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Sean's Reminders

Thoughts from Skeet

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Seek the solace of your own distress


"Seek the solace of your own distress by extending the hand of relief and consolation to your fellow creature in the hour of their affliction."

-- Masonic charge.
While considered by some an artificially flowery expression of the simple concept "try thinking about somebody other than yourself for a change", the concept is still communicated, and i believe most eloquently. At a superficial level, this maxim reminds us of the enormeous personal benefit to be gained by the habbit of placing our private concerns last and helping those around us, but it is essentially a short hand for something much deeper indeed.

In considering the well-being of our fellow creatures as inseparable from our own, we are released from the slavery of such debilitating notions as the urgent need to attend to our own short-sighted interests, a very real mental block that most of us face from time to time, and quite liberating it is indeed for the chance to forget about our perceived troubles, especially when we realise, once loosed from the thrall of our our egos, that like most issues, it was only one of our own perceptions.

When our limits are challenged such that we almost tangibly sense the end of our wits, it is common enough after "taking a break", in whatever form that may take, to return not only refreshed, but quite often with a solution allready formed at a subconscious level, a resolution not possible while attempting, as we find ourselves so often doing while under the stress of considering only ourselves, to force our minds to work "just so". Any occupation would suffice for a portion of these benefits, but experience reminds us the greater portion is afforded only by dropping entirely our own worries, by immersing ourselves in the assistance of others. In these aspects alone, the hand of relief and consolation can and does prove a kenny investment with great returns.

In extending oneself the very least possible, one learns little. In helping others wherever you can, you learn significantly more. A life led along this latter principle, over time, acquires myriad skillsets otherwise missed, a practice teaching us how better to tackle a greater variety of problems and indeed a sense of how better to avoid them altogether. Dragging (perhaps unreasonably) the investment metaphor, these benefits provide such great returns for so little investment as to be considered daylight robbery and i doubt not that eventually, like most other investments, they will attract some form of taxation legislation, so enjoy them while you can.

By this approach, in the most positive ways, one becomes well known by one's community, who can not help but be aware of and take interest in your own interests, and if for no other reason than their own good, are far more likely to ensure as best they can that things go well for you, or where this is not possible, to appraise and assist you where possible. I leave to the reader as an exercise, to estimate the value of such insurance.

Each of us comprise a peculiar mixture of strengths and weaknesses, in effect constituting a unique set of answers to the questions or opportunities posed by Life, infinite in their number and variety and so few of them to be actually realised, demanding of us the decision how best to invest the time alloted to us. How long that will be is a wisdom few of us are afforded, and each moment being potentially our last, it behoves us to know (and where neccessary, consciously craft) ourself, the better to prepare those wits required for timely recognition, and acceptance or rejection accordingly, of each fortunate opportunity and unfortunate pitfall that wends itself through our place in the world. Even the most skilled at their craft will peel an eye and prick an ear for outward signs of their inward growth and what better reflection could be sought than the encouragement, advice and criticism we elicit when assisting others? Our own hearts' responses, quite suprising at times, to these activities can be just as important to watch out for. It being so unlikely to score so many opportunities otherwise, developing the habit of assisting our fellow creatures in the hour of their affliction tends so effectually to highlight hidden (i.e. potentially wasted) strengths, much harder to divine otherwise, by yourself or anyone else, had you failed to extend the hand of relief and consolation. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the practice is recognised as the password or key to a more comprehensive appraisal of yourself, your place in the world and an understanding of how best to engage them with each other. If the world is your oyster bed, then this is the aqualung - it's probably cheaper and is definitely more comprehensive and usefull than the offerings of any team of "life coaches".

Truly great stuff! Mighty works indeed can be accomplished by such technologies alone. But if considered solely at this level, the technique is more than somewhat self-centered, despite the effects. We could hand the governance of our lives over to this maxim, virtually assured of success in whatever adventures Life chooses to offer, and still, in our heart of hearts, would know there is more, even though we lack the skills to express what nature of thing that might be.

Whether you subscribe, (with the author), to the Grand Architect of the Universe model, or to the Blind Watchmaker, is of little moment in this matter. Whatever you make of the human being, it can be considered most fruitlessly at the individual level, and indeed such attempts have produced little if any sense or relevance, let alone value. Nor is there any advantage to be gained from studying "snapshots" of human condition wrenched from their supporting context, as severally and wholly, these creatures stretch, recline and dance their existance about space and time, awareness, and such dimensions that lesser technologies only now grudgingly acknowledge a possibile existance thereof. In these vastly varying spaces, humanity weaves out it's story, building the bridge from wherever it finds itself, to wherever it perceives the need to go. None of it has been particularly easy, the canvas requiring extensive maintenance and in parts entire reworking throughout the millenia, and it is only the assistance that each have given the "other", accross the perceived divides, accross the generations, accross the infinite impossibilities that have routed lesser technologies, that has made this at all possible. Without extending the hand of relief and consolation to our fellow creature in the hour of their affliction, we would each of us have succumbed to the consequences of our own peculiar shortcomings and quite literally be not.

In short, humanity is part of a journey, a process, however you wish to view it, in our exodus from, or cleansing of, the relative ignorance we find ourselves mired in for the moment, which i doubt not will prove, once accomplished, only the first baby steps to a vantage point from which we will envisage much more. This passage, this transition, this quest, is what has been designed for us, or probably more to the point, what we have been designed for. It is what the fatalists would call our destiny, what the humanists would say describes our potential, what prophets have alluded to since time immemorial as a divine principle upon which so much else rests. The ability and indeed propensity to follow the way is our foundation and our firmament.

This is the stuff of Life.
Thank you to Jacquilline for her learned criticisms.



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Last updated: 23 Jan 2014, Hit Count: 2307