A philosophical guide to transitions: 2nd draft

First off, Dark Mountain is now seeking funding for the publication of its third book. Paul Kingsnorth speaks well about the project in this 3 min. video.

Second off, I am including a second draft below on making the transition into philosophical life. Conversation partners: I hope you find the revision useful. More soon.

1. Limit contact with all individuals with stern voices. Nay-saying individuals do not say No to a single proposal. They have already said a primordial No to life. Let go of them for a while, ideally for good.

2. Who are your kin? Who will be necessary to help get you through the transition? Reflect on this and tell them you need them. You will need them and you will never be able to repay them. Never mind the latter: the gift is the highest form of debt.

Know who and who are not your kin. Surround yourself only with those who have survived or with those who are radiant. These and no others. Most of these people should be older and wiser than you. (Know the difference between “old” and “wise.”)

3. Let go of the idea of helping others. For now, it is time to save yourself and your dependents by ignoring all others, by ignoring everyone but yourself, your dependents, and your kin.

4. Inventory all of your possessions–your physical and mental ones both. Inventory your capacities. Then remind yourself that this will be a long winter of life. Do not deceive yourself; it will be long.

5. Give yourself some time to grieve for this past way of life. Cry a good deal. Cry when necessary. Grant the importance of this past way of life, acknowledge how well it served you for a time, honor the gifts it bestowed upon you. You will go on but it will not.

Remember that it was necessary for a time. Recall how it provided steps on the path to philosophical life. Without it, there would have been no possibility of a radiant you. But you cannot stay there, not anymore. Hence, it was necessary, its time was well-served, but its end was always inevitable and it could not go on any longer. Grieving says all this in fewer words.

6. Hope small for this radiant way of being. Grab hungrily onto any sign that you’re getting closer. We will point together, gather the seashells and smell the reminders of seawater, the oceanic breezes.

7. Are you beating yourself up? Then listen to the sound of my voice. Listen to the voices of kin and radiant beings. Remember how to hold good converse with yourself, with yourself in and through your conversations with radiant others.

8. Some days will seem a wasteland, long and unendurable. Put precious stones, momentos, pictures in place beforehand in order to remind yourself that there were days that went on with considerable ease. “Pain has an element of blank,” writes Emily Dickinson. In light of this, let’s aid good memory by external means.

9. Some moments will feel restricted and restricting, unfree, world-closing, as if you had nothing and nothing were ever possible again. Despair and anguish may wash over you but both, I assure you, will subside. Do not fight them but relax into them. They will pass like sirens and then they will take their leave.

10. Learn gratitude for the small moments of joy, of relief, of unexpected love. These moments will come daily, will flow like water. In addition, admire those who have served you well along the way and be compassionate toward those who will no longer be lovers.

11. Each day should have a telos. So aim at something and also have something to look forward to, however insignificant that something may be in the grander scheme of things. The end (telos) of the day is therefore the end (closing) of the day. The two converge like lovers.

12. Exercise good judgment: keep moving when stasis seems a temptress and be still when change is all around you. Movement returns us to living, to our bodies; stillness keeps us ensouled.

13. Remember patience and courage and humility. This transition will go slowly (patience), you will need to be stronger than you have ever been so far (courage), and you will need to remind yourself that a good human life changes form over and over again (humility). Just when you thought you had figured things out, life has led you onward. This is good.

14. A life’s coming into radiance will require many stepping stones along the way. Learn to identify them when they appear, learn to leap off the last one onto the next, and always be OK with the one you’re on. Hope small and be patient, courageous, and humble.

15. A radiant life is like a mantra: we repeat good words to ourselves. We mumble, we chant, we sing the hymns together. Radiance is our home.

Further Reading

Andrew Taggart, “A Philosophical Guide to Surviving the Transition from an Old Way of Life to a New One”