Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

My Muse is a Corpse – Journal

This small book chronicles the three-week experience of having my desert inspiration follow me home to the city for a visit. I had no idea how long it would stay, though I’m glad I could record a little of what it had to say while it was here. This experience began on March 4th, 2017 and was complete on March 23rd.

~

It’s flattery to call my muse a corpse, as she is so much less; having never been alive, she has no still heart, no snuffed out conscious, no darkened lattice of memory, and certainly no legacy of love and caring to echo through time in life’s wake. I call her dead by means of convenience, to call attention to what she has not, to highlight how far she is removed from the dearest possessions of life, and to enshrine her grave indifference with the startling, fearful aspects of what cannot possibly love, and has more in common with sand than the buoyant, striving, animate community of life.

~

How blind I was to the desert muse before Japan. Though I could never find her voice while I was away in that exotic land, surer still her absence had I never gone. If I’d remained in Japan my sight would have continued its myopic plunge into the familiar, the green and wet mountains and valleys there rising and widening in scale and contrived importance, ossifying at last into a world view of comprehensible dimension and satisfying importance. I would have at last died in my course there, satisfied of my living career, placated by my narrow world view, an invalid, comforted by my own deep ignorance. Since returning to America though, I face the familiar with alien eyes and foreign design. There is no more latent comfort in what was once all I knew. My weary eyes strain to discover the familiar. Old brain circuits crackle to life, mending failed, flawed or erred mental connections with material of another land and culture, values and meaning of a second and quite completed life. Tired limbs now become limber of the necessity of building this new life again, and old muscle memory is replaced with fresh reflex, guided of matured control and sensibility. It is with this reborn self that I have encountered and connected with my desert muse, found her fleeting across the wastes, utterly lost and invisible to the man I was, and was again; visible only now, as such a one as I could surely never meet or know over the course of just a single lifetime.

~

My muse is blind, deaf, mute and dead. She is the inorganic fact of reality. The inanimate ambition of entropy. The chill, dark waste between the stars. The uncaring substrate of physics and chemistry; bound, secured and destined towards some emotionless mathematical end.

~

Crossing now from the place where I share life with humanity, into the vast void of Indifference. At once I find my own voice again. At last the muse returns.

~

Yesterday’s long desert sojourn was a new experience of Indifference. A recognition that the cold shoulder of nature is made of stone.

~

Yesterday’s desert hike left little impression at the time. Almost a disappointment, in fact. Yet in hindsight I resee those far and empty places. My thoughts come back to them over and again.

~

I’m haunted by this past weekend’s hike like no hike before. I’m pretty sure I went further than I should. Deeper than I thought I could. My reward, the deepest draught of Indifference my mind can yet withstand. Such an awful, fearful, terrible truth.

~

My muse is a nihilist, whispering cold words describing the eternity of empty beyond death. She’ll meet me only in lonesome places, like a conspirator or a thief. But really, she’s a confidant, and perhaps my most honest friend; though she laughs at my fear, and mocks my every vain hope.

~

It’s curious how the muse was nearly silent during my adventure last week in the Deep-Water Wilds. She normally only talks to me when I’m alone, and at risk, in very wild places. Instead, she followed me home this time, to whisper barely audible thoughts throughout the week; touching my shoulder during meetings, suggesting ideas during my commute, smiling at me through a distant crowd. I wonder how long she’ll stay? Why she now talks to me here? What brought her in from Indifference?

~

It seems my muse did not follow me back from the wild to inspire my words, but instead to catalyze my will. How much easier to do right while hints of the void and empty swirl behind my head, and memory of the black mountains of Indifference loom across the wasteland of dry Earth.

~

The thing which followed me out of the wild this week, which I’ve been calling my muse, isn’t a ghost, or a spirit, or a force or anything beyond the scope of my mind. It’s simply a lingering impression, the sting following a hard slap in the face, the cold, deep, indifferent reality of nature. A lasting effect of meeting the dead gaze of a universe which doesn’t care, doesn’t feel, and doesn’t know. I hope this impression lasts…

~

Almost went to the wild today. I decided instead to attend to a few domestic life necessities. That’s alright. It’s not like wildness gives a damn if I come to visit. The dead winds howl across the Indifferent badlands, against and over the cold black mountains, through and along silent sand washes, and twist and bend the dry, thorny foliage, with or without my attendant, failing gaze.

