The Big Gala Fucking Picture Show

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In times of fear, suffering and strife, many people embrace anew the theistic traditions with which they were involuntarily burdened in their youths. Others artificially inflate a sense of rugged individualism in order to view themselves as potential saviors of humanity according to their own value systems. A third class of individuals opts for a sort of infantilism in which they assume the fetal position and wallow beneath a comforter of gregarious self-pity. Finally, there exists an anonymous contingent of humanity that to all appearances remains entirely unfazed by the shifting winds of fortune, failure and fright. We often describe them as existing on the outskirts of the human drama, but in truth they are naturally interactive movements of the larger energy field whose un-self-conscious actions serve to stabilize the universal web of consciousness by balancing the force of stifling egoistic hypochondria with the graceful and potent silence of ambitionless inter-being.

All suffering and emotional confusion is a result of imbalance. The reason so many of us continue to struggle in increasing frustration with the quality of our experience is because we’ve placed such unjustified importance on this notion of “quality”. We’ve also sanctified the illusion of individual significance to such a degree that we actually believe we are all self-motivated and self-contained islands of consciousness bearing exclusive responsibility for the quality of our own realities. In other words, the side of the scale containing the ideas of I, Me and Mine cannot dip any lower because the unquestionably concrete sense of self we’ve nurtured over the millennia has pushed it straight to the ground while our rapidly fading understanding of the interdependent cosmic dance has all but disappeared.

I say “all but disappeared” because there are many vague messages arising from our technological Tower of Babel declaring that a tried and true method for alleviating suffering is to “let go” or adopt a meditative mindset. Admittedly, I have dispatched such specifity-lacking instruction countless times right here on this page, after which I briefly fooled myself into believing I’d provided some real inspirational wisdom to those who might read my perfectly useless esoterica.

An increasing realization of my own hypocrisy inspired me to earmark the month of February for a break from online interaction and essays rife with the same self-importance they purport to critique. Despite the self-consciousness implicit in my original motivation for the brief hiatus, I now realize that a significant change in perspective is taking shape because my habitual center-of-the-Universe vantage point is far weaker than I’d imagined. What I’m getting at here is a growing conviction that every form of mental noise is an obscuration — including those noises that I favor. The briefest moment of relief from such noise creates a critically important gap and it is within this gap that one can reclaim his or her inherent understanding of the unifying principle of interconnection.

Still too vague?  I will try to illustrate with specifics.  Imagine that you are having a cup of tea on a Sunday morning. The house is quiet and still. You feel peaceful and content. Suddenly, you get a text from your friend canceling the plans you’d made to take an afternoon hike in the mountains — the anticipation of which had been a contributing factor to your sense of well-being. In a split second, the atmosphere takes on a different and more desolate feel. An errant cloud passes over the sun and your seat on the balcony is thrown into cool shade. You were alone a minute ago but now you feel somehow more so — you’ve gone from alone to unbearably lonely. This is because a minute ago, you were already hiking down a forest path with your friend for all emotional intents and purposes – you had convinced yourself that because this activity had been planned in advance, the only possibility was that it would come to fruition. Buzz!! Just like that, you are brutally wrenched from your pleasant anticipatory stroll and thrust back into your lonesome, cloud-covered seat, somehow more isolated than before as if there could be varying degrees of solitude.

What really happened in that hypothetical scenario? What happened is that your physical chemistry was altered by your expectations. The anticipation of a planned activity caused certain chemicals to flood the brain’s reward centers resulting in a sense of well-being. Then a signal alerted you to a brief text communication that seemingly altered the future, although such an alteration of an intellectual abstraction is by definition impossible.  Your expectation of the future changed and that alone is what instigated the sudden and dramatic emotional shift.

Everything I’ve discussed thus far is uniquely human and therein lies the other major contributing factor to our self-imposed misery.  Here’s some more unsolicited advice for those who may be prone to taking unsolicited advice from dubious bloggers: in speech and in thought, stop dividing the fauna of the world into people AND animals. People are animals.  This is critical to remember.  Our distaste for this curiously humbling truth may imbue us with a certain sense of pride but it also alienates us from our natural habitat. This alienation fuels the entire gamut of human neurosis. We have in the truest sense forgotten what we are, so is it any surprise that we still can’t figure out how to live in peace with our environment and each other?

