Monday, January 10, 2022

The Husk

I just watched the 2000th person from my past bug their eyes out, gasp slightly for air, and scramble to compose themselves after the shock of seeing how poorly I've aged. This, to their shock, is what I've been reduced to. Haplessly vacant, grimly detached. Sad! Yet, discordantly, also highly-intense and unwaveringly present (I'm eleven). The striking discrepancy makes for the creepiest possible affect. Yikes.

I appreciate how concern for my feelings compels them to recompose themselves, rather than simply gape in horror at the poor sad man. And I do sympathize with their gut reaction. Hell, I'd react the same way if I met me. But here's the thing: I'm proud of it.

You know in sports when they talk about "leaving it all on the field"? I've done that.

Everyone tries hard, even slackers. Life is hard; an upward march into a headwind. We meet resistance at every turn, eerily sensing some omnipresent strata of malice. Many of us collapse. I look like I collapsed. The poster child, perhaps, for Psychological Collapse But, no, that's not it. I didn't collapse.

The very opposite, in fact. This is how it looks like when you've applied yourself with the heat of a thousand suns to every task. This is the Energizer Bunny at 59. Depleted, yes, but from massive effort, not crestfallen collapse (like many opposites, they closely resemble one other). This explains my odd combination of wasted countenance and simmering aliveness.

Remember when I realized that my cooking was merely excellent because I keep forgetting that merely trying fervently is nowhere close to sufficient? Remember how one of my most striking epiphanies was the recognition that people work very hard to attain mediocrity ("Authoring a shitty book takes a year off your life, turns your hair grey, and gives you ulcers")? Remember my advice for people who want to succeed in pursuits like cooking ("However good you are now, get way way better, and then, when you're certain you're good enough, get way way better still. And then get better. Finally, realize you absolutely suck and triple it.")? That's a taste of it.

If I had anything to show you with my presentation - with my facial expression, or the jaunty angle of my hat, or sparkle in my eye - that would mean I'm not spending it all. No, I'm not showing, I'm occupied with doing. I suppose my image collapsed, but that was inevitable. Full-out trying requires undivided attention. You're not truly giving your all if you keep pausing to glance at the mirror. Or reposition your hat. Or cultivate sparkly eyes. Presentation - looking the part - is a cheap graft-on. One can be smart without seeming arrogant; successful without seeming superior; sympathetic without uttering the emblematic words; etc. etc.

When I die, I aspire to amount to nothing more than a pile of dust to be swept up and tidily dumped in the nearest waste receptacle. Forget "good-lucking corpse", I don't want the slightest consideration for my remains or even my memory. I tried just because...and not as a ploy to be treasured as "The Guy Who Tried Just Because". I'm fully wary of the trap. If I hadn't been onto that bullshit from an early age, that might have been me.

Ferocious doing takes a toll, and leaves no energy for cultivating image or status. "Looking good while you do it" is a whole other level of doing, and it's not my level (nothing wrong with it; we're all here to work our chosen realms!). Don't expect conjurers of real magic to look great in a tux and smile big cheesey smiles for the people. Dividing energy and attention means only part of your effort goes into the actual doing. And that's not how magic is made.

Real magic is contriving a whole to exceed the sum of its parts. Fake magic is the mastery of trickery and deception. Very different! Real magic is messy, and its practitioners are far too occupied to concern themselves with image. Fake magic is suave, and its practitioners look absolutely fantastic.

I look like a dried-out husk because there's nothing here. No doer at all. Just the doing. Insofar as I'm anything, "empty husk" suits me fine.
"Most singers become singers because they want to be singers, not because they want to sing."
But wait....if I've renounced self-consciousness, then how can I account for this self-conscious posting? As I've explained, my mind desperately needs to have things verbally explained to it - stuff that's understood intuitively - or else it makes a fuss. That's what this Slog project mostly is: My mind laboriously deconstructing and explicating intuitive knowledge.

I'm describing karma yoga. You can look it up on Wikipedia, or read a bunch of books, or even go live in an ashram in India and have some wizened swami explain it all, but you will understand it progressively less and less. You'll keep getting colder. Above is the unadulterated low-down, baked fresh.

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