A few loose ends and some thought about rising and falling

I write my posts in my head before I write them on paper. The words come as I’m falling asleep or when I wake up, in the early hours of the morning – and it is only later, in the act of writing, that they arrange themselves into sense.


Sometimes there’s so many different thoughts jumping around in there that it can be hard to see where, how, and, even, if, they will intersect. This post is kind of like that.

A few months ago, I went to hear Ben Okri read from his latest book, ‘A Time for New Dreams’. I was going to write, at the time, about his deconstruction of “success” (will come back to that) – but it is his exploration of the closely linked adversity that has been playing on my mind. The fact that we rise and fall –

“All things in life are governed by the law of cycles. There can be no rise without a fall, no fall without a rise.”
1 &2, The Romance of Difficult Times

There is nothing ground-breaking about this insight but what struck me, during the reading, was that Okri applied it to both personal experience and the experience of civilisations. We have our own ups and downs but there’s a whole ‘nother level of ups and downs going on over our heads. Think economic crisis or even Okri’s example: the fall of Troy.

This relationship between macro and micro interested me. I have thought about how we connect with people through the personal experiences and the small things that we share; less so about how we are bound together by circumstances far beyond the day-to-day experience of life. It seems so obvious now that I write it –

Anyway, so I was thinking about the notion of rising and falling, and then about the post that I wrote yesterday about friendships, when I realised that there are some times in our life when it feels like freefall. When we are so isolated that there are no hands to catch us. Or when we cannot see – or seize – the hands that are there. Or when the fall is so rapid and unexpected that it is very difficult to be caught

It is hard in these positions to imagine that we will rise.

And so, because I have been there in the past and because I imagine there are other people who can’t see or don’t have hands reaching out to hold them, I wanted to acknowledge the times when the fall is not softened and the patching together takes longer. To recognise that, at some points in our life, it leaves us winded and takes time to find the strength and courage to get up again –

Okri reminded me that the world goes in cycles. Sometimes, holding onto this notion helps. It also helps when you start understanding where any part of the experience might make you strong, which was something else I took from his talk.

A few days ago – and this is the last part in my random-thought chain – I was sitting in a bar with my friend talking about life and stuff, and she said (and I paraphrase): “I was reading your blog a few months ago and it made me laugh because the very thing that you were talking about learning was something that you had suggested to me three weeks before”.

There are some things that we can only learn ourselves and by experience.

Some of these lessons are great but some of them hurt like hell.

Some of them are learnt once, and that is enough; and some of them have to be experienced a few times.

The rising and falling thing probably comes into this bucket and I guess it has taken me 620 words to work out what I have been trying to say: that each time we get back up again, we create something to cling onto the next time that we fall.


4 responses to “A few loose ends and some thought about rising and falling

  1. “each time we get back up again, we create something to cling onto the next time that we fall.”

    That’s really powerful – definitely something to reach out to when you feel like you’re at a fall. Without getting into deep theories and debates about ‘how the universe works’/fate/destiny/whatever, it is fundamentally true that because everything is always changing, your thoughts on life as a cycle are accurate.

    Whether you put a lot of stock in rise/fall and fall/rise narratives, ‘everything comes around’, karma or whatever the basic fact is that nothing is static and life is dynamic. That’s a comforting thought when you’re caught up in the despair of being in a down dip. “No manure… no magic.” and accepting that there are good times and bad times and trying to find the positives, hope and optimism from it can help you move on… hopefully towards the rise. 🙂

    That’s a long-winded way of saying, yes, life is all about cycles and being aware of that can help you as you go about living. Thanks as always for sharing thought-provoking stuff, Issa! 😀

  2. “No manure…no magic” is my new moto! Love it! That’s a far more imaginative way of looking at it. Thanks for commenting James – I love hearing your perspectives too. 🙂

  3. Ha! I recently got told that too. A friend said she thought I kept learning the same lesson over and over. I told her I’m getting more and more precise in the lesson. Zeroing in on it. 😉

  4. One of the things that always hits me when I am reading is how we all go through the same things – and how much time and pain we could save if we read the relevant bits at the relevant times. Guess it doesn’t work like that. Seems we all have to learn the same things and, often, multiple times. It gets easier I guess – and yes, am zeroing in too. xx

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