Living in the Mystery

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A reading of my poem, The Web of Love

I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason

John Keats

I wander in a sea of uncertainties, and bathe myself in the unfathomable mysteries of the cosmos.

My mind begs for answers, for direction, for a solid ground to stand on. But my heart, pleads for me to stay on course. To venture onto the pathless path.

Inspired by the work of Shakespeare, the esteemed English poet John Keats coined the term ‘negative capability’ to describe the embrace of the unknown. It speaks to the idea of withholding judgement, and refraining from our desire to seek immediate answers. Negative capability requires one to cultivate a degree of attentiveness towards the world. To let go of our grip, our control, and open up our arms to beauty, grace and truth.

Our rational thinking mind turns off as we connect more deeply with our intuition, the deeper experiences of our life.

As we step into the mystery, novel possibilities unfold. Creativity emerges giving birth to new ways of being. The lenses that we have previously used to interpret the world become obsolete. The chains that held us back, our fears and self-doubt, break apart.

We can begin anew.

For what is a human being but a bridge between who they are and what they can be.

A stream of potentialities.


This article was originally published on the Pointless Overthinking Blog

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The Unmasking of Beauty Within the World

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In February 2021 I penned a poem on hope. I was looking for motivation and inspiration in the midst of the uncertainty that has clouded our times. Alone in a forest near my house, starting at the snowy covered trees, I reminded myself that the beauty of this world is indifferent to human affairs. It is eternal and ever present. It will provide and nourish our spirits when we have been led astray. All that it requires is the cultivation of our attention. That we are present to the complex intricacies that make up our everyday experience.

Wonder and awe fill my being when I contemplate the grandeur and sheer mystery of our universe. I am intertwined in a myriad of interdependent relationships, related to ancestors and species of the past, many of which I will not know or even have heard of. The human species have existed for 250,000 years in a universe that is estimated to be over 4 billion years old.

There is a kind of solace and comfort provided to me from this vantage point. A wider perspective can be uplifting and make us feel grounded. The importance and stress that we place on seemingly trivial things begin to fade away. We are all part of a much bigger web of life which will endure long after we perish.

The spotlight shines away, egotism recedes as I recognize the shared fate which bounds us all together.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As I am writing this article, a cardinal flies past my bedroom window taking refuge in a tree in my backyard. I momentarily pause, and look closely with reverence. I’ve never seen a cardinal in the winter. But then again, it may have been that I was never really paying attention to the world unfolding right in front of my eyes.

Its bright red feathers reflect against the white glow of the snow-covered tree, radiating across the sky.

I don’t really know what the future holds, in many ways it is unpredictable far beyond the confines of human control. I am aware, however that the presence and attention I give to the present moment is the gateway to the beauty of the world – the path towards hope. The omnipresent light is always available to us. What we decide to focus our attention on is a choice that is within our control.

As the bird flies away into the receding horizon, I am reminded of the poetry of Emily Dickinson,

"Hope" is the thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

 Source :Poetry Foundation

Featured Image Source: Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Search for the Good Life

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The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination

Carl Rogers

In our day to day lives, many of us are preoccupied with completing the tasks on our never-ending to-do lists. Life quickly passed us by but we rarely take the time to reflect and contemplate on the deeper questions of our existence. When asked what do we want to get out of our lives, many will respond with the vague answer “I just want to be happy.”

However, when pressed on what this exactly means, we give generic answers that lack any real substance. Happiness is often conflated with pleasure and feelings of contentment. What comes to mind is the smiling couple we see in Hollywood romances or the slick well dressed business man racing down the street in a flashy sports car.

We soon realize that the excitement and rush that we get from pleasure quickly fades.

 Trying to pursue a life dedicated to pleasure is like running on a treadmill. It always leaves us dissatisfied and desiring for more.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had a different conception of the good life which he called eudaimonia. Although loosely translated as ‘happiness’, the term points to something akin to human flourishing. Eudaimonia, is not a temporary fleeting experience, rather it is a lifelong project. It is the result of working towards self-actualization and realizing your full potential.

Human wellbeing requires us to strive for excellence as well as pursue and cultivate virtue. Just as an athlete who wants to improve their performance needs to train, a person who wants to become virtuous must to perform virtuous acts. For instance, someone who is courageous is an individual who acts courageously whereas an individual who is humble is one who exercises restraint and avoids egotism.

It is through acts of goodness, virtue and excellence that we experience contentment and happiness.  

As ‘social animals’, Aristotle argued that we ought to utilize our distinctive talents and gifts to benefit our broader community – to enhance the common good. One’s role as a human is not only to act upon your gifts but to contribute to the flourishing as society as a whole. This view differs from individualistic versions of the good life which can often focus on satisfying a narrow set of materialist desires.

In the final analysis, Aristotle’s view of a life well lived requires active participation and the development of habits to be the best version of ourselves.

So, what is your idea of the good life?


This article has been adapted and was originally posted on the Pointless Overthinking blog: The Search for the Good Life – Pointless Overthinking

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