This is an entry from my journal.
Local time is 05:40. It is still night outside. The sun will take another two hours to reach my hut. I just got home from a walk. These are the coldest moments of the day, as we are far withdrawn from the last sunlight. The quarter moon is high in the sky, accompanied by stars, forming the familiar sacred symbol. People have been marvelling at these phenomena for millennia. They were there before I walked this earth and will continue to be there after I die.
In our subjective experience, everything revolves around us. Not because we necessarily have an obsession with our self. It is how events register in relation to the constant of a sensing being. When trees grow to point towards the sun, they do it relative to their position. When predators chase their prey, they do it out of their own hunger, not some global metric. I do not have the conscience to co-feel the lived experience of greater systems, such as the earth or the galaxy at-large, though I expect every form of life in this cosmic continuum to exhibit subjectivity relative to other factors in the given case.
Walking in nature rewilds me. Not in the sense of making me more wolf-like. I remain as peaceful as ever. It rather brings me closer to the essentials of the human condition. I have overcome the need to pursue goals of other people. This past weekend, for example, there were lots of folk in the nearby villages, yet none ventured outdoors. All they do is gather at closed spaces where they continue to compete with each other over appearances. Will they achieve anything in the end? No. Will I? No. The difference is that I am not participating in this competition, do not feel compelled to act accordingly, and feel no angst whatsoever about my presence.
I am here the same way the grass is and will wither away when my seasons change. Differences are of degree, not substance. I do not feel sorry for not competing with others. This is who I am. I no longer have a need to apologise to people for not behaving like them or, anyhow, for not having the motivation to fit in with their group. If I ever fit in with someone, it will be a fellow traveller. I have accepted my nature and am at peace with myself.
When I go for a walk, I am not heading anywhere in particular. Much like my life, I experience spontaneity within the overarching constraints of my existence. I want to remain healthy, for example, and so make choices towards that goal. Why do I want this end though? Because I am intrinsically active and heed the inner call to find outlets for my exuberance. Sure, it feels like a choice and I cannot live it otherwise, though I still reason that the choosing subject is a function of factors beyond and prior to it, much like this exuberance of mine that I never opted for.
If there is a kernel of volition, it is made manifest in the fact that I set general rules which start out as directives until they are ultimately embedded in my modus operandi as inextricable from my core being. When I decided to quit so-called “soft drinks” two decades ago, I did not do so with the express objective of achieving something quantifiable. For example, I did not foresee that I would have the stamina to hike for hours without even taking water with me. This is an antecedent realisation and acquired taste that has come about organically. It is built on those past hard decisions and concomitant patterns of behaviour, which themselves were limited in scope to a generic pursuit of an immediate end: to quit as a good in itself or, perhaps, to quit in order to prove to myself the capacity of quitting and of remaining abstinent from that habit.
Volition may then be this fountain of sponteneity which is itself framed by magnitudes it cannot affect. What one does is not what others do. Each is a unique configuration of factors in states of affairs that evolve and thus in cases that keep getting reconstituted. My tranquillity is not that of another. It is bespoke.
Inner peace is not a goal in itself. I did not set out to achieve it, just how I do not plot out the course of my hikes. I am equanimous as a result of alleviating myself from external pressures to perform, from the heteronomy of fitting in. Like being “successful”, for example. If we go by the social standard, I am not a successful man. No fancy pedigree, no illustrious career, no material markers of superficial happiness. Yet I am living in ataraxia.
Someone once remarked something along the lines of “how can this genius not be at the finest universities?”, expecting me to do something about it, I guess. I felt bad at the time. Why wasn’t I satisfying the social expectations? Was I a big failure of a man? I had not yet accepted myself back then. It would take a few more years to overcome those inhibitions of self-denial, of listening more to others than to the muses. Though I knew that in my subjective world, I am just me, not “this genius”. I have no notion of what geniuses do, nor do I care to find out. All I can do is pursue what my condition renders possible.
Suppose I went down that path of being lauded as a genius in public. I would have been miserable. My spontaneity would have been sacrificed to the altars of cultural rigidity. Instead of going on open-ended walks, I would be speeding down a one-way street, without the freedom to explore my surroundings, to pause and take stock of the details, of the shrubs and the lizards. None of this matters in a society that has moved away from the natural rhythms. Whereas I am at peace when I stand at the edge of a mountain, drawing inspiration from the open vistas.
I cannot tell the average modern person how to accept their self, because they think in terms of business transactions and material possessions. One may not buy or own tranquillity. There is no special clothing that will give it to you. No land or institution that will miraculously relieve you from your disturbance. It springs from within as the product of concerted efforts at aligning the mind with the body and the environment. Those who spend their life performing the role of another, be it genius or whatnot, are compelled by cultural norms to never contemplate the little things. They tend to one or but a few facets of their being, be it intellectual or carnal, though are lacking harmony. Like days without a night, their intensity is not balanced out by calmness.
I am no more special than these grapevines. What would I do if I knew this was my last day alive? The same as every day: be spontaneous in how I interpret and apply my rules, with no regret for being who I am, with no fear of growing and changing, so long as I remain open to the cosmos. As the light fills this valley, I continue with my daily activities, not expecting anything in return. There is no enlightenment for, no salvation, no bargaining with fate. If there is another present, it is for that presence in its prevailing conditions and with its subjectivity to cope with the phenomena. Why should I assume that my being has the clarity to decide for another presence? Everything I do here amounts to nothing I can definitively prove as purposeful, while every lofty telos we fathom is trivial as it revolves around the preservation of something familiar. If there is a grand purpose and design to be drawn, it is for an exalted being to specify.