walden

We’re all Just Children…

 

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Driving through a school zone this morning it completely occurred to me that the parents dropping off these kids weren’t really much older than them. Not that they were the former cast of Teen Mom, but that when measured against the ever expanding back drop of eternity, the difference is immeasurable.  

The distance between our oldest and our youngest is infinitesimally small compared with anything in the natural world. Do I feel more intelligent or better off when parked next to some High School-Cindy who’s ride sports an “I drive like a Cullen” decal? Of course I do. What does that even mean? Was he a race-car-driving-vampire and I missed it? Nevertheless, isn’t it more important to recognize my own ultimate immaturity?

Regardless of how much I desire to know, I’m an ant trying to fill it’s mouth with the Pacific ocean. I am a sack of intelligent water who has borrowed some calcium and carbon for a short duration so I can reflect and ponder on all that is here, and all that I am. Is there a more honest description of life than that? 

And children really do know this. And we know they know it. But still, we have ‘matured’ and we have moved on to more fanciful pursuits. And we know that it’s wrong on some fundamental level, at least the most sane among us know it – and we reject them for it. 

This morning, my sister said on her way out the door that she was off to battle the beasts at work today. My two year old son asked her where her sword was. “What?”

He explained that if she was going to fight bad guys at work she needed a sword and that he had one she could take. We all just stopped and looked at each other – the unbridled honesty of a child is a wonder to behold. He honestly meant it and couldn’t believe that she’d go out unarmed like that, knowing beasts were there. 

She explained to him that she had one in the car, and that she’d be victorious today and he kissed her and hugged her and will inevitably ask about the battle when she returns home tonight. 

Children experience life at the leading edge, as it happens. There are no filters in place to dictate how they should feel or what they should think yet – all experiences are new and fraught with possibility and fear, and the most unbelievable ecstasy. 

I think anything less than living deliberately, in full pursuit of every second that the earth and the stars and our minds have to offer, is the greatest sin that can be committed. And I really wish I could stop sinning. 

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Not Quite Ready to Live…

Not Quite Ready to Live...

I’m not sure why it feels this way, but I’m sure it’s not just me. In fact, it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who actually said it first, and hell, that was what, 130 years ago?

Sure, there’s the tired expressions like “life is what happens when you’re making plans” and “life is the journey not the destination.” True to both of those, though not very useful in ridding us of this annoying tickle in our brain stem – the one that nags us that we’re just not LIVING, you know?

I think what Emerson meant, and what bothers me most, is the recognition that the “living” we’re never doing, is the kind that forces us to meld our highest desires and our most basic actions.

We want to be productive, but ‘damn it! the Oscars are on!’ We want to be more connected to our friends, but we can’t put down our smart phones for the person in the room telling us about their day. We want to get further ahead in life, but we neglect to take the steps to make it happen on our own.

Obtaining the authentic kind of living, the only true happiness available, is a process that requires nearly reckless independence from the rest of humanity. It requires that no one else set the docket for your day or your life besides you – even if that means you’re out of the loop on a lot of trivial things.

I don’t mean run off to a cabin in the woods (it’s been done before), I mean one has to reject a whole slate of obligations, or observances of custom in order to pair it down to what ultimately matters. To give those things, and little else, the total time and attention to live an authentic life.

Who gives a damn if you’re fast approaching 40 and there’s not a suitable candidate for a spouse in sight? Are you happy with your life? Do you do the things you’d ultimately love to do and say to hell with the rest? Do you work to make yourself the kind of person you’d like to be? REALLY like to be?

I can promise you this: If you are truly happy – No bullshit, actually, infectiously, enthusiastically, forest-fire-of-confidence-happy, then you won’t have a problem finding a spouse. Or a job. Or a friend. Or a good time on a Friday night.

Because you’ll make those things happen on your own. You’ll decide for yourself what a good time is and won’t have it decided for you by some televised guidos with a penchant for fist-pumping. Unless you like fist pumping, in your heart of hearts, in which case go nuts.

I think the “getting ready to live” is the idea that one day, we’ll just wake up and ‘want’ to; do all the things that are good for us, or what others would like us to do, or what we think we’d like ourselves to do. That doesn’t happen – it just results in more waiting for us to magically align with something we think we want or are told we want.

Don’t wait. Don’t think your going to wake up with a series of immutable desires that compel you to; work out, fall in love with accounting, or go to church three times a week.

Do: focus on what you love and what an actual life you’d die for looks like, and what steps exist between you and that life.

The happiest people around never hide their passion, and give few damns about what anyone ultimately thinks. No way that’s a coincidence.