Acheivement, Focus, and Purpose

Fire Lyte has a great post discussing physical fitness.

Wait, what? This ain’t a fitness blog! Why do I care about running?

Because, this:

I had to decide something about myself in that moment. Yes, the guy was gorgeous, and that’s fun to look at, but I had to decide exactly how envious of him I was. Was he doing anything that I couldn’t do? Nope. Could I, too, bring a set of weights with me to the preserve and slowly increase my own fitness to that same level? I could definitely try.

It’s not like I’m not active. I work out. Lift weights. Do cardio. But, there’s just a level of dedication to diet and truly lifting the heavy weights with laser pointed precision and increasing the weight to a level where it’s not just toning but actually building muscle. Basically, I know that I’m not working out hard enough to look like that. And, I know that I have the youth, the ability, and the knowledge to work out like that.
So, how jealous or envious of that body do I actually get to be? There’s no reason why I can’t be at that fitness level except for my love of pizza and deciding that sometimes I only want to run 3-4 miles…or that “doing abs” at the gym consists of 100 simple, plain, vanilla crunches. Enough to say I ‘did abs’, but nowhere close to the workout I’d need to ‘get abs’.
All of this made me immediately think of the online pagan community. I thought of bloggers and podcasters whose craft I very much envy. Sarah Lawless was the first person that came to mind. She is sort of famous around the internet for being the witch that every witch wishes he or she could be. I thought of other people who live their spirituality as though it weren’t something they were doing, but an integrated part of their being – Mrs. Oddly & Cory Hutcheson. People like Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt who decided they wanted their pagan path to take prominence and then did that. They formed their life into their spiritual path and don’t distinguish the two.
While I was running my miles in the preserve, I asked myself… Do I truly know less than these other people? Well, yes, in many ways I lack some factual knowledge, because I haven’t put in the time that these other people have. But, is my intellect any less? Do I honestly not know where to go to gain that information? Do I honestly not know what meditation is, how to do it, or that incorporating it into my daily routine would probably greatly improve my connection with self and the divine?
Basically, am I less than these other people? And, I think the answer is no. The big difference is that I do not put the effort into my practice or my biceps the way that these other people do. As Velma might say, I know the stuff to do, but I’m not doing it all. I’m doing some of it.
So, I think what I’m saying is that, if you’re fine with your current level of physical or spiritual fitness, then there’s no reason to be envious of others. You’re doing exactly as much as you want to do. Should you ever desire to do more, you absolutely have those tools. There isn’t any grand secret to having abs. You’re not born with them. You’re not born with an encyclopedic knowledge of sigils or spirits or ceremonial magic. You just have to decide that your free time isn’t free. That your workouts should go a bit beyond. That your research should be more voracious, delving a little deeper.
There are much better painters and sketch artists out there. And, I could be better if I spent my off days doing art. I could perfect my sorely lacking knowledge of hermeticism. I could increase the number of crunches I do, the heaviness of the weights I life.
But, I’m healthy, do art that I love, and am trotting along my spiritual path at a level that I currently find acceptable. So, I can relieve that envy a bit. I can be satisfied and content.
I used to have a job where my boss always talked about “life/work balance.” Sure, I could pour myself utterly into my work to attain success, but without putting energy into other parts of my life, the stress would overwhelm me, and I would burn out and fail. (This is ultimately what happened.) There were other managers in the company that were driven and motivated and constituted in such a way that they could put that much effort into their work, and I thought that by doing the same and emulating them I could find success. But the energy that sustains me comes from other areas of my life, and I atrophied and wallowed in a misery I am still recovering from several months later. I was looking at the status and glamor that success in that position would entail, and not whether of not it was a job that was suited to my talents and needs.
For anyone who reads my blog semi-regularly, this line of thought should sound familiar. because a while ago I wrote this:
I’m not sure what to do with an  intensive elemental working. The work I have done has shown some improvement in my magic, I suppose. But it all depends upon what I do with it. KAC with the HGA would be a great experience, and would give me bragging rights as a magician, but to what end? How does that help me find a better job? In my experience, Divine Inspiration involves larger abstract goals, and skimps on the details for making such things happen. That’s why we have egos in the first place, isn’t it? To address short-term goals and more immediate needs? Perhaps that’s why connecting to the HGA is supposed to do: get the ego and the Higher Self to hash out the details between themselves?
I’m not sure. I haven’t heard much about the practical results of such a working. Just that it’s supposed to be grand, and that Good Magicians(TM) do it.
But the achievement itself doesn’t amount to much unless you can use it as an effective tool.
There comes a time where all of the grand ritual and mystical accomplishments mean about as much as the fact that I’ve beaten the Ocarina of Time with only three heart containers. If you’re part of a very specific and small group of people, it might impress you, but most people have no fucks to give about it, and it doesn’t really translate into a worthwhile skill. Magic is about becoming more effective in the world, not withdrawing from it. Real gains should have a measurable improvement in my social, professional, and financial lives.
And this in itself builds up what Frater Barrabbas said:
Magicians often boast about their magical prowess, citing their accomplishments like some kind of credible list of awards or laudatory plaudits. Only other magicians can recognize those accomplishments as something to be held in awe or snickered at on the sly. Whether those accomplishments represent degrees achieved or won in some esoteric or magical order or that they represent some kind of personal achievement, like successfully invoking one’s Holy Guardian Angel, all of these accomplishments are subjective at best and potentially worthless regarding one’s actual spiritual level of being. There is something more to the effort of spiritual evolution than magical achievements or initiatory grades, but it is often overlooked in the hustle for apparent greatness.
As I have said previously, I have met individuals who have claimed lofty titles and presented burnished lists of achievements, only for them to be shown as being completely and utterly incompetent in all other areas of life. This is the difference between what Jason Miller has called stage or state and it represents the fact that all of us live at the lowest common denominator of our day-to-day spiritual foundation.

