Look Onward to Your Epitaph
What are words?
Very few words make any sense without a word or two surrounding them; a punctuation mark.
A picture is worth a thousand of these words because only the people in them can sum up the experience in a few. Take that same photograph and place before it any number of different circumstances and the reality of that moment changes instantly.
Ever been talking to someone and been cut-off right before you make yourself perfectly clear? Sometimes, a tiny pause is enough to let a listener jump to conclusions.
A paragraph is so much more complete than a sentence. A sentence more complete than a clause. A clause more complete than a word. A word more complete than a syllable and a syllable more so than a letter.
An epitaph is most complete of all.
A life fully realized.
In physics, they call the observation of the smallest physical things, the collapse of the wave function. Because once you break down atoms into their tiniest parts, they begin to act in ways that are unpredictable. Rather, in ways that the observer chooses.
In transcendental meditation, there is a short meditative exercise that is called the collapse of thought. Its practice is in observing your initial thought and then asking the self where the observer of the thought is looking at it from, and etc., and etc. until you become completely unsure who it is and where it is these Thinkers are located.
Basically, breaking down thinking into its smallest pieces. This practice is supposed to give the individual a stronger ability to define the self, rather than by all of the thought processes that invade the mind.
If you ever find yourself alone in a busy train station amid a myriad of conversations you can experiment with a similar exercise in language.
Try to tune your hearing to encompass the babble on a global scale. If you, for a few minutes, not allow yourself to pick out a single conversation, but instead just let the many words register with non-bias in your ears. You can break down the paragraphs, into a more intelligible garble of short sentences or even down to words. And in this garble start crafting meaning.
In my many attempts at this exercise, I find that the conversation seems to take on an eerie dialogue about myself. I can’t guess as to why this happens for me. Perhaps, I replace my internal dialogue with this garble, and it makes it easiest for me to discern? But, it does work.
It can give a real insight into the psychology of the paranoid schizophrenic.
Are they talking about me? In individuals prone to disassociation, it could surely seem that way.
But, in all of these examples, aren’t we merely removing all of the contexts, and belittling the more complete vision of what these things are a part of?
I think it’s just easier to assign our meanings to things that we don’t fully understand.
Didn’t Adam name all of the things of the Earth? I don’t know that it is in our scope to relabel them…
Where am I going with this article?
If my pen ran out of ink right now, this article would be a different story.
I often ask myself if I were to die tomorrow, what would be my epitaph?
Surely, it would be different from my vision of me.
I recently sat through a Sunday Service at The Bridge where the Pastor talked about something we all can relate to, temptations. And, like all things, without listening to the whole thing you may not get from it the full-scope.
But, it, and the combination of going for a biopsy next week made me ask myself again, right then and there, what will be my epitaph?
Vision is one of those words that you do need context to define.
Take mine for example.
I have always had a vision of myself as an old man on a mountain. Roughly ninety-years-old, teaching a few students Ninja training, maybe taking a disciple under-wing in my own philosophies.
But that vision is so far off, as I am at a ripe young age of forty!
What to do for the next fifty years?! And what will I be if I don’t achieve that vision?
A hopeful? A dreamer?
What’s our vision for next year? Next week? Tomorrow?
The Pastor encouraged us to read through the book of James as a study in temptations and a testament to keeping that long-vision insight.
Boy, how great it was to clarify for everyone how vision is lost!
A man without vision is a man obscured by temptations. I use the word obscured because it can actually blind you from anything that might be of value in the long-run.
If you watch the Sermon, you’ll hear Pastor Mark use the Grouper Fish as an analogy of temptation. Kinda how we lure a Grouper out of its hole to take the bait. Get it away from its cave and place of strength, where he may just take the hook and all.
Pastor Mark uses a big juicy piece of bait on his hook, not some unappetizing leaf to tempt the fish out.
He’s promising the fish life here!
I mean, on that hook is a great piece of vitality giving food. Why wouldn’t the fish take it? Look what it offers? Fun and yum!
