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STOIC POETRY | Haunting a past life

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

October 15, 2019

Dear Yumiko,

Without costumes, and two weeks too soon, we haunted together yesterday the scene and setting of one of our past lives; a place we each once took for granted, or even gave little or no thought to, though it was the setting of our home and our lives then; a pass-through city where we lived a few years in pursuit of another life; a younger life, a less deliberate life of immediacy and excess and searching. We left that place together two-decades back with a fortune and memories, and returned yesterday with only a fortune of memories and something more...a "story" and perhaps some maturity to help us see past the immediacy and excess and searching which once blinded us to whatever current life we could not then live for the fact of our incessant gaze towards something else. That something else is now largely forgotten - not given up, but forgotten - or maybe simply realized as not true, or anything worth being sought. That's it. The old dream - the old dream of youth - was discovered to be quite shallow and almost empty; a straw figure and caricature of how we once thought life should be...must be...the only way we then really knew.

And so, we returned yesterday together like old soldiers returning home from a twenty-years war. We walked side-by-side - leading and carrying our small dogs - through the city gates we recognized, and right up through the boulevard into the community of our past neglect. Everything is mostly the same... Though there are new faces to be sure. Faces which were children or which did not exist the last time we were here. Faces which themselves may now see the old dream which we once sought as real. It's still there, clearly, the old dream... Or maybe it's nowhere? Maybe it's only a figment of youth? We are blind to that dream now it seems, though we remember it, and we spoke of it - like the memory of being terribly ill, the fever and the pain and the inability to sleep or rest or to ever feel good or even to know any real peace. Walking these streets together yesterday I could remember all this and more, including the drive and determination - as well as the dawning upset of falsity and illusion - which I once wore like an expensive coat everywhere I went, like a feign reality of determined satisfaction I might somehow make real if I only showed it outwardly for all the world to see. Or maybe the sense was more like smoke-tinted glasses, casting a strange, dark hue upon everything I saw, adding some sense of distance and disconnect to all that was immediate and now. That's it, I think... I could not easily see now then for my want and desire of a future I thought should be true. That want is no more. That desire is passed. I've been to that future and I know better what it is and what it is not. That future was given up for the present - not fully yet, of course, we can probably never achieve that great feat - but mostly. Yeah. Mostly... And this has made a difference. The streets of our past therefore looked the same, as they hardly changed, though we now no longer simply see past them as we did twenty-years back, as we now no longer desire to live someplace imagined, and only wish to live in the place which is real. And so we haunted together the streets of our past life - though now we are no longer ghosts.


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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