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STOIC POETRY | A brief time to truly live

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

The Great Indifference exists wherever we are not distracted by ourselves. It is the substance of the universe that isn't—not empty space, but space devoid of us, or the projections we make of ourselves onto a universe that is mostly not us. But not just us, but what is alive, and living, or which once did live—as even a corpse suggests life—or the things we've made and evidently utilized to our end. Anywhere life can be detected in some way, so in that place the Indifference is masked and pushed back and away. We are very good at not seeing this nothing we do not want, as we do not need it, and it helps us not at all—our lives not bent on philosophy, but rather living for the sake of being alive. Our practical needs are never met by a speechless mind—though such vision can fill us in other ways.

I will turn my head, To look over my shoulder, Into the place, With draws no attention— And I will, Attend.

And when I turn around to look, none will look with me, and if they do, then I may not have looked at all, for what we see together then is little different—only slightly less—than what we were looking at before; just one another, ourselves, always us. We may as well simply close our eyes and sing to ourselves a comforting lullaby.

And when I turn around to look and none turn with me, then I must be looking upon a moonscape; a desert in fact, and one of very old stones, and very worn sand which once was very old stone, and wind and heat or cold, and dark nights and a blazing today. And I should be nearly naked and always exposed—even when clothed—always exposed. And with no mind to any comfort. And no mumbling lullaby. For now, fairy-tales are done.

And when I turn around to look and none turn with me, and I see before me a moonscape of silent stone and blowing sand and hot or cold and dark and light; an elemental maelstrom of grinding reality and near and potential death; and I harden then my own heart—realizing at last that none exist who might harden it for me—and I take my first halting step from the crowd onto the impossible peneplane of deep time where I might now walk alone, and I take another halting step—the voices behind me already becoming dim—and I continue to move. Now, maybe, I can begin to see...

The Great Indifference is the cosmos unmasked of life, devoid of apparent meaning, departed of justice, or purpose, or care, or consciousness or even love. It is the universe as it mostly is—without us—and our vain projections of self. Can you look upon it? Can you even find a place where such vision can be seen?

And what if you do see? Can you then go on?

You can... And better than before. For the promise which is a lie has been broken. And life is now your own to live—to go on, and turn back towards the others, with more sincere and honest eyes, and a heart which can never be broken, and recognition of promises never made, and no false expectation to be fulfilled. Just a simple and short life to now be lived; an earnest endeavor to warm ourselves and one another with companionship, kind words, innocent laughter, and deep restful sleep between days understood as so brief.

A brief time to truly live, in spite of the Indifference which does never live.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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