The Wandering Monk

Brewmaster Rysu – New Posts On Tuesdays


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As we go through life, sometimes we encounter situations that end so violently and in such memorable ways that we can’t shake their impact.  In today’s society, we are almost obsessed with giving everything a label so we can accurately track or measure it, but when we do this we often compartmentalize the truth and separate it from its surroundings.  Segregated like this, it becomes abstract and emotionless, and to me, loses much of its true substance.

For those who suffer from PTSD, the situation cannot be contained to a box.  Truth is, while others might see it as just a piece of that person, that person sees it as a nearly life-defining event, and all other events are an attempt to tip-toe around the trauma, in an effort to pretend that the world is okay when it never truly feels like it is.

I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing a few traumatic events in my life, but none are so impacting as extreme emotional trauma.  Perhaps for others, this is not the case, but for me, it has been a struggle every day.

There are days when I am sure that the worst has passed and that I am free of this brand of self-induced torture.  But then, like a wave whose tides have changed, the waters of those vivid memories and all their emotional ties force their way back into my life.  Sometimes its through dreams, sometimes its through constant reminders scattered across everyday life.  Sometimes its simply a lingering, dark feeling that I can’t put my finger on.

I awoke this morning sobbing; something I haven’t done in a long time.  It was such an odd experience, because I was simultaneously wrapped in the aftermath of a night terror and consciously present outside of the entire experience.  I watched myself as my emotions turned on me and writhed in the anguishing memories, but even as they did, I could see it as though watching through a window.

Logic is often the first defense external caregivers will offer you.  Perhaps for many psychological challenges, take a logical approach can at least give a person a path towards the help they need.  It can arm them with purpose and a sense of what ‘right’ looks like.  But for some kinds of emotional trauma, the emotional cores that are associated with memories can hardly be swayed by logic.

I know, deep down, that my life is better having come out of the events that I have experienced.  That what happened, needed to happen, needs no persuasion on my part.  But it doesn’t change the emotional connections, the millions of reminders I encounter each day, and the ties that I can’t seem to sever.  Logically, it was always doomed and I was too blind to see it.  Logically, I am better off on the path I am on now than the one I was back then.

But Emotionally, my heart breaks a thousand times a day.  Pieces of me long for something I’ll never have again, no matter who or what I encounter.

Zen ideals and Kung Fu practices both tell us that focusing on pain, both through reliving and by drawing the attention to it even presently, will only amplify suffering.  Attachment leads to suffering after all.  I try to stay here, in the present, but like calling voices in a cave, I hear the memories come from all directions.

It has helped to sit in silence and be with myself, to acknowledge them with strength and calmness; with clarity, for precisely what they are and not what they want me to believe them to be.

My only salvation has been in the resting moments of meditation in the evening.  My only solace is when I can rediscover, time and again, that the only power my suffering has over me is the power that I give it.  And that the person whose responsible for it has long since forgotten about the damage they have inflicted.

Even if they wanted to, there is nothing they could do to help me.  Nothing that any other person can do to help me.  I must face this with determination and with strength, but also with forgiveness both in myself and in them.  I must let go over the negativity that binds this suffering to me.. even as it comes from the many points of happiness I’ve experienced by the same token.

This all brings me to the point of this blog post.

I doubt I am alone in my suffering.  No doubt many in the world have experienced trauma that has rattled their lives.  Part of the volunteer work I do is a Crisis Hotline, where I encounter others who are suffering.  To hear about others who are suffering serves to strengthen my compassion.  To help others heal, is to help myself heal.  To serve others is to serve myself.  To abstain from regret and to shed the burden of sorrow.

We cannot change our past nor can we amend the results of it.  We can only stand in the present, evaluate the results of our lessons and hope to make the best choices we can in the here-and-now.  My advice to others who might be suffering is simple.

Love.

The heart is fueled by love and its health depends on the love you give just as much as the love you receive.  Believe in the power of real love.  Offer it to others, friends and strangers alike, and offer it to yourself.  Forgive yourself for your mistakes, let go of your regrets, and send the energy you know that you need out to the world.

Healing can only truly begin when you orient your mind towards it and not the effects of your suffering.  Even when you do, it takes time and adherence to hope.

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Brewmaster Rysu’s Pre-Legion Checklist

Brewmaster Rysu’s Pre-Legion Checklist

And Plan of Action!

