Opportunism : A Love of Fate

One popular belief system of the ancient Stoic philosophers known as ‘Amor fati’, or ‘love of fate’ is of great importance during these current times, especially for millennials.

The philosophy posits that every event is discerned as fated to occur. When one complains and strongly protests against circumstances, one falls out of balance with the natural state of things; one wishes things were different.

We’ve been told that one of our greatest human resource is our willpower, our decision-making => our discipline.
Most of us wouldn’t be where we are without hard work or the ability to change our circumstances.

And so, we come to expect that the world will always respond in kind. That it will do what we want. That things will more or less go our way.

To the young and ambitious, Acceptance is the hardest piece of advice to follow. A bitter pill to swallow.
It is hard because it means tolerating things we don’t like, it feels weak, it feels like one has quit, it feels like defeat.

What am I supposed to do, just let things be?—YES!

The tendency to adhere to this faulty and damaging belief that things must be the way we want them, or must be the way we expected ultimately accomplishes very little to nothing at all. Energy/life is wasted!

More importantly, it prevents the acknowledgement of a crucial paradigm shift: Working with what actually is, seeing things as they are, converting all circumstances into opportunities, making the best of every situation, being fluid in our approaches, free in our thoughts, listening to demand and creating supply, willing to take new directions without fear of failure.

Amor fati => Love of fate => The art of acquiescence => what can’t be cured must be endured.

THE MESSAGE: One doesn’t have to like it to work with it-to use it to one’s advantage. It starts by seeing it clearly and accepting it unconditionally. Amor fati – a love of what happens, because that is our only option.

The world around us is what it is. The events that happen are what they are. The people in our lives do what they do.

Accept them. Understand them. Empathize with them.

A man or woman who believes this cannot be hurt by anything or anyone.

realist

Requiem for Sleep

1.

Under the bright lights of a glass-and-chrome clock, on a black cushioned chair, Cecil is sleeping, his two pieces of black luggage in front of him. A police officer awakens him,

“Excuse me, sir,” he says.

Cecil sits up startled. He is wearing a flannel suit, a luxurious warm cashmere scarf, and an overcoat. Eyes red and puffy, his face gaunt and pale, Cecil sits before the police officer, who studies him with bemusement.

“Please keep your bags close to you,” the police officer says, picking up Cecil’s carry-on and sliding it under his chair, and says, “I have never seen anyone frown so much in their sleep.”

“I will keep that in mind officer,” Cecil retorts with an insincere smile trying to lighten the moment, and watches the law enforcer walk away. He glances at his watch, and then looks at an overhanging clock; check-in for his flight begins in a few minutes. He’s been battling sleepless nights, and this is his only chance to catch up on some much needed snooze. In the silence of the nights, Cecil fights his imaginary battles; his unrealized dreams, corruption and unjust occurrences to which he turned a blind eye, the moments of timidity he manages to conceal from other people, but not from himself – and the love which he lacked the courage to embrace. The thought inevitably occurs: if only I had said or done x instead of y, if only I could do it over. He tosses and turns from side to side on his bed, and still fails to fall asleep. He keeps recalling the day’s events; tomorrow’s planned events, and next week’s planned events. His mind keeps spinning in circles, and though he is exhausted, he simply cannot fall asleep.

He overhears the couple behind him chatting about the weather in Florida, and the possibility of rain. He recognizes the smell of fading perfume that women are wearing, Chanel, clashing with the smell of popcorn and toasted sandwiches. The mechanical, yet pleasant, voice on the public address system starts calling for someone to go to the nearest courtesy phone, then announces that flight 446 is now boarding at gate-4B. He hears snippets of conversation from other passengers passing him on their way to the next gate. Underneath Cecil’s functional surface is an undercurrent of excitement, anticipation and impatience.

If the end of the year is a time to reflect on mistakes made and relationships lost, there may not be a better way to start the New Year than with a long overdue vacation. Airports are passageways to life’s biggest moments: celebrations, weddings, and funerals. Along with overstuffed bags, laptops and treasured souvenirs, travelers carry joy and heartache.

Cecil starts moving through the security screening. It’s a beautiful choreographed ballet of a bag handle collapsing, shoes coming off, a laptop in a separate tray, wallet and watch sliding into a shoe, his boarding pass sliding into his back pocket.

2.

Once up in the celestial clouds, strapped into his tight seat, in the climate-controlled can-like cabin, the seat-belt sign goes off. With the hope that in the end, the destination will be worth the discomfort, the inconvenience, and the anxiety, Cecil decides to watch an epic movie.

The film depicts a fallen hero in a medieval epoch. This hero’s village is destroyed by a rival neighboring clan, his wife and child raped and killed, his friends beheaded, and his puppy roasted on an open spit. Throughout the movie the hero justifies his actions, cloaked in religious rhetoric, claiming that it is justice he is after, not vengeance. One cannot be in a moral position not to root for this hero. All the same, as the movie develops, Cecil notices how the more the hero hunts the cause of his woes; the more he takes on the villain’s personality and mannerisms. Justice is probably a mere feeling.

Cecil is fascinated by this kind of heroism because it evinces a kind of strength he wants to emulate. In reality when a man looks in his heart he doesn’t discover something valiant and dangerous, but instead finds anger, lust, and fear. The heroism Cecil finds in the movie has a melancholic sense to it since the hero is all alone, but keeps fighting because without friendship and love, even the strongest man cannot live long. The human soul needs a kindred, familiar heart, a place to rest and lie down. What a precious flower friendship is; we can never value our friend highly enough if he is a true friend, and can never run away fast enough if he betrays our trust.

“Damn you, Iago!” Cecil mutters under his breath, shaking his head in disappointment.

