Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

The Great Indifference


Life on Earth is alone
No one will help us
These facts are disturbing


And religion
Shelter us
From the Great Indifference


When you can perceive
The slow dissolution
Of atoms
You may lose interest in
Building castles of sand


All landscapes
And circumstance
Appear tame
And familiar
After solitary passage
Through The Great Indifference


Exploring in the sea alone provides an opportunity to reach distant places without traveling very far. In the desert for example, I need to hike two hours alone beyond the last road and trail just to reach the near edge of the Volcano Wilderness, and then another hour before The Great Indifference can be perceived. In the sea, a short swim offshore to depths beyond reach or around the corner of some rocky point will bring you quickly to the place you seek. Take a breath and descend and you’ll find Indifference moving everywhere in the gloom, below your feet in the murky haze, up ahead where that sea mount looms like an underwater giant; in the surf crashing against rocks which tosses the body and sometimes draws blood, and in caves where the threatening embrace of mindless death and indifference snap the senses to a more primitive frequency and comprehension.


The Great Indifference is not a consequence of being alone. But of realizing we only have one another.


The Great Indifference is everywhere alone here in the desert. Just like it is at home and a work, only the muzzle’s off.


The Great Indifference is a perspective which yields an understanding of the true nature of the universe. It’s a place of clear thought, and relentless truth. The way there is never easy, never marked and can only be reached in solitude, and when the only chance of return is under the power of one’s own volition. What you find there may be worth the journey, even if you alone can understand or appreciate the prize.


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.


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


I just completed the “Creeping Indifference” hike. A 24 hour, 500 mile adventure across an extreme natural landscape of human disinterest, a recognition of our species’ innate response, and a glimpse of the deep possibilities of human connection and love which are our answer to the dilemma of death. Altogether, a very fruitful day off.


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


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? *


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 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. *


* Included in “My Muse is a Corpse”

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