General

  • At least 40k gold on every character I plan on leveling.
  • Clear out Bank, Reagent Bank, Void Storage, and Bags.
  • Keep health potions, flasks, and personal food buff items handy.
  • Transmog / Repair Mount.
  • Goblin Gliders
  • Complain on the forums about “Honorary Brewmaster Keg” Cooldown-to-Duration Ratio
  • 500 Dark Brew Lager ingredients (bank)
  • 500 Captain Ramsey’s Lager ingredients (bank)

Fishing

  • Angler’s Fishing Raft.
  • 2 Stacks of Griefer Fish.
  • 2 Stacks of Awesome Fish.
  • Kalu’ak Fishing Pole
  • Boots of the Bay
  • Rysu’s Drinking Hat
  • Fishing Chair
  • Sharpened Tuskarr Spear
  • 40 Worm Supreme
  • 40 Oversized Bobbers
  • Gather Useful Fish for Cooking (See Below)
  • Gather Useful Fish for Brewing (See Below)

Brewing (Herbalism/Alchemy)

  • Find the Dalaran Alchemy Station
  • Look Up Most Important Herbs
  • Keep up with popular herbal spawn locations
  • Get Boon of the Harvester (Dreamweavers – Honored)
  • Focus on making the “Infernal Alchemist Stone”
    • Infernal Brimstone
    • Fleawort
    • Blood of Sargeras
  • Change to Transmute Master
  • Research special Herbalism/Alchemy quests.
  • 500 Crystal Vials (bank)
  • Gather Fish for Transmute: Fish to Gems (After110)
    • Ghostly Queenfish x5
    • Mossgill Perch x5
    • Highmountain Salmon x5
    • Stormray x5
    • Runescale Koi x5
    • Black Barracuda x5
  • Gather Herbs for Utility Potions
    • Avalanche Elixir (lol..): Foxflower
    • Draught of Raw Magic (??): Aethril
    • Skaggldrynk (Invisibility): Fjarnskaggl
    • Skystep Potion (Movement Speed/Levitate): Starlight Rose*
    • Sylvan Elixir (Turn into a Tree; AOE Buff): Dreamleaf
  • Gather Herbs for Combat Potions (Focused on Best One While Leveling)
    • Health Potion: Yseralline Seed
    • Mana Potion: Yseralline Seed
    • Rejuv. Potion: Healing Potion, Mana Potion Mixed.
    • Channeled Mana Potion: Starlight Rose*, Aethril, Dreamleaf
    • Damaging Potion:  Starlight Rose*, Fjarnskaggl, Dreamleaf
    • Companion Summon Potion: Starlight Rose*, Foxflower, Fjarnskaggl
    • Armor Potion: Starlight Rose*, Aethril, Foxflower
  • Gather Herbs for Flasks (Focused After 110)
    • Stamina: Starlight Rose*, Aethril, Dreamleaf
    • Strength: Starlight Rose*, Aethril, Foxflower
    • Agility: Starlight Rose*, Foxflower, Fjarnskaggl
    • Intellect: Starlight Rose*, Fjarnskaggl, Dreamleaf

*Appears in Multiple Initial Recipes, gather more of these!

Cooking

  • Stock up on VENDOR cooking items in Dalaran before setting out:
    • 100 River Onion
    • 100 Dalapeño Pepper
    • 100 Royal Olive
    • 100 Muskenbutter
    • 100 Flaked Sea Salt
    • 100 Stonedark Snail
  • Gather Herbs for Cooking while questing:
    • Azshari Salad: Dreamleaf, Foxflower, Fjarnskaggl, Aethril
    • Nightborne Delicacy Platter: Starlight Rose*
    • Seed-Battered Fish Plate: Yseralline Seed
  • Gather Fish for Cooking while questing:
    • Silver Mackerel (Dried Mackerel Strips)
    • Cursed Queenfish (Fighter Chow)
    • Mossgill Perch (Deep-Fried Mossgill)
    • Stormray* (Pickeled Stormray)
    • Black Barracuda (Barracuda Mrglgagh)
    • High Mountain Salmon (Drogbar-Style Salmon)
    • Runescale Koi* (Koi-Scented Stormray, Suramar Surf and Turf)
    • Stormray (Koi-Scented Stormray)
    • Cursed Queenfish (Fishbrul Special)
    • Mossgill Perch (Fishbrul Special)
    • Black Barracuda (Fishbrul Special)
    • Silver Mackerel (Fishbrul Special)
    • Highmountain Salmon (The Hungry Magister)
    • Lavish Suramar Feast (Large Meals only)
      • Suramar Surf and Turf
      • Barracuda Mrglgagh
      • Koi-Scented Stormray
      • Drogbar-Style Salmon
    • Hearty Feast (Light Meals Only)
      • Deep-Fried Mossgill
      • Pickled Stormray
    • Snacks
    • Light Meals
    • Large Meals
    • Delicacies
    • Feasts

*Appears in Multiple Initial Recipes, gather more of these!

