Transformational Wisdom

Since my last post about my personal troubles, here and on Patreon, I’ve had quite a warm reception via a number of means. Here, on Patreon, on Facebook, and via lengthy emails were folks divulge personal information from their own experiences in an effort to say: you’ll get through it.

One I received this morning was a bit different. While he’s had his troubles, he wanted to give me his take on what’s going on with my pain and anguish—that gnawing voice that says“call it all off, beg forgiveness, settle…”

At first, I thought it was so special that I would just put it somewhere to refer to in my personal times of need, and then within seconds of thinking that, I realized that such a thing would be just too selfish of me, keeping it to myself like that.

Marc is a long time reader of this blog and my gosh, it must be about 7 years ago that he dispatched cans of whole cod livers to me. I enjoyed them so much (poor man’s foie gras) I’ve been buying canned whole cod livers on Amazon and have ’em in my pantry at all times since.

Here’s what he took the time to write to me:

Hi old friend,

Saw your post . – couple of things-

1. I have a sneaky suspicion you’ve been going through an “un-weaving” with Bea for 2 years now. And it’s now done.

2. The pain is real and NOT real. Whats real pain is the “cell memory” that’s taking place . This is no different than a soldier getting a leg amputated and screaming days later that their leg hurts. The cells do not forget for a while … As such your very cells cry out for connection and anchor points that are now gone. This process takes a lot more time to dissolve and  dissipate than you might realize .

3. The other pain is BS pain and you must get it out of your “head.” I believe that although hard at times you will be fine with this as you are strong and focused when you want to be .

4. You’re a truth seeker my friend… not an easy path but I urge you to engage in extreme gratitude with Bea as I believe she’s an integral part of your growth. You most likely wouldn’t be where you are today without her.

I believe that transformation and change are two VERY different things. Most folk want to “change” but you my man  have always wanted to “transform” and when we say “transform” we mean nothing from the past remains … that’s transformation not change and that is necessary when appropriate and as such NATURAL.

I’ve been through some crap in my life when it comes to marriage and family and my only advice is- be grateful, respectful and follow your desires and dreams. So many stop dreaming at our age ..dont you fucking do it 🙂

Was just thinking about you and wanted to share. You’ve taught me so fudging much over the last decade . … I’m grateful !

Hang tough my friend …  but not too tough  🙂


I can’t keep it just to myself, because maybe anyone out there is facing really tough shit and it applies beyond marriage relationships to it’s like my favorite thing: a synthesis. There’s tons of insight and wisdom there, and what made it so damn prescient is that I was beginning to work out a core commitment of my own about 24 hours prior. It’s natural for breakups to be antagonistic, but after the catharsis inherent is the posts posts I did on my birthday—explicitly to make them meaningful and definitive for me—I texted Beatrice the next morning. Here’s what I said, excerpted:

1. Yes, I had my own “party” yesterday. Today is a new day. Yesterday I wrote my posts on Patreon and FTA as sort of commitment.

2. That commitment is both to myself and to you. To me, it is to be true to myself, be strong, get my life back in order rationally. To you, and this is a promise, to never again lash out in unprovoked anger, to be friendly and yes, loving; to remember, reflect upon, and cherish all the innumerable good times which far outweigh the bad.


Marc’s email, even more deeply, contemplates the core difference between Eastern and Western philosophy.

I’m a lay student of the Western and am in league with the Greeks.

But I have had way too many friends and interlocutors over a long time that find serendipitous curiosity or even scholarship in Eastern philosophy. Perhaps the most popularized idea is that of Yin and Yang

Most people have zero idea what it means. They think, loosely, ‘sometimes I want to do this, sometimes that.’

It’s not what it is. It’s the parallel idea in Western philosophy that there is reason and logic….emotion and desire—the material and the spiritual—and your path is to self-flagilate in various ways to quiet the emotion and desire in favor of the former.

