Outside my hotel window, past a scattering of palm trees, lies a beautiful white sand beach and the crystal-clear warm water of the South Pacific. Every morning I wake up and walk the length of the crescent bay, the ocean on one side and monolithic hotels decaying in the salty air on the other. The weather fluctuates between the scorching equatorial sun and bouts of tepid tropical rain.
I’m living in paradise.
Yet, instead of joy, I find myself in the grip of melancholic idleness that goes beyond the usual pangs of sadness I feel when I am separated from my family by thousands of miles of ocean. The world around me feels wrong, stilted, and dyschronic, outside of normal time and place, yet invaded by the chaotic disorder of the bug empire.
This isn’t paradise. Just a simulacrum. The edges of the curtain are frayed, and the rust covers the paint.
When I see another human walking the shore, often their face is covered, fearfully masked against a dubious virus that does not survive in the salt and spray of the ocean wind. I stop into a restaurant, and I must go through the ritual of covering my face, showing documents to a disinterested host, sign several forms, just so I can sit and reveal my face to eat. Even out here in the land of sun and sand, I am surrounded by the clicking and insane chittering of bugs.
Everyone feels distant, everything seems empty.
No matter how hard I try I cannot seem to disconnect from the techno-demonic media sphere. My addiction feeds on my melancholia and I spend hours gazing at digital nonsense from the greater world that further blackens my mood. Talk of war in Eastern Europe. Protests and blockades in Canada. Children are forced to endure invasive medical testing, their smiles hid from each other by the people charged to protect them, the same people who hypocritically are free to congregate in mass and cheer on mindless sports entertainment. I watch as aging self-styled icons who used to fly the freak flag of freedom demand that others are silenced and beg for forced medical intervention for their countrymen.
I don’t recognize the world and for the first time, I understand the contemptus mundi that the old monks felt. Evil is parasitic. It twists and misappropriates the good. It takes the spirit of togetherness and charity and turns it into a prison where the prisoners stay of their own free will and sadistically police each other.
We have lost touch with the true aspect of ourselves, instead of living lives and eating spiritual meals that are made up of empty calories devoid of mana. Everywhere I look I see alienation, restlessness, lack of purpose, lack of identity, and most damning of all, loss of hope.
But not all is lost. Not all is hopeless. I looked through the highlights and notes I made on my kindle and I across a passage-
Even in their more pessimistic moments. The divine image in man was obscured but not obliterated. His free choice has been restricted in its exercise but not destroyed. Even in a fallen world man is still capable of generous self-sacrifice and loving compassion. Even in a fallen world man still retains some knowledge of God and can enter by grace into communion with him.Bishop Kallistos, The Orthodox Way
The truth is that we live in an age of overabundance. We in the modern west have not faced the depredation of war, poverty, and persecution. We are full-on every material desire yet starved of spiritual truth while our ancestors toiled and starved but dwelt in an abundance of spirit. Our combat is internal, against our own selfish nature that pushes us towards idle hedonism, doubt, and despair. By working on our internal being we can begin to exude real influence and truth upon the external world. The greatest evil of our generation knows this and works to separate us from the numinous. It dulls us and makes us forget that we are not just brains in flesh reacting to chemical stimuli through our senses, but that we are also spirit.
“You are a world within a world: look within yourself and see there the whole creation. Do not look at exterior things but turn all your attention to that which lies within. Gather together your whole mind within the intellectual treasure-house of your soul and make ready for the lord a shrine.”St Nilus of Ancyra
I need to constantly remind myself of the truth stated above and accept it. I must work at becoming at peace with my soul.
The path through the labyrinth is hard and the challenges of our time are difficult.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.”
So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
On one of my morning walks the weather suddenly changed, gray clouds blocked the sun and a steady rain fell across the bay. I turned for home to avoid getting soaked but stopped when I noticed the most beautiful complete rainbow I’ve ever seen. The numinous still seeps through the cracks of our dulled world.