Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quickly As If

Quickly, as if she were recalled by something over there, she turned to her canvas. There it was - her picture. Yes, with all its greens and blues, its lines running up and across, its attempt at something. It would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be destroyed. But what did that matter? she asked herself, taking up her brush again. She looked at the steps; they were empty; she looked at her canvas; it was blurred. With a sudden intensity, as if she saw it clear for a second, she drew a line there, in the centre. It was done; it was finished. Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.

- Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse

* * *

But what did that matter? This is the question that lies at the root of your life, of all lives. The answer you give is what gives your life its meaning. Lily Briscoe, Woolf's doppleganger, the independent female artist resisting the concussive weight of male domination, decides, or better still, recognizes the final judgement of her work is meaningless compared to the experience of having created it in the first place.

Knowing the true order of things and their true value - which is always and in all places determined solely by you - is the end of death and the source of life.

* * *

Life is without meaning. 
You bring the meaning to it.
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.
Being alive is the meaning.

* * *

When do you die?
When you stop breathing?
How about when you stop living?
Do you know the difference?

We are sent hurtling through our lives like so much buckshot: POW, and off you go in a million directions from that one point in time. It is an open field and all possibilities are initially present, but soon, too soon, the possibilities are hacked and hewed by circumstances outside of our control: culture, gender, affluence, want, etc. Paths are made for us by others. Expectations are raised and we follow - not out of cowardice (initially), but rather devotion to those who prepared our way. As some of the shot falls to the ground, as other pellets are refused, our lives narrow to a fraction of what was possible. We matriculate. We accommodate. We abdicate. We suck. We worry about where the painting will hang instead of simply painting another. Out of the many possible lives we are reduced to the habits of others who were, in their day, in their turn, reduced as well.

Orwell writes: "But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks."

This is the way of us fucked fuckers.

The task of living is to restore "the scattered light of God," that buckshot of potential and make it whole again within your own life.

* * *

Like cavalry horses at the bugle, we are well trained by others to assemble and charge in the direction of their choosing. But before a cavalry horse was cavalry made, it was a horse: unfettered, complete. Stop answering another's call. Stop caring about other's expectations. It doesn't matter. All that matters is your vision and your willingness to make it complete.

Lily Briscoe did it.
You can too.

It's the whole fucking reason you are here.

* * *



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