The Eastern way contemplates a deeper integration, where one side is just as inexorably part of us as is the other, it’s a deeper wholeness. There is no preferred part or the other part. Rather than be at internal war, enlightenment is found in some sort of internal counsel where you seek to integrate their interests, in pursuit of your own better mental health, understanding, and enlightenment.

If I had to reduce the difference between Western and Eastern modalities of thought into a nutshell, the Western seems to encourage higher levels of personal hubris; whereas, the Eastern seeks to help you deal with it and tame it.

…I have my own version of humility I have stated over and over here, over many years. It’s that’s I’m always wrong, so are you, so is everybody. We’re always wrong, all the time, every day.

The snuggle of life, therefore seems obvious.

You can never be right. But everyone can be a little bit less wrong today than they were yesterday.

That is a very attainable and worthy goal.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Gordon on February 2, 2018 at 18:41

    Very sorry to hear the news. Life can be brutally painful.

    I can relate to lashing out in unprovoked anger. After one particular episode I came upon this blog:

    The author’s wife left him, but in his case he was still a young man, and she left not with the dog but with his young son. Talk about pain. You get some vivid glimpses of it in his blog posts.

    That blog made a huge impact on my own behavior and understanding of marriage, similar in scope to the impact your blog has had on my diet.

    Regarding Eastern vs Western, I got deep into Buddhism for a number of years, but still know hardly anything. But I recall hearing how the Dalai Lama was shocked when told by a group of psychologists or psychiatrists that the number one problem they dealt with in their patients was self-hatred. He had never heard of such a thing, and said that in Tibet the number one problem was pride, and they had to always be teaching about how to handle excessive pride.

    The thing I’m wrestling with now is Gnosticism vs non-Gnosticism (not sure what the term is, other than perhaps Christianity). The idea that man can transform himself is gnostic. That idea itself is hubristic if you think about it. We think we can, through both incremental and occasionally heroic effort, transform ourselves from ordinary humans into something greater. To become enlightened, illuminated, like Gods. Which doesn’t sound heretical anymore in a world without God.

    There seems to be a deep tension between that kind of motivation to continual, effortful self-improvement resulting in a big achievement vs the fact that we have deep, profound limits that can never be escaped. As I heard a pastor say, if you ask Michael Phelps to swim from Florida to Africa across the Atlantic Ocean, he isn’t going to get much closer to Africa than I would before he drowns.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 21, 2018 at 10:08

      The thing is, Gordon, Bea and I have come to agree on two things:

      1. Our value sets are way, way different, and in retirement years they are becoming even more divergent.

      2. The fact of #1 makes us both feel like caged animals in the context of marriage.

      It’s that simple. And feeling that way manifests into pretty predictable behavior on the part of both of us. The bottom line is that to some extent, more for some than for others, marriage is a mutually self-sacrificial pact. Society tends to look favorably upon self-sacrifice in the name of certain ideals like society in general, a religious narrative and yes, marriage and children too.

      If you’re going to get up and swear to God and family your undying devotion to someone else for life, probably better to not do it when you’re young. But even older is no guarantee. Bea and I were both early 40s, first marriage, no kids then or now. That’s probably why it’s a very amicable parting of ways.

    • Marc on March 6, 2018 at 18:38

      Deep profound limits????? Becoming like gods???

      I respect the way you see things….
      I will share how I see it, here goes
      We have NO LIMITS and we are what you refer to as god. 😉

      Honestly my take , thank you for letting me share.

  2. Steven G. on February 5, 2018 at 09:32

    “…I have my own version of humility I have stated over and over here, over many years. It’s that’s I’m always wrong, so are you, so is everybody. We’re always wrong, all the time, every day.

    You can never be right. But everyone can be a little bit less wrong today than they were yesterday.

    If only more people could learn this concept, I think we would all be a lot better off. Traumas have a way of opening our awareness a bit more, and breaking things apart and giving the us the opportunity to put things back together in a new and improved way. It happened to me.


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