~

The melancholy peace, of a solitary walk in the deep desert, has found footing in my everyday sojourn. The dull, dim, yet alert and living eyes. The sensitive hearing. The slow, purposeful stride towards nowhere in particular, along unseen and unmarked paths. And best of all, the rich and empty thinking which comes of lonesome, yet not lonely, passage through strange, unpeopled places.

~

A principal of deserts is that winds blow into their depths, and point the way towards deeper desolation, and the arid, disinterested heart of the wastes. While standing upon a broad open plain at night, invisible mountains miles distant on either side, their outline visible only by the interruption of starlight through the cold, thin atmosphere, a slight veil between the bare, stony ground and outer space, I shiver alone and cold, feeling the dead desert breath draw me in like a tide.

~

The scope of my control extends to my actions and reactions, and the consequences they might entail.

~

Death is the realization of that creeping Indifference which sweeps consciousness and being aside like fallen leaves, and carries both memory and love along into the darkened night.

~

To the quiet mind Indifference looms. No wonder then our myriad and incessant manufacture and attendance to distraction.

~

The deep value of a solitary desert walk is the sobering recognition of a landscape and circumstance without any real escape. For though we may return to our warm bed and our fellows, the memory lingers of the cold night winds under the naked stars, and the blistering sunlight across a vast landscape without refuge. Such impressions gain deep footing and purchase within the mind, but only when we go alone, and only when we go so far as to glimpse the very real and near point of no return.

~

To a mind which has risen above fortune, both the necessary and superfluous actions of the day become like attendance to a disinterested game of chess. For while our mind and body must periodically engage the game and move the pieces, our deeper attendance is to matters more worthy of our true character and aim.

~

Do you attend your dying breath in this present moment? How much more worthy a pursuit than philosophy. I’d rather reckon each exhalation, in deep fastidious awe, than the gilded words of the holy and wise. Indeed, if their wisdom be true, they’d silence their speech and mind in mute attendance of their own mortality, and the consequent vista thus revealed.

~

The fallow field of the well-lived life is the time between riches, fame and security. A time to cultivate a more true and honest harvest.

~

The price of leisure is attendance to the fact of who we are and the choices we’ve made. It’s no wonder then we sometimes choose for ourselves the slave’s abject distraction.

~

The sober subject of our life’s decline arrives so often late to the feast, and long before the diner has enjoyed their fill.

~

There’s a similar sensation of precious anxiety which results of descending forty feet beneath the sea on a single breath, or hiking four miles off trail into a stark and barren wild. But only if you go alone.

~

Not only the fact of humanity, but all trace or reminder of our race, must be left behind before we can truly sense there is no God.

~

Reason is the arbiter of virtue. What other force can provide a more accurate or worthy measure?

~

I have this plan which I’ll never fulfill, for I am a family man and must respect the sensitive conscience of those who love and care about me. However, if I were alone in life, and received my physician’s forecast of pending death, and were to have this council affirmed by a qualified another, then I’d make provision for a last and final journey into the wild; the desert of course, to find my end in the wastes, alone and without succor, to face down Indifference in its own awful light; stark and devoid, pale and blinding, cold and incapable of care. I wonder how I could handle such a last adventure? Could my mind bear with peace such a truth, even as the light and caring of my own being flickers and fades into the dark, cold void.

~

My muse seems lately at ease with her new surroundings. A transplant of the desert wastes to the living suburbs. Her mute voice speaks as always of her home in the wind and the night, remembers the empty badlands, the colored soils, and the unending progress of time. She looks around her new surroundings, dead eyes seeing nothing past the here and now; no regard for humanity, no love of virtue, or charity, no preference or admiration of what is alive or dead. No wonder she seems so at home…when I now realize she was here all along.

~

How like a hermit crab I have become… So insular and self-contained. My needs of course extend to society. Indeed, I’d die without my fellows. And I like to hope my fellows might need me in some small way. Though beyond the sustenance of my person, I find now ample nourishment for the mind and spirit in such dull pursuits as the marking of time, and the vain cataloging of the many treasures I am so fortunate not to possess.

~

I had an interesting talk with a friend today where I confessed my nihilism, and found comfort in not giving a damn. Such is how the serpent consumes its own tail.

~

The homunculus is no less an organ of the body than the liver or the spleen.

~

Hiking in the desert with my daughter is like sailing a boat upon the sea with a long tether tied to the dock.

