The Universe and You

"Best Man Down" - still shot from

“Best Man Down” – still shot from

3 January 2013
7:24 pm


T. —

We’re both writing letters at 7 in the evening, but eight hours apart. I keep getting surprised by the synchronicity and pattern and chance of our friendship.

I just watched “Best Man Down” with Andrew (well, if you can call A coming in halfway through the movie and needing to be caught up “watching with“) and now my head is filled with ruminations about the nature of friendship, the importance of trans-generational friendships, how we meet the people who will change our lives, how our lives are changed by people we met a long time ago. How a relationship with another person is a ripple that has so many diverse factors, effects, and impacts.

This time last year, I complained of not having friends in Edinburgh. All my friends were too far away, and I missed having someone to confide in. This time last year, you and I were corresponding more frequently than in the first few years we wrote to each other. Right now, I am surrounded by an amazing network of people right here in Edinburgh, down the street, around the corner, as well as in all parts of the globe. Almost on every continent. These days, I can’t remember whether you and I have been writing for one year or fifty. Sometimes it feels like forever, and sometimes it feels like the depth of these letters, here, changed the whole course of our friendship.

Something I wrote last year:

4th October 2012

J doesn’t realize how often she is in the exact right place at the right time. She was in the kitchen this morning when I was holding so much in, and she told me how much she had been thinking about what I said earlier this week about spiritual friends. She said it had really struck her, because she’s in the exact same position. She said that so often our growth requires different things from different people than we expected, different people from what we used to need.

It made me realize that all growth goes through a certain phase: requires a process of transition, and that the transition can be terrifying because we turn around and find ourselves in the middle of it, and it’s dark, and we don’t know what direction we’re going in, or what we’re moving towards, even when – in reality – our solution, destination, purpose, path, goal, can be just beyond the darkness if only we would keep moving forward. It can feel so immense and all-encompassing. Everyone goes through it. I think what I love the most about it is that idea of negative capability: being able to co-exist with the doubts and uncertainties. To create a settled feeling in the midst of an unsettled situation, by not searching for answers. To anchor within yourself. To have faith and allow that faith to guide your steps. It sounds so easy. We tell ourselves it’s difficult. But it’s as simple as waking up in the morning and believing that we are moving in the right direction, knowing that often our belief in a thing allows that thing to exist.

Shy One
Alice Fulton

Because faith creates its verification
and reaching you will be no harder than believing
in a planet’s caul of plasma,
or interacting with a comet
in its perihelion passage, no harder
than considering what sparking of the vacuum, cosmological
impromptu flung me here, a paraphrase, perhaps,
for some denser, more difficult being,
a subsidiary instance, easier to grasp
than the span I foreshadow, of which I am a variable,
my stance is passional toward the universe and you.

Because faith in facts can help create those facts,
the way electrons exist only when they’re measured,
or shy people stand alone at parties,
attract no one, then go home to feel more shy,
I begin by supposing our attrition’s no quicker
than a star’s, that like electrons
vanishing on one side
of a wall and appearing on the other
without leaving any holes or being
somewhere in between, the soul’s decoupling
is an oscillation so inward nothing outward
as the eye can see it.
The childhood catechisms all had heaven,
an excitation of mist.
Grown, I though a vacancy awaited me.
Now I find myself discarding and enlarging
both these views, an infidel of amplitude.

Because truths we don’t suspect have a hard time
making themselves felt, as when thirteen species
of whiptail lizards composed entirely of females
stay undiscovered due to bias
against such things existing,
we have to meet the universe halfway.
Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what
looks to us like nothing: faith is a cascade.
The sky’s high solid is anything
but, the sun going under hasn’t
budged, and if death divests the self
it’s the sole event in nature
that’s exactly what it seems.

Because believing a thing’s true
can bring about that truth,
and you might be the shy one, lizard or electron,
known only through advances
presuming your existence, let my glance be passional
toward the universe and you.


We cannot allow our minds to give in to fear, worry, anxiety, because these are all slow ways of keeping us in the same place. It is only with courage and hope that we can venture into the unknown, and it is only through the at-first-unknown that things change and evolve. We may not be able to see what is before us, but we absolutely need to trust in its ability to take us to the edge of what is good, and leave us there to venture into what is great. One day, we will come to a place of peace, but we will reflect and realize that the place of peace was with us all along if only we held our centers steady.


I found that post when I was actually looking for a different revelation I had. I used to name Word Documents as a secret code for my personal writing. The problem is that now I can’t remember which thoughts are in which document.

Once, a while ago, I wrote a reflection about how much easier it was to create friendships with men because I appreciated their straightforwardness and their brash honesty. Female friendships were always more difficult for me, so in high school I was friends with mostly men, and in college I had one really close female friend (sfp) while the rest were mainly men. The trouble is, boundaries get blurred at that age. It was too easy for the friendship to slip into something else, when all I really wanted was a best friend, a confidante, someone to have adventures with, pretty much like Ramsey’s relationship with Lumpy in the movie today (you should watch it — I think you would really like it). But then it was also complicated for me, because I was also looking for a father figure, for a brother, for a best friend, for a boyfriend, for a husband, and different combinations of those things, if that makes any sense at all. Any, at one point, I wrote a reflection about the time when my ratio of male-to-female friends switched, and all of a sudden, I found myself with 5 bridesmaids, with strong women all around me who were supportive and insightful and honest.

I should read through these old Word documents more often: there is gold buried here.

Which reminds me: I am still up for posting sections of emails we have sent in January. Why don’t we compile a list in the next week or so and do it for the last two weeks of January to see how it goes? Start on the 15th?

Good morning, and night,


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