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STOIC POETRY | Some ways in which we are alive

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

The price of admittance into the venue and arena of life is the effort and labor of our parents in conceiving, bearing, and bringing us into the world, as well as their work then to successfully raise us into functioning citizens of whatever society claims us its own. Our days may then be passed like a templated script: getting educated, finding friends and work, and making a home and a way and children of our own. And by such means, every day of our life may be passed, experienced, and sometimes enjoyed even, in relative peace, gaining the glossy outward fulfillment of doing it right—of living life well, and in accord with how others and we ourselves even believe life should be done. And then we die, possibly well satisfied in our striving of a sort, in our consumption, and in the collection of these things we call our own—these objects into which our identity has been projected like the nonsense soul we claim is projected into us. And then we die, surrounded by our loved ones, who are real, as well as the phantom things of the dream which was our life, which are hardly real, despite the careful arrangement of tchotchke upon shelves, and among furniture, and the thoughtful, forward thinking packing of mementos within boxes stored in the attic above our head, saved for a tomorrow which will never come, to be sold upon the lawn next month for a dollar, or picked up by surly men at the side of the road to fill the land somewhere along with the other waste and excess of such senseless passage of time.

We are citizens to live We are philosophers to be alive

But for some moments along the way we perhaps forgot about our things, and our home, and our job, and the people who populate our little world; and we looked out then across the far horizon of sea, maybe while our little ones played in the sand making castles of their own—and we wondered thoughtless-thoughts of whatever is beyond and past the limits of sight and current understanding—but just for a moment, just 'till little Johnny steps too close to the water's edge and we rush forward to snatch him safe from the waves. Or later, as our pastor tells us comforting stories of forever while we sit in straight lines on hard seats wearing our Sunday best, and we ask ourselves why every man of Amalek did need to die, every grown man, woman, and every child, and the beasts even—why they did all must need to die? And we wonder whence our virtue does truly arise? Upon words chiseled into stone? Or perhaps from the elsewhere and elsewhen from which our species did come: from the misty past of brutal survival, cooperation, social necessity and past success? And still later in life, as we attend our elder mother's passing, sitting at her side while holding her chill hand, bony and weak, covered with a thin veil of loose, and translucent skin revealing too much of the machinery going on below, causing us to wonder at our own machinery within, and how this mechanism does seem always to stop, and we ask ourselves how far down does the stoppage really go? And these moments of philosophy are held like curious seashells found while strolling a long walk along the beach, picked up for a moment and examined for some seconds while the world around us falls away, before being placed gently back upon the sand as we move on, our thoughts carried on away from nowhere, away from the mist, to dinner...and what show might tonight be on TV.

Such are some ways in which we live.

Such are some ways in which we are alive.


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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