Wielding The Double-edged Sword Of Guilt And Courage: A second-person Inquiry

“Earthly things must be known to be loved. Divine things must be loved to be known.” –Blaise Pascal

Above you, the stars boil in their blacks. Below you, the city lights blink like fists. There is the scent of concrete and oil, and too-much flesh. Your juxtaposition is sensitive, but at least it is not completely dissociated. Or is it? On the one side, the cosmos hugs you like a mother.

On the other side, the cattle-like actions of your fellow man rejects that cosmos, suffering from a nature-deprivation of the first order. Peer pressure is thick as syrup, as cognitive dissonance pushes in on you from all angles with a ruthless social anxiety that might as well be a cultural straightjacket. You resist, but you’re just one person within a shared maelstrom of unhealthy dispositions and psychosocial anxiety.

From the balcony of civilization, high up in the foothills of unsustainable humanity, you look on, perhaps imagining ways to smash camels through the eyes of needles. But probably just setting your alarm clock for the next day’s nine-to-five grind. Meanwhile, the man-machine is going through the motions of crippling itself below you.

Perhaps you’re planning ways to transcend the aggrandized tautology of it all; the clockwork of blood and bone misbalanced with oil and steel. But you’re probably just packing your lunch and dwelling on all the mistakes you made at work today. Meanwhile, Mankind is going through the motions of being a too-fat God atop a too-high mountain wanting nothing less than everything, dragging you behind it, fumbling and stumbling, as you try to detach yourself from an overly-attached umbilical cord. You’ve detachment, but you’re a social creature. The risks are too high. Loneliness is a fiery abyss. Ostracism is a menacing chasm. Exclusion is tantamount to an existential black hole. Your soul buckles and bends, warbling in its sheath.


But perhaps you’ve walked the path of knowledge for too long, inflicted by the pricks and stings of experience. Perhaps you have achieved some sort of healthy separation. Some sort of Buddhist-like non-attachment. And maybe you realize that there is no turning back to ignorance, that there can be no convenient forgetting. You cannot unlearn what you have learned. You cannot un-see what you’ve seen. And really, why would you want to? You understand: in the sense that it is possible to be willfully ignorant, it is cowardly. Krishnamurti’s words carve a maze through your thoughts: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” But where is a true measure of health to be found?

“Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.” –Rumi.
The Eternal Reoccurrence of it all vibrates in your bones, even if you’re not aware of it. Perhaps you are. Perhaps your self-overcoming has leapt through so many hoops of itself that it has become an infinite loop. But probably not. More than likely the hoop was too scary to jump through in the first place. More than likely the conditioning you received from a fundamentally unhealthy, unsustainable, unjust, unfair, and immoral system of human governance has not been reconditioned yet. More than likely your preconditioning is very much your current condition. But maybe not. Maybe you have questioned to the nth degree. Maybe you have practiced the art of self-interrogation. Maybe you have turned the tables on your own hypocrisy. Maybe, just maybe, you have discovered the holy grail of truth: impermanence.


Your breath stretches and drags through the cold air like smoke. There is a splinter in your heart that you may or may not recognize as Providence. It’s a familiar pang that’s been resonating within you for years. You’ve always felt like you were a stranger in a strange land, an alien that never really grasped the full extent of the native language, because the deepest healthiest part of yourself realized that the language spoken was an extremely unhealthy one. And when the language spoken is unhealthy, maybe it is better not to learn it at all. Maybe relearning what Derrick Jensen calls “a language older than words” is a more important endeavor.

You feel the pressure of the universe like a vice of stars, and the gravity of your ribcage is like prison bars. All of it is a giant cocoon transforming you. And it’s all so laughable. And so you do precisely that: you laugh. Laughter becomes your meditation. With it you slip between the bars. You slither out and around the ribcage of the cosmos. You laugh at the money-mongrels with their head up the wolf’s ass on Wall Street. You laugh at the kowtowing sheep and myopic sycophants hoarding the blind alleys of Father Capitalism. You laugh at the polluted sky, and the wormwood in the proliferated waters caused by Fukushima, and the desertification of the plant’s green spaces, and the wasteland of the human condition. But most importantly, you laugh at God, realizing that such high humor is the glue that binds all things. Indeed, as it turns out, laughter at God is more God than God. Your high humor thus resolves the equation through a fearless forgiveness of all things so that you can finally get the horse back in front of the cart, moderation back in front of gratification, courage back in front of fear, compassion back in front of disdain.

Hidden behind the army of false gods inside you, is this sacred blaze of high humor. Your cocoon is hidden by our armor. Your wings are hidden by your cocoon. And your freedom is all coiled up in your wings just waiting to fly. Human beings have an innate need to expand consciousness and to experience direct relationship with the divine, and you’ve felt this your entire life. You realize that the West’s spiritual impoverishment is directly related to its nature-deprivation and its profound misunderstanding of the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. But still you quibble with the fire you’ve stolen: sacred knowledge. Still you vacillate between fear and courage.

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You feel how Prometheus must have felt after stealing fire from the gods. Primal knowledge bashing its way through the soft shell of an outdated armor hiding a parochial ignorance. Your heart no longer a compass pointing True North, but a broken clock pointing lopsided inside a vacuum of shattered stars calling itself light. It is two gods wrestling in a maelstrom, ad nauseum, ad hominem: the attaché of attached, equal parts fist and pact. You drink the spark just as voraciously as you eat the dark. But it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

Meanwhile, the alarm clock is set. The lunch is packed. There are too many things things things cluttering the periphery. There is too much gas in your too-big car. There are too many streets in your too-big city. There is too much unsustainable oil filling in the cracks between here and there, between now and tomorrow, between tainted ocean and blackened beachfront, between living for life and living to keep a dead thing moving.
But, ad nauseum can indeed have an addendum; one that can be written under a new light. One that you know you can write, or at least help write. One that can include holistic resonance, interconnectivity, and interdependent moderation. One that can begin the process of changing the world for the better and bring nature and the human soul back into sacred alignment. One that has the spearhead of your soul pointed True North, despite the blunted plowshares of the unsustainable man-machine outflanking you. Your soul flaps behind you like a cape. All your god-parts piece together and coalesce: Heidegger-esc. Your self-overcoming is fast becoming a Nietzschean perpetual motion, an authentic process of continuous rebirth. You know the sacrifices you must take in order to bring water to the wasteland. The time has come. It’s time to transform “their” way into “our” way.

Thank you for reading,

Love and Light,

Gary Z McGee