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STOIC POETRY | A seat at the flame

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 23, 2019

Dear Eric,

The subject of life meaning never crossed our young minds. We were perhaps simply too young then. Our thoughts were those of explorers. We were looking around at where we were and making sense of circumstance and function. Meaning, and its close cousin purpose, would come later - for me at least.

To live a meaningless life... What a prospect. It can certainly be done. And what a way to live. In fact, there is some blessing in life during the early, meaningless years...the decade or so of youth before we start to wonder what it might all be about. There is a simple joy and satisfaction in simply living, like the beasts of the field, living from one sunrise to the next; seeking nourishment and warmth, safety and reproduction. It's our particular human trait - "blessing" might be a word to use - that we mature into a place of meaning; that we grow to a point when we demand something more of life than happiness, warmth, security and children. Yes, "blessing" is a good word to describe this need, though there appears to be no one to provide the blessing, as blessing is simply a fact in itself. Our perception of blessing is a bias which we provide to a universe which seemingly does not care. The concept of blessing then is an artifact of our want of purpose from a cosmos which appears to offer no purpose - or at least no purpose beyond mere survival and getting our genes into the next generation. And so, we make up some purpose, and some meaning, and we tell ourselves and one another that this contrived purpose and meaning are good. We may even go so far as to tell ourselves and one another that our blessing is from someone - or some thing - that has the capacity to bless - a blessing-giver. That our blessing is a received gift. How much more special to think that our contrived blessing is both conceived and granted to us by someone - or some thing - else. How much more valid the gift. How much more real and of authority. Whatever... What ever works to satisfy this peculiar need to feel blessed. What ever helps us make life more than a hard, backwards climb against the downward torrent of entropy. Never mind that miserable fact for now - did you really have to bring that up just now, Kurt?? We have some meaning to which we must attend.

Meaning exists like friendship Around a campfire; Glowing, Warmth, Laughter, In an ocean of night

There are campfires out there in the night where we can join others who have tired of walking alone in the cold and the dark. There is talk around each of the fires which reflects the attitude and perspective - as well as the bias and the want - of those who came to the fires first. Nobody knows who began each of the fires, as those human-like creatures have long since passed. Did those animals seek meaning, too? Is that why they made the fires? This must be the case... As flames like this are for more than just warmth. That's something to consider...animals in search of meaning. How far back do the fires go, I wonder? How long have the flames here been kept? And how much longer the need of the flames before someone found the means to kindle and keep a flame.

Forget those thoughts for now... That's too much to consider. After all, we're only in this for our own meaning and purpose now. And it helps this cause to think we've always been just us. Or just like us. Yes, it's always been us. This tribe at this particular campfire, like that tribe out there at their fire, or that more distant group way over there who dance and chant strange words around their own flame. How alien they all seem... None of them have it right like us, of course. Our fire is the best, and the truest, of course. We know this, as the stories we've been told all make sense to us, as we've been told they make sense.

So, you've found us at last at this fire... Sure, we'll make room. There's always room for one more around such a flame. We're glad for the company. Gladder than you might know... But only if you can say the proper words and make the right signs and can perhaps pray just the way we all do. Can you show us, now? Good, you've got it. You must indeed be one of us. Come, sit here next to me here... I'll shuffle aside to make a little room. Take a stick from that big pile there and poke the coals. Isn't it nice how they shoot up sparks into the cold night? They are warm sparks, rising into the void - the cold void - the quiet empty we see yet deny. It's our company and connection and fraternity that does it... Our close bonds and the warmth of our bodies huddled so close to one another that makes the night seem so far away. Not like when we were young, and when we wandered for a time out there in the night... Do you all remember that? Try not to remember... The memory will pass soon. That time was your folly - our folly - the mistake of youth. Everyone gets over it. Everyone finds meaning someday. And if they don't...well, there's always the open field.


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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