~

Emily and I visited the human femur I discovered in the desert last year. It’s still there, despite the fact I’d notified the police. Maybe they didn’t find it? Perhaps they gave up the search? After all, the bones are literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s possible they determined the bones aren’t human, though this seems unlikely given the absence of large wildlife in the area, and the perfect match to human anatomy. I was rather surprised to note how much the bone had deteriorated since my last visit. Further proof that our essence is essentially animated dust. I plan to call the Sheriff’s office again and offer to take them to the spot.

~

It was strange being in the deep desert today without my dead muse. Where could she have been? I suspect it’s because I didn’t go alone. In fact, I know that’s the cause. I did see signs of her presence in the wind, and across the darkened landscape, and in moments of subtle extrospection. Though to hear her cold words rise within my mind I must remember to first deny myself the warmth of any companion, and to face fully and alone the fact of all mortal dissolution and oblivion. Only then will the muse speak to me her mute inspiration.

~

Though my muse is not alive she nevertheless enjoys some apparent will and motive force. Her composition is maintained of gravity, and her limbs and appendages are driven of starlight and wind. Her attitudes and moods are as varied as the composition of rocks and soils, and her intellect and modesty the product of vast space and deep time. Some very small part of her does have an organic pulse, this is true, though this soft rhythm is utterly drowned out by the roar and cacophony of nature’s inanimate rush towards entropy. Though my muse is not alive, her words and law-like meaning nevertheless ring clear in my brain whenever I muster the courage to look past the warm company of fellowship, and the reassuring clamor of minds, to the intense dark beyond the firelight, and the deep abyss beyond life.

~

It’s interesting how my daughter did not share my fear in the wild yesterday. She seemed at ease in a place I’ve practically run from in the past, that slippery granite mountaintop where I first caught sight of the hidden heart of the Volcano Wilderness. I felt an echo of that old fear yesterday as we ate our lunch together upon that windswept peak, gazing over and down into the place where my dead muse lives. I’m confident her comfort was in part a result of our company, and I do wonder what she might have thought or felt there alone, in a place so silent my daughter at one time commented she could hear her own heartbeat. Would the muse speak to her? Would my daughter feign have never come? Does her young mind perhaps require more years to better apprehend what wasn’t there in the desert wastes? Is it possible such absence simply goes unseen to those unfamiliar with its hollow circumstance and empty aspect?

~

My father’s legacy. All those worries. At the bottom of the sea.

~

The wild places of the California desert have proven so much more potent a fount of inspiration than the mountains of Japan. I suspect though that this has more to do with the characteristics of desert than any condition of place or quality of time.

~

How blind I was to the desert muse before Japan. Though I could never find her voice while I was away in that exotic land, surer still her absence had I never gone. If I’d remained in Japan my sight would have continued its myopic plunge into the familiar, the green and wet mountains and valleys there rising and widening in scale and contrived importance, ossifying at last into a world view of comprehensible dimension and satisfying importance. I would have at last died in my course there, satisfied of my living career, placated by my narrow world view, an invalid, comforted by my own deep ignorance. Since returning to America though, I face the familiar with alien eyes and foreign design. There is no more latent comfort in what was once all I knew. My weary eyes strain to discover the familiar. Old brain circuits crackle to life, mending failed, flawed or erred mental connections with material of another land and culture, values and meaning of a second and quite completed life. Tired limbs now become limber of the necessity of building this new life again, and old muscle memory is replaced with fresh reflex, guided of matured control and sensibility. It is with this reborn self that I have encountered and connected with my desert muse, found her fleeting across the wastes, utterly lost and invisible to the man I was, and was again; visible only now, as such a one as I could surely never meet or know over the course of just a single lifetime.

~

The faculty of choice is most keenly exercised at rough and unexpected life juncture. Does misfortune rise in our way? Does death approach? Is it not now in our power to exercise discretion and judgement in recognizing what is within our control? Have we not utter claim over our thoughts, actions and reactions? Do we not possess the ability to watch with equanimity as our fortunes rise and fall again, correcting our course with judicious turns of the rudder, aiming for the open sea yet breathing calmly as we become ruined upon the rocks and plunge beneath the waves? Our opinion and judgement of things lie outside the pale of all external forces besides ignorance, disease and death, which may first weaken and then destroy our resolve and capacity to stand. But until that time we’ve power enough to select and will our own footing. To observe and recognize the vast machinery of the universe’s headlong tumble towards tomorrow, and to know both the scope and scale of our meager influence.

