To Stand On The Rubble

Michael Kilman
4 min readMar 26, 2023

Originally posted at https://loridianslaboratory.com/2023/03/25/to-stand-on-the-rubble/

A boy sits on a mountain of rubble
Image Generated in Midjourney

This precious human life we have is ever-changing.

We wish things will stay the same forever when they are wonderful, and wish they would change quickly when they aren’t. We are always wishing, always trying to keep the bad at bay or hold the good up forever. But this is an unreasonable ask. All things fall apart eventually. So we become dissatisfied because we hold ourselves to an impossible standard of perfection. All structures are inherently unstable.

We are just a boat, on the ocean, riding the waves and tides. We have so little control over the forces that surround us. Up and down we go in the waves and troughs… waves and troughs. We do not know when a storm might hit, or when the wind might die, or when the sailing is smooth, and the food is plentiful, but we do know we must press on. The journey must continue.

It’s easy to allow yourself to be possessed by your fears, your anxieties, and your frustrations. It is easy to give in to self-pity and hopelessness. It is easy to feel that no matter what you do, nothing goes right. But to quote the band, Bad Religion, “Self-pity is always a case of mistaken identity.”

No matter your outer conditions, you have a deep natural curiosity and joy that lives inside you. You have an inner child who wants to play and explore and thrive, no matter the conditions of your life. For what child, seeing a pile of rubble, doesn’t want to climb up on top and declare themselves ruler of the world?

We rule our worlds. Not in any external way. You cannot control when things collapse or when the winds of changes blow gales through your life. But you can climb on the rubble and declare victory. You can turn toward yourself with compassion. You can live in a state of self-honesty and acknowledge those heavy emotions, but without letting them possess you.

Self-honestly can feel like a dark forest, with unknown shadows lurking behind the trees, at least at first. But when we connect with that forest, when we learn to love the land, we find wonders, medicines, and peace. Be like our ancestors and listen deeply to that land. Be in communion with it. Learn the lay of your own internal landscape. Learn its wonders and beauty.

Be present with yourself, with what is, but be present with all things in all moments. In every moment, there is beauty and joy, even in the darkest times. Life does not stop being beautiful, because we have forgotten. Choose to remember.

Let that child out. Let your life be full of wonder and interest. And when times are hard, be curious instead of furious. Look at the possibilities in collapse. For in the wake of destruction, it is in our very nature, and the nature of all living things, to change and discard qualities and aspects that are not useful anymore. Even our biological evolution is a process of adaptation and removal.

When things go wrong ask yourself, what isn’t useful anymore? Look at both inner and outer elements. Do not just remove everything you don’t like, understand it first. See its wisdom. It may not need to be removed but instead, reorganized. Look inward honestly and see what habits and ideas no longer work. Admit when you were wrong.

Be wary of the advice of others. Test their ideas out for yourself carefully, else you may venture a long way down a dishonest path. We are diverse in experience and motivation. There is no one right way to love life.

When you are honest, space opens inside you. Take that new space you’ve created, and fill it with love. If you love to be in nature, do it. If you love to create, do it. If you love to connect with people, or reconnect, do it. Find ways to bring smiles to your face and the faces of others. Help people to feel authentic, while you develop your own authenticity.

Be creative in whatever form that takes. Build things, explore things, and open yourself up to the wonder of all that is. Remember how many things had to come together, for you to be here, now, at this moment. You are precious. This life is precious. Love it the best you can.

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Michael Kilman

Author of the Sci-Fi series the Chronicles of the Great Migration, Anthropologist and Host of the YouTube Series, Anthropology in 10 or Less