DANI: Thanks, Bill Hicks

This week’s post for Friends on Channel Maddie is written by a friend I have known since those good ol’ Lower School days. We went to the same school, we joined all these school events, and hung out almost every day. My best memories with Dani include that one Student Council Dance in my junior year, going on sports trips to Subic, and the whole #LateNightTexting over the summer. LOL good times, good times.

In this post, Dani shares some of her art and wow, it is absolutely fascinating what one can do with a fineliner pen — I say this with admiration because doing any kind of art form with a pen is beyond me. Dani also shares her thoughts on living genuinely, the educational system, men’s vulnerability, and being human. One of the things that struck me from Dani’s post is the part where she writes, “we have condemned ourselves to live through validation, not truth.” So many times we are compelled to “go with the flow,” to live like how everyone else is living, to the extent that we get farther away from the different truths that we hold on to.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful piece. 🙂

Socials: Instagram

Let me start this off by introducing myself as Dani, 25, somewhat scatterbrained. I am not an incredible writer, nor will I ever be. I have a journalistic writing background, but I don’t remember when I last created a blogpost – so bear with me! Madeleine, a long-time friend, has given me the opportunity to delve in deep and share my own wasteland of thought.

It’s 21:55 and I’ve been shuffling through my mental archives, internal dialogues, thoughts flipped like pages that have somewhat been withheld for whatever time I would have considered them “suitable for discussion.” I take another sip of my “vile concoction,” some would hiss, with Bill Hicks chattering away. “Life is just a ride.” he says, as I come to a realisation; we are condemned to live through validation, not truth. 

A huge chunk of my childhood was spent sifting through sand dunes. Have you ever camped out on the desert after sunset? It’s beautiful. From miles away, sounds are quick to travel. It is desolate, cool, open, and the sky? It’s heavens are made of jewels, jewels that engulf a silver sphere so luminous, you are ultimately drenched in moonlight. No other place has given me the opportunity to witness such a spectacle. But what really struck me was it’s vast nature; a realm so untouched, with lifetimes unexplored. Overtime, I have indulged in these curiosities – so it began. This obsession bloomed. An obsession with the extraterrestrial “world,” the lives and civilisations that we may never know of; they have been and gone. The infinite illusion called “time” that has somewhat existed long before we have. Countless, COUNTLESS probabilities, and thoughts that were once manifested by life forms far away. These thoughts have always fascinated me, but they are pawns to the majesty of these enchantments; Le Lune. 

I eventually developed a fascination for the cosmos, and an even greater fascination for the moon. It is symbolic, it is an obsession. In my spare time, I take solace in creating nocturnal landscapes; this motif is persistent in most of my creations. It reflects a personal realisation of an infinite mode of existence that exceeds mortality. I am a cosmic ingredient and when I marvel at the moon, I think of the possibilities I am forever part of. It is a reminder of the futility of human pleasure, in the most alluring of ways.

This is a digital illustration I created with a short poem that I wrote. It’s a more “spontaneous” piece, if you know what I mean. It relates to the context of this blog post, but it represents more of a sorry industrial state of affairs rather than human. You’ll eventually figure out what I mean.

So where does Bill Hicks come into play? “It’s just a ride.” He says. Bill Hicks was a comedian. A cynical, truthful, and somewhat insightful comedian. He speaks of an obvious truth, one which I’ve been dwelling upon for quite some time now; we have condemned ourselves to live through validation, not truth.

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok… But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” — Bill Hicks

This is a traditional illustration that I drew with a fineliner pen. This one isn’t too conceptual, it’s more of an admiration piece. 

The ability to choose love over fear is an ability we’ve always had. That’s the beauty of being human. But what does that tell us, “hard working, law abiding citizens”? We have been conditioned to be competitive, greedy, manipulative and egoistic. We seek validation through social status, and this continuous hunt is slowly stripping us of our value as human beings. Just think about it. 

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” — George Orwell, 1984

Our societies need slaves, mechanisms. We have been conditioned to strengthen ego. This conditioning has created space for fear, a fear of suffering, a fear of tarnishing ego. Our educational systems revolve around ideas of success and ambition, all of which fuel the wretched “ego.” We are not taught how to live, we are taught how to follow. We are then exploited as these systems serve the purpose of all vested interests. We are obedient, and this obedience has deprived us of decisiveness. We have been destroying ourselves as human beings. Are the thoughts in your head your OWN authentic thoughts? They are all borrowed thoughts. Everything we’ve learned, everything we’ve studied. Why did no one tell us that “reality” was a more fulfilling experience? 

“The intelligent person behaves according to the situation, and the stupid behaves according to ready made answers, he always carries his “scriptures”. The intelligent person doesn’t depend on his own insight, he trusts his own being.” — Osho, Intelligence

So my childhood, the moon, the desert, this infinite mode of existence; each gem ties into this realisation (Or this existential crisis, some would call). When I gaze up at the stars, the moon, the heavens, when I feast my eyes on this vast and never ending landscape, I can’t help but think that I am merely part of a much larger force. But what is that force? In time I’ve come to realise that all it is, and all that I am, is a fragment of existence. We are all manifestations of the whole. You and I, we are the universe, but society has taught us otherwise. We have been given limitations. 