~

As I have no one to pray to, I’ll instead suggest an admonition to myself: Let my footsteps be slow today, to delay the world in its orbit, and force time to better measure and dispense its precious ration. Let my mealtime portions be small, let me endure the healthy want of food in proportion to my usual excess. Let me then grow lean and strong as a consequence, better able to survive, endure, and appreciate the true suffering of those without. And let my thoughts be very few and small, just some simple words this hour and the next; ideas sufficient to my true need, or better still, my honest lack thereof.

~

What philosophy, maxim or dogma can withstand the scrutiny of solitude in deep, wild places? In fact, if we linger too long alone then madness may steal the show under the guise of sagacity. Be careful then to first uncover and refine truth within the bustling tumult of everyday life, to then temper what is found in the cold light of empty nowhere. Such understanding then is forged of humanity, hardened of nature and activated of our improved subsequent living. Tell no one what you’ve found, yet answer honestly every pointed inquiry.

~

How much better a retiring mind than a retiring body. The first may be attained at any stage in life, at least so far our philosophy permits. The latter only upon leisure, and the gross accumulation of sustaining resource. Liberate the mind at once through the discipline of reason, and you may then work hard to the end of your days in contented leisure.

~

What number of individuals is required to tame the wild? Two. No more are needed, though greater numbers are certainly better to this end. No individual, no matter their will, resolve nor strength, can ever civilize even the humblest blade of grass. Only in company, or better still society, can this great feat be achieved.

~

What opportunity this? Does my leg ache? Fortitude. Does my neighbor complain? Patience and an attentive ear. Have I lost my job, or reputation, or security? Resilience and apathy. Does my life now come to an end? Resignation to facts, and a loving smile to those from whom we must now depart.

~

The penalty of actually incurring the risks which appear so present and fearful during youth, is less terrible than the punishment of their aversion, which must be sustained and borne when we are old and our opportunities have passed. Youth is the time to assuage mid-life regret.

~

Occupied with distraction from cradle to grave, our lives pass with little notice or regard of the wilderness void which is our eternal, inanimate home. Our certain dissolution and apparent finality of being is masked with unreasoned promise of hidden tomorrows, filled with answered hopes, happy reunion and joyous reconciliation. We turn to death in our time chanting “There is more. There is more!” while the evident nothing envelops us like a tide. Our deceived corpse, no longer capable of care, dissolves to matter and energy; our last, utterly consciousless act, the slight tipping of the scale in the balance of entropy. How better, or perhaps more desperate, our lives, should we give up the unfounded myth that there is something more?

~

Tempered consumption forms a firm bedrock to philosophy. Observe appetite with caution, as you would any passion; sample it to determine if it is mean, base or sound. If wholesome, partake less than you’d like; leave always the appetite wanting; become strong through willful resistance. If our temptation is unsavory, empty, or lacking in virtue, then leave it aside altogether; starve instead on a feast of fortitude.

~

Picking my way carefully down the mountainside. Did I really climb so far? Was it really then so steep? My declining thoughts are a mix of the inspiration of the lofty vision my progress had attained, coupled with concern about the darkness in the valley below, growing deeper with every minute, creeping slowly towards me up the mountain. Such a long day it’s been. Such a fine day for climbing. How did I lose track of the time? Instead of photos now; I choose instead to simply think.

~

The Feast of Offal is not only an expression of folly and the consequence of unprincipled living, but also a screen and distraction from the fact of Indifference, which everywhere pervades.

~

Credulity puts on airs with the feigned dignity of dogma and the false virtue of faith. Better to go through life without answers than to believe without good reason.

~

Very soon my life will fold in on itself and wink out like the dim candle it has always been. Yet my muse will remain. Being dead, and having never been alive, my muse has the capacity to persist beyond me. She will carry no memory of me besides the fading influence of my words and deeds. My muse cannot miss me, speak my name, or remember me to another. My anonymity is scarcely more secure in the grave than when my pulse was beating and I had some voice to be known. My dead muse keeps perfect secrets; is incapable of telling truth or lies, is the perfect confidant.

