To Do Or To Be

by Alex Maxwell

Dear Simon,

Thank you for the letter you sent, it’s wonderful to receive news from you. Long has it been since we shared a table or a blazing fire with the shadows dancing around our backs. . . your letters are always a treasure filled with memories. I am happy to hear Mary is doing well and progressing with her painting, she always was a talent; please would you send her my best wishes and bravo on the last exhibition.

Although it saddens me to read of your torments; the fears you are experiencing at the moment. The news of your inner struggle falls heavy upon my heart; the search to find balance in our days is always a tight rope. I will try and help in any way I can, although it is difficult with the distance which lies between us. My advice, and I am only mentioning this as a loving friend, comes with a wish in helping you to see more clearly. As you have written describing your feelings; ‘the struggle to find a balance’ to me it seems you are trapped within the two worlds. This, believe me, is highly common in today’s fast-paced society with so much attacking our senses.

The first world I speak of is the underlying evil ego, which as we know is always hungry and is cunning in its disguise. The ego always it seems shouts loudly requesting world domination; it requires you to trample your fears and anyone else in your way to get your inner desires. Demanding you to relentlessly push yourself, to pursue your limits and beyond; although if you fail to respond it criticises and belittles you into a feeling of less than.

The other world is the spiritual world, which comes across subtly; sometimes in the noise of everyday living it becomes almost inaudible. The spiritual as I have said before arrives as a whisper on the wind; which is only audible in calming silence and many are deaf to it. It requires you to have faith and patience, to allow your inner thoughts time to materialize. This requires great faith and solemn trust in oneself; which is difficult to maintain when the ego is hanging a noose around our necks.

‘To do or to be’ is the question which we seem to constantly wrestle on our journey through this existence. These two forces grapple in the realms of our inner being; struggling to control our thinking and actions. Unfortunately they are polar opposites; which means sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of these opposing teams, and so are forced to make a delicate decision. Although never forgetting our arch enemy ‘habit’; habit is the monster which drives us blindly so it needs to be tamed, altered or encouraged through constant practice.

I have always found that silence is our best weapon against the ego, which I deem as the voice most harmful to our well being. Silence though can be a difficult place to seek salvation; as it opens the doors to thought and this thinking is the root of our problems. Being there we can easily drift back into our past on a quest to find where we took the wrong turn, or to strike out into our future in the hope of finding a better path to lead us forward. The silence I am talking about is more in the concept of meditation, letting yourself become still while the thoughts slowly dissipate; like when we stir sugar into water waiting patiently for the heavy particles to either sink to the bottom, or dissolve leaving the top of the glass clear. It is here where we are able to hear our spiritual voice more clearly.

I hope that this helps my friend and look forward to the day we meet again, sharing those tales of yesteryear.

About me I am doing well, thank you for asking. I have a job that keeps the wolves from my door and spend my free time writing and seeking the silence of which I spoke of before. Spring is on the way and soon the dance of the bluebells will accompany me along my walks. The wind has blown strong this winter, so I am in hope we will have a glorious summer. I seem to have written much and now must take my leave.

Wishing you all my best my friend, may the favourable winds blow your sails and grant you fair weather. All the best on your next poetry collection, I look forward to receiving my copy.

Your loving friend,

I will leave your with an old story I have read somewhere –

It’s the story of two bird trappers, one day they set their traps upon the mountain and the following they return to find their netting full with pigeons struggling madly to free themselves. ‘What a waste of time; we cannot sell these at the market they only feathers and bone,’ says the first trapper, but his friend thinks for a while and reply’s ‘no, but if we feed them on bread they will grow fat and then we can sell them for a good price.’ So every day they feed the pigeons and they eat all the bread growing fat, except for one, it never eats and constantly struggles to be free; he grows scrawny over time. At the end of the week all the pigeons are now fat enough to sell, but the scrawny one has become so scrawny he slips through the netting and is free again to wonder in the hills.

©2018 Alex Maxwell

Alexander Maxwell was born and raised in Africa in the Seventies and Eighties. In the Nineties, he moved to London, England, before traveling around the world. Home has always been where his heart is, and now his heart dwells in southwestern Cornwall.
He writes poetry, having published his first collection A Passive Silhouette Spine in 2015. His hobbies are surfing, photography, design and a simple way of life. He is the creator of POEM KUBILI.

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