December 26, 2008

murky depths

do you kind of admire that guy whose phone is off the hook? or secretly respect those who open a full inbox every day? when you hear an sms beep, do you check if its yours, feel a hint of disappointment when its not?

‘in proportion as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post office. you may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself this long while.’

I guess the logic is that in order to feel less alone we should be more together. hence frantic friendships, pointless phone calls and rushed liaisons! maybe you won’t feel alone if you have enough people around you. er what do you call ten lonely people in a small room? lonely.

nevertheless we chatter on; the latest opinion read online, the scandals from last night. ‘when our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation degenerates into mere gossip. we rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbour. the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper, or been out to tea, and we have not.’

hi how was your christmas, how are you? yes I know the sun is glittering on the water, cheerful ripples and a few excited waves. but whats going on down there in the murky depths, any idea?

I was offered a new job the other day, the surprise completely threw me. I anxiously solicited advice from all respected sources and the best advisors tried to find out what was in my heart – a difficult task since I myself didn’t have a clue. I signed the year contract and resolved to get back in touch with jess.

before you tut and shake your head, how good are you at being alone?! when was the last time you switched off your phone (god forbid!) and took time to remember why you like yourself? ‘what is going on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love.’.

optional methods to investigate your inner mystery:
1. exposure to different environments, travel (michael)
2. conscious introspection (of the finding yourself hippie variety)
3. inner exploration with grace and faith (st. augustine)
4. other people’s opinions (karen) [corrected: maybe not a method]
5. extreme situations e.g. eat your friend or starve (yiwo)
6. behaviour, actions, reactions (mwai, gus) ‘you shall know them by their fruits’
7. commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still (david)
8. watch what you say (luke) ‘out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks'
9. reflection amongst friends (georgia)

the chattering folk flap like fish out of water, they are not comfortable with themselves, and they are definitely not restful to be around. when our life ceases to be inward and private…, ‘when we do not protect with great care our own inner mystery, we will never be able to form community. It is this inner mystery that attracts us to each other and allows us to establish friendship and develop lasting relationships of love.’, ‘It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. the more solitary I am, the more affection I have for them.’

‘a man or woman who has developed this solitude of heart is no longer pulled apart by the most divergent stimuli of the surrounding world but is able to perceive and understand this world for a quiet inner centre.’ ‘centeredness is what makes people seem powerful, and its absence is what makes people perceive themselves and be perceived by others as ineffective and even impotent… centeredness is the source of authentic faith, belief and realistic self-confidence.’

‘I want to beg you as much as I can…. to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves… do not now seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. and the point is to love everything. live the questions now. perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer…’

Henry Thoreau - Walden and Other Writings 1932
Rainer Maria Rilke - Letters to a young poet 1954
Henri Nouwen - Reaching Out 1966
Thomas Merton - Diary 1950
Peter Koestenbaum - The Heart of Business
David, Luke - The bible


  1. I have to object to your characterization of our conversings -- "other people's opinions" was not really what I meant as a source of wisdom about oneself. I was just remarking that I to myself seem very different than I seem the world -- and I don't know which perspective is closer to the truth. What I mean is probably not what I actually say, what I say is not what you hear -- despite being myself, and theoretically an authority on myself, I don't know what I look like when I walk, what my laughs sounds like, if I have a bad habits of facial expressions, if I'm rude or too blunt. If you've ever had the experience of watching yourself on video, you know what I mean -- that mortifying sense of how you are on the video versus, the surprise is-that-really-me?, versus how you imagined. So I really didn't mean that other people's opinions are useful in finding one's inner depths, I suspect they actually not of very little use -- I don't actually have good ideas about how to discover oneself. I was more responding to a pre-requisite query of what one's personality, or soul, is, and where it is most revealed -- in my thoughts and dreams, or my everyday speech, habits, actions. Does Yiwonda know me better than I know myself? I think it is not ridiculous to think perhaps so -- at least Yiwonda has a knowledge of me that I don't have of myself. Is that knowledge important, relevant, something I should know that would help me understand who I am?

  2. nice jess...very true! easy to see it in myself after being in such a rushed culture and rushing around like a chicken with it's head cut off myself, and then coming here to polynesia where things happen at an island pace...must say i prefer the island pace :) hope you're well...want to hear more about this new job.

  3. yes yes yes!murky depths - the inner bubbling of confusion at the variances of paces can be so disruptive to our peace of mind but we must bear in mind that people are 'clocked' differently. each person's inner ticking can be eased or destroyed by modern lifestyles. each person can be happily alone or unhappily surrounded..and is it the inner ... Read moreticking or the outward ticking they're listening to?? we each know ourselves, the difference is whether we are honest enough to question the different chattering we have going on in our lives. are we so comfortable with 'me' that blessed silence is golden or are we so discomforted with who we are, that constant busyness is the apparent filler? there's no one to answer that but oneself, i'm afraid.

  4. Karen does raise some powerful questions. The people around us are mirrors but as much as mirrors reflect a reality better than a picture as a mirror is dynamic and in real time, it is still a flat 3 dimensional representation lacking life, lackin depth of knowledge.

    The me that others see, is it the real me or the me they want me to be or the me that is a projection of their own fears and dreams ie themselves?

    Suffice it to say tht we re a generation tht is very noisy. Radios, MP3 players, TVs, safety in crowds and mostly scared of solitude. To hear our own thoughts? They say you think a lot and you will lose it. But reflection has a place in the movement of the stars. Before there are two there is one. Before community, there must be solitude.

    Not uncomfortable solitude, not hated solitude. Solitude is not loneliness. Loneliness is when being singular makes u feel incomplete, disjointed, adrift, afraid.

    Solitude is when u celebrate the divine that you are, solitude is when being you is sexy. Solitude is when u know "i m a big darn deal"

  5. Men are only free when they are doing what their deepest self likes... it takes some diving.
    - D.H. Lawrence


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