Nikos Kazantzakis tells us, in his extraordinary The Saviours of God: Spiritual Exercises, to love danger, learn to obey, learn to command, and love responsibility. In those instructions I was able to understand a lot. It took 34 years for this book to reach me, and in a way I feel as though it chose me. A few lines have stayed with me and somehow they always will. When asked which road man had to take, he answers the uphill one, the most difficult, the most beaten down. ‘We must ascend!’ he says. Go forward; it is the only way to live, evolve, become better.
I believe that certain books come to you at the right time, when you’re ready for and open to them. They come to you with an unrivalled force, tear within your insides and swivel everything until you’ve understood. I think I have.
They remind you what you’d promised yourself to remember but didn’t, because forgetting suited you better, made things easier, covered up your mistakes.
I want to stop forgetting.
I want to stop learning (from them).
I want to oil the cogs and wheels of my soul that are responsible for stopping my fingers before they start moving in the wrong direction.
I need to ascend; I’ve kept myself immobile for far too long. Going forward is not enough, it is upward that one must travel.
I was watching a movie and the protagonist said ‘you can’t really talk about the future, you can only hope and wish.’ But the future is not like the past, unchangeable and set in stone. It is made up of the decisions you make now, today. You are forging it as you speak, as you walk to work, as you sing in the shower and fantasise about what could be, as you breathe in smoke and exhale tobacco-infused carbon dioxide. It doesn’t just arrive one day unbeknownst to you, it is your creation, much like your past is your self-appraised inheritance.
We forgive ourselves too easily for deifying the former and propitiating the latter. It is doleful that we do all that as we sit comfortably in our armchair of self-leniency and aspire without perspiring.