In The Silence of the Lambs, Dr. Hannibal Lecter encourages Clarice Starling to “Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask: What is it, in itself, what is its nature…?” I thought of that line one day when Nakia handed me a note that said, “inhaesio, what is your nature?” Given the definition of inhesion, the defunct English translation of the Latin inhaesio, that way of stating the question is especially fitting.
Becoming familiar with the discussion surrounding this question and resolving discrepancies between that understanding and the course of your actions is fully the task of self-actualization. An entire class of psychological conflict is simply the result of simultaneously holding incompatible goals. For example, the tenants “I find happiness in relating to many close friends” and “I am highly selective about who I consider my close friends” are inconsistent with happiness. How will you ever have many close friends while being highly selective about who your close friends are? If you are not selective, how will you ever find the happiness you could find if you were selective? But many of our thoughts and goals are like this, in conflict with each other and our natures. What is your nature? What is your self, in itself? What does it do? Not being familiar with the myriad answers each of us can supply to those questions makes unintentional self-confusion and accidental self-thwarting a matter of course. Becoming familiar with the discussion surrounding those questions makes it easy to see internal inconsistencies that cause frustration. If part of your nature is to be a truth-teller, a bearer of light, then you are prophet and exorcist and executioner. In telling truth to those who thrive on lies, you will threaten death to those who still fear death. You are like the sighted among the blind, like the hearing among the deaf. What you do appears insane to the masses of your world. If that is your nature, if you seek to bring new truth to stagnant masses, do not also seek to be loved by those masses. Expect them to fear you like vampires fear the sun. Expect them to systematically attempt your destruction. You appear to them as death, your light to them is pain. So cause death, bring pain, tell truth, bear light. That is your nature. That is your job. Shave off everything that is incompatible. If you discover that your nature in this momentary lifetime is to please others, to seek praise, to be liked by as many as possible, then go all the way down that road. Actively strip away any tendancies that will get in the way of your expression of that nature. Become completely a phantom, try to starve your hunger into dying, deny your longing, ignore your crying and your aching, idolize the vacant, make uneasy growth your monument of death.
If you are the sky, rejoice in being blue and black, make the stars your shining friends. If you are the sea, endlessly make love to the shore, and know that you are home to the whale. Do not only float the ships but also bash them against the rocks, sink them with vengeance to your heavy depths. If you are the sun, then give light even to those who are far away while you consume those who dare to approach you. If you are a puppeteer, then animate the inanimate. If you are a dancer, then use your body as the vessel and conveyor of that which is madness to those who do not hear the song that serves to inspire you. Let the composer compose, the writer write, the inventor invent, the critic balk, let the zombie walk while dead. Let the pioneer die going first. Let the guardian clutch seeming rock. Let rock inevitably turn to sand. From Marcus Aurelius:
“To a stone thrown in the air, it is not good to be tossed up and not bad to fall down.”
“Whatever anyone may do or say, I am committed to be good – just as an emerald says, ‘I am committed to be an emerald, and keep the color that is mine.'”
“Everything exists for a purpose – a horse, a vine, even the sun. What then is your purpose?”