The sun had just barely risen through the floor to ceiling windows in the Lake Tahoe chalet. Nothing here had changed since 1974, not the llama and wool blankets, not the pastel colored snow suites or the embossed stone pictures of howling wolves on the fireplace, or the shag carpets. The house could comfortably sleep 10 in beds and more, much much more, on the floor. It was one of those ‘built by the family’ homes, not so much meaning they laid the foundation stones. The elder generation had designed the home for the vacationing purposes of three parts of one giant Italian family.
“Adventure Time? Really? I never understood this show.” Allora, half-eyed and half-cocked from drinking the night before, complained as she sleepy dragged herself through the kitchen and into the living room. Miss. Scarab was curled up on the couch with a box of nitrous, a cracker, and a blanket, contentedly dazed as a few others slept on the floor around her, oblivious to the noise of the TV. She casually handed Allora the cracker and a handful of cartridges and extricated herself from her position to make tea. With a shrug Allora cracked a fresh cartage and inhaled deeply.
The episode of Adventure Time was apparently focused on a young human boy named Fin, and his yellow stretchy dog sidekick Jake, as they attempted to scale a castle and go through various trials to achieve the ‘Hero’s Glory’ of gaining access to the Hero’s Book: The Enchiridion.
As Allora watched, episodes flying by, she casually became aware of small notations of wisdom from said ‘sidekick’ dog. Bits like: ‘Yo, those are sweatpants, also known as Give Up On Life Pants. You should have pride in yourself always, especially when you leave the house, even if its just to get ice cream,’ and, ‘See this Cup? This is my favorite cup. I love this cup. *throws cup out the window* Now this cup is gone. It’s absent, it doesn’t exist. Why get troubled about something that doesn’t exist?’
“I didn’t really understand Adventure Time either,” Miss. Scarab said as she returned to her seat. Allora looked around to realize most of the floor people were awake and breakfast was being made behind her. She hadn’t really lost the last hour, she’d just been enmeshed in the cartoon. “It’s not the nitrous, it’s just that life is madness and this show is brilliant. It shows you how it is, and you’re not always ready to see.”
Allora looked over to Miss. Scarab, to her neon pink hair and cat’s eye diamond-studded glasses. “Is that why they add silly bits between the serious bits? Make it more palatable?”
“Isn’t life like that? Life would be hell if it were all serious bits all the time.”
The Enchiridion of Epictetus – Written 135 A.C.E – is long and dry. Here are the cliff notes:
The Enchiridion is all about how you think about things.
- Most pain comes from how you think about things. Are you spending time thinking about:
Something you want?
Something you need?
Something you have?
Something you desire?
Something you wish hadn’t happened?
Something you wish had happened?
Something you want to have happen?
Are any of those things real?
This last question is the point. Thinking about this stuff is occupying, but none of it is real. An item is real. A person is real. A conversation is real. But only while you are present with it. As soon as you are not present with it anymore it does not exist as something real any more. (By the Rules of Relativity, objectively or physically, yes, most things still exist when you don’t look at them.)
Sure, you and 15 people can stick with a conversation, a goal, a project – that is present, to at least one of you, so it’s real. But what happens when the conversations ends? Or the goal achieved? It’s done. That’s simple enough.
Most pain that people feel is centered around the fact that they stick with things that are no longer relevant. They stick with things that aren’t present, and try and make them present instead of letting that junk go. Just be in the present you are actually in.
Ya know why they call it the present, right? Cause the present is a gift. – Old Chinese Proverb.
- Change how you perceive things you dislike or fear. If you fear death you will come to a fearful death. If you fear illness you may find yourself constantly sick.
Fear is the Mind Killer.* Don’t be afraid of No Ghost.**
Change the way you think about the things you dislike. The universe has a funny way of making you face things you dislike over and over again. If, on the other hand, you change your mind about those things and make them just simply fine to you, neither liking nor disliking, you will never be struck by fear of them and likely, should they encroach into your life, you may not find them a problem because you won’t fear them. The things you fear are often the things you feel you can’t control. Change your mind about what ‘control’ means.
If you only put time and energy into things you can control you will never be disappointed.
- Remember that objects are only just objects. You can always replace objects. Memories live in your mind.
- Be present in your actions. If you take a bath be present in the bath.
- Try not to blame yourself, or others. There is usually no one or anything to blame. It just is. Let it just be.
- Be proud only of yourself, what you have attained. If you are proud of your car, recognize that you are not proud of your ownership, you are proud of the item itself, being it is a good item. If you are proud for winning the Spelling Bee, be proud of that, you worked hard to win. If you are proud for smashing a plate, be proud of smashing – you were/are in control.
- While being present in where you are also be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes they matter. This means don’t walk and look at your phone at the same time – you may miss the sidewalk and hurt yourself.
- Expectations lead to disappointment. Be chill with shit working out how it does.
- You can overcome any obstacle. It’s in your control to choose to fail or succeed. “I can’t do it” is the favorite Ghost. Don’t be afraid of No Ghost.**
- There is a lesson in everything. Pay attention. Look for lessons. Learn this shit. We all gotta. No one knows what’s up. We are all learning and winging it as best we can.
- Circle of life, yo. What is lost is not lost, just returned to where it came from. We own nothing forever.
- Don’t cry over spilt milk. (This one is outdated and wrong – I’ma change it). Cry over spilt milk, feelings and emotions are valid and real. Then clean up the damn milk and go get some more. Old skool society said not to get fussed when shit goes bad, but that’s not fair. Get fussed. Be upset if that’s what your emotions want to do. Give up for a minute. It’s fine. We all do. Then sit up, wipe away the snot, clean up the mess, and continue on. That’s what we all do.
- If you want/try to succeed, someone will call you a fool. You’re doing a great job at succeeding if someone else is trying to put you down. Keep chipping away at it. You are doing great!
It goes on for another 15 chapters but I think ya got the important bits. It’s worth reading, if ya can, or just watch Adventure Time – The Enchiridion is basically what the show is about.
*Patrick Rothfuss – Name of the Wind
Gystilyn O’Brien – 8/16/19 – The Millennial’s Grimoire, available 2020.