#Idea – Memento Iuvenalis / Remember Your Youth / 12.01.17

When you see an elderly person
Or anyone struggling with (…or against?) the inevitable march of time
You could see an opportunity to remember your common humanity
And to share the burden of the human condition.

You could see as a chance to remember that,
As carbon based life – we were given these amazing but fragile bodies
Prone to errors in repair and replication
And quickly breaking down

This is neither good, nor bad – it just is.

And so, this person in front of you is an opportunity
To remember that we are all dying together
…although this particular person is probably closer to the end point than you are
And probably feeling the pull more than you are.

And, no matter how well he’s taking it
(…we do hope he’s taking it well)
Maybe he can teach you something by his example
Perhaps to treasure your youth whilst you have it
No matter how old you are.

elderly black and white photo
Photo by Anne Worner

When I look at an ‘old person’
Dealing with what appears to be this slow catastrophe
This thing we call ageing
I can’t help but feel some admiration.

I watch him weathering the storm;
Unwinding telomeres
Failing strength
Fading memory.
But there he is
Still going
And I can’t help thinking;
That’ll be me one day, if something else doesn’t get me first
Maybe I can learn something through his example

‘Youth’ as an idea is slippery slope
Such a relative concept
I remember some acquaintances from when I was 11
(…those a little too old to be properly called my friends)
Men, I suppose, in their early 20s who seemed so old, strong, distinguished, unknowable
Now I am 29, these fresh faced 22 year olds
Worry me with their youth and their inexperience
They affect me with the things they have already done with their short lives
What they might yet do.

I look at them with a sense of loss that I can’t help but feel
I lament the hours I feel that I wasted when I was their age
They too, in their own and very unintentional way, are a memento:
I’m 29 – not old exactly ‘old’,
But there they are all the same
Being many years my junior

And with them is a sense of the abrasive nature of time
Wearing away at my body and my psyche
A little voice in my head
Telling me that I need to ‘get on with it’.

young people black and white photo

Problem is, I don’t really know what ‘it’ is
And so I suppose this age gap
Reminds me to examine the trajectory my life is taking
By looking at back at how I got here
What I was doing then.

It’s more than a little neurotic, no doubt about it.

Maybe when I’m 80,
I’ll be looking back on those spry 60 year olds in much the same way
Or maybe I’ll be dead
Who knows.

‘Age’, is almost a synonym for ‘youth’
And just prone to the same amount of relativity
Someone once proclaimed that ‘you are as old as you feel’
That person was probably not a decade older than 70
(…though I may be wrong).

What is age but a reminder?
Whether you look forward or backwards
In this way everybody; older or younger, could be seen as a memento mori
A memento of life;
What you had
What’s left of it
No matter how much is left of it.

elderly laughing black and white photo
Photo by .through my eyes.

We should cherish the elderly
Living, breathing
(…sometimes barely breathing at that )

“Memento Iuvenalis”:
Remember your youth
No matter how old you are

Cover image credit: KasunChamara

#Idea – The Epiphany Usually Comes Later / 03.03.17

Whatever you are currently experiencing
(…no matter how good, or how bad)
May be the basis of a future epiphany.
(…or it may not).

Put another way, everything is valuable because when you later reflect upon it, it could change your life.
You only get to find out later.

As in everything; your future is unknowable.
And this too will pass.

#Idea – The Signal To Noise Ratio Is Getting Worse / 01.03.17

The amount of information we are exposed to continues to increase
But the amount of meaning we can make from this information
Hasn’t necessarily increased along with it.

And so
You could say that
As time goes on
When it comes to The Human Condition
(…or ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’)
That the signal to noise ratio is in decline.

#Idea – On people who try to convert others

Religious proselytism may come from a good place
In the sense that you believe you can help/save people by signing them up to your belief system
But at its core – it is fundamentally arrogant
To think that you have the answer to what is arguably the most important question
And that everybody else is wrong
That everybody needs your help

And, get this
Even if you don’t make a conscious effort to convert people
And you still hold this belief inside you
This belief takes up space where some spiritual humility could be
Because, as with everything
You could be right, and you could be wrong…


Photo by zbigphotography (1M+ views)

#Idea – Remember this when you are truly and hopelessly depressed 

Do you get really, really unhappy sometimes?

I do. And I’m not afraid to talk about it

Because not talking about it is a problem. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, OK? People are there to listen. People are there for you. You don’t have to go through it alone.
Anyway – when deeply unhappy, there is at least one thing that you can take comfort in.
Remember that, when you come out of the other side (and you will), you will be better able to help those who will, one day, endure their own version of what you’re now going through.
You can use even the worst of your depression as a way to deepen your empathy and your compassion for others.
It doesn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with, but it often imparts some meaning into what can feel like a needlessly painful experience.
I like to remind myself that I am going to take this stupid anguish, or pain, or suffering – or whatever – and I am going to use it to build real meaningful bridges with other human beings.
Put another way: I don’t know what your hell is like, but from the perspective of my hell I can be there for you.
And that, in a manner of speaking, can make it all worthwhile.
“When you are going through Hell, keep going…”Winston Churchill

Photo by onur hurgel

#Idea – Stop Being Offended AKA Arguments Against Taking Things Personally

When you take offence, you have abdicated your power to choose how you feel to another person.
You have allowed them, consciously or not, to press your buttons.
And besides
Since your ‘person’ is, on one level, optional
(i.e a persona – a mask you wear and an idea you have created about yourself)
There’s no need to take anything ‘personally’
Unless you want to
But why would you want to?

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

#Idea – When Did Being Busy Become A Competition? / 29.03.16

Everybody is so busy.
Getting on with life.
Getting ahead
Getting somewhere
Just ‘Getting’.
Getting what?
Getting older, faster?
Instead of getting
Instead of racing the clock
Trying to do more things
Trying to do everything faster
You could
Make time for the experience of time itself
The experience of time passing
Or perhaps put another way
You could ‘make time for the timeless’
And perhaps
When you see how much time there is
(…it really is all you ever have)
Perhaps you could feel less stressed
About your perceived lack of time…
How busy you are
Is not a marker of how well you are doing in your life
And that idea: ‘how well you are doing’
It can take you to dark, inhospitable places
Make you do bad things to yourself
…Status Anxiety
And worse.
black and white depressed photo
Did you ever see a depressed cat? Photo by blhphotography
Life doesn’t have to be a competition
To see who can have the least free time
Or do the most things in a short space of time
Or be most tired
Work the longest hours
Be the most stressed
Suffer most thoroughly
Time passes anyway
As do you
Everything tends to happen
‘In it’s own good time’
Time is a perceptive phenomenon
And all you ever have
Still think you don’t have enough?
In one sense it is, literally all you have
Need I reiterate?
How can you not have enough of all you ever have?
Maybe this is greedy
Wanting more of a thing
That is impossible to attain more of.
Believe in time’s abundance
And that is how you will feel about time
Buy into the current paradigm
The ‘time famine’
And you will continue to fight a losing battle against the clock
Until you die
Now Is Forever