This is an image of an introspective man. I've used it because my post talks about the Aurelian notion of retreating into oneself. I feel this image captures that.

I toy with the Aurelian notion of retreating into myself, and find it works. I’m by no means a master, and resolve is something that takes years to forge in the fires of an unbending aim with an unbreakable hammer, but I’ve found it changing the little things. And if I can bottle petty fireflies of distracting thought, until their false glow diminishes and then cleanse the jar, then who is to say that bigger emotion cannot be caught too? Anger throbs, irritability pulsates, guilt swirls, and sadness echoes, but it’s ephemeral, and impulse makes a man a beast, but transcending it by withdrawal into oneself despite the situation, scenario, place or time begets a joy or satisfaction which is more than mere catharsis or a transient solution. Going a bit off tangent here, I’ll say that existentialism stripped off its clothing regardless of the positive or negative spectrum that a person who believes in it adheres to, gives us two nude reflections: responsibility and meaning. And losing sight of the first is more catastrophic than the latter. I’m not responsible for the lives of others or the problems of this world, because I don’t adhere to a collective responsibility at an individual level like some nihilism suggests. But yes, I’m responsible for me, my faults, the hurt I’ve caused, the happiness I’ve given, the love I’ve shared, and the person I am: both good and bad. And for me the question of God is now irrelevant. But that’s not saying that my life has no purpose. My meaning changes each day or each hour, and I can either lose it or accomplish it. And when I’m losing it, because of emotion or resignation or circumstance, I retreat into myself, and acknowledge my responsibility, and will my drive. And yes, fate exists, because sometimes unwarranted and unnecessary circumstances place obstacles, but I’ve realized that the key is the present, and looking at those obstacles as challenges I must savor and not burdens I carry, and here again retreating, irrespective of if I’m in a bar, or in my bedroom, or smoking on the balcony, or in a park, or somewhere idyllic helps. And trust me, it isn’t easy, because I often fail. But if I just lay there and didn’t ultimately gain the mastery I need, then I’ve lost both responsibility and meaning.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

8 Replies to “Retreating into myself”

    1. Thank you so much Henna. Yeah a lot of people say that without God there’s no purpose, but I disagree today. There is. There has to be a purpose to suffering and living. It’s a challenge finding it, but it’s there.

      1. Yeah, these days I just roll my eyes whenever someone says that. You have to find the purpose in your own life. No, I don’t believe in a god. Yes, I think my life is purposeful. Even more so, actually, since I don’t believe there are any guarantees or second chances to live. I wish some people understood that.
        Great post, as always.

      2. Even more so, actually, since I don’t believe there are any guarantees or second chances to live. I wish some people understood that. – This I resonate with completely. A lot of people are bigoted hypocrites. You’ll find Church circles full of them. But even the whole perfect Facebook status message crowd isn’t very different. And thanks again Henna.

  1. “…if I can bottle petty fireflies of distracting thought…”
    I’ve found those beautiful little fireflies to be difficult to bottle! I agree that the key is the present and remembering that helps some.

    1. They are quite difficult to bottle. One way is to distract yourself with a goal. Even a small one and just go for it at that moment. It’s some form of sublimation I guess, but it works. Yes, the key to everything is the present.

      1. Focusing on the present… I try. But those little fireflies (I like the image of fireflies as opposed to the images I currently have!) are persistent and they don’t like it when I do that :) I think the key – at least for me – is to stop more often and remind myself of that.

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