The Relief of Selling Your Soul (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 240)

Pretext Note: This lesser known novel written by George Orwell deals with the constant struggle of the protagonist who is trying to avoid the insanity, destabilization, and bastardization of living in the money world as he also attempts to continue to comfortably interact with others who are of that world and maintain the survival of his own perceived self worth. This passage is essentially the culminating point of the novel. The tragic nature in the outcome of his “relief” of accepting that he must sell his soul if he is to integrate with the money world in any respect is fatalistically depressing, but astoundingly and hauntingly accurate in assessing the impossibility of meshing and melding the worlds of money and non-money prioritization.

He walked rapidly away. What had he done? Chucked up the sponge! Broken all his oaths! His long and lonely war had ended in ignominious defeat. Circumcise ye your foreskins, saith the Lord. He was coming back to the fold, repentant. He seemed to be walking faster than usual. There was a peculiar sensation, an actual physical sensation, in his heart, in his limbs, all over him. What was it? Shame, misery, despair? Rage at being back in the clutch of money? Boredom when he thought of the deadly future? He dragged the sensation forth, faced it, examined it. It was relief.

Yes, that was the truth of it. Now that the thing was done he felt nothing but relief; relief that now at last he had finished with dirt, cold, hunger and loneliness and could get back to decent, fully human life. His resolutions, now that he had broken them, seemed nothing but a frightful weight that he had cast off. Moreover, he was aware that he was only fulfilling his destiny. In some corner of his mind he had always known that this would happen. He thought of the day when he had given them notice at the New Albion; and Mr. Erskine’s kind, red, beefish face, gently counselling him not to chuck up a “good” job for nothing. How bitterly he had sworn, then, that he was done with “good” jobs for ever! Yet it was foredoomed that he should come back, and he had known it even then. And it was not merely because of Rosemary and the baby that he had done it. That was the obvious cause, the precipitating cause, but even without it the end would have been the same; if there had been no baby to think about, something else would have forced his hand. For it was what, in his secret heart, he had desired.

After all he did not lack vitality, and that moneyless existence to which he had condemned himself had thrust him ruthlessly out of the stream of life. He looked back over the last two frightful years. He had blasphemed against money, rebelled against money, tried to live like an anchorite outside the money-world; and it had brought him not only misery, but also a frightful emptiness, an inescapable sense of futility. To abjure money is to abjure life. Be not righteous over much; why shouldst thou die before thy time? Now he was back in the money-world, or soon would be. Tomorrow he would go back to New Albion, in his best suit and overcoat (he must remember to get his overcoat out of pawn at the same time as his suit), in homburg hat of the correct gutter-crawling pattern, neatly shaved and with his hair cut short. He would be as though born anew. The sluttish poet of today would be hardly recognisable in the natty young business man of tomorrow. They would take him back, right enough; he had the talent they needed. He would buckle to work, sell his soul and hold down his job.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying 

George Orwell          1936

Possessed Purple (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 233)

If you possessed purple, had found it or it had found you, and you loved purple, knew that you loved it as much as you could ever love anything in your life with every fiber of your awareness and being, could you be content and happy with that possession and such a finality to your supposed greatest desire?

That purple might need some polishing and refinement to achieve the greatest essence and expression of purple that it was meant to be for itself and the rest of the universe, but nonetheless, purple it was and purple it would always be.

Or would you throw that purple away, that purple and its finality, because you desired to strive and chase and pursue and dream of finding purple more than you actually ever wanted to hold it and love it?

Would you need to ignore or banish that purple from your life, so that you might instead take red and focus all of your will and desire on turning it, turning a completely different color, into purple?

Would you spend your irreplaceable and forever lost time choosing to futilly mix blue into red forevermore, claiming that one day, one day far off in the future, that you would obtain the purple you always dreamed of in a fairy tale ending?

And in the meantime, while pursuing this steadfast goal, would you explain away all of the inherent fear and anxiety you keep cradled in your heart by scapegoating red in anger and resentment for its inability to mix and morph catalytically with blue according to your well thought out plan?

Would red become your blame for unhappiness and suffering as a sacrificial lamb of perpetual dissatisfaction even as it is continuously implemented as the essential willful distraction to your denial of the bliss and love that is so easily available to you in the finality of possessed purple?



Orwell’s Ultimate Dilemma (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 223)

Gordon was not ashamed of his surroundings as he would once have been. there was a faint, amused malice in the way he spoke.

“You think I’m a bloody fool, of course,” he remarked to the ceiling.

“No I don’t. Why should I?”

“Yes, you do. You think I’m a bloody fool to stay in this filthy place instead of getting a proper job. You think I ought to try for that job at New Albion.”

“No, dash it! I never thought that. I see your point absolutely. I told you that before. I think you’re perfectly right in principle.”

“And you think principles are all right so long as one doesn’t go and put them into practice.”

“No. But the question always is, when is one putting them into practice?”

“It’s quite simple. I’ve made war on money. This is where it’s lead me.”

Ravelston rubbed his nose, then shifted uneasily on his chair.

“The mistake you make , don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”

Gordon waved a foot at the buggy ceiling. “Of course this is a hole-and-corner, I admit.”

“I didn’t mean that,” said Ravelston, pained.

“But let’s face facts. You think I ought to be looking about for a good job don’t you?”

“It depends on the job. I think you’re quite right not to sell yourself to that advertising agency. But it does seem rather a pity that you should stay in that wretched job you’re in at present. After all, you have got talents. You ought to be using them somehow.”