Priority Items

  • Alchemy
    • Agility Flask (110)
    • Armor Potion (Early Dungeons, End Game)
    • Invisibility Potion (Leveling, End Game)
    • Skystep Potion (Leveling)
    • Rest are for fun.
  • Herbs
    • Felwort (Rare Herb)
    • Yseralline Seeds (Common Herb)
      • Healing / Mana Potions
    • Starlight Rose* (Suramar)
      • Skystep Potion
      • Agility Flask
      • Armor Potion
      • Damaging Potion
      • Companion Potion
      • Strength Flask
      • Channelled Mana Potion
      • Nightborne Delicacy Platter (Cooking)
    • Foxflower (Highmountain)
      • Agility Flask
      • Armor Potion 
      • Companion Potion
      • Avalanche Elixer
      • Azshari Salad (Cooking)
    • Fjarnskaggl (Stormheim)
      • Agility Flask 
      • Intellect Flask
      • Invisibility Elixer
      • Damaging Potion
      • Companion Potion
      • Azshari Salad (Cooking)
    • Aethril (Azsuna)
      • Armor Potion
      • Strength Flask
      • Channelled Mana Potion
      • Azshari Salad (Cooking)
    • Dreamleaf (Val’sharah)
      • Stamina Flask
      • Intellect Flask
      • Damaging Potion
      • Channelled Mana Potion
      • Tree/AOE Buff Potion
  • Fishing
    • Stormray (Stormheim)
    • Runescale Koi (Suramar)
    • Cursed Queenfish (Azsuna)
    • Mossgill Perch (Val’sharah)
    • Black Barracuda (Ocean Fish / Costal)
    • High Mountain Salmon (Highmountain)
    • Silvermackerel (Everywhere)

Level Progression Path

  • Stormheim (Dynamic)
    • Gather:
      • Fjarnskaggl
      • Stormray
  • Highrmountain (Dynamic)
    • Gather:
      • Foxflower
      • Highmountain Salmon
  • Azsuna (Dynamic)
    • Gather:
      • Aethril
      • Cursed Queenfish
  • Val’Sharah (Dynamic)
    • Gather:
      • Dreamleaf
      • Mossgill Perch
  • Suramar (110)
    • Gather
      • Starlight Rose
      • Runescale Koi


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To Be a Man

There’s a song in Disney’s Mulan called ‘Make a Man Out of You’. It’s originally performed by Donny Osmond and is essentially this musical montage piece depicting the transformation of civilians to soldiers in order to stand against the invading Hun armies. As the Chinese Army only allowed men to be soldiers, Mulan pretended to be a man in order to volunteer. While the principle of the song and the movie are very unique and interesting, I’d like to take a look at what he says in his chorus. This is what they’re defining as a man. They aren’t saying this is what a soldier is, they’re saying this is what it means to be a man, and by being this, being a soldier will come naturally.

I’m omitting much of the song’s references to the Huns, and focusing on the descriptions themselves.
Tranquil as a forest

When we walk through the forest, alone, for the sake of basking in nature, tranquil may be one of the best words to describe it. While it’s anything but silent, the forest’s every sound and every aspect can lend itself to the state of tranquility.

In many ways, the tranquility of the forest can be a needed component in meditation and mindfulness. Meditating in the forest is much easier if your goal is to center yourself, distance your attention from the past or the future, and to find the true self within. The hum of life, from the smallest creature to the thundering steps of the bear, can ground us.

So, to me, being as tranquil as a forest means to find serenity, hone your attention to detail, ground yourself in the present moment, and find your harmony with your surroundings.

 

But on fire within

While being tranquil is necessary, the fire within gestures to having the ability to take that focus and use it to direct your passions and your intentions towards a purpose. Residing within the present moment grants us the ability to commit our whole mind to the task, and the fire gives us the will and passion to commit to those tasks without waiver.

