Grow or Die

Grow or Die
March 7, 2013 Mikal Shkreli



I make my way to the water, surging from the sun in its escape towards land, and flinch at the water’s touch. Knowledge is empowering, and thus frightening. I think we are scared to fly, scared to live. The sand is firmer, and my footsteps are more concrete than dusty.

I turn my head around and see that my footprints are overtaken by sweeping waves and are already becoming nonexistent. The beauty is that there is no turning back. They have passed because I am moving forward. The flower’s petals fall and wilt in the passing wind as my prints that are left behind are washed over by the passing tides of time.

I look down and watch my toes press into the sand. The sand presses back and squeezes through the narrow teardrop-shaped spaces. My toes slightly change color with a step, and the surrounding sand lightens with the pressure, forming halos around my feet. Is this not admirable? Why have I not heard anyone else marvel at this before?

My feet are forced to stop their game as they are faced with another pair of feet. I look up and trace the lines of a woman’s body, up her calves, around a loose beach skirt, around her curved waist, and up to her face, draped in heavy dark hair of waves that flow past her statuesque face and crash across her shoulders, her breasts, her arms and down towards her mid-back. She turns her attention from the horizon upon my arrival and her eyes light up, fixating as they adjust to the accompaniment of my presence in this scenic world, her pupils expanding and lids resting calmly in their open position.

Her lips are warm and are filled with the color of dark cherries. They are crafted carefully, and with subtle intention, her lips part. “I am Isis.” Her name is elongated and emphasized so dramatically that I didn’t even understand what she said, if it was in a language I understood or not. In her name, a heavy ‘eye’ and extended, I see a flash of her white teeth, like pearls from the sea. Her chin reminds me of soft bread. Actually, all of her face reminds me of freshly baked bread. It is tanned carefully, nurtured and looks fresh with a smell of comfort. I have yet to speak, and she already turns to look back at the horizon. I follow her gaze and stare at the empty space towards where ocean and sky meet. I can swear that the longer I focus on this, on vision’s canvas, that I can see some sort of mystery I have not yet seen. This narrow line expands from both ends of the world’s stage, and in its existence, there is a fold in the scene. It looks consciously created.  It looks too perfect to be natural. Its image melts onto my iris, creating a thin line across the center, as my long eyes absorb every cloud, every wave, and all the blue that is offered that they can possibly drink.

 Living a life of timeless simplicity and sensual pleasure.

My eyes become full, without blinking, as they overflow with salt water and the horizon’s imprint becomes foggy. Isis grabs my hand, and in continuing her turn from the sea, glances at me and lures me to walk with her.  We walk hand in hand from the waters, emerging from land’s border as refugees of another world. The sand ends, and past some beach grass, we step onto a road parallel to the shoreline.

Reaching expectations, finish lines are blurred.

The race begins again, and it looks absurd.

Bells ring and echo through the street. This uniformity of call for organization is uninteresting and offensive. Why should we follow the false call when there is such a true one inside?

Let the bells chime after each other.

Each bell sends color to this stale air.

The colors paint my nose and shakes my emotions,

Enlivening their ferocity with sweet despair.

We are all in a rush of ablution to baptize the sins of our former selves and former lives. This rush of purification has become a competition to reach our higher selves in the eyes of others, leaving the eyes of the self to be avoided. We must instead help ourselves, and in doing so, we help each other by rising together.

A house adorned with yellow stucco and red-tiled rooftop sits patiently for us a few blocks inland, overlooking a bay filled with fish and larger mammalian creatures that I find hard to believe exist here. We pass her front gate, which looks like a magical entryway into a Moroccan oasis, and settle a few steps up onto a porch that overlooks the quiet street. The sun is strong and floats at an angle, giving shadow to a most quiet bike rider on the street below, slowly gliding towards her shadow. This day and all other days are blessed and caressed by the divine hands that cradle the earth on an axis. I worship the lions of yesterday and tomorrow, the ones who sunbathe as they guard the sun on both sides, where it enters and exits this land on the horizon. We sit upon white plastic outdoor chairs, which are actually comfortable, and I look up at the grapes hanging overhead. The ones closest to my face are tiny and plump, and shine purple on the side where the sun sheds its light on, which disperses around their cluster outwards, appearing as planets and moons bundled together. Is this what our planets look like from below? Is there even a ‘below’?

She rubs lavender oil on her skin as the breeze pushes back her hair. She sits across  from me, and between us rests a bowl of avocados.

Love, Gratitude & Beauty 

She tells me that beauty is not an image or appearance, but a state of being. She offers her words, which drop from her mulberry lips as juice drips from pursed cherries. Her breath pushes out her voice, which carries the scent of fruits and flowers across the table onto my face. I close my eyes with her word’s accompaniment to the perfection of this scene, and accept all of it.