It really is akin to men and their hot girls on Instagram, but I’m not the one who said it.
The Pastor reminds us that we all have appetites.
A man without a vision is a Grouper in a sea of bait. Just one bite at fun and yum and that fisherman can run with you all the way to the horizon of your next vision.
And mine’s pretty far off. How far is yours?
More importantly, do you have the strength to fight that long?
Envision the Lord as a cave.
Staying in the cave is safe. But, you’ll never enjoy life out there among the tempted without taking a little risk. Mitigate that risk by bringing part of that cave with you when you go.
Have a vision.
Don’t be tempted.
When you’re in your cave.
Eat. Quell Anger. Get Intimate. Sleep. Cry… and Pray.
When you swim the vast and beautiful waters of the deep, carry with you a vision of what you and your cave are becoming.
I walk in from work in the morning and my kids are getting ready to leave for school. My wife is beautiful and ready to go influence small minds at her teaching job but my cave is soon silent.
My eyes see this vision of what I want. It is the vision of what I have, and it is as real as heat from a flame.
I sit before bedtime and stare at the television from my couch. It’s off. Quiet. Black.
I cross my legs horribly, but comfortably.
Then, I ask myself…
What are my cave and I becoming besides a man on a mountain in fifty years?
Then, a thought comes from, I know exactly who even if I don’t know from exactly where.
“What can I do to make our marriage better for you?”
“What can I do to make our cave better for you?”
I’m a grouper surrounded by temptations. Mostly quelled.
Temptation feeds on Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, Tiredness, and Sadness.
We know these things…
Just pieces of a bigger whole.
Alone time is our greatest time of power.
Sadghuru says, and I’m not sure I believe all this, but Gurus shower three and four times a day. And not some hot and lathered shower.
No. Cold and thorough.
I can’t say why.
He says it’s not just to wash off, but to neutralize impurities of spirit we’ve gathered during the day!
But, I can also use one because the gallon of milk might start looking like my wife’s butt after a week of imperfect union.
Vision and imagination can be dangerously related in this regard. But vision and imagination can also be ingratiatingly related as well!
We’ve all heard of idle hands. Desire, I find is best stunted under routine, because Revenge Bedtime Procrastination is a thing. We will sit and scroll through social media for hours when we ought to be sleeping.
In my case, a cold shower, incense, melatonin, and a book seem to work.
Something as simple as not taking your phone to bed, and developing a routine can change your life immensely.
Tempting the tired is an easy catch for any fisherman.
So, get good sleep.
Your day starts at the end, remember that.
When I was a teenager, everything had its spot.
I may not have been the old man on the mountain, but I was the kid in his bedroom, which was a Japanese Dojo. (I remember at one of our houses I even confined my dojo to a closet as not to let it die). And boy did I have an imagination that matched my vision!
My friends would come over, and try and move a piece of ornamental oriental scroll or something, and I would go haywire.
It became a game to them. I always knew if the smallest thing was out of place.
My bedroom was a living holding cell for my old man’s soul.
And I practiced every day. Weapons, gymnastics, climbing, Japanese language. I was setting out on an eighty-year plan that would come to fruition tomorrow. Boy, I was a visionary.
Now, I’m not gonna say it’s been twenty-some-odd years since I’ve had a vision. But, we should renew our visions, no matter how far out they may seem. Imagine them, grow more friendly with them again.
Because, as we age, temptations try and take their place. But they’re just bait. And it can be a long tiring fight with these fishermen if we’re not smart.
There’s a fish that cuts through the water and right past all of the window shopping so fast that it can breach the surface and take to wing.
Yes, they can be caught, like all of us. But, you can only bait a flying fish with the tiniest hooks and glass minnows. Those lucky enough to snag one, quickly notice their beauty, show mercy, and generally toss them back out for another run.
If you caught one, could you help but release it like a paper airplane to the wind?
…and then, aren’t you really just helping the little Sinner fly?
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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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