To me, having a fire within means to have energy and passion, coupled with focus and temperament.

 

Once you find your center, you are sure to win

This is less a metaphor and more about a lesson we could all learn. In Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Yoga, and many other eastern practices, our center is our source, and no matter how deeply you look at anything, including the universe, warfare, and combat, finding and understanding the center on a deep level is key to mastery.

Finding your own internal center is a physical, spiritual, psychological, and even very literal practice. Physically knowing where your center is enables balance and the complete mastery of your own body. It enables your graceful movements even when reacting to extreme conditions. Spiritually, finding your center grants clarity, health, wisdom, courage, and an absence of fear and doubt. Psychologically, finding your center enables intuition and critical thinking to be done in a fast past environment.

Once we find our center, we are sure to win – once we are centered, we can only know success.

 

You must be swift as a coursing river

From a literal standpoint, the river may be fast but certainly is not the fastest thing. To me, this reference is less about the speed and more about the steadiness of the river. There’s a saying I have often heard which is “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This means that rushing too much leads to mistakes and a lack of mindfulness, which chain reacts into folly. But being mindful and careful, slowly and smoothly acting, the actions can appear to be effortless, flawless, and indeed, very fast.

In Kung Fu, we practice with our hands touching our partner’s hands, wrist to wrist. In Tai Chi, we emphasize technique and motion, not haste. But in having deliberate, masterful, smooth actions, complex movements can be performed effortlessly and, in time, grow to become truly masterful.

The Coursing River also bends and has its own pace. But through all of the bends and courses it flows. It is calm, deliberate, steady, and thus, swift.
With all the force of a great typhoon

Being smooth, steady, and swift – like the river – is half the battle. As mentioned above, one can achieve mastery at complex actions by mastering their pace. Understanding the technique of being smooth yet knowing how to guide this flow into striking power is the other half of the battle.

In life, being smooth and serene is optimal, but knowing when and how to act when the time comes is paramount. When one acts, it must be powerful, decisive, and correct. Both in life and in combat, an action must not be done in haste, but in swiftness.
With all the strength of a raging fire

A fire is an often used metaphor. The raging fire’s strength is as powerful a metaphor as any other. Fire, having been born from the smallest of embers, nursed and coaxed, given patience, appropriate fuel and attention, grows. When a fire is raging, it stops being a small, easily extinguishable ember to a nearly unstoppable force. While incredibly destructive, it is also decisive and changing. Fire is change, so much so that having the strength to both accept change and to be the instrument of change, is to have the strength of a raging fire.

Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

Mystery is often a quality associated with men of firm stature. The dark side of the moon does not boast its presence or its mystery, it simply is. It rests and allows others to perceive it how it may. It is not persuaded by the judgements of others; it does not change what it is based on the whimsical nature of another’s point of view.

To be as mysterious as the dark side of the moon is to be yourself, undauntedly, and to maintain your humility, your poise, and your honor even in the face of adversity. You share only what you decide to, and you are not coaxed into behaving beyond your intentions.

 

With all this in mind, allow these metaphors to sink in. What does it mean to be a man, as described here? To me, it means to be capable, competent, humble, centered, strong – in mind, body, and spirit – and determined. It means to stand as who you are and by what you believe in. It means to constantly grow, accept responsibility, remain accountable, yet accept others in turn.

In Buddhism, there’s an often referred to path called the Eight Fold Path to Enlightenment. To understand this path, one must understand the Four Noble Truths. These truths can be summarized into:

1. The Noble Truth of the Reality of Dukkha (or difficulty, suffering, pain, anguish, or conflict) as part of a condition existence. In essence, Dukkha is that in our lives that is difficult to bear, both as great or as minor as it may come. This truth suggests one must realize what exactly Dukkha – Suffering both big and small – from an internal standpoint.

2. The Noble Truth that Dukkha has a casual arising. This really means to understand that the proportion of Dukkha one experiences is nearly directly comparable to either the latching onto, or the shying away from, various things in life. It is understanding that we take things that are not about us, about the world around us, and make them about ‘me, mine,’ or completely ‘not mine, not me’. The truth explains that we are neither fully in control of, nor absent in the influence of, all the experience of our lives.

