Ghosts of the early morning

They come out to play, when the coast is clear, like mice, scavenging in the dark, seeing what there is to find, encouraged by the lack of light.
Clattering across counter tops, drumming tiny claws on hard surfaces. Leaving traces of themselves, as they go.
Many fear them. Some are fascinated by them. A few care for them, realizing that they, too, are a part of whatever it is that goes on, all around them, all the time, even while they sleep.

What happens to all those hours, days, weeks and years, that once were, but are no more? Where do they go when they are no longer now? Do they live on, somehow, or are they extinct, like vast dinosaurs, whose fossilized bones remind and strike awe into the unsuspecting?

All those things you might have done, but didn’t. All those people, whose lives you might have touched, but chose not to. Those women you might have loved, but were afraid to, imagining rejection. The chances that lay there, waiting for the bravery that you didn’t have. Now all that remains are the memories of vague regret at things that might have been, but never were.

When was the last time you got up, too early, in the knowledge that this was going to ruin your day, filled yourself with coffee, in the vain hope it might help you function, while knowing it wasn’t going to, and by eleven o’ clock, you were going to seriously regret this foolhardy decision?
When was the last time you sat in the grey light of the pre-dawn, wondering how many more dawns were going to be yours, to see?
When was the last time a curious mouse skittered up to see you, and you simply let it, without doing something to, or with it?

A life, even inexpertly lived, is a long, long thing, indeed. It is nothing like “too short”, as is so often claimed. Too short for this, too short for that, when really, it is nothing of the sort. It is, in fact, eternal, and even at its very shortest, is exactly long enough. For what? you wonder. For living, comes the reply. Since living is not a length-of-time-dependent thing. It is life, for as long, or as short as it is life. Leaving only the question of what it is when it goes away.

There is a gateway, between this world, and the next. Between this life, and the next. Cunningly designed and constructed, so that none may pass, who remain unprepared. And life is this preparation. Just long enough. Are you preparing for your inevitable rendezvous? Don’t worry. You have time. Always just enough of it. But be sure to do it, before that time is passed. Because, although there is never any hurry, it is a one-off deal.
Do, or die.

Have you learned, yet, to face what comes? To exceed the urge to panic, and run? To relinquish control, in the face of the uncontrollable? Can you do that? You’ll need to.
You’ll stand, one day, at the gateway, where the identity-crusher waits. Will you face it down, calmly, or will you run, screaming, begging for mercy, desperately hoping to wake up? What will you do when you discover that, this time, it is not a dream?

The eye of the needle. Anyone can squeeze through it. Like a mackerel through a net. As long as they are prepared. As long as they have shed their identity. Their ego. And submitted to reality. As long as they have become the life they live, rather than running counter to it.

The ghosts of the early morning.
There to be met with, chatted to, shared with, once in a while.
There for a reason. Like it, or not.
Good, bad, beautiful and ugly: all things to all men.
The lives we lived, still present, like the tail of a comet.
Never catching up, but never left behind.

Sweet dreams.

23 Comments

  1. Meow Mix says:

    Thank you for what you said about the length of life. I too always find it absurd when people remark that life is ‘too short’. Even if you were an infant that died five seconds after you were born, that would still be the longest thing you would ever experience..ever. Imagine life expanding technologies that allow humans to live for millions of years and then people complaining that life is too short. I’m about to turn 30 and I have already accomplished everything I’ve wanted to accomplish in life, yet I still feel like my life is just starting.

  2. Lisa Colorado says:

    Who is Forest Johnson and where has Brett Stevens gone for now?

    I like this entry very much. It’s so true. All the stuff that passed by and you think you should have done this or that. I remember what I read in my David R. Hawkins books, a couple of things. First of all, we need to be kind to ourselves. If we “could have” done better, we would have done it. After all, we are always doing according to some part of us that seeks the greatest good. To reconcile it, we have to look at what we gained by not doing that, and then we can make bolder choices when we feel better about acting on our fears.

    Also, Hawkins says that our lives are like movies. We see the movie one frame at a time, and we believe in the reality of the image being projected. But the truth is, the movie is complete on the reel. What’s more, the movie is the result of what our ego makes of the events that come to us. There’s a tiny space between the thing that happens, and what our ego projects it to be. That tiny space is the moment when we can decide a better response.

    The lowest response is to feel humiliated and surrender. To get angry is ten times better. To respond out of pride is hundreds of times better. But to respond in love is a million times better.

    The thing is, when our ego is snuffed out, what’s left is what’s real about us. I try to contact this when I start thinking about it. I meditate on my body being from dirt and headed for dirt, and I feel better about the part of me that is attached to it but i think will still be here after my body is rot.

