What is Patience really about?

I used to think patience is all about our capacity to wait for something to happen, but I have learnt that patience has nothing to do with waiting at all. Patience, I now know, is the graceful act of surrender to time. To be patient is to accept that all we do in any given moment is enough. Patience is to accept that reward does not necessarily follow effort. Patience is accepting that your breath need not have purpose beyond itself. I believe we can only find peace when we’ve become masters at patience.

Patience teaches us to expect nothing. To expect nothing does not mean we desire nothing. It simply means that we are brave enough to desire without being attached to what we desire. It means we are free to want without being held captive by what we want. Patience teaches us how to detach from our egos, our identities, our sense of self. Patience challenges us to let go of what we had planned for ourselves and to surrender who we might’ve imagined ourselves to be. Patience asks us to reconsider our desires. It invites us to consider letting go of them. Letting go of them doesn’t mean we no longer desire them, it simply means to surrender our desires to time, to the universe, to god. Patience reminds us that there is always much more at play in shaping our destinies than we’d like to admit. Patience offers us the most precious gift of all — time. It stretches it out for us. It reminds us that time is elastic, that time is relative, that time might flow at a different pace for me than it might flow for you. Patience humbles us. It shrinks us down as it reminds us of the much larger forces of the universe. And that is too when Patience scares us most as we realise how little we control and how much of our control depends on just one thing — our breath. And even that, our breath, the one thing we trust most to keep us alive and calm, will one day leave us without our control. Patience asks us to surrender all control, to completely let go of everything, even of our most precious breaths. Patience is after all preparing us for the greatest surrender of all — death. Shamans say we die the same way we live. They say the goal of life is to learn to die consciously, and if it is so, if the goal of Life is in fact death, then Patience must be her coach. 

Love,
S.A. 

Our Polluted Education

Dear quarter lives,

In recent decades, there has been an emphasis in education on high performance, and in doing so, people have made the assumption that a more learned person is a person with higher grades. There cannot be a more untrue statement. Perhaps it is the way tests are standardised and how the grading system works, but learning is not the same as going to school. Learning is a life-long skill, and for most of our lives, it is self-initiated learning, there is no classroom, no teacher in the conventional sense, no one to tell you you must learn, or acquire an end result. Often times we do not know exactly where this learning is taking us, but we must go with it anyway. But schools have forgotten and teachers with them that schools are not merely there to produce good workers, but to produce resilient humans, ones that can endure life, for there is no tougher boss, and no tougher teacher. And unfortunately the skills taught in school today equip you in no way at all for this continuous independent-learning called life. And because we have forgotten that the goal is not to survive till retirement, but to survive till death comes for us, we have not prepared people for life. It is the ethical duty not only of parents but of educators to teach children how to acquire knowledge. Not all knowledge is in classrooms and not all knowledge comes from books. For some of the greatest teachers can be in our backyards, a tree is a great teacher, but we need to be told that it is okay to access alternative forms of learning, ones maybe that can’t be tested, ones where students cannot be shown a right or wrong answer. By ignoring the needs of a human life, and focusing on the needs of corporations, we have neglected millions of souls on the way and polluted many others, and like it is our responsibility to clean up the environment, it is our ethical duty to clean up our souls and the souls of the communities we live amongst. 

Always with love,

S.A.

Some advice from a Clown…

” It is true. It is always the most fun when it is without purpose. To write these words, to observe these faces, and to breathe in these smells. It is with humour that we must take it all in. This is the best advice I can give you on how to be a clown. And there is no better advice than that for how to be human.

A clown must always be colourful, silly, and in costume. A clown should never take himself too seriously. He must always remember he is in character and not the character. A clown must be clear to be funny. A clown must always direct the crowd. It is this that is the most difficult task. For a clown cannot see oneself as he acts. He can only see himself through his observers, their reactions, their eyes and giggles. So to be a clown, one must learn to read oneself from the crowd, one must learn to see oneself in others without judgement, without prejudice, for any judgement and any prejudices will be made in fact against ourself. It is an attack upon ourselves when we attack another with judgements. And so, one must always observe with humour. Humour is not only the product of a clown’s presence, it is the process by which they attain presence. Humour is the guide. It is the light. Follow it like a clown, and a crowd pleaser you will be. A crowd pleaser is not one that fulfills the expectations of the crowd. A clown, a true crowd-pleaser, is one that fulfills desires unknown to the crowd, it is a clown that fills the space with laughter, spaces thought of as absent before, but now with laughter they are present, they have been brought into the light. It is humour with which we can truly engage with what we lack, with empty vessels, empty people, for they are not lacking because something is wrong with them, they are just absent, they have less energy than is required to be present, and what better way to refuel your body, your soul than with laughter.

