There are some things in life which are almost impossible to explain, they have to do with personal knowledge, with life experiences and with emotions, what we have lived converted, over time, into what we are. What we learn in our youth is what we need to have a fulfilling life as we grow older, be it the fundamentals of education or the social mores of those who surround us. These things we learn become ingrained in our very soul, they form who we are, how we react, what we think and, to a large extent, unless circumstances dictate otherwise, who our friends and acquaintances are. Many people accept this as being the way things are, and do not look for alternatives: this is the way I have been brought up, so it must be right.
Of course, we both know that this is not the real world: in the real world there are far more factors at play than a simple education, no matter to which level, can possible show us; in the real world there are interactions between people who have been brought up and educated in other systems; in the real world there are characters and personalities who have gone their own way, for good or for bad. Nothing can truly prepare us for life, we must just hope that what we do learn in early years opens us up so that we are receptive to what comes, to what we need to learn, to what we can learn in order to be a better person and, above all, without harming anyone else, enjoy our lives.
And then, and this is what I meant by so many people wasting their time on Earth, there are those who go through life with closed eyes and a closed mind and only realise that there could have been so much more when it is too late; when they cannot go back and re-live what was, or start afresh. Regardless of what may or may not happen to our soul when we pass over, when we die, I think that we can be fairly certain this life is the only life we’re going to have. Mess it up, and that’s it.
By that I do not mean that we shouldn’t make mistakes, that there won’t be times when we have to pay for something which has happened, either through our own fault or through that of someone else, but that we should learn from these mistakes and accept them as being a part of life. By learning from our mistakes we can access a completely different part of our personality, discover ourselves anew and, possibly gain as a result. There is often no real need to consult all the philosophers, to read everything that has been written on consciousness, on life, afterlife, ethics and so on, provided we are capable of sitting down and considering, of thinking things through, and appreciating the differences between right and wrong, between what we would accept in others and what we are offering those other people. This is, for me, what I meant by making the most of it, of life. And, in my opinion, even when someone has taken the wrong course and ends up in a place where he or she would never voluntarily wish to be, that is not the end of life, of living, providing they are awake to themselves and to all the possibilities in life which still exist, regardless of their circumstances. Aside from which, there are so many books, so many ideas, so many different paths suggested which could be followed, it is almost impossible to pick out the right way forward unless you listen to yourself more than to all the other voices vying for attention.
One of the things that I learned at a young age is that some people have a great deal to say, and much of it could be of interest or of use, but only one or two sentences – one or two ideas – really fit any specific person. We are all so individual, so unique in character, personality, emotions and life experiences, that a general How To book, like a horoscope, cannot possibly fit anyone but the person who wrote it. Needless to say, there are always insights which we can use, which perhaps shine a light within our own thoughts in some way, but the actual work on ourselves, the betterment or whatever you wish to call it, the opening up of our consciousness, can only be done by ourselves.
The creative arts are a wonderful means of expressing ourselves, and can often be used to voice what cannot be put into words. Although my own ‘art’ form is the written word, paintings, drawing, etchings and prints along with every other form of visual art have always been something which attracts me, which holds my attention. There are so many wonderful works where you can almost read the mind of the artists, especially those created over the last hundred years or so which, having broken away from the formal bindings of what was considered art and what mere daubing, allow the artist to express their inner thoughts in a vision of chaos or beauty without restraint. I think it is also possible to find inner peace through art, as much as answers to some of the questions we ask ourselves, whether we can put what we find into words or not makes no difference, so long as the understanding, the knowledge is there within us.
As you share your art, so I have recently discovered that my letters are being shared, something which I have no problem with at all. The differences between our work are, of course, that I tend to write for one person alone, whereas you paint for any number of viewers, of visitors who you will probably never see. I’m not sure which one is the hardest task. Even so, for me it is a strange feeling to know that someone I have not written to is reading my words – although it shouldn’t make that much difference: anyone who writes anything on the internet, for example, has exactly the same experience; you believe you are writing for yourself or maybe one other, and then, suddenly, you see that other people have visited your site, or marked your words down as a favourite, or are evening following you in order to keep up with what you have to say.
Our existence makes precious little difference to the universe, in my opinion. We are a mere speck of dust on another speck of dust which is circling a miniature light in the middle of nothing. Despite what so many people seem to believe, our decisions are paltry, our actions irrelevant, our hopes and dreams naught. The universe will continue without us, when our time comes. But the universe which is within each and every one of us, the person which we are, that is a different matter entirely. Here each decision, each word, each emotion and experience has meaning, if only we knew how to recognise the right moment, the right move, the right feeling. And if only we accepted that what we do has an effect on other people too, one way or another. It may be that we do not see what happens, but there will always be something which is passed on, which changes another person’s life, for good or for bad. Again, no amount of book reading is going to make a change there, nor letter writing, nor wonderful works of art, unless we are producing those things which have a positive effect. Ennius is quoted by Cicero as having written:
That there are gods I’ll always claim, I’ve always thought; but what men do, so I believe, to them is nought.
My own school of thought, is what I think I meant when I wrote that it is complicated. This is merely the result of many years of reading, of discussions with other people, of travelling and gaining experience. One or two of what we regard as the famous have influenced in one way or another – such as Heraclitus, Plato, and many others – but only on the very edge. My school of thought is complicated because it is cut out for me, and would probably not work for anyone else at all. But I can put your mind at rest in one aspect of this train of thought: it is not expensive. I’m not the sort of person who requests any form of financial remuneration simply to share what I have seen or heard, read or otherwise experienced in the world. I would also be something of a charlatan if I claimed that what I have, what I believe in, is what will work for anyone else. As I say, it is cut to my size, and every person on this small green planet is different. At the same time it is something which cannot be paid for with cash alone, being so unique and, when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, I’ll be taking it into the abyss with me.
So, no, don’t worry that I am going to send you an invoice for some services you neither need nor want; I write letters, I enjoy receiving replies. For me they are part of the finest arts known to mankind, the arts of conversation, discussion, ethics and logic, and you cannot put a price on such things, not in this life, not in any other life which might be promised.