Growing

Ah, fuck. Fuck! I can’t clear my thoughts up today. All manner of disparate things are whirling around my noggin — tequila, disco, black holes, life and death, this wacky bird called a great potoo, the Jungian concept of individuation, the Andes Mountains, Hot Pockets. What does anyone make of this nonsense?

Well, whatever. I gotta make something of it. I have to urge to write so here I am. I don’t believe in forcing my thoughts, but I believe in clarifying them. This is the great project of my life — to write myself into existence. Without the tangibility of my words and pages, I truly feel unmoored. Writing is a lifeline with which I descend into the bowels of the earth and climb to the outermost reaches of the galaxy. It is the only way I can know myself, the only way I can be.

On that note, the other night I was conducting an extended monologue, as I often do when trying to clarify the thoughts in my mind. I usually frame it like an interview, partly to appease my ego and partly to mock its star-like character. But anyway, I was interviewing myself about myself, as we all do in some way or another, and asked myself what I thought of my process of development.

I thought this an excellent question. (My, my, Ryan, not only are you a great interviewee, but a great interviewer, too!) But as I got to thinking about it, I found that my process of development was incredibly disjointed. I’m referring, of course, to the formative period in my life when I was on all manner of drugs and in a permanent state of unillumined non-being. At the time, I thought this was the way. I had a lot of half-baked and ill-informed ideas about what it meant to be a person, which vaguely incorporated nihilism, hedonism, selfishness, and a complete denial of any responsibility. But I was doing myself a great disservice. Within me was the seed of my true being, and with all my experiences I was loading this seed with potentiated energy, expecting at some point for it to burst forth and spring to life.

But that’s not how it works! It’s not the sheer amount of energy, it’s the quality of the energy. This is why our collective growth has gone so far awry. Growth is a slow and careful process. It’s a process that needs to know itself as it unfolds, so that it can remember its way back to the source once it burgeons from the earth. We can no longer keep track of all the things that influence our growth. In the space of that disconnect, we fill ourselves with all kinds of misdirected energy. The most important fact of this material reality that has been gathered by physicists is the first law of thermodynamics: Energy cannot be created or destroyed. As someone doomed to be forever ignorant of scientific and mathematic processes, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about what this means in terms of physics. But I do give a flying fuck about what it means for the mind, for the soul.

Balance is the central concept of everything. All the permutations of our mind, all the thoughts and emotions and experiences incurred by us, will be calibrated by the holy mechanics of consciousness. In an ideal world, we would be in touch with this process and become balanced beings, which is the goal. But we are far too small, too disjointed, too deaf and dumb, too controlled, too servile, too afraid, too confused. This is why growth spirals out of control and leaves us wholly unmoored.

By the time I was coming out of the phase I considered my most profound growth yet, I began to notice that everything had changed, but nothing had solidified. I was waiting for the process of growth to bring me into being, when all along I needed to get in touch with the process in order to bring myself into being. That was the holdup — that’s why the way I was back then, the way I thought and spoke and behaved, is so disconnected from me now. It was a default, a kind of automatic writing of the soul. I was expressing myself haphazardly and without any concrete substance because I had grown haphazardly and kept all concrete substance at a remarkable distance, fearing its solidity.

And, of course, this is not to say that nothing good came of that period. It could not have been any other way, for what was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen. The important part isn’t so much what happened, but clarifying what happened, observing the process of growth, knowing what went into making you and assessing it honestly. I believe I’m stealing that phrase from Baldwin: “I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”

I went into the void of self and the utter insanity of the world with a drug-fueled and sorrow-infused fervor. I immersed myself totally in the things I thought would give me answers — mostly drugs, psychedelics, the outermost limits of consciousness. Most of us do this in some way or another, especially in this modern world and all its horror and confusion. All our lives are initially an immersion, later a retreat, and still later an emergence as what we were destined to be all along. Once one gets in touch with these elusive and painfully temporal processes that move us along through time and space, through mind and body and soul, then one begins to see what they truly are. Many people get there by accident, and that’s the way of the world, but I do not desire to become myself by accident. After all, the great project of my life is to write myself into existence. I ought to try to find the words, don’t you think?

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To meditate on the warmest dream

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Ryan Langan

Ryan Langan

To meditate on the warmest dream

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