Laughter is the grandest of all energies. It vibrates, produces sound and even movement. It lights a fire in the belly, producing a light within. Humour is the air that keeps the candle burning inside, for otherwise it would be too dark, too dark to see anything, so everything falls into nothingness, into absence, so laugh your way through it all. Learn from the mighty clown, and laugh a little. Laugh a little and laugh always. For there is no issue too important, no issue too serious that it cannot be brought into the light with some humour. All wants to be funny. All wants to induce laughter. All wants to make light. So do not resist it, let it be what it wants to be. Let it make you laugh, and cry tears of joy. Let it shake your belly like an earthquake. Let it burn through the darkness within, and bring a lightness to your heart. Let Humour carry you. She would love to. “

With laughter,

A (fellow) Clown

Fix your Gaze

Dear quarter lives,

Fix your gaze — a meditation practice. They tell you to fix your gaze on something and sit still and observe. But what does it really mean to fix your gaze? Is it simply a practice in focus or is there much more to it than meets the eye? Let us take the phrase and break it down. To fix means to correct. And to correct your gaze, to correct where you were looking implies you were looking wrong. But is it looking in the wrong place or the wrong way? Or is it that you were looking in the first place? Is it transforming our unconscious looking into a conscious act that transforms it from mere looking into deliberate sight. Seeing is choosing to look. And by choosing to look you make a deliberate choice to direct your attention to a specific object of your sight. It is that which we must correct when they say fix your gaze. The practice indeed requires focus, but it is because you are “focusing” i.e. directing your attention to a specific point. It is training you to consciously choose to look, i.e. to see.

Many of us walk through life without seeing much. Our eyes collect information constantly, but how much of it do we choose to see, how much of it do we choose to experience? It is only when we use our senses consciously that we fully experience them. Otherwise, they just exist. And by extension, we just exist. But when you choose to see, to hear, to feel, that is when your senses come to life. And by extension, you become alive.

In his essay The Soul of Man under Socialism, Oscar Wilde wrote, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” These two short sentences stuck with me ever since I first read them over a decade ago. Though their meaning for me has changed over the years as I have changed and grown. It might seem like a self-explanatory statement. But the more I contemplated it, the more obscure it grew. It had so many layers, and the more layers I peeled, the more I found. Is it simply that a few of us choose to live, and others let life happen to them? But what is the nature of that choice? I mean no one wants to go through life sleepwalking. Most of us want to live, but why don’t we? If it is a choice, why aren’t people choosing what they want? Or can they not find the choice, is it hidden somewhere — a puzzle, only a few can solve? And if so, what is the best hiding place for choice? What is the best hiding place for anything? In plain sight!

It is that obvious that we miss it. The best place to hide anything is in plain sight. It is in our sight, literally. We just need to fix it. The choice is in our sight. It is in how we see the world, that is how we come to life. The choice to live, the ability to live rather than exist, comes from the choice to see rather than to look. We must choose our eyes. Which eye am I going to see the world with today? What kind of eyes am I willing to use? Am I going to use my looking eyes or seeing eyes? That is the choice we must make to live or exist. Practices like meditation are also like the statement I shared above, they might seem simple, but once you contemplate them, and sit with them, they reveal their layers to you, and the more you peel, the more you will find. It is not just about breathing, or focus, or observation, it is about much more. The thing is about these layers is that they are person specific, they reveal themselves to you in the order you need to learn them, in the order that you are ready to become aware of them. What I have shared here is only one of my insights, but it might not sit with you or stick like it has with me, not because it is incorrect or correct, but because it is not time for you yet. There is always a time for each one of us to receive insights from the universe that will guide us along our path. And because my path is unique to me, and your path is unique to you, the lampposts for all of us are unique, our crossroads are unique, so I am sharing my specific learning with you not to tell you that this is what you should do now, I am sharing it with you because I want to illustrate to you the great potential there is for discovery in contemplation. It is only a possibility that I share with you, and I hope that you take it as a token of my appreciation for your life, and find your own.

All that I hope to do with this work is to start an open conversation into our potential. We are at the beginning of our lives, dear and fellow quarter lives, and I believe we have so much potential for life, and so much possibility lies ahead of us but it is only if we believe in the impossible that all becomes possible. And perhaps I have shared here much of my contemplations into the absurd, but I have chosen the absurd to contemplate, because I believe that the absurd is a great teacher in humility and grace. It does not mean that if our human minds have not explained it, then it cannot be. If the history of scientific discovery has illustrated anything, is that it all already existed before we made theories of it. So the absurd is a magnificent teacher in that it allows you to approach everything with a sense of “I know nothing, but I am ready to learn”. And what a great place to be as a student of life, than a place of “I don’t know everything”. It is that specific place that creates space in your mind, in your senses, in your soul for more. For if you already claim you are full, if you already claim that you know all, then there will be no room in you to know more. So I have chosen the absurd, because I have chosen a path of learning. But this is my teacher, at least for now. Find your own. It is a wondrous experience to be shown the way. When visiting a historic site or monument, do you not seek a tour guide to show you the way, to tell you about the magnificent wonders of the site. Life is no different. There are many guides, who speak many languages. Find your language. Find your guide. Choose to see, and you will discover a whole new world. Just fix your gaze, and you will find grace along the way. 

Always with love,

S.A.

