Episode 83

Published on:

26th Aug 2020

STOIC POETRY | To walk alone among ghosts

I was never very afraid of the dark, or the things which come out after the sun goes down, to wander, and slither, and creep, and fly across and over the darkened landscape around me—hunting prey with wide eyes and snuffling noses and darting tongues and feelers probing for scent and a lead to the kill. Though I sometimes must take a deep breath before I go out alone among them, I can always nevertheless set out into the dark by myself, without a light, or a map, or a compass or even a knife—and never a flame!—to wander amidst the beasts through lands I never know and to places I never see. I've always been one to go alone into the night. Always with fear, yet never quite afraid.

There are ghosts which haunt the mind—
Drifting thoughts and fears and musings
Phantom and vapor of confusion
Let them haunt,
Let them drift,
Let them be...
These will not dissuade my purpose
To find, carry and achieve
What is good.
I will rise always and do my work—
Deathly afraid...
Yet I work,
Yet I dream,
Yet I live.

But yet, I am sometimes afraid of the inner dark landscape of my own mind, populated with the things I do fear, and the thoughts which sometimes seemingly haunt my inner world: floating things, drifting things, hovering things which bob out there in the dark mental mists, mostly out of sight, but sometimes coming close to let me see, or to try and rub up against me if they can. These non-things are something I do truly fear, as they know me, and exist seemingly to remind me of ideas and memories which I no longer wish to know, but which cannot be unknown again; or to cause me to worry over things which may come to pass, perhaps unfounded or ungrounded in what is real—persisting nevertheless through my wish to fuss and my sometimes feign forecasts of doom. I am tentative to walk into such a night. And I wish instead to return to the daylight of my being, or to some inner shelter to start a campfire within my mind—a place protected of localized light—to push back the darkness of my more dismal thinking, and blow away with illumination the floating things which come to mind when I am weak, and tired, or fed up. These are challenging inner places to be sure. Lands where I would rather not go. Periphery I do not wish to see. Adventures I do not want.

Perhaps though, I can be strong within like I seemingly am without? Maybe I can find muster for the inner journey as I always do when setting out alone into a dark and unknown wild? A strength to do the same where my thoughts become night, and where the chill wind of confusion and fear blows deep into the place where the terrible seeming things do float and glide? I think I can. In fact, I know I can...as I have already begun doing this for several years now—when I recognize suddenly where I am in my mind, at that frontier of peace becoming night, and I choose to still the fretful inner dialogue to silence, and I cease my shuffling inner feet, and I look up with confidence to peer like a curious cat into an abominable night, and I perceive the moving mists out there just beyond, and the seeming downward slope of the land, sensing the colder climes below, and hear perhaps even the howling of the dread thing from beyond where I should never seek, and I set out now...I step once, and I step again...and I move now without fear into and THROUGH my own inner night—

I walk then alone into the darkness of my empty place within, without any map, or compass, or even a knife—and never a flame!—to wander amidst the beasts through lands I never know and to places I never see. I will always be the one to go alone into the night. Always with fear, yet never quite afraid.

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About the Podcast

Stoic Poetry
A Stoic theory of life adventure | Be safe...but not too safe.
There’s little good news in nature. The universe seems incapable of care, or of opinion, or of preference regarding right or wrong, good or bad, or what constitutes a just and virtuous society or life. The universe’s first opinion on these matters is evident in the dead, bleak environment of space and time; the restless progress of all order in the direction of entropy, and the cold indifference of matter and energy everywhere - where the curious phenomenon of life appears like some strange, exotic exception to a rule of inorganic truth. So, what do we do with this fact? How do we prevent a slide into nihilism? How do we keep our upright posture while our legs buckle and give way as our mind struggles to accept a reality the facts cannot seemingly deny? This project takes on this challenge.

About your host

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Kurt Bell

I like to walk and think.