    1. crow says:

      Who is Forest Johnson?
      Click the name and you’ll find out.
      Brett’s having a day off: poor chap, never gets one :)

      1. Lisa Colorado says:

        I did. That’s you, ya?

        1. ferret says:

          Crow trom that Forest :)

  3. ferret says:

    Will you face it down, calmly, or will you run, screaming, begging for mercy, desperately hoping to wake up?

    Good question.
    Maybe one should be grateful for being at last rescued from this funny dream, and offered this wake up into, or reunion with, Brahman.

    1. crow says:

      I wonder, sometimes:
      Does an embryo fear birth as much as humans fear death?
      The universe, out there, is a scary place, until you realize there isn’t an out there.

      1. ferret says:

        Maybe fears but doesn’t suffer: suffering is learned later. Though it hard to recall.
        One boy was fearing death twofold, for what will be after and what was before his existence. In a symmetric way.
        Since he was alive and couldn’t visit his own grave, he was even more terrified by the family photos taken prior his birth. Pregnant women also made him crying, as the baby wasn’t born, that is, dead, for him.

        1. 1349 says:

          If you tell a westerner: “There’s reincarnation. You’ll be reborn. You’ll have many lives”,
          he’ll rejoice: “Wow, i’m immortal!”
          If you tell a Hindu: “You’ll be reborn”,
          he’ll be very upset: “AGAIN? Oh no, how many more times?!”
          (Because they believe the human incarnation to be something like sickness or a separation from the absolute.)
          So if the embryo doesn’t fear, it might at least think something like “Goddamnit!”. =)

          1. crow says:

            Hahahaha :)

            I just discovered you can’t just write that (Hahahaha) as a comment, or the software instantly rejects it. It expects you to write something intelligent. Or stupid. Or off-topic. Or gobbledygook. In fact, anything, as long as it’s not ‘Hahahaha’!

  4. ferret says:

    What happens to all those hours, days, weeks and years, that once were, but are no more?

    You are poet. And we are poetic when we touch our past, because we do not perceive time the same as other three dimentions, and that makes a feeling of mistery.

    We see ourself young, adult, and (at last!) old as different persons, while all three of them are one.

    You said “are no more”, but they are. All these years are still ours. They didn’t disappear; it’s our temporal vision is making tricks constantly. Blurred past and blurred future.

    When you think about “now”, can you tell how much time this “now” occupies, one second, or, maybe, fife?

  5. Ted Swanson says:

    I really enjoyed this. And it is about time someone challenged the “life is too short” paradigm.

    1. crow says:

      Written just for you, Ted.
      We know, by now, the things you like :)

  6. 1349 says:

    In the East – namely Tibet, i guess – there is a theory and certain techniques of “dying properly”. Like, if you prepare yourself and have no fear when your death occurs, you’ll be reborn as something more complex than human or even unite with the absolute; if you fail to pass the fear test, you’ll be reborn as a human at best. Have you studied those? Maybe you wrote about them somewhere?

    1. crow says:

      I don’t study the works of humans, I observe and experience, coming to my own conclusions. Almost always. Then I sometimes remember to write about it.
      But it is interesting to hear that Tibetans hold these things to be true.
      Fear is the single biggest mental disease of westerners. It blights their lives and then blights their deaths. It is a completely useless, damaging and dangerous mode of being. Every bit as ruinous as heroin-addiction. Being afraid should be illegal.
      Freedom, really, is the absence of fear. It lies within the capability of everyone to achieve, yet very few ever seem to realize it.

      1. 1349 says:

        I don’t study the works of humans

        Still, just in case…

        …the Hindu tradition emphasizes that the way and the mental
        frame in which one dies have far-reaching repercussions in the next
        world. Tantrism alone, however, formulated a real “science of death”
        and emphasized the notion of “freedom of choice” toward our
        otherworldly destiny.


        After recovering from the “swoon” (i.e., death), consciousness
        awakens in a state of supernatural lucidity and finally has the most
        decisive experience, which strikes it with the power of a thunder-
        bolt. This experience consists in the manifestation of the absolute,
        primordial light.

        This is the real test. The I should
        overcome all fears and be capable of identifying with this light,
        since it shares its metaphysical nature.

        When one fails this first test, he goes from the chikai-
        bardo to the second bardo, called chonyid-bardo. On this latter plane one is faced with similar alternatives; the only difference is that these experiences are no longer free of form. One is confronted with a phantasmagorical, dreamlike world of visions and apparitions.

        The unconditioned ceases to appear in its formless, thunder-
        bolt-like nature and becomes perceivable by the senses, at first in
        the form of various majestic and radiant divine figures.

