It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. All the days of the afflicted are bad, but one with a grateful heart has a continual feast. — W.J. Cameron
A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it. — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Above: Though this chapter has come to a close, future pages remain yours for the writing.
As we turn the page on the year that was, time resembles more flat circle than coursing stream. Like an old, wooden rocking chair, no matter how many times we have lurched or swayed, we seem to have ended up right where we started.
As the years pass, I have found that they do not repeat, but instead rhyme. Like a formulaic pop song, though the lyrics are different, the melodies, chords, riffs are all eerily the same.
Put simply, over the past few years it appears that there has been much motion, but little progress. A quote I recently read aptly sums up the state of the world: “If you are not bewildered, you are not thinking.”
More macroscopically, I think such is the human condition. The future lies as dense fog through which we can neither peer nor wade. We are stuck in the continuous present — that immediate past — which hurtles toward the coupled asymptotes of future and tomorrow, someday and soon. Author Joseph Campbell said it best:
Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.
The above rumination is meant neither to be morbid nor pessimistic. It rings true as mere fact; just like how the sky is blue, snow is white, the New York Jets are a very bad football team.
Speaking of facts, I share a simple but essential one with you. Though we often live in the past or look towards the future, all we have is the present.
Pun very much intended, it is present in and of itself.
Grasp it firmly with two hands, shake it, unwrap it, and glory in it.
For, like good health or existence or Christmas Day, it may not be there or the same tomorrow.
And now for one final present — without further ado, my five most popular pieces of the year gone by.
Turn that which is potential into the kinetic. Reject the poison found in standing water.
If loving, love unreservedly.
If working, work diligently.
If conversing, converse presently.
If living, live intentionally and joyfully.
When we truly latch onto the fact that we are going to die at some point in time, we have more presence in this one.
Disappointment has a way of cajoling and unlocking what fruitless anger cannot.
No. 4 — On Growth
As of late, life has more resembled Red Queen's race than leisurely stroll in the park.
This is neither complaint nor protest; merely fact.
I’m not overwhelmed, just a tad bit whelmed, as it were. Luckily, this indicates that my heart is beating, that my diaphragm is contracting, that I am alive.
Every living thing must go through some gauntlet to give rise to growth.
No. 3 — Soliloquy on a Ski Slope
ridge, I stand beside
stained glass of Nature.
No. 2 — Enough
At the end of the day, a very small number of things add up to matter a great deal.
What’s frustrating is that these things seem inevitable in hindsight and are inscrutable in foresight.
What’s liberating is that anything and everything that you do eventually shrinks from a chapter to a paragraph to a line to a word to a letter to a scribble in the book of your life.
In this way, love’s very power comes from its frequent expression. Repeatedly saying ‘I love you’ does not dilute either its meaning or message.
In fact, I have come to believe that one of the essential jobs of a human being is to love; to reduce another’s anxiety by affirming his/her existence, by saying ‘yes, you are enough.’ By doing so, we allow love to build upon itself, like a snowball tumbling down a wintry bank. Love begets yet more love.
Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,