“There are my poems,” said Gordon, smiling at his private joke.

Ravelston looked abashed. This remark silenced him. Of course, there were Gordon’s poems. There was London Pleasures, for instance. Ravelston knew, and Gordon knew, and each other knew, that London Pleasures would never be finished. Never again, probably, would Gordon write a line of poetry; never, at least, while he remained in this vile (lower class) place, this blind-alley job (of not selling shit to others along with his soul to the devil) and this defeated mood (depression). He had finished with all of that. But this could not be said, as yet. The pretense was still kept up that Gordon was a struggling poet—the conventional poet-in-garret.

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell          1936





T’was Christmas Day at the Waffle House; a Time for such Connections, Discoveries, and Eventual Ponderings (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 222)

I went to the Waffle House (WH) for brunch on X-mas Day and ended up sitting at the highbar. Normally, I read while caffeinating and ingesting my scattered, smothered, diced, peppered, and capped, along with my meat choice du jour, but on this day I happened to make a joke with a couple as they sat down next to me, and that easily lead to our conversation over the next hour.

Though the conversation rotated between the three of us, I spoke more often and more directly with the man because he was seated adjacent to me, while his wife sat on the other side of him. I cannot say for sure, but it seemed to me like we were all in the same general age range.

They had heard an indirect comment that I had made with a good friend who happens to be a WH staff member, which intrigued them to ask me about my vocation. (Under normal circumstances, I tend to guard that info from casual public knowledge for multiple reasons.) After I had explained that I was a veterinarian, the other man responded that pre-vet had been his first love, his first focus in school, but that after he had been seriously advised on how hard it was to get in and then through such a program, he had given up on it and gone in another direction. I believe that direction was a business degree, but I cannot state so definitely. We talked for a little while after that about being animal lovers, and then, about some of the challenges currently bombarding independent veterinarians and the whole spectrum of veterinary medicine.

Our conversation moved on naturally and comfortably towards the principle of retaining independence in our lives, living in less populated areas while still appreciating Atlanta for what it does offer, and a passionate love for all outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking.

At some point mutually agreed upon about also appreciating the outside in warmer weather, it came up that this couple, was headed down to their beach house, which they had personally built on some island in the vicinity of Gulf Shores and/or Orange beach. From the way they described it, it sounded glorious and heavenly in regard to my beach preferences. I was happy for them and felt that they deserved to be so successful to be able to afford and enjoy such a piece of property.

Soon, the conversation turned around a switchback once more and together we stumbled into the wilderness area of the Cohutta (GA), home of Jacks River Trail, the Conasauga River Trail, and Bear Creek MTN Bike Trail, amongst other treasures. Our knowledge rivaled one another about the entire area, but his definitely bested mine a bit. We talked about the trails, hiking and biking, the crashes, getting lost miles off of the map, unknowingly stumbling into the Mountaintown floodplain basin, and the bigass Poplar tree that serves as a sentinel for those riding on the Bear Creek Trail.

Eventually, my new friend(s) revealed that he actually owned a cabin in the Cohutta in an area that I am familiar with and truthfully very fond of. And then, he revealed that he also owned a second cabin that stood in a different, more remote and secluded region of that wilderness area. The second cabin is harder to get to than the first and its location does not even allow him access to an electrical connection, but nonetheless, it is still a second cabin and land that he happens to own in one of the most beautiful and feral areas of Georgia. He more than graciously offered to let me use either of the cabins and before parting, we exchanged numbers and emails. They seem like very genuine, extremely cool people, who just get it. We even discussed maybe getting together to force ourselves to ride our mountain bikes again. I like the idea. I like their spirit. I loved the conversation and the happenstance of spontaneously meeting people like that in one improbable moment or strand of theoretical time, space, and reality. T’was Christmas Day and a time for such connections, discoveries, and eventual ponderings.

I would be lying though, if I didn’t also say that I did experience a smidgen of irony and jealousy in this communion and our shared tale of choices and the consequences those choices had brought about. A lifetime ago, my newfound friend turned away from veterinary school because it was too hard and difficult to gain admittance and then to survive the tribulation associated with earning such a degree, but it would appear his financial gains related to such a decision, have far, far surpassed anything that comes even remotely close to my own. I can barely take a vacation and I am essentially homeless, while he (and his wife) owns a primary house with considerable acreage, a beach house, and at least two other cabins in a pristine Wilderness Area.

I accept the choices and the associated consequences related to such that I have made. I also do not wish ill will upon these new friends of mine. I am happy for them. If I had to hedge a bet, I would guess the world is better with them in it. But I wonder, I really do wonder, about our world and the reward system of business that people have fostered and caused to thrive.

I imagined once I was accepted into veterinary school, I would be the one making a little extra money, the one having a little extra family time, the one with maybe an extra house or two, both modest of course. I never imagined or conceived in my wildest dreams, that financial reward could work inversely upon someone who competed and survived in a challenging professional atmosphere, and who also just wanted to put his vocational expertise and responsibility foremost over revenue and salary. I never imagined that was a real possibility for the longest time.

I wonder if I was presented with the real option of switching places with my newfound friends what I might do. I have to admit that I’m very tired of suffering for trying to honorable, noble, and skillful in my profession. Those houses and getaways are quite alluring to me. I also wonder if they might switch places with me? Would that first love of interest and desired accomplishment hold over the material assets and accumulations that resulted from less of a challenge, if he knew, knew, he could attain the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and the associated responsibility of such?

Jeff Cribb , Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Lover of the Great Outdoors