3. The Noble Truth of the End of Dukkha. This is often described as Nirvana. At its core, this is reached by finding your Awakening, in that we realize that we are not bound to anything. Neither the things we want to be, nor the things we don’t. Nothing is ‘ours’, save for our experiences. Nirvana is achieved when we can shed our attachment to things in our lives, and accept that attaching ourselves either to the control of, or lack of control of, anything, is folly. Nirvana literally means ‘Unbound’. Only when we are ‘unbound’ can we truly find our Awakening.

4. The Noble Truth of the Path that Leads to Awakening. We just talked about what Awakening is, but how do we get there? This last truth is the treatment, of sorts. It’s difficult to comprehend because devoting oneself to it utterly is, by definition, never reaching it. Its paradoxical, in a way, because to truly let go of all things – all desire – avidly and as a way of life, your life will be filled with the desire to shed all of desire. Many feel that it’s a step-by-step process, where Awakening is a result of that process. Truly, Awakening is the realization that truly letting go means to let go of letting go, too.
While the path is a process, it is not designed to have an end-state. It is meant to guide you beyond your conditional responses in your life. To suffer means you are experiencing a conditional response, and the path leads you from that responses, back to your true Self – a Self that is not bound by the conditional responses we often have. A Self that does not suffer.
With all that in mind, let’s talk about the path – the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment.

1. “Samma-Ditthi” – Right Vision/View.

a. This a reference to seeing or understanding the nature of reality and the path of transformation.

2. “Samma-Sankappa” – Right Emotion/Thought/Attitude.

a. Understanding and liberating your emotional intelligence and understanding how to act from a place of love and compassion. Learning the language of emotion and how to don the attitude of love and compassion.

3. “Samma-Vaca” – Right Speech.

a. Clear, honest, uplifting, non-harmful communication to others.

4. “Samma-Kammanta” – Right Action.

a. Similar to Right Speech, using actions in an ethical manner, not exploiting others.

5. “Samma-Ajiva” – Right Livelihood.

a. Living an ideal life socially. This has a lot of interpretation, obviously, but the general rule is to have a livelihood that maintains ethical principles of non-exploitation.

6. “Samma-Vayama” – Right Diligence.

a. Being aware of your life energy and making the conscious decision to direct this energy to the path of creative and healing actions that fosters wholeness. Diligently maintaining compassion for all things.

7. “Samma-Sati” – Right Mindfulness.

a. Having the thorough awareness of both the self and the awareness. Don’t lie to yourself, don’t make excuses for your behaviors. Perform moral and ethical inventories. Conscious evolution.

8. “Samma-Samadhi” – Right Concentration.

a. Also called meditation, absorption, one-pointedness of mind, etc. Difficult to say in English, but the idea is to be grounded in the present moment and focus on one, single task at a time. Do not scatter your mind, your concentration, your intentions, or your energy in many directions. When you do something, do it with your whole being and your whole self.
I think it’s easy to see the correlation. What does it mean to be a man? Perhaps it means to be aware of yourself, aware of your environment, and to embody the nature of all things within yourself. It means to maintain your honor, act selflessly, and maintain your focus.

In today’s world, perhaps we suffer the most from an absence of these things. At least, it can seem that way.  But if you take the time to understand the character outlined here, both implicitly through song and through the scope of the lessons of a 4000+ year old religion, I think you’ll find that the world needs more of just such a character.


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Life is Intangible

Recently I spent some time gardening with my daughter.  We planted a wide variety of plants; some herbs, some flowers, and even some vegetables.  As we did, she smiled and laughed, recounted her knowledge of plants that she had recently learned in school, and reveled in the participation and energy of being in the sun and playing in the dirt, of spreading the seeds of life and of cultivating something, even if she was unaware of what she was really experiencing, for some of that.  

As we finished up, I stood and rubbed my hands to shake off some loose soil, and to reflect on what we had done.  The sun was, sending rays of light through the leaves of the trees nearby, the grass swayed with the wind, as did my child’s hair, and she looked to me with a smile that I cannot possibly describe in this composition.  

Life is all around us.  We are blessed to be able to experience it in such abundance and in such majesty, and to have minds and hearts capable of appreciating it.  But even as life flourishes, it also will eventually ebb into the cycles, only to rise again; much like our lives.  But even as my fingers raise the soft green basil leaves I planted some time ago, I find that the nurturing gesture is but a symbol for the truth of life — it is that which we experience.  With luck, love, and patience, our garden will grow and with it, our hearts.  We will find smiles in the scents they carry on the wind.  But it isn’t the plants or the growth, or even the cycle, that brings life to the forefront — it is experience.  

