Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Self Reliance Part 4

Ultimately, listening to the silence of yourself and achieving self reliance, is not a very fashionable thing to do. This sort of behavior is not so easily transmitted via the ether to any give social media platform. This sort of behavior is not the sort of thing that marketers can cater to. It's tough for the outside to get in. And it may be too difficult to define to the outside what is happening on the inside.

In 1841 when Ralph Waldo Emerson published his essay Self Reliance he summed up all of this themes very articulately. He meant to say to the world that each individual needs to avoid conformity and false consistency, and simply obey their own instincts and ideas. Emerson was very critical of society. He was critical of the church despite being an ordained Unitarian minister himself. Self reliance to Emerson is a very personal journey. To Emerson, we all have the capability of self reliance.

I believe in the Emersonian view of self reliance. I'm in it totally, subjected to the thoughts of a man who specifically told me not to let anyone think for me, including Emerson himself. But even following the ideals of Emerson or the greater community of the American Renaissance writers like Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman or Melville, can only go so far in our modern times.

I don't suppose that humanity has changed all that much since the beginning of time. I believe that ancient humans were just sophisticated and just as deep thinking as we are today. I believe the human curiosity and human intellect built the pyramids at Gyza and the library at Alexandra. I also believe that it was human intellect and human destruction that destroyed the library at Alexandra or any number of cities from Famen Temple to New York's World Trade Center.

What has changed, I suspect, is how much there is. I mean there is more of everything than Emerson would have imagined. The population of Concord may not have grown much, but think about the population of Boston or Massachusetts or the United States and especially the world.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Self Reliance Part 3

Karma Repair Kit:
Items 1-4
by Richard Brautigan
1. Get enough food to eat, and eat it.
2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet, and sleep there.
3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you arrive at the silence of yourself, and listen to it.

I think about Richard Brautigan a great deal. Outside of his first book Trout Fishing in America I don't think he had a very wide audience. Although I can think of many merits to Trout Fishing in America, of all the books of his that I read, it isn't my favorite. After I began to read Richard Brautigan, I could not stop. Over a period of about a year, I read everything of his I could get my hands on. In those days, in those pre-Amazon, pre-internet shopping days, getting my hands on Richard Brautigan's books took me to every used bookstore from San Francisco to Cincinnati.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Self Reliance Part 2

A warning for our time: do not let anyone or anything take your concentration away.

We've all seen it. We've seen the people who drive their car and they have a cup of coffee in one hand and a phone in the other. They are not focused on any one thing. They are not focused on the coffee, probably not on the phone and certainly not on the road. I am not above it, I have been distracted too. I have had my attention split in many directions and I have had my concentration shattered. I've just tried to keep this at a minimum and not in a chronic state like it would be should I be careless.

The term “multitasking” has become increasing trite in recent years. Multitasking implies that a person can carry on with many things, none related, at once and get everything done. To me, this just creates confusion. Back in the car with the coffee and the phone call and eyes that should be on the road, is it really whole the hassle? I imagine if automobiles did not have any safety features, like seat belts, airbags or crumble bumpers, and if instead had a large sharpened metal spike that stretched from the steering wheel to the driver's face, multitasking would not be reserved for the car. I think if there was a reminder of the immanent outcomes of just one moment of carelessness, everyone would treat the operation of a motor vehicle with a level of mindfulness none of us currently understand.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Self Reliance

I have been blessed. My entire life has been a blessing. I have never felt otherwise. Like many of us, I have gone through those rough times, those dark times, the trouble times. This is what it means to be alive and to be sure, I would fear for anyone who has not seen rough times. These down times in life, whether it is financial, emotional or physical serve only to make a stronger person. When I say that I have been blessed it is for many, many reasons. The biggest reason, perhaps, is that I have been able to do everything that I wanted to do. All I ever wanted to be is a writer and that's really all I've ever been.

Another blessing that has occurred to me recently is one that is seemingly ridiculous. There is a very real and strange sensation that happens in my gut when I am subjected to a television. It happens when I look at a computer screen too, particularly an ad filled web page with flashing and blinking banners and boxes. And unlike most people these days, I do not carry a hand held device that constantly tells me what to do and what to think. It's a blessing that there has never been a television in my house and a blessing that in the these days of smart devices that I do not subscribe to them either. Like I said, this was not a conscious choice, I refuse to have devices that invade my thoughts, but rather a reaction to a physical sensation.