Welcome to the quarter life

Dear quarter lives, 

I welcome you to join me on my quest to better understand our lives. I, myself, am a fellow quarter life, a fellow human who like you hasn’t been on this planet for so long. And in my recent joining of this experience called life, I found myself struggling to settle in. Struggling to accept that I am here. For the longest time, I felt like I didn’t belong on this planet. Like there must’ve been some mistake out there that resulted in my existence here. I had so many questions, and there were no answers anywhere in sight. Growing up it was common to hear of the middle age crisis, but I had heard no one talk of that which comes before. The one that comes in our first phase of life — the quarter life crisis. The crisis of growing up. I remember wishing there was some book that would make me feel less confused, less like I was the problem, less alone. I so desperately needed to connect to another soul, another quarter life who was struggling to draw their breath like I had been struggling. I started writing these letters of contemplation to myself. To better understand what I was going through. I wrote because I didn’t have a direct line to a god to answer my questions. But through my words, many appeared, many came to speak to me, to offer some answers, some guidance, some comfort. This blog is a product of many years of contemplation. It is the journey of a quarter life seeking to understand their life. I dedicate this blog to all quarter lives in crisis, for it is the struggle that urges us to find our way back home, to find our Selves, not the Selves we are told we are by our parents or society, but the Self we come to discover all on our own. It is a lonely journey. It is a difficult journey. And so, I would like to offer you some company along the way if you would allow me. There is no right or wrong on this blog. Some of it will resonate with you, and some of it won’t. It is simply an offering in perspective from one quarter life to another. It is the dialogue that heals, so let us converse. Let us connect to one another through story, through contemplation. We cannot journey for one another, but we can journey alongside each other. Let us encourage the seeking, let us not repress what our anxieties are signaling. Let us not succumb to any status quo, but to the wisdom of our youth. Let us celebrate our quarter lives, for they are screaming to be heard. They are screaming to be acknowledged. So let us listen together. Let us support our transformations together. We are here, so let us escape no more. Be kind to yourself on this journey. You have made it this far. You can make it further. You can make it anywhere.

So, my dear quarter lives, welcome the quarter life with open arms, thank it, embrace it, love it and leave it behind. 

From my quarter life to yours with love, 

S.A.

Invite the darkness closer. It is your friend.

Dear quarter lives,

I write this blog not as advice but as a token of hope from one quarter life to another. We are not doomed. We are not helpless. We are merely a manifestation of the chaos and confusion that has befallen the world. Our anxiety is but a sign of a collective distress. We are not wrong in our feelings of sadness; we are not wrong in our feelings of anger; we are not wrong in our feelings of fear. We are only wrong in believing that love cannot save us, that kindness is not enough to change the world. We do not change the world by changing others; it is ourselves that are dying to change. So let us not resist the transformation, let us accept the invitation to change but it is through accepting that it is only ourselves we can change. We must look inside and avoid no more our Selves for they are screaming loud and clear. Let us open the channel of communication to our Selves and listen to what Self has to tell us. For there is no better angel to protect us than Self. There is no more loving god than Self. So let us grow this connection stronger to Self. Let us have faith once more in our Selves. For it is they who hold the answer to all. It is there that magic can be found, and faith restored. It is through Self that we come to believe in the infinite, in all that cannot be defined. In Love. In God. Let us navigate through the darkness, sit with it, listen to it and find the light within. It is only in the darkness of the night sky that stars can reveal their light. It is the darkness that allows them to twinkle. It is their friend indeed. It is yours too. So fear not the darkness that haunts you, for it is inviting you to reveal your light. Hoard your love no longer, for it is in sharing it with abundance, without fear of it running out, that it can come back to you once again. It is our belief in scarcity that has created this collective state of fear. What is fear but the belief that love is scarce? Once we learn to trust the infinite and believe that no resource in our Universe is finite, we will have peace in the world. No one will need to hoard their love in fear that it might run out. No one will envy another for beauty, opportunity or money because all is abundant. All exists infinitely but only if you believe. We shall prosper together in the infinite space of the Universe, but only if we accept our transformation of faith from that of scarcity to that of infinity. So my fellow quarter lives, I invite you to invite the darkness closer, it is but a friend wishing to illuminate you. Learn to love it for it is your teacher. It will guide you to the light. Remember, the only way out is the way in. So resist no more, for you are just tiring yourself, delving deeper into a loop of fear, so surrender yourself to the journey. Surrender yourself to your Self and go inside. Find the dark, find death, it is how you will find the light and come back to life once more.  Remember, energy cannot be destroyed; it can only be transformed. So fear not your death, it cannot destroy you. Death is but a channel of change, so walk through it with trust. Trust is all we have to endure the pressures of change. Trust is what will keep you going when you are tunneling through the darkest corners of your Self. Trust is what will carry you when hope cannot. So trust Trust, she is your treasure, hold her tight. And as you navigate your own individual channels, I invite you into a journey of contemplation, one that has helped me a great deal to survive my own channel of change, my own death. It has taken me a quarter of a life to finally come to accept my fate as a being on this planet. I have been navigating through my fears, through the darkness to find faith again in myself, in love, in god, in peace. Remember, it is only when caterpillars die that butterflies are born. So embrace your death. It is the only way to be born again. May you all love again. May you all come to rest in peace. 

Much love,

S.A.