        The text exhorts: “Do not be weak. Do not become attached to
        this world.” Whatever appears should be recognized as a mere
        reflection. The following propitiatory formula is given: “With every
        thought of fear or terror or awe for all apparitions set aside, may I
        recognize whatever visions appear as the reflections of mine own
        consciousness.

        If the deceased is not up to it, no matter how much time he
        spent during his earthly life in contemplation or in religious devo-
        tion, he will be overtaken by fear and anguish and turn his back to
        the splendor and to the power of those mirages, thus failing to
        achieve liberation.

        If one does not pass the test represented by this divine, calm,
        and radiant world, the landscape will be transformed, almost as if
        a kaleidoscopic mutation were taking place. When fear becomes
        projected and objectified into divine characters, the calm and lumi-
        nous deities are followed by terrifying, wrathful, destructive, and
        unrestrained deities of the Kali and Shiva type – in reality they are
        the same deities that were previously encountered, this time with
        their aspect and traits altered.
        Once again, the deceased is supposed to pass the identification test, which is now more difficult than ever. In order to pass this test, one should have practiced, during his lifetime, the cult of these deities in a Dionysian fashion. Only then will these deities be “unveiled” and one be able to realize the integration of spiritual traits that were known at the peak of earthly ritual and practices.
        Otherwise, one will once again back up and run away in terror.

        At this point one enters into the third bardo, the sidpa-bardo, and
        is confronted by the “alternatives concerning rebirth.” Since rebirth,
        at this point, cannot be avoided, it is a matter of choosing a samsaric birth rather than another.

        Taken from Julius Evola – “The Yoga of Power”, appendix 1: “Bardo: Actions after Death”
        The “text” he mentions is “Bardo Thödol” aka “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”.

        1. crow says:

          Thank you. Interesting reading, for sure.
          If I had written that, people would call me mad :)
          But I know that much of it is true, although I see it a little differently.

          It is mentioned that these apparitions of divine beings are reflections of the self, but upon death there is no longer any self. Whatever self was, has rejoined the one-ness, and one’s identity ceases to exist.
          So a reflection is not such a clear way of describing it.
          In fact, any description is going to be unclear, since words, themselves are empty vessels.
          You die. But something that is not ‘you’ continues on.
          The manner in which it continues on, depends upon the nature of the transition. Fear and resistance will have its consequences, as will calm acceptance.
          And there is the link between consciousness and conservatism.
          The embracing of reality, or resistance to it.

    2. crow says:

      BTW: I’ve been meaning to ask you…
      Does ‘1349’ refer to IEEE-1349 firewire?
      Meaning you are very fast?
      I always smile when I see that :)

      1. 1349 says:

        :))
        Then it would rather refer to
        GOST 1349 – “Canned milk. Dry Cream. Specifications.”
        or
        STB (standard of Belarus) 1349 – “Asphalt carpeting. Quality control.” (Damn, so kali-yugic!..)

        But it refers to the Norwegian music band 1349, their name itself referring to the year of a great plague epidemic in Norway.

        1. crow says:

          Ah! Bubonic Plague. Why didn’t I think of that?

  7. Eric says:

    Nice. Because of issues from my past, stuff that happened, I spent many years suffering over what could have been. I still think of it from time to time, but have much more let go of those sort of things. If anything, the reflections on what might have been are no longer to suffer the pain of what was lost, but to imagine, based on what I might have liked to have been, given the current reality that I have to deal with, how might I like to things to be going forward? It’s not perfect, but I find greater amounts of peace and acceptance in things.

    As far as what comes next, for me I do not know. I would be perfectly content with nothingness when it is all said and done for me. In fact, I would prefer it. That does not mean I do not have reverence in something greater than me out there, and I do think about the existence of God and all that. I just know I don’t have all the answers. When my day comes, will I be able to face it with bravery and without fear? I would be a fool to claim I know for certain I can, because for me, at this point at least, I don’t know for sure. But I will try and hope I can do so. Where it will lead, I suppose I just kind of need to let go a little and see what happens. In the meantime, I have to try and lead a decent life, learning as I go.

  8. It seems a common theme is ‘regret’ here. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20. It’s the frustration or maybe fear of never getting the chance to have a ‘do over’, experience the same hurdle/opportunity again and do it right.

    Kinda difficult to articulate how I feel about this post.

    1. crow says:

      It’s strange it came out as biased towards regret: put that down to poor writing skills, or a total lack of any plan :)
      Read satisfaction as well as regret, that the difficult times happened at all, and it makes more sense. That was the intent, and it got a little lost.
      Ah…
      If I could do it over…
      But it is, like everything else, the way it is.

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