We always must have ends and we are always in movement towards those ends. Tension gives rise to an impulsion to act, raw living energy that we harness, shape, and express to the world and to others. That impulsion implies a movement of some kind, either away from what we value as bad or towards what we value as good. We can never stand still, because each tension that is resolved is but covering another one, each successive layer leading right into the heart of the labyrinth. We see these new tensions because in resolving the previous ones, we are different ourselves, looking at the world with new eyes. Tension only disappears with death, the perfect tensionless state. Each end achieved is immediately transcended, for a new tension emerges bidding us towards a new psychic equilibrium point. Yet while the ends give us a direction, they do not guarantee a transformation into a new equilibrium. It is the experience itself of moving towards that end, the process, that results in transformation. A linear path often merely stiffens the resistance, like yanking on a Chinese finger trap. For example, we cannot force ourselves to relax. Instead, we can only create the circumstances where we can relax and achieve our desired end, such as falling asleep. This is the circular path leading to effective change, that spirals us to where we want to go, whether that be a temporary state change as in the case of sleep or fundamental transformation of being.
A linear penetration can sometimes bring success in creating an end state, but more often than not the linear, overly-controlled means employed negate the very end-state the actor is attempting to create. Take our system of education. We want to prepare our children to succeed in life, so we create mandatory curricula, ever more rigidly controlled and enforced schedules, myriad standardized tests, a complex system of carrots and sticks, and a dangerously powerful authority figure in the form of the teacher. And yet these straight-line solutions are antithetical to creating independent, responsible, free adults who can function in a healthy democracy. Assuming, of course, that’s what we want to create in the first place. Ultimately, the way we move towards our ends is as integral to our organism as those ends themselves. Or rather, it is the movement towards the ends itself that creates the conditions for expansion of awareness and being. Means without an end is aimlessness, dispersion, and nihilism. Yet ends without means is violence, coercion, and disconnection. The art is in the reconciliation, which comes through an awareness of deeper levels of relating and an ability to express that tension in connection with others and the qualities we seek. Ends and proper means need to be present for successfully transformative resolution of tension.
Movement towards goodness is then cyclical, allowing for transformation into the person ultimately capable of witnessing and experiencing that goodness. And that circular movement towards what we value as good is usually the same thing that makes the bad bearable. And if we get good at moving in this way, perhaps the movement itself becomes pleasurable and creates meaning enough for us. Then, it can properly be called aesthetic: movement done for its own sake, because of what it communicates in the moment rather than subordinated to an end that isn’t really there. For all ends wither and fade, fictions of our invention, replaced by new ones. This does not mean we should not have ends. It does mean that our means must stand on their own and justify themselves. Ends guide these means, but the means employed are the end we actually get, for the qualities we hope our ends will bring us exist only in our relationships, in every moment of relating. If we do not bring them alive now, we will not bring them alive when we achieve our end, or the inevitable ends after. This unveiling in the moment of what we seek is the closest we’ll ever get to our ends, and the only truly lasting rest and relief we can ever feel, besides death itself. These qualities are always there in the relationship, waiting to be brought alive. It is only ever a function of our awareness whether or not we can see them. But our awareness can grow only through the process of hard-won aesthetic experience.
The end allows us to marshal and concentrate our energies, without which we could not move towards or reach a new equilibrium point. The process is what allows the new way of being and relating to unfold from moment to moment. The time and effort separating us from our ends is merely a succession of infinite infinitely-small moments. If what we seek does not begin to emerge at some definite moment between us and our end, and continue to bloom, then it can never emerge. The end is not some magic switch. It is only a story we tell ourselves, a product of our consciousness, for nature is pure process. This is why the actions of a man tell us more about who he is than his words. His words can deceive but his contextualized actions will always reveal what he truly values and moves towards in life. We may say we have one aim, but our actions and habits and relationships reveal quite another end we are moving towards, which may very well be stagnation and disconnection: from ourselves, from others, from life. If there is no satisfaction and challenge in the process employed, something to anchor the awareness of someone to a transformative process, then all the outer attainment in the world- money, prestige, power- will turn to ash in the mouth. These external attainments are force multipliers, nothing more or less. A miserable, weak person will be even more miserable and weak with more money. A healthy, mature, generous person will be even more healthy and generous with more money.
Aesthetic movement leading to transformation changes how we act in relationship, because the feeling emerges from the relationship. This is not something we can rigidly plan. While plans can provide a useful starting point, any plan is ultimately limited because it implies a centralized, one-way relationship, that of the agent acting upon the context. It can never fully capture the complexity of the unfolding two-way relationship that defines each person or system in the moment. But we err when we adhere to a plan at the expense of reacting to and incorporating feedback from the environment. It robs us of the presence we need to sink down to the level of awareness that would engage our entire emergent self and be in rapport with the unfolding phenomenon. The process will emerge of its own accord, and consciousness must simply provide the structure for it to do so. There is a meta-process to discovering this process, of course. The meta-process is indicative of the health of the emergent self: how well we are able to be in rapport with what we are in relationship with, to sink into synchronized awareness with, and seamlessly incorporate and react to the feedback we receive in each moment. By taking action towards a freely chosen goal, and being willing to course-correct as we gain understanding about ourselves, we begin to discover both processes, the contextually-specific one and the meta, human process of how we engage with the world. Part of that process may be realizing that the ends need to change. It is all information and feedback to be used. Even if we make what genuinely seem like mistakes, as long as the questioning never stops, then it is not for nothing. And the questioning must never stop, else you have strayed from the very impulse that would see you at your most alive and meaningful. The only way I know to recognize when I have begun unraveling the correct line of interrogation is when I feel both a holy urgency and a strange peacefulness of knowing that, however long it may take, I will get there. The rest is fine-tuning. If we are willing to follow this line of questioning back to its source, it will give us everything we need, and transform us into the men and women capable of living the answers, of living and sharing all the qualities we seek.
 As Christ said according to the Gospel of Thomas, “If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your father in you?’, say to them, ‘It is movement and repose.’”
...sees much and knows much