been unaware of how his slackness and alcoholism---his choices, as I have made mine---tormented him, I always assured him he, too, could enjoy being creative and kind, for the task's sake, not for society's acclaim. But I have said all these things to him, and if they did not matter then, it's up to him to decide if they matter now; I do not need to be right in victory over him, I need only continue the discovery of what is right for me. I do not need to take abuse from him when he already has so much from my life, and if HE doesn't appreciate it, I at least do, and in the meantime, I'll give what I can give to anyone who comes along and not direct it solely at him, though he is welcome to discover it at his own choice without any pressure to respond.
I think it is my shameless pursuit of my mixed vocation, without abesiance and with defiant desire to make it work so well as to open a healthy income for my constant, supportive partner and I, which he finds galling, but I will play by "their" rules only as they are necessary, and not complain about the limitations that arise, admittedly, in mobility. The time is better spent on generating work that is worthy of patronage and perusal, and I will not destroy my well-being nor the happiness of my partner nor the outreach of inspiration and humor to my friends for the egotistical luxury of being too hard on myself to continue developing. He has given me by his example the ultimate control subject on this approach and underscored its wrongness for me. If he criticizes the income he is not sure he sees in my efforts, it is hypocritical then to spend the money on a bottle and let me send him for free material I created to sell---because why would I take to heart the criticism of a person who won't invest in me? If you criticize, do it thoughtfully and with measurement; it is a good gift. If you have attempted to do so, you can't worry about how that is received and shouldn't take the reaction personally one way or the other.
He seems to think I will only get it right if I am punished for my willfulness, when my partner has devoted her life to generating that willfulness, and enjoys my company to the fullest in that I have great freedom and wish to use it both responsibly and receptively.
He may find my way of life selfish, but if he were not so selfish, he could've always used his own communicative abilities to give back in turn, and stop making excuses for their poverty, which exists in his perceptions of them, not mine, and so has generated scarcity, which has left him bitter. But there is always hope, while there's life! I do not need to serve others in the ways others do, nor is it possible for me to squeeze in being a teacher, fireman, cop and brain surgeon credibly all at one go, but I do take light and admiration in the many ways I see people serve one another and wish to give them strength for the difficulties in their sacrifice...maybe even with some intriguing reading or good music or a nice picture, and maybe in some other way entirely!
I simply do not want him, nor anyone, and not you, dear reader, to destroy whatever gifts lay within his nature with the savagery of impatience, which robs a creator of the process in favor of the outcome, and were he to engage as a creator, he would find that just can't be; mastery of your process can lead you to reliable freelance work, and of course, from writing to music to drawing, I have differing degrees of mastery, to be sure. You can set out in a given discipline to assemble a thesis or dissertation, and one day that may be desirable to me, as many studies can yield benevolent results for society; in this, work, with an adviser's aide, becomes.oriented towards a result. Additionally, such work will also be eligible for grants, and if the student loan system were not so treacherously addled, I might already be doing this...but then, what of the desire to perform, and make music? With no children in the mix as yet, there's no nobility in sacrificing any of my dream, and I have seen the joy a well-done job can bring to people, and in it, find purpose...not to mention the fun of developing it alongside the Marc Kane.
Technical writing, marketing, and many other writing endeavors also lend themselves towards a specific end, and can become sources of increasing income, even balanced with tutoring, creative endeavors, coupled with the vast sprawl of my interests. Freelancers.com is an example of such a resource online---now all I have to do is make more time for it! I look forward to digging back into the Writer's Market again---it's painfully low pay while your building your reputation, but if you're also creating what you want meanwhile and not starving or stealing, the process does not require more patience than living with a horrible physical disorder!
So yes, you DO want to publish, unless you have the luxury of keeping it all like Emily Dickinson, or you do want to structure your work into a creditable body, though the number of Masters and Doctorates that do not generate the individual's actual employment are considerable, and any pretension generated from ownership of the achievement could be a hindrance in a less graceful individual.
If what you make can reach a broader audience, however, it can be even more influential, and you remain free to explore more disparate influences, really take a journey that requires support and patience. It is the very fact that society often fails to value that journey beyond lip service where he and I part ways, but I will either take the support with gratitude and an eye towards passing something of value along, or defy and generally ignore my nay-sayers.
And what if we are called to do yet more? WE may always fail! We may seek to be writers, be teachers, be rescuers, be diplomats, be preachers, even be singers, but we must seek to be our best at whatever we do in its due course, to where if it DID reach the world, it would be a fine thing. We will always run the risk of failure. Only our hearts cannot falter, and it is so that life will conspire before the eyes to both demolish us quickly or raise us stone by stone. We have to maintain the capacity to believe we can make any of it work, to even try at all, much less, to do!
We have to see what is at hand through to its deepest possible aesthetic success. That is what makes us then the person who can rise to some new challenge.
I encourage you to do the same! Doesn't have to be writing...just express yourself...give away what you feel moved to give...give in to the movement, as the creators and lovers of Man you've admired have done, and if you've given your best, don't worry about the result...the best will come of it!