I chose the image above for today’s blog post for a couple reasons: first, it’s cool, but second, it’s also kind of all over the place. And isn’t that what metaphysics are all about?
A quick Google search shows the definition of metaphysics as “a field of philosophy that is generally focused on how reality and the universe began. An example of metaphysics is a study of God versus the Big Bang theory.” Now, those are some pretty big questions, so of course it’s not unusual for a writer to contemplate them.
What is unusual is when said writer owns a copy of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Metaphysics, mental health, psychology, spirituality—they’re all interconnected in my world.
All The Way Back To High School
In terms of its beginnings in my life, my interest in the metaphysical probably goes back to my earliest days: a religious upbringing (later abandoned), exposure to the beauty of nature, and a strong education all combined to make me both wonder about, and fear, the “big answers.”
By the time I hit high school, I was reading books as diverse as Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals and the King James Version of The Bible.
Growing up in an alcoholic home, though, I had another slant on all these things: I guessed at what “normal” is, and swung wildly between spiritual ecstasy and abject despair. And I developed my own problem with chemical dependency—psychedelics and “spirits” as the pathways to so-called enlightenment.
A Lifelong Pursuit
Skip ahead a few years, and we find a portrait of the artist as an increasingly elder man. Decades of sobriety have brought a certain balance and good health through my adult life, but issues remain. My sense of wonder has been tempered, but my sense of self is stronger than it was as a youngster or adolescent.
And books have been there all the way. From the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, a source of mystery and wisdom, to Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, which brings together Eastern religions, Jungian archetypes, and Western individualism, books concerned with metaphysics have often dominated my reading list.
Of course, some stand out more than others—like The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “a moral allegory and spiritual autobiography,” according to Goodreads, or the early books of Carlos Castaneda, which I briefly mention in my own recent novel, Whizzers.
These and countless other books have informed and shaped my thinking, but, I must admit, left me with few answers. Perhaps that’s the most compelling reason of all for a lifelong interest in the metaphysical: there’s no sure answer to life’s big questions. Yet we all keep on searching.