We are granted endless opportunities, few of which we take it seems, to experience life as it is, right now.  The admiration I feel towards life as it grows is in my heart, not in the plant.  While the plant inspired it, true life exists within my experience of it.  The sweet scents on the wind are reminders that I am privileged to have the ability to behold such experiences.  It is perhaps the aggregate of these experiences with our surroundings that is the essence of life, it seems to me.  

If the plant feels the warmth of the sun, perhaps it experiences its own unique form of life.  It’s leaves spread and reach to bath in golden light, it’s roots drink like straws from the moist soil, and it flourishes under the conditions of life it needs.  Some might say that because the plant grows, it breaths, and it eats, it must  be alive; but I argue that these are responses; symptoms to the reaction of life.  Life bathes in the nourishment it is given and it responds to it by blossoming.  That it receives the nourishment certainly alludes to life, but that it responds in kind is the translation of it.  A rock also receives the sunlight but it does not respond to it.  

The experience of life is what I have come to appreciate, and it is the single reason I try to pour my heart into the present moment.  If we spend so much time planning for what our life will be, and so much time assessing and evaluating what our life was, we will never actually participate in it.  Remember the past and honor it for its lessons.  Brave the future with each step, not with anxiety but with hope.  But most importantly, live in the present, where all that ever has been and all that ever will be focuses and converges.  

Thank you for reading.


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Immortality

Immortality.  We’ve all heard of it; it’s practically a buzz word in modern fantasy and across American vocabulary.  To live forever; to shed the fear of death and stand among the ages as time unfolds before us all.  Pop culture has romanticized this as both the unattainable and as the thing we must all want.

But immortality is a funny thing.  As we grow up, we’re not truly confronted by our own mortality until we are old enough, wise enough, and perceptive enough to internalize death around us into being inevitably inclusive to ourselves.  Otherwise, we go through life perceiving death from the outside.

If we think of life as the act of living and death as the absence of living, then it’s safe to say that our fear of death, while ingrained and founded as something we want to avoid, is nothing to fear in and of itself.  This is to say that none of us are afraid of death in that it is death we fear, we’re afraid of death because it means that we are no longer going to have the things that we have now, including our lives, our families, and all the things that we have that make up our living experience.

Oddly, we view death as its own experience.  But how can death be an experience?  Even if you believe in some form of after life, reincarnation, or another invested form of life-after-death, death itself isn’t an experience.  It’s the void of experience.  Consider light and dark.  Imagine that our experiences are all the light within an otherwise infinite dark in every direction.

As we observe the barrier between our sliver of light and the darkness beyond, we imagine experiencing the darkness as an absence of life.  But what we don’t realize is that, as this metaphor applies to death, we can’t be on the dead side and look at life, mourning the loss and lack of it.

Immortality is often popularized because it is inherently a dream of all mortal creatures faced with their own inevitable, personal apocalypse, that we prolong and extend the arrival at such an event with all our intellectual, physical, and spiritual capabilities.  We don’t want to die, and so we engage in what ever subterfuge of our own psyche that we need to in order to grasp and accept it.  For some, this is heaven, for others, it’s ignoring it.

We also perceive others’ immortality, without realizing it.  To us, they are gone, yet their lingering memory is what maintains our perspective of them.  Over time, we change, and so too does our memory of them, yet even as this transformation happens, they remain in the same state.  Only we change, only we perceive differently.

When a meaningful celebrity dies suddenly and unexpectedly, we mourn them. We hope remember them for what they had done, we try to reason, and determine, and internalize, for our fears or for our hearts to find meaning and solace.

But does immortality exist?

If life is an aggregate of experiences, and those experiences are what define how people perceive us, even after we’ve gone, then the extension of those experiences might be the closest thing to immortality that any of us may ever have.

Take John Lennon.  He passed many years ago, even before some of those who listen to his music were born.  Yet, despite that he is no longer with us in the same experience-exciting way that we are accustomed to a person being alive is, his music and his words still land on our ears as assuredly as if he were to just have spoken them.

The experience of John Lennon continues, not just digitally, but within us.  He still brings us warmth with his music, inspires us with his story, and lives on in each of those who continue to perceive him.

So then, death may not be when our hearts stop beating or when our bodies discontinue performing the jobs we’ve grown accustomed to doing, perhaps it is when the world has forgotten us.  Right?