We’ve replaced the natural interactive movements of co-operative experience with the artificial choreography of competitive society.  In this society, nothing is untouched by imagined self-importance. Competition is not confined to business, warfare and sports but infects all of our interpersonal relationships — even those we so reverently celebrate like family and romance and friendship. Hence, there is not a single one of us who has ever had an experience of untainted existence.  Beyond the first few months of infancy, no one experiences the only thing that can be considered our birthright because we have told ourselves endless stories that cause us to fear our natural state of being. None of us are happy because we fear the very mindset that would enable true happiness. We are afraid that if we release our iron grasp on the moment to moment unfolding of our lives, we will simply disappear.

On the morning of March 1, I gave myself a look in the bathroom mirror. I had not, in fact, disappeared. But there was a subtle involuntary smile on my face and I wasn’t besieged by my usual nervous twitchiness.  I chalk this up to the fact that I’d just spent four weeks engaged in an unwitting crash course in discovering “my” authentic self by acknowledging and assessing the value of everything except my precious sense of self. After all, without the self-righteousness that invariably accompanies an I-centric approach to experience, there is nothing left but to observe with detached curiosity. It’s like watching the frenetic machinations of a curious species through the eyes of an alien visitor, though the alien visitor isn’t trying to ascertain whether what he’s seeing might be a source of personal harm or gain. Regardless, this alien is fully engaged with and fulfills its purpose to the interconnected Universe because it can do so without resorting to self-aggrandizing philosophy. In other words, he’s just like every animal on Earth except one.

I gained a better understanding of my dog and the incredible creature that he is because I dropped the condescension of a master leading his pet. We are just two simpatico life forms that happen to live under the same roof. And on those frequent occasions when it seems like his enthusiasm for living dwarfs my own, he displays superior wisdom. I often trudge heavily through my days, but Jesse just rolls with what may come because he instinctively knows that a dance is best enjoyed in fearless spontaneity. Neither of us is superior to the other because the Universe needs both of us in order to function. And it needs you. And it needs every mosquito, manatee and marmoset that flies, swims or walks the earth. And, yes, it needs Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and Kourtney Kardashian. Treating the punch line-in-chief as some type of unspeakable embodiment of evil by truncating his typewritten name to T***p simply reinforces my fear of such people and feeds into their illusions of power. It also contradicts my image-conscious public embrace of universal equanimity. So I will henceforth cease and desist with that silly and self-congratulatory Voldemortization of a name and simply refer to him by his agreed-upon moniker: Donald Trump.  Interestingly, I just found it important enough to make that decree at the same time that I find myself suddenly disinterested in discussing such topics altogether.  I suppose that’s the only scenario in which I could honestly make such a decree but now I wonder what delusional notion inspired me to make even that decree.  I decree no more decrees!

Writing is a natural activity upon which I’ve sometimes brought to bear an unnatural self-absorption. Therefore, fiction will be my venue for the foreseeable future. Erecting worlds that exist only in the imagination is a form of full-immersion meditation if the author is able to forget himself. So I hope that you will forget all about me and enjoy the stories that materialize here with detached interest. And when you’re done, I hope you will understand that these stories of imaginary people are just as real as your “concrete” reality insofar as it is all simply the phenomenal display of Mind.

Life is wonderful precisely because no single aspect of it matters in isolation from every other aspect. If we can muster enough humility to remove value judgments from our view, life becomes one big gala fucking picture show.  Before the house lights come back on, we’ll have laughed and cried and gasped and grieved, but when the projector stops spinning, we’ll all remember it was just a story.  Bring the popcorn and I’ll see you there.  (But don’t hesitate to cancel if something more interesting comes up.)

20 thoughts on “The Big Gala Fucking Picture Show

  1. it’s difficult to impart wisdom each person has to learn and discover on their own . If you went back in time and gave yourself advice as a teenager what do you listen?
    I certainly wouldn’t
    A while back ago I read Thomas Aquinas I think he was the one that defined the universe which circumference is nowhere and the center was everywhere and he said that each of us should be regarded as the center of the universe and that we have the power that’s that’s associated with that.
    That’s true even more so in an age of unimaginable technological advancement . And we can think of is interconnectedness as a technological indra’s net
    Each person nowadays roughly knows a thousand people then they know a thousand people so you’re separated by one person from a million and two people for a billion .
    this mean that the choices you make are amplified far faster than they ever have been and with much more impact.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant return, Paul. I believe I was expecting some sort of journey post from your self-imposed digital exile. I love the way you presented this to us. I know you were missed, and it is with great joy that this graced the inbox on my reader.