If we have achieved great things from a magical perspective, yet our material and/or social lives are needy and impoverished, then we have a long way to go before we will achieve any kind of enlightenment. Just because we spent six months living in our parent’s basement and in that hallowed domain performed the Abramelin working doesn’t mean that we are to be treated as some kind of walking Ipsissimus.

So when Fire Lyte sees a walking Adonis exercising his perfect body by hammering metal spikes into the ground, it is a perfectly valid point to ask the question: “What benefit will I gain by putting that much effort into that work?”
I have known men who worked out and had exquisite physiques. But they had to work out a lot to maintain it. That meant taking time from other pursuits, and devoting considerable time and even money into their work. A lot of people were impressed by their results, but underestimated the effort they put in. And a lot of women they dated loved the results, but resented the time they spent on attaining them.
Fire runs a lot, and he tends to eat fairly well (at least according to what I have gleaned from his blog). I’m sure the guy is in great shape and very healthy. And that’s the real important issue here: even though he is not build like the man-god hefting cowbells and driving spikes, the results he has had are providing the benefits he is looking for.
And this goes for magical and spiritual work as well. As Fire says, he is perfectly fine in his spiritual life without detailed knowledge of Hermeticism.  And like Frater Barrabbas said, the steady, “minor” work presents a great challenge and benefit, and is what allows the “major” work to gain significance in the first place. And as I said, what the fuck is the point of contacting my HGA if I spend all my time seething in frustration at my job or the fact that I’m crashing at my parents’ house? Indeed, would I even be able to effectively contact my HGA in such a state?
We develop to the level that helps us most effectively in our lives. If Adonis Spikeman is at a good place in his life and is well-adjusted, then that’s great. He has achieved a great and challenging thing in reaching that level of strength and fitness. But Fire has also achieved a great and challenging thing in reaching a more moderate level of fitness, and in his case that fitness has augmented and enriched his life, but not become the main focus of it.
And for a person like myself, who becomes obsessive easily and aspires to mastery of EVERYTHING, this is a very hard lesson to learn.
Perhaps some day my magical practice will be central to my life. But in order to facilitate that, I need to be in a place in life where I can support such an endeavor. I have a lot of work to do to get myself on track. And making magic my central focus will not aid me in that pursuit. But integrating magic into my life the same way Fire Lyte integrates fitness into his will aid me in that pursuit.
And I am placed in the odd predicament in which toning my magical focus down has been giving me better results.
I may have some greater purpose out there as a magician or wizard. I probably do, as getting involved in magic has a nasty tendency to foist such purpose upon us. But right now I am simply not dedicated enough to pursue that without sacrificing and failing at everything else in my life. And attaining enlightenment while living at my parents house will probably not help me much when everything else I have worked for has fallen to the wayside. (Besides, I’d like to imagine that “Get a decent job and your own place” is an enlightened position.)
Magic is a part of my life. A huge part of my life. But life should be central to my magic, not the other way around. It should augment my life and enable my success, not rule my life and make it subordinate to goals for goals’ sake.

3 responses to “Acheivement, Focus, and Purpose

  1. Pingback: Magical Self Improvement | Blacklight Metaphysics

  2. Pingback: Identity and Purpose | Blacklight Metaphysics

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