The day will come when all that we know will be some long and distant memory, swallowed by time and remembered even though perception by none.  The day will come with the Earth will not exist, that the human race will not exist.  Perhaps it is approaching, or perhaps it is not for millions and millions of years.

But the day will eventually come when all that we have previously defined life being will settle away from existing.  So this must be true death, right?

The human body is made up of the same kinds of compounds and atomic material that the first stars of our cluster were.  They were the first condensed material that were ejected by the big bang 13 billion years ago, and yet the building blocks of our existence have endured.

When the universe finally settles into heat death, or collapses in on itself, or settles into another unknown future, the atomic substances of all our creative combinations will still exist in some form.  We may not breath, but we will exist — together.

So if that’s the case, where is death?

And that brings me to my point.  We are already immortal.  We beg for our perceptions to be preserved as a way of maintaining the unique light we have shown upon the world in our brief time here, but the truth is that we are but mere expressions of the same, massive, unfathomable universe that has always existed and will always.  The gathering magnitude of all that is remains as the substance that makes up you and I.

We are all stardust, we are all things.  No matter what your belief system is, we can all agree that it is simultaneously unifying and dwarfing at the magnitude of our individuality supplemented by the magnitude of our unity.

The universe is in you, and it is expressing itself in a way that cannot be duplicated.  Embrace the power of your individuality before we all become one once again.  Live here, in the present moment, where all of time and all of life and all of the universe spins in expression universally.  An expression that is both you and the mirror.  Your eyes as you read and the paper that you read from.  The ideas that you have and the mind that conjured them.

Be your amazing, perfect, brilliant self, just as the entire universe has wanted you to be.  Do not fear death so much so that it restricts capability of living.


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We Are The World

When you think about the world, what comes to mind?  Do you envision catastrophe across the bounded contents between species of the same people, bent on hurting each other over who’s right and who’s wrong?  Do you think of war?  Hate?  Malice? Prejudice?  Or do you think of the world and envision rolling, tree-carpeted hills stretching miles?  Or do you imagine the sweet scent of the ocean, or the forest after a spring rain?  

We all see the world as only we can.  Perhaps our perspective is a scrapbook of things we hear online; Facebook, or the news.  Or perhaps our perspective is drastically different from those of our peers, classified only by our own definition of truth, uninhibited by the words of others.  To some, this is biased and closed-minded, to others, revolutionary and truth-seeking.  

Consider, for a moment, what a man on the other side of the planet is thinking.  Not just how he lives, or what he eats, but how he thinks.  Can you do it, truly?  Perhaps you can.  I know I can’t.  No matter how I try, I imagine the world around him as I would envision it, not how the man would envision it.  No doubt as I learned more and more, my opinion and, indeed, my perspective would change.  Suppose I imagine he lives in poverty, or is unhappy with his life, doomed to repeat his work day. Suppose I assume his surroundings are unaccomodating, or that his life is hectic or chaotic.  

But I don’t know a thing about this man.  So where do all those presumptions come from?  Am I a skilled, psychological mastermind?  Am I so full of myself that I can assume what another’s lifestyle must be like simply by the will of my own imagination?  

I hope that I am none of those.  

But where it must have come from, then, is my own perception on the world.  It must have come from the experience I have gleaned, either through the rigors of my daily life or from the experiences that others have shared with me.  Those experiences fuel my imagination, and any supposed perspective I might conjure would only  be as good as how informed my own perspective is.  It will never be fully correct.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.  The world is a chaotic place recently, isn’t it?  So much violence, so much hate, so many people who want to hurt other people.  But the world is not one big ball of chaos; it is not one swirling field after field of terror.  It is simply the world, riddled with ideas and perspectives and beliefs of countless expressions of the universe, all caught up in the ego of themselves or those around them.  

The world is how you choose to perceive it.  

I cannot, with 100% certainty, say I know what reality is.  I can say only how I have perceived it.  I can say how I choose to perceive it and so can you! The next time you view the world or an event within it, catch yourself before to you go down the rabbit hole of negativity or association.  Challenge yourself to find the good in the world, even if a situation is terrible or tragic.  Strive to seek out happiness in your life as assuredly as you do oxygen and food.  Do this, and while terrible things will always be terrible, they will not define the world, nor your perspective of it.  

Don’t forget to smile.