    Onward and upward, Paul…onward and upward.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Self-importance, self-righteousness, and narcissism are everywhere we turn, in both politics and reality shows, which have become pretty interchangeable. So, what qualities do you need to possess to earn the unenviable diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or what is similar between D. Trump and K. Kardashian?):

    -preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, and/or ideal love
    -believe they are unique and God-given
    -need excessive admiration
    -lack empathy: are reluctant to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
    -are more often than not envious of others or believe that others are envious of them
    -show arrogant, rude and abusive behavior or attitude
    -are highly reactive to criticism (react to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage)
    -project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can’t or won’t accept in themselves

    Jesse for President (sorry Tom)!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Alan Watts once said it was a sobering realization that, although he sought truth and tried to share what he knew, he gradually became aware that his sense of self and his ego began to feed on this search for truth and the sharing of what he’d found.

    It’s a tough nut to crack,and I found it when I tried to stop drinking: My mind – every bit of it, especially the most clever parts – became absorbed with finding excuses to drink. I might be smart, I don’t know, but the parts of my brain that wanted me to drink – ot the parts of Alan Watts’ brains that wanted yhe rush of being clever – were very, very motivated to do their best to do something that might not be great for us in the long run.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The single characteristic you maintained during your meditative sojourn: you remain, Brilliantly Paul. I look forward to your fiction, which I will…egotistically and unabashedly…compare to my own.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. So happy you’re back! This really speaks to me–I spend a lot of time alone, but I’m only lonely when I have expectations of being with someone, and then it doesn’t happen for whatever reason. Also, life is definitely a story–it’s the only way to become immortal.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Big respect for what you say in this post, and for taking the time to live what you ‘preach’.

    After reading The Book, one if the things I came away thinking was that even in opening the eyes of others to the extent of ego domination, and in teaching a learned perspective, there is an underlying element of striving for power and ego assertion. It led me on to wondering whether we can ever escape that which is undeniably human, and why some of us believe we should. It let me onto thinking about morality and depression and mortality. I thought about writing a post that described my opinion on these things, but something stopped me and I decided to continue doing it indirectly through my fiction. In some ways that helps me to explore ideas more deeply, because it utilises the subconscious and our inherent understanding of symbols and myth as well as the ego.

    Great to see you back, anyway. I look forward to reading more from you whatever form that may take.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. No chance of “forgetting all about [you],” my friend. I’ll be looking for your particular brand of erudition in the text of your fiction and I know I won’t be disappointed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed already to learn you are shelving that voodoo, that you do, so well. I will miss your esoteric and illuminating personal philosophies. Bring them back, please, should the mirror ever relent its position. 😉

    But, if not, I understand. Your evolution requires a path of its own. I will follow, and listen, and search your text (as I have said) for the jewels of wisdom hid within. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Will read this no-doubt excellent blog post ASAP. In the meantime, letting you know I’ve nominated you for an award. I don’t think you necessarily count as “new” or even “new-ish,” but you’re one of my favorite writers of blogs. You owe me money. Chat soon! Oh, and you can see it when I publish it in a few minutes here… and I can even send a link or something. https://wordpress.com/post/badparentingweb.wordpress.com/3359

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, to adopt the lightspeed mood transition of a dog to go from “peaceful rest” mode to “let’s party!” walk mode.
    “Hey, pup, wanna dance?” (You’re damn right I wanna dance! Bow-fuckin’-wow-wow!)
    Will we be seeing “Ningun Santuario” #2?

    Like

  11. We truly are just animals that have learned to write. Without it, we would still be picking fruit and berries and hunting our supper. Probably humankind’s greatest blunder, the Sumerian bureaucrats who started adding up their inventories on clay tablets.

    I’m away from blogging for a bit myself, as I explain in my last post. Hope to still hear from you from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hmmm… I like this Paul. well, I liked the other one too, but this one I believe I can watch the picture show with because we both agree there is a beginning and an ending. Only the middle is a mystery… and that can be what we define it to be/ or not define it and let it be what it is. Glad you are back Paul.~Kim

    Liked by 1 person

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