Man will always be man because there is no new man. Civilization, a culture that promotes democratic values of being fair to one and all, the importance of fitting into a group, and knowing how to cooperate with other people. We strive so hard to create a society that is equal where there is nothing to envy your fellow man. But there is always something to covet: a smile, a friendship, something you don’t have and want to claim as your own. There will always be rich and poor, those fortunate in gifts, and others wretched in affliction. There will always be those blessed in love, and others poor in love. A kiss was to be a sign of love and friendship, Judas came up to Jesus with an act of affection but all the while in his heart he was going to betray Jesus. Cicero once said that a nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason within. Cecil died a million times when he heard that she was happy with Iago, and spent sleepless nights wondering why someone so close would turn around, ruin the best part of him, and leave him empty. More troubling and complex, however, are the battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side – “Et tu Brute, then fall Caesar,” as Shakespeare would say. We laugh extra hard at each other’s jokes, since honesty rarely strengthens friendships, one may never know how a friend truly feels.

Cecil resorts to contemplating, over-thinking, and wishing that they suffer the consequences for what they did to his heart, allowing them to hurt him a second time, this time in his mind. Cecil can’t quite remember who he is anymore, and nothing makes any sense. His significant other is no longer significant, and his closest and oldest friend, the very paragon of benevolence, stabbed him in the back with a velvet glove on his hand, and the sweetest of smiles.

3.

The passenger sitting beside Cecil, an old man, presumably a priest by the clerical clothing he is wearing looks at Cecil with confident loving eyes, and asks,

“What’s the issue young man? You seem troubled, unfinished business?”

“No,” Cecil replies. “Everything is tied up just fine, knock on wood,” Cecil says. He smiles positively; mirroring the confidence exuded from the old man, and then says,

“However, I find myself wondering what the chances are for this particular plane we’re sitting in to sending us into a spinning, rotating, and nose-diving spiral of certain death?”

“I presume you are not fond of flying,” the priest says cracking a sardonic smile.

“No, flying is not really my cup of tea,” Cecil replies.

In reality, the priest’s presence made Cecil ponder about heaven and hell. If the plane actually crashed, killing everyone on board, hell! The thought of anyone suffering at all, let alone for eternity makes Cecil’s stomach twist. He then decides to ask the priest a question,

“May I ask you a question about your faith?”

“Yes, you may,” the priest answers.

“Is God really so vengeful?” Cecil asks.

The priest takes a moment of silence to respond, looking at Cecil pensively, and says,

“The Lord hears the prayers of those who ask to put aside hatred, but he is deaf to those who would flee from love.”

Cecil remains quiet, nods at the priest slightly embarrassed, and mutters under his breath a platonic reply, “Interesting!” his voice trailing away weakly. He looks out the oval window to the earth’s landscape covered in clouds and water. He keeps thinking over what the priest said about the conundrum of love.

For some reason Cecil finally manages to fall asleep.

 

END

What Could Be: A Letter to my Younger Self

Dear Lionel,

I wish to properly introduce myself first:

I am you in twenty years in the future from your vantage point. You must be wondering how all this is possible; this letter – you, me, writing to you, to me, in the past, at this moment, in the future. Nevertheless, do not worry too much about the plausibility of all this for now. This ‘one-time’ opportunity could pass. This letter might be the only chance for us to finally meet, because amazing occurrences in life rarely happen twice.

I know for a fact that you think a lot about yourself in the future, of what could be, and I particularly love dwelling in nostalgia, reminiscing about myself in the past. With this letter, our opposing parallel lives have finally merged; your present is now my present. So pay attention because I write from the future.

There is so much I would like to tell you, details of what lies ahead, the kind of man you will become, the choices you will make and their aftereffects, the amazing moments you will experience, like the time your friends will throw you a surprise birthday party, the hardships you will endure, like the time when you will be persecuted for your skin color during your internship in Europe, the mistakes you will misapprehend, like the time when you will over-speed and crash your car and your ankle, the moments of courage you will weather, like the time your girlfriend will be drowning and you will save her, the moments of solitude you will discover, like the time you will decide to write your first novel, and everyone around will be mocking you, the comradery you will share, like the day your best friend will defend you during the political crisis, the carnal desire you will be tempted with, like the day you will be taken to a brothel, and you will be tongue-tied and ashamed, the romantic love you will feel, like when you will first meet Kelly, the moments of duty you will be committed to, like when dad will lose all his money, and the betrayal you will not see coming, like when Ari will take your business from under you all the while smiling in your face.

All this might sound strange as you read this, and no, I will not give you any more details for I want you to learn to dwell in the euphoric, impetus of present life. I want you to consider hope as a life motto, and believe in ‘what could be’. For I know too well what is disturbing you at this particular time in your life. You are very anxious; fear is at the center of your being. Trust me, trust you, trust yourself, but more importantly, trust your instincts. Instinct is something which transcends knowledge. We somehow have a God-given ability enabling us to perceive truths when logical deduction or any other willful effort of the brain is futile.

I hope I was not too preachy, but these are aspects of life that will align everything you are yearning to understand. But then again, I do not want to give you enough details that will in turn make you completely alter the future, your future, my present. Rest assured I am content with my life as I write this letter; moreover, it could be better. So the ball is in your court.

I suppose you are still young at heart to fully grasp all that is written in this letter at this particular time in your life, and I am quite relieved to know this. I hope you keep this letter in all your adventures, and hope you re-read it over the next few years as it will all make sense as the years pass. Give yourself time to grow. You do not need to be serious all the time.

In any event, I hope it strengthens your belief in yourself.

 

Yours Truly,

Lionel ‘Love Jones’ Ntasano