“Most people do not live with beauty. They perform as an actor, with a script they are bound to, written by everyone else besides themselves. To them, the sun is performing its predetermined ritual, replaying the stage directions of its daily script.  But take away the script from the actor, and what remains is fear, fear of losing a grasp over the false contingencies that blind us from our true currents. The actors of the world are disillusioned and have become manipulated robots who respond to rain as an expected scenery accompaniment. When the role they accept is one of anguish, they lament accordingly. Each of these isolated actors of the world play their one-man shows, creating separation, and accepting roles of solidarity within the masses. They never get anywhere because they are alone in their minds, and collectively held back. They only accept the things they see, and in actuality, they don’t see much. The riddle is simple if you let go of all scripts and seek the true scripture. We have no scripts and therefore must write our life from our own hearts.  We must feel deeply, and live life as art. The most natural of things are the most beautiful, in all darkness and light, in eternal space and unfathomable oceans. To choose to live is not an act, but a performance. And that is beautiful.

I am sure you are beyond your days of acting. You cannot avoid your stage forever. Your fruits must be shared and seeds of thought, spread. When I was in darkness, I buried my heart deep. Instead of remaining hidden, it grew into a forest. There is a light in the heart that never extinguishes.” Isis hands me a small pendant of a white skull and tells me to put it in my pocket.

We walk together to meet her friend, an older man who stands in front of a quaint two-story house, which is separated from the beach road by an old church of gothic architecture. As we approach the table he sits behind, I notice bundles of thread across its surface, mostly dark brown colors, some blue and lots of gray. He smiles at Isis and gives her a kiss on her soft cheek. We are not introduced, but he nods towards me and places some thread on the back of a large, hairy spider on his left shoulder. The thread gets caught in the spider’s hair as the man pulls it ahead of himself and cuts it with a switch-blade tightly held in his calloused and plump fingers. The man looks at me with an inquisitive look on his tanned face, the folds in his skin each conveying a story of their own. I admit that I am afraid of the spider.

The man has a heavy accent and with speech he explodes with a whining desperation of intense energy, conveying knowledge that convinces himself of his own words. “That’s nonsense! The spider minds its own business and does what it’s meant to do; weaves and constructs. Why would you fear a creature who has no interest in hurting you, unless you intend to hurt it? Be good to it, and it will weave the most incredulous creations. Now tell me, which thread would you like?”  The red one.

Isis smirks with an expression of impressed pride, arching her eyebrow and pushing out her chin slightly. There is no red thread on the table, and I answered simply out of impulse, not from what was in front of me. The weaver looks shocked, raising his bushy eyebrows dramatically and pressing his lips together as an infant would. “You bring quite a fellow, my beautiful Isis.” They exchange a glance of sacred initiation, and the man reaches below the table into a dark box. He pulls out a ball of thread with a vibrant red, pleasing to my eye, and pulls the perfect length. He sticks his hand out, flapping his fingers towards him in request.  I reach into my pocket and pull out a white skull. It is all I have to give.

He begins talking nonsense about taming wild birds and its importance for a quest. He continues speaking about bird’s flight, mentioning that their wings have to feel harmony and balance, not thought. I am not completely listening to his words, but am instead staring at the spider, who’s mouth appears to be salivating as the man extends the red thread onto its back. He loops the thread through a small metal oval above the skull and ties it without any measurement. He stands as his large belly pushes the table forward with a loud noise against the stone ground. The spider adjusts its posture too, looking more alert and ready to strike. He holds the newly created necklace in his hands with an open loop for me to slip into.  “How d’you like it?”

My smile is enough of an answer and becomes robbed as he grabs my shoulder and pulls me forward where our foreheads are nearly touching and I can see the veins in his eyeballs pulsing.

“You must realize, the spider can weave its web for its physical survival, for its shelter and for food. The spider not only can weave, it must weave. This means that you must weave your own indestructible temple, for spiritual shelter, for spiritual food.    Grow or Die!”



About the Author:   Mikal Shkreli, 23, was born and raised in NYC.  At eight years of age, he wrote a list of what he wanted to accomplish in his life.  Writing was one of them.   “During my late teens, I found writing to be a fitting outlet for my own expression in response to the corner I felt pushed into from the culture of my family’s heritage to the city’s modern pressure and demands of a young adult. I found mystique and escape in the east, and in my exploration, opened up a gateway into ancient cultures and esoteric knowledge. This saved me, and in my own spiritual journey, I explored darkness, fell in love and died many times. I began living a life fretting between realistic dreams and a dreamlike reality.”  Mikal used writing and opened up his mind through kundalini yoga and reading about consciousness.” I believe in being good to ourselves and following our desires, contributing beauty to the world.”

Links: – my artwork and writing
twitter @mikalshkreli



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