~

I’ve declined to a place where my poverty is secure from fortune. I’ve so little of real worth that my desire for more is fully satiated. I owe no mortgage to reason, own outright my capacity to choose, pay no tax on apathy, and wield discretion like a sovereign. This outpost of peace was always near within my ignorance. Easily attained though the journey required fifty years. I owe thanks to Seneca, Epictetus, Aurelius, Emerson and Thoreau for suggesting the way.

~

I’ve begun the process of watching an acquaintance fail in business. It’s a venture in which he’s likely gambled everything, and thus has everything to lose. I’ve been there myself, twice, and the memory is so real it’s almost tactile. I laid up late last night staring at the ceiling, thinking of him. I’ll bet he was staring at the ceiling too. Just like I used to do. Beginning to drown. Going down through a form of death which isn’t really dying..

~

Apathy arms us with the same indifference which the universe wields in the execution of its mindless purpose. We stride through life bestowing benevolence in true proportion to our capacity; sharing unalloyed generosity and love, rich in the giving, expecting nothing in return.

~

My homunculus resides in a barrel within my head. Though my outward man works, votes and pays taxes, the inner self sleeps with his back in a crook, and looks out at the sunrise through a gaping round orifice, begging passerby to not block out the sun. He walks the avenues of my mind with bare feet and a torn shirt, or shirtless if the weather is fine. While I attend meetings, my homunculus meanders alone, or with dogs, in search of an honest man. When I dine he resists hunger with a crust of bread, and a pot of cheese should he wish a feast. One day I will become that better man, that ragged, lean and honest self; when I at last put aside this vain pursuit of living, and choose instead to simply live.

~

My homunculus has a ledger. It’s a crude journal of inaccurate impressions, vague suppositions and conclusions drawn of far too little experience or fact. This book has a section for good and evil, and even another for right and wrong. The entries are all drawn in bright crayon, as they require color to gain emphasis, being otherwise of so little merit. My homunculus is quite proud of what he’s made. He even shares and compares with others, drawing and offering criticism, which he hardly likes. But what more or better could he use to gauge the world? His life is so short, and so imperfect – though he prefers to not be reminded of this fact – that he holds to what he’s got with more certitude than merit. That’s his fault, though don’t expect him to confess it. Few ever do.

~

Returning from solitary adventures in the mountains of Japan and the rugged landscape persisted in my head like an intimate and cloistered hideaway. The desert however, unfolds in the mind like a great and empty map; devoid of sanctuary, exposed and utterly impersonal.

~

The will of apathy is neither mean nor small attention, but freedom from undue investiture; to apply our focus and efforts wisely, to make good and useful ends of our days, to be a benefit to mankind, and not burn our energies over useless kindle and conflagration.

~

The optimist’s bright luster cannot be dulled by apathy, nor their charity, kindness or philanthropy. Indeed, these qualities are enhanced and made potent through a distilled and refined focus; the narrow and distinct possession of mind which comes of knowing what is, and what is not, within our own control.

~

Our true, and perhaps only, essential purpose is etched into our being with the imperative of desire, and the awful threat of living and dying alone. It’s a mindless drive, truly requiring no thought. We live our purpose on auto-pilot; fulfilling its mandate with the satisfaction of every instinctual whim. An easy way to live, and a satisfying way to die.

~

Would you detain or lament Death’s rightful trespass; throw up protest and curse perceived misfortune; cry like a child denied sovereignty over all they see and know? To what end…that your gravity and equanimity might go first before the gallows?

~

Life is orphaned from the start. Our progenitor having more in common with a stone than the loving parent we might hope to deserve. We stand and gaze across the wild for some sign of kin and kind, our eyes drawn at last to the sky and stars in hazy remembrance of dim, indifferent origins.

~

We awake! Our fresh senses alive and new and electric with perception. At once we begin our locomotion; stepping and grabbing and speaking. We’re never lost, not for a moment, though our minds may despair of purpose or meaning or direction or worthy end. Indeed, a deep mandate has the reins. A singular, worthy end. There’s but one direction, one meaning that really matters, a consolidated purpose, driving and quite distinct. All artifact speaks to this one end. All else is abstract substance and substrate, compost and waste, filler and raw resource towards the gain.