Bill Hicks, photo from AF Archive / Alamy

Why are we not suspending the rules, the ideologies, the beliefs, and the systems that have caused separation and coated reality? Why is it so repugnant and distasteful to see the world as it really is? People might read this and call me deranged. Yes first comes the degree, then next comes the job. What next? I feel nothing. Satisfied, yes. But satisfied to what extent, and satisfied to whose standards? We are told to have ambition, ambition and success fulfilled through validation; all of this subconsciously imposed upon us because we were never given the opportunity to think outside the box. Thinking outside won’t benefit the fat cats, you see. In the end, we work for superficial achievements that fuel our lives as robots. We are forgetting that we are in, and part of a universe that is not going anywhere, it does not have a destination. We are to just be alive, indulge in the present; there is no need to rush and look for something much greater to achieve. 

“We say, “You play the piano.” You don’t work the piano. Why? Music differs from, say, travel. When you travel, you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… because that’s the end! Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance. But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go to kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world. Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for. Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.

Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line. Because we thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at that end, and the thing was to get to that thing at that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.

But we missed the point the whole way along.

It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” — Allan Watts, You Play the Piano

We are beings of consciousness, but we are flawed with pre-established ego. Ego is needed to feed the structure of a superficial life. In this way, we are slowly losing the genuine taste of humanity, the true taste of freedom in existence. 

Why have we not created a sane educational system? An educational system that revolves around the division of politics, the division of religion, the division caused by discrimination of colour, or nation? Today’s education has led us in the wrong direction. We are taught to compete, we are taught to be greedy, power hungry, deceptive and manipulative. How can we call that education?

Richard Burton, 1984 (quote by George Orwell, photo from freshmoviequotes tumblr)

These ideologies don’t only come into play politically or educationally. We’ve all heard the silly phrase, “A real man doesn’t cry.” Umm.. What? Men who are overcome with emotion usually meet high forms of criticism. Why is it okay to show forms of aggression or anger, when vulnerability is seen as a curse? In the 16th century, knights were to weep as a mark of chivalry and masculinity. In the 18th century, a man was to be courteous, display sensibility, and to be aware of his inner emotion and vulnerability. It was “acceptable”, and it was very much celebrated. There was no division between “masculine” and “feminine” emotion. Then came the 1800s, and everything changed. The industrial revolution came that may have played a big part in this switch. Factory managers apparently trained workers, especially men, to suppress their emotions to keep productivity high. 

This “founding pillar” of masculinity, is a barrier to being human. There should be no division created between men and women. Generally, some people are more emotional, and some people are more stoic; it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. What really baffles me, is that there has been such an increase in mental health awareness, yet men are still ridiculed when they cry. We ridicule each other, and then we pay into services and establishments that try to convince us that the damage will be undone. It’s a vicious cycle of hypocrisy. Men, women, we are the same; we were born with a spectrum of emotion, so what good are we as elaborate, complex, beautiful specimens if we were told what we were and weren’t allowed to feel?

Another photo of the moon. Nothing special, just the moon.

Humans have the ability to utilise technology for good. We have the ability and the resources to try and tackle a pandemic, but what have we done? People still find ways to exploit it. Mankind has created technology that has taken us to the moon, technology that has cured illnesses, created an open world that we carry around in our pockets. Yet we do not have it in us to drop silly little ideologies? I refuse to believe that. We are not capable of accepting a man’s tears, all because of what? Ego, desire, ambition, status. Emotion is human, tears are human, and there is no shame in being able to fully function as you were designed. Let go of ego, embrace what you are inside. Embrace what you are as a human being.

As I dabble deeper and deeper into the perils of the modern world, there’s one thing that I’ve realised. None of this ever mattered. Existence consists of consciousness. Consciousness has always been here. It is the very foundation of our whole existence. Even matter is condensed consciousness, as there are different stages of consciousness. I am a conscious fragment of the universe, and it is the moon and it’s never ending blanket of crystal that reminds me of this. We use our consciousness every so often, but it isn’t the active part of our being that’s used every hour of the day. Let your consciousness slowly seep into the unconscious part of your being, and existence will give you paradise here and now. Do not postpone it till after death. There is no need for ego, there never was. It is superficial. But then again, who knows what anything is? I guess that’s why we have intuition.

A photo of a fiery horizon, somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

“There is something far deeper that exists in you, you should not forget it. Intellect is only the periphery, the circumference, it is not the centre of your being. The centre of your being is intuition.” — Osho, Intuition

I sit here and dwell on this “existential crisis” of mine. But I’d much preferably call it an awakening. What can I do about it? I can’t do much, but I can control my own reality by staying conscious, aware, sticking true to who I am as a human being. There is so much to feel, and so much more to understand. We are all the same thing; no one is more worthy and no one is less worthy of being human. We lack the right influences that push us towards peace, love, the beauty and art of life, the meaning of existence, or death. 

This is my best shot of the moon, It was taken with a Nikon Coolpix P520.

… so once more, my fascination with the moon; it reflects a personal realisation of an infinite mode of existence that exceeds mortality. I am a cosmic ingredient and when I marvel at the moon, I think of the possibilities I am forever part of. It is a reminder of the futility of human pleasure, in the most alluring of ways. I do not need to live by validation, but I can awaken my own truth. Thanks Bill Hicks.

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