Lost

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“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” -Wendell Berry

This quote came to me at the right time of my life through a book I’m reading called “Small Victories” by Anne Lamott. Life is feeling strange, not that thats new. Its not because of my own inability to recognize my surroundings, or a lack of understanding of the world. Its not because I don’t know myself or who I am.

Its because I don’t know how to recognize myself in the context of my surroundings.

Ive determined that this is what it means to be lost. And I am writing about it now.

A girl is born on a different world, facing a unique societal structure that is different, but not so different, from our own.  Everyone born in this world has a one track existence that is determined by certain biological characteristics. In this way, each individual serves the greater good of the whole. They operate quite happily, and quite smoothly in this way and have done so for thousands of years. But like what happens to us, genetic mutations occur, and Xenia is one of the people born with an abnormality that makes her purpose unclear.

And so this girl goes about her life realizing that to be lost is not necessarily the inability to recognize your surroundings. Its to not know what it means to be you, or how to be you, when your environment is not giving you any clues, and seems to always go against the grain of your own instincts.

My particular problem is that I can’t do anything unless its genuine, but is that really a problem? Yes. Let me tell you why.

I refuse to listen to what I should want and what my interests should be. I don’t think people realize just how heavily their interests are influenced by the people they are around. Just living here can make you into something you’re not as the entire world is constantly trying to convince you that you need what they’re selling.

You need this education, with this means of transportation and this technology, these clothes, this appearance, this lifestyle, these things. All day every day since you were born, you are bombarded and become a product of the corporate world, and there is not much that can be done about it.  All that can be done is to go with the flow, and do the best you can with what you have (which is a lot, I am not being a glass half empty kind of person, I am merely pointing out what goes unnoticed most of the time).

Living in a world like this as a person that does not naturally go with the flow of his or her surroundings creates a sense of this lost feeling I’m talking about. There is constant questioning of how any part of the self can exist here successfully, and what parts of the self are the right ones to apply.

Making connections with others becomes increasingly difficult, as you drift away from the crowds that want and enjoy things that just aren’t fulfilling to you. There is a constant feeling that you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing, and constant worry about making it look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are going and where you want to go becomes your identity by the time you get to your junior year of high school, and into college. It is like the world I created in my story, where your purpose is defined by the tasks you perform.

I don’t know how to end this thought, as this is an early point in my journey and haven’t had the time to digest these feelings. I suppose the best way to conclude this is with the quote I started with. I don’t know what I’m doing, but perhaps thats just a necessary part of the initiation.

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Milestones

Sometimes success is a milestone, and sometimes success is removing the word “possible” from the prospective notes of your future novel. For me, this was a note of a minor detail that is far off from what I am currently working on. But now I know that the plans I made for this part are solid, and no longer needed it. So “(possibly twice)” became “(twice)”. I make these adjustments in small increments over time, and they accumulate. This whole endeavor feels like its taking forever, or feel like it will take forever. So this is why I am saying this today, that success can be a milestone, or erasing a word from your drafts. Milestones are born out of these events anyway, aren’t they?

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Created to Create

“Imagination is more powerful than knowledge”

-Albert Einstein

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In my own personal quest of understanding, I am encountering more and more often the idea of how our thoughts manifest into physical reality, and how we were created to create. This is true, and not necessarily on some mystical level that lacks rationality. We see it every day with our technologies. Our entire civilization is built on a foundation of things that were once ideas. It all had to be conceived first. Imagination is more important than knowledge because imagination manifests knowledge.

Think of a brick layer, whose tools, bricks and cement would represent knowledge, the facts that are at hand. These materials mean nothing if you don’t know what to do with them, just as facts are meaningless without a way to postulate scenarios. (I like this analogy because it also hints at the importance of the materials to build what we conceive, the role that knowledge plays in this scheme). Imagination gives knowledge shape, and therefore meaning.

All this, and yet our public schools are keen on teaching children how to think, and that the facts listed on a lecture slide in college is what will determine whether you are a functioning citizen. Perhaps this approach does make you a functioning citizen, but not in the way that is unique to yourself, not in a way that incorporates your own full potential.

I am writing this as a frustrated participant of this system. As a junior in college, I’m tired of the perpetual quest of trying to emulate what my external environment wants out of me, rather than simply drawing upon what I already know, working with what comes naturally, and applying it to our society in the most constructive way possible. I am weary of the idea that nothing is more important than making yourself into something that someone else wants.

So while we live in a civilization of such impressive creations, how is creating not given more weight in our external and internal lives? I suppose there could be a few answers to this, one major reason being money and greed. Our creations have been centric to this facet, virtually becoming a God of sorts, as it seems to be the reason we do anything today. We have to. Some of us create to earn a living, so we can eat food, to live and make more money, and so on. And so it is not about creating to create, but creating something that fits the status quo. This methodology ultimately leaks into the education system and the vicious cycle continues.

I understand that there is a reason why things are the way they are. I understand there are ideals that are simply not ready for our way of life, and that we have a long way to go towards a system that is morally sound and embraces humanity, rather than one that oppresses and controls it. However, I think there is still something we can take from these ideals, and although I’m not certain of how, I believe there are small ways to effect change.

I think it starts with waking up and realizing the distinction between our life’s purpose and our means of survival, because as humans, these things are completely separate and unrelated. It surprises me every day just how many people have forgotten that we have free will, and that we have a choice despite the constraints of our environment (which ironically, could potentially be eliminated with the realization of this fact). In many ways, we are a cog in the wheel. But I don’t believe we were meant to be cogs for this particular wheel, which is of control and prohibition. You have a choice to be what you want to be. To live your life like a song, a painting, poem, or an interesting novel, whatever suites your soul. And when you do this, something beautiful happens. Not just for yourself, but for those witnessing the change around you, who can then begin to believe that they too have this power, and they too can live life with greater purpose.

Our creations will change us, and how this happens is solely dependent on what we think is worthy of creation, either that of money or that of who we truly are at the core. This translates to the choice to keep living like we are living, or to live as we naturally came: created to create.

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 “When I say be creative, I don’t mean that you should all go become great painters and great poets. I simply mean let your life be a painting, let your life be a poem”

 -Osho