Those things we used to do that we no longer have time for, that’s the place to go to for your mojo. If you’re going through life like the living dead, feeling cut off from the thing that moves you, think about what you used to love.
Then go do it.
I had an opportunity to go to the symphony thanks to a friend thinking of me. Her generosity inspired me to think about life and death. They are not opposites. They are the whole picture. Humans are the only living thing conscious of their pending death but what do we do about it? Mostly ignore that it will come and continue avoiding being true to ourselves as this might bring about conflict (growing pains).
The Last Days of Socrates conducted by Brett Dean is the symphony I’m talking about. It brought together the music of Mendelssohn, Haydn and revived the spirit of Socrates’s final days. On stage were terracotta pots, made of the same material, giving the same sounds of ancient Athenians casting their votes on whether Socrates should live or die.
You may remember Socrates was charged with and found guilty of corrupting the youth.
Corrupting the youth is possibly another way to phrase that someone dared to push the limits of society. Socrates’s death sentence goes to show that even a society founded on the love of wisdom, (Athens was guarded and named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena), can have a lapse of integrity and kill the very thing it stands for.
We are all human in the end and can have horrible lapses of judgment as individuals and as a collective as represented by towns, cities, countries, etc… Politics is evidence for these lapses of judgment but this isn’t a political piece. It’s merely about acknowledging when we’re not feeling joy then going out and following our bliss because that’s what brings us back to life.
How did Socrates’s last days bring me joy?
It’s a depressing subject, or is it one that’s full of joy? Here’s what I observed. Though facing death, Socrates had no remorse, no regrets and talked about the swan singing her most delightful tunes when facing death knowing that she’s coming home to God. Hence, the phrase “swan song”. Socrates is coming home to immortality and he is, isn’t he if we’re there watching his final days and thinking of what he sacrificed for following his bliss, the love of wisdom, which is “philosophy”.
If the people around him didn’t appreciate his gift it was time to move on to what’s beyond the limitation of minds. He’s lived a life true to himself and has been a whole or even a holy man. Why should he regret leaving his life behind when his spirit is whole and is able to embrace those who ask for his demise. That’s the ticket to immortality, full acceptance and love even when the thing you hold most dear is being ripped off of you by those you seek to serve.
His swan song goes:
I, like the swan,
Dedicated to the very same god,
Am, no worse endowed by prophetic powers
And no more disconsolate
At leaving this life.
I shall never feel fear
Which may be a blessing.
Phaedo, the swan sings
And so Socrates leaves us in bodily form, for his spirit to inspire many thinkers, artists, lovers of wisdom to come for generations.
It was as impressive a death as when David Bowie completely nailed his own death by releasing the Black Star album two days earlier on his birthday.
Though Bowie sang in Ziggy Stardust “when the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band” no one was voting to get him killed.
He did “corrupt the youth” by coming out as a homosexual in the 70s, which was not his true self but the vibes he picked up around him with the emergence of the gay culture. Bowie’s public statement gave many closeted homosexuals the platform to own who they are.
As we’ve come a long way as a society, his coming out was no real threat to his life even back in the 1970s. It should be noted that the Americans were not as warm and welcoming of the androgynous alien as the Europeans. This was a huge marketing miscalculation that set him back and resulted in great financial loss which Bowie acknowledged as a logistical error, the ever practical minded Capricorn that he was.
But this is not a piece about marketing either.
The point is Bowie toyed with and explored many concepts in his lifetime. As I’m sure did Socrates, and is it sad that I know more about Bowie’s philosophy of life than Socrates’s? But maybe I shouldn’t beat myself up about it as Bowie read many books among which Socrates is referenced.
Killing old thought patterns and letting curiosity and willingness to explore our inner space and sharing it with those who “get us” is bliss.
We can too. It starts with following our bliss.
Over to you…
What are you going to do today to get that loving feeling back? It could be something as simple as finding joy in your children because we become immortalised in their hearts and minds. Remember one thing though…
“Don’t kid yourselves they belong to you, they’re the start of a cosmic race…”
From “O You Pretty Things” by David Bowie
But more importantly;
“The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing” – Socrates.