~

I was asked today by a friend about my thoughts on the topic of worthwhile employ. Should the best occupation yield leisure and option to my heirs? Provide a catapult and catalyst to the next generation’s situation and state? At the time, I was asked I thought such an aim both worthy and admirable. But upon some reflection I see now little good in laying up my days against the improvement of my heirs. For if the better aim of virtue is a mature capacity of wisdom, enlivened with fortitude, made lean and impervious of apathy, and grave of self-control; then how much better to offer our heirs instead of wealth, the worthy example of our well-borne poverty, and the steady resolve, and still motion, of a body and mind at peace with self-control.

~

How might I become impervious to well-being; develop an immunity to good fortune, and make the good life a reality despite every blessing.

~

My poverty cannot withstand the price of so much good fortune.

~

My tribe are those who currently stand among brambles, wondering how they got there, bleeding a bit from the thorns, observing no trail back. Perhaps a book like Walden sent them this way; though by now they’ve far less use of a guide. Indeed, what wilderness is this that requires a guide; when every direction is in, and there’s now far too few rations for retreat. My tribe will know this place, though none of them are about. They’ll find me here long after I’m dead. I’ll leave them some marks. I sometimes spot marks of those who have gone before me; faint, strange, nearly indecipherable the further I go. There are older marks still, appearing fresh as the day they were made.

~

What should I tell my child on the use of time? Should I caution her simply to be mindful of its passing? To measure each moment with her attentions, and keep busy with the application of sober utility? Should I recommend foresight towards the life she may want to live? If so, how do I caution her not to reside too long in the fiction of what might be; or against setting up house in the past; or living as a ghost within the life of another? I must indeed offer caution against the waste of moments, which is the sport and pastime of so many; the impatient counting down of hours towards an ignoble, and seemingly, untimely death. Yes. I’ll instruct her to beware all this and more; to mind carefully what is ahead, and what is passed; to not lose sight of her own way by ungracious attention to the footsteps of others; and to know her true and even course not by the landmarks of her surroundings, or the warmth of the air, or the pleasant company, or the ease of the road; but instead by the satisfying perception of firm footing over any ground, any fortune, and for as long as her daylight remains.

~

Our genetic inertia propels us towards ends we rarely consider: sex, love, marriage and even Jesus proclaim our mute acceptance of responsibility to the survival of our species. Our blind allegiance binds this mandate to action. The veil may never rise for us, though the ones to whom we may one day become God should certainly pity our narrow vision, and quite constrained understanding.

~

Our genetic inertia propels us towards ends we rarely consider: sex, love, marriage and even Jesus proclaim our mute acceptance of responsibility to the survival of our species. Our blind allegiance binds this mandate to action. The veil may never rise for us, though the ones to whom we may one day become God should certainly pity our narrow vision, and quite constrained understanding.

~

Society bears down with a crushing weight of responsibility, while the wild bears down with the weight of necessity. The consequence of failure in the first circumstance may be destitution and disgrace, while failure in the second punishes with extinction and death. Going alone then into the wild relieves for a moment the first and lesser burden, in exchange for the thrill and challenge of a more base and primal threat. When we return from wild places alive, and mostly intact, our perspective is changed and temporarily revised; for what threat really is any office censure, any mere social disgrace; an embarrassing fumble of etiquette; or even failure in love or enterprise compared with what we’ve just met and mastered? The more consequent danger is now passed, and we move on through the day with a contented grace, having brought back a hidden trophy and prize in the simple fact of our survival. But this peace is perishable, requiring refresh at regular intervals lest we again mistake the civilized challenge of responsibility with the wild threat of necessity.

~

The human project is the occupation of attention until we’ve run out of time, death arrives, and we’re no longer forced to perceive. Indifference is the thing we do not want. For if we quiet our mind enough, something which isn’t really there becomes apparent. And if we separate ourselves far enough from our fellows, there it isn’t again. To apprehend this startling absence, through dead landscape or still mind, is like sensing a ghost which isn’t real; a frightening paradox to not behold. So, instead of not seeing, we first do this, then we do that, and then yet another thing; and then we die; hopefully well distracted, by the community and clamor of loved ones, who’s presence and attention assure us there’s more than nothing in the end.

