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STOIC POETRY | Going outside

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

There's this world where I live... And where others like me live. We are there together always. Such a nice place: with the things we like, and some ways to be, and to think. And we are always together in this world, even when we are apart. For the things we know and say and do are alike and these things bind us like strong arms about one another's shoulders—we understand one another, and we raise our little ones to understand, too.

Comfort before truth— I will believe Whatever will not upset My world

And our small ones come up in our ways and they too are brought in and made warm and made safe and comforted by our words and our ways and our being. We lift our clasping arm and bring them under and then grasp them at the shoulders with the same warm and reassuring clasp which makes our own world whole.

And we cannot remember ever not being so whole. Cannot recall ever being less—though we fear being less, and are afraid to be unwhole, deathly afraid. It is the worst thing possible, to become less than we are no longer be one...and to lose our way, or our people, or our sense of being. What a terrible thought, to be outside. It must be death out there...or very nearly death.

But then, there are those who are outside. Those strange people from somewhere else with their other ways. And their other clothes. And their other ideas so queer and unusual. Just what do they think? And why do they act so, and what strange ideas do they believe. Those others...on the outside. And why are they here?

Don't look at them. Hopefully they will move on and not remain. This is our place, with our people, and our ways and clothes and ideas and beliefs. We are not for them and they are certainly not for us. Those others on the outside.

Young Jimmy asked us the other day how we know that we are right and if the others are wrong. I knew that this would happen... Why did those others have to come and bring their damn questions. I never thought such—not often at least—when I was young, and I never asked anyone if I did. Jimmy spoke up because he was talking to that boy at school from the others, his friend who is not one of us. It was him who put Jimmy up to this, or at least who invited our Jimmy to question. Where to go now? What to do?

The only ways from here are in or out:

In, leads deeper into where we now are, to a more insular and contained place than our current certitude provides. We become more sure and more together and tighter in our ways, and our being, and our beliefs. We become these things by blocking out any void where the outside which we fear may come in—by clasping arms still tighter onto a shrinking nucleus of community who think like us. And there are less of us now than before—those who would not insist being gone. We may never see Jimmy again.

Out, goes away into the seeming void of what is not what we know and want and practice and share and love. Out is the setting aside of our world to try on another—or at least some part of another world—to see how the others move and live and get by so strangely adorned with foreign ideas. Out is also the going alone with few such possessions accepted of others, and making efforts to create new ways from what can be found along the way, or made up through reading, thought and conversation.

And so, we look at the others and the others see us, and we each turn away muttering "strange". But our young ones are perhaps less certain, muttering less, or with only feign conviction. And some will not stay—though most remain—and will choose out rather than in, and become others who are outside from us; their sin though being greater, because they once knew we are right.


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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