Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?
Clarice Starling: He kills women…
Hannibal Lecter: No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing?
Clarice Starling: Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, sexual frustrations, sir…
Hannibal Lecter: No! He covets. That is his nature. …
There are always two things we treasure.
Most people would agree the immediate things we treasure fall into the realm of the next bite of a delicious meal, an orgasm during sex or a sentimental object we are holding forcing us to replay the exact memories that made it so.
Popular bigger picture treasures include friends, family, your dog, your kids, your god, your job, ‘you know,’ -all of that popular shit you see scrolling by your Facebook feed on any major holiday.
When I think about what I treasure I feel like Commodus from the movie Gladiator in the brilliant scene where he kills his Father (Marcus Aurelius).
Commodus: You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues: Wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition. That can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness, courage, perhaps not on the battlefield, but… there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family and to you. But none of my virtues were on your list. Even then it was as if you didn’t want me for your son.
Marcus Aurelius: Oh, Commodus. You go too far.
My macro treasures include things like validation, imagination and creation. These are the things I covet the most. Proficiency in those areas is what I am always seeking in myself, my work and other people.
…these are not treasures in the way I see it but more “purposes of being.” A purpose of being is more powerful than something you treasure because it will control your immediate primal actions. I find it hard to treasure that which is hardwired. Does that make the love I have for my family disingenuous? No. That is impossible. The love generated for my family/friends is happening naturally and I don’t have to work at it. (You can’t control who you love. Remember?)
When your family is provided for, safe and loved what do you do with the rest of your mental power?
It is unfair for you to spend your life in servitude of the “idea” of family. This isn’t television. You owe it to yourself to live a full life and do the things you want to do. Not just the things you have to do. If this involves your family every step of the way, “Great!” That is the way to go as long as it is genuine. A real choice.
However, many people willingly cast themselves aside for some sense of duty to their tribe. It isn’t a crime for you to NOT remain an individual for fear those you love will feel betrayed. Even in the choking death rattle that going to necessary job can create there is space to find that which you treasure most. There is always time for you. Maybe that YOU time is your Family time. For me there must be separation in all things. It is just how I am built inside. Yes, I am aware it is a very unpopular way to operate.
You should not blatantly neglect your family. That makes you an asshole -not an individual.
Writing is something I am drawn to because it is the hat trick of all my treasures.
Some unforgiving soul cursed me once when I was young and impressionable. They said, “Danny this is good.”
I could have been a simpleton grave digger or worked on an assembly line happy as a clam waiting for that 5 o’clock whistle. But no. This individual took it upon themselves to believe in me and set me down one of the most wretched rewarding paths one can be on. My very essence of being was carved out and reforged that day.
I created something, I moved someone and they liked it. I treasure that.
What do you treasure?
Danny Machal May 2nd, 2015