~

Make your great life adventure early in life, when you’ve both everything and nothing to lose. The gamble then is more secure in your favor, the likelihood of success augmented by your ignorance and inability to recognize or assess risk. You’ll succeed even if the adventure kills you. Just don’t get pregnant, and in so doing assume your own risk onto the life of an innocent another. Save that wondrous adventure for later, when you’ve had your fill of yourself, and are more mature and ready to truly give. For your adventure’s venue, select what appears alien and strange; a curious and seemingly foreign life street or some exotic backwater of nowhere. Go meet your anxiety, and give it a fair listen; rebuke its fearful claims and hysterical protests. Come away satisfied you know better your mind, and can now answer and assuage its ancient unsound fears. You’ll know when the adventure is done, when you possess fewer dreams of tomorrow, and behold a broad and expansive landscape of today. Oh, and go alone…If you can bear it. If not, then take, or better still make, a friend along the way. You’ll find your tribe is out there.

~

Your mind is on a track. There’s actually very little leeway between birth and death. The course is strikingly simple, though we don’t notice due to our one chance at living, and the fact that our perspective biases us to exaggerate what little difference there really is between one life and the next, and one generation to the next. Gender plays a role in the course we must live, as does age, though these aren’t very popular topics to discuss. But keep that in mind, and listen to what your nature has to say, even if you choose not to heed; for informed choice brings both responsibility and accountability into the hands of the chooser. Always apply reason to your biology, always demand diplomacy of your motives, always seek virtue of your wants, or deny them altogether. In this way, never hesitate to resist your nature should it prove base, barbarous, unjust, or inhumane.

So, you’ll bump along this course of living, fortune heaving you at once to the left, and next to the right; but always forward, and at a steady rate, even when at rest, even when you decide not to choose. Remember that you’ll always be on those rails, and there’s nothing spiritual or spooky or inexplicable about them; so don’t get suckered into motivation, divination or exorcism to change your way. Instead, ride the rails like the successful survivor you have become, we have become, we’ve all become, by virtue of the simple fact we’re alive. You see, biology’s criteria for success is both simple and absolute. So, ride your rails to the end of the line. And if you choose, pass carefully your successful mandate into the future, as your mother and I have done through our loving creation of you.

~

It’s been over a month now since my dead muse followed me back from the desert. She’s always right here whenever my mind falls away from the fore. She lurks like a shadow and a memory, though her cold presence is now devoid of the fearful substance I remember of our first encounter. How my breath was taken away at that first sight at the edge of the Volcano Wilderness. I wonder if she saw me then too? Did she know me before? I certainly never knew anything prior so awful in the wild. Though there was that one cold night…thirty-odd years back. That night I passed alone within a vast desert empty, an empty which brushed past my tent while I slept, threatening my youth with its whispered age, and inviting me out to shiver barefoot and exposed while gazing up at the dark night, and across at the black empty. I was young then. Perhaps too alive to see. Maybe that’s the reason she’s here now? Are my eyes simply opened? Was she here all along? Will she ever leave? I think I know the answer. Though it’s perhaps best I keep that supposition to myself.

~

How much is enough? For myself, it is enough to stop asking this question. For if my ethics are sound, my reason keen, and my intent judicious, then there will always be just enough of every endeavor. So instead of asking after the quantity of things, I should instead seek after their quality. How sound today my ethics? How keen my reason? How judicious my intent? Let me then tune my social machinations to run silent, efficient and true, satisfied that whatever product is the result, of whatever quantity, is utterly sufficient to The Good Life.

~

Where will you set up house? Though the body must reside in some shelter of a sort to keep it safe and warm, the mind needs only space and liberty sufficient to exercise its native capabilities and natural inclination. These places are not incompatible; though an excess of the former may indeed distract from the latter; while too much of the latter may cause disconnect from those who share our former.

~

Is it possible my dead muse has died? Is that even feasible? If not truly dead, she certainly seems less present. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so long from her dead home out there in the desert? Maybe the spell has simply worn off? She can’t utterly be gone, as I hear her faint whisper now as I type these words; like a distant cold wind across a skeleton landscape of stones and sand; hushed and muffled; indifferent and absolute.

~

My dead muse is gone… The only words which remain now are my own. These thoughts are familiar…though they come with that same labored effort I’ve known since youth…like pulling a heavy root from hard soil. It was easier when my dead muse led the way, allowing me to follow behind as she stepped easily through abstraction, pointing the way towards silent impressions I cannot muster alone by way of my dull pedestrian life. I expect a trip back to the desert will secure our reunion. Though I wonder if she’ll ever follow me back again? Has she perhaps seen enough of civilization’s vain and glossy proposals of meaning? Has she had her fill of our fearful efforts to hold back her night? The words are gone.

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