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.

When I think about this even more, the television especially, the notion of freedom really comes to mind. I say freedom only because when you do not have a television there are a great many things that do not apply to you. There are a great many things that you are not obligated to do. First and foremost, no TV means no 24 hour commercials or the mass marketing machine. Without the TV there is very little need to have the next best thing. There is very little need to have a car that advertises image, fun, freedom, etc. Without the TV there is no snippets of disease and pharmaceutical education. Without TV there is no inlet into your home of all the things there are to fear in the world. All the fear both real and imaginary, seem to be on the TV. Without it, you can really arrive at the silence of yourself. The TV is the easiest thing to pick on here because it's so ubiquitous and invasive. People have been glued to it on sofas around the world for a great many years and in recent years it has found it's way into bars, restaurants, dentist's chairs, cars, every nook and cranny of public places. I am yet to meet anyone who thinks this is as much of a problem as I do.

It's my observation that what we see on screens becomes the greatest influence on what we do. Sure, it's what we buy, but it's also what we think. When we watch TV we will buy what we are told to buy. We have no choice. It's how it's built. And the truly horrifying part of the whole thing is that when this happens we no longer have the self reliance to carry on what it is to be human.

I do not subscribe to the most modern meaning of self reliance. I believe that in this modern era the term of self reliance invokes a meaning of the rugged person who has shunned society and broken free into the ever shrinking wilderness for solace and solitude. Self reliance in many imaginations bring up the spirits of backwoods hikers or cowboys or fishermen. And although I think many of these types of people are self reliant, I also believe that their self reliance is in the spirit rather than the practical skills they possess for life in the open air.

Rather, I believe in an older notion of self reliance. I believe in the Emersonian view of self reliance. When a person settles into the depths of the individual fabric, the discovery of richer existence surfaces. When you really still yourself and arrive at the silence of your being, the path is very clear. It is a path of what you are, what you do and what you can do. For me, it was always the pursuit of writing. It was clear very early in life. I've seen this in others I've known over the years, the artists, the musicians, the athletes. It is a drive to do something, be something, and it is both restless and fulfilling to endeavor such pursuits.

Having self reliance, at least to me, is to know the deeper recesses of your spirit. It is to know your personal capacity for the things in those deepest recesses. It is to know that your pursuits are righteous and perfect. It is to fiercely guard all that you have, all that you possess and when it comes to your imagination, thoughts, beliefs, you must know that what you are cannot be taken from you.

And it is so easy to have these things taken away. In this modern age of constant bombardment it's easy to get lost in the dense jungle of media. It is easy to lose what you hold closest to the inner lining of self with the ideas and images constantly presented to us. It is easy to lose the self and be absorbed into the whole. When we consider the whole as the current trends in news, marketing and opinion polls, how impossible is it to avoid? So, it's easy to get swept up in it, all of it and just as easy to lose yourself. I cannot see how the whole will ever accept the individual self. And when the individual self is strong, true and constant, I cannot see how the self could possible accept the whole.

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