Let the wilderness within you speakby Christophe Porot February 1 2022, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 44 secs
In his second letter to readers, Philosophy Coach and Consultant at Universal Enlightenment & Flourishing, Christophe Porot explains how loving yourself relates to loving what you create yourself to be.
I want to invite you to reconsider the story of Narcissus, and reimagine how you relate to yourself. In the famous Greek myth Narcissus falls in love with his own beauty and essentially dies because he does nothing but admire himself in the reflection of a lake. But maybe there is a virtue in admiring oneself, a virtue, which allows Narcissus to be understood more metaphorically as a powerful spiritual story. The basis for my interpretation begins in Paulo Coelho’s book “The Alchemist'', which itself opens up by reinterpreting the story of Narcissus.
Coelho described how, after Narcissus died, the lake he had been looking into turned into salt filled tears instead of normal water. The lake had been crying not because it missed the beauty of Narcissus but because it saw its own beauty in the reflection of the eyes of Narcissus, and missed that.
Both Narcissus and the lake saw their beauty in the reflection of the other but they could not have done so alone. In my own case, if someone spends much time around me, or with what I write for them, marveling at their own beauty, I will see the beauty of myself in their reflection and we need not pay attention to one another as much as accept that our own appreciation of ourselves relates to how the other is there with us - even from a distance.
But what if you could become both the lake and narcissus at once? The great Islamic philosopher Ibn Arabi wrote that he was the beloved and the lover, the knight and the maiden. In my own language, you might as well consider yourself the creator and the created, the savior and the saved. This is because loving yourself may relate to loving what you create yourself to be.
The split twins, in broad terms only, of Nietzsche and Muhammad Iqbal, wrote passages that spoke to my soul directly when it was time for me to begin again without anything to my name. Nietzsche said you must be burned to ashes to rebuild yourself, and Iqbal modified the sentiment by saying you don’t discover who you are, you create who you are.
The process of living is the art of authoring your experience. A string of disillusioning pains may make you want to give up but that is the process of crumbling to ashes or entering the furnace through which you can remold your existence. Being an honest author is not easy but the creation process is liberating: you are neither chained to the remnants of your past nor chained to expectations of society. You are the artist behind the experience and no one can, and no one should, take that away from you.
Great art is passion filled, so I would lightly suggest letting the wilderness within speak to you. Let the darkness overwhelm you or the light blind you, let all your passions flow forth in the hope that they cumulatively cohere into a whole, into the whole of you. If you are the creator, the passionate soul dancing across the stage in a sequence you choreographed, then you are as free as a finch finally released from a tiny cage. You are free because you are aware that this is your show, your time, your performance and it cannot be enclosed by the thinning walls of the past.
Marcel Proust said that time, which changes people, does not alter the perception we hold of them. It becomes our responsibility, a feature not a bug of freedom, to re-introduce us to a world that doesn’t always know how to accept change, even change for the better.
So there is a fearlessness in coming out of the furnace, in finally not melting but rather existing, a fearlessness I have had to embrace in order to establish who I am in the eyes of myself and then later in the eyes of others. I had to say, “I’m here, and I am newly free.” Some accept it, some don’t. But I hope you will accept your own freedom and never let it be discarded. Welcome to a new reality, a reality shaped by you, through you, and for you. In this reality you can create a piece of art, yourself, so beautiful that you admire it and know that your own self-love may just reflect back through your eyes the love others seek to find in themselves. You may be admiring your creation in the presence of another and it may just inspire them to admire their own creation.
To close with a personal story, I am happy with what I’ve created. Flaubert said that one must be boring and routine in life to be wild and original in their work. And this is precisely where I am. I consume no drugs and alcohol, I read voluminously and I sleep at regular hours to preserve the power to let loose in my writing. I unleash who I am in my work. I am as wild as the mountains, the forests, and the beasts within them. But on the outside, I am not.
I hope to bring you into this wilderness through writing to you. I hope to see you admiring yourself through my words and therefore allowing me to admire myself in your reflection.
Your Lake, Christophe
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