A while back, I shared an email exchange of ideas with a friend where the clarity and depth of thought offered an oasis in the desert of soundbites, tweets and illiterate text messages. You can read that first exchange here. This morning my inbox brought another missive from my friend. Again I thought I would share our exchanges. His words are in italics.
A world of used bookstores would be ideal to the world of superficial celebrity worship that we currently reside in. Could you imagine a world where television was replaced by books, movies were replaced by plays, and the current water cooler chit chat about nothing new in Hollywood was replaced by something that actually matters. The chances of a society with an attention span longer than its waist line would likely increase exponentially.
Was I born in the wrong era or is the era I was born in just wrong. I suppose it is all matter of opinion. The least of my worries is that the pandemic of ridiculousness I see in the world will continue to spread. It seems inevitable that the disease of prioritizing the nugatory news of who’s who in the book of self importance will continue to remove the focus of the masses from any daily event that truly affects their lives. It is understood by this writer that the waves of ignorance that are consistently crashing into the shore of reality are far too numerous and powerful to send back out to the sea from which they came. My fear is not that they will continue, my fear is that they will pull me under.
Even I as write this, I find myself having trouble focusing. These are my original thoughts but I wonder if they matter at all. At what point does the phrase “If you can’t beat’em, join’em!” start to have merit? Is it futile to think, now that there are so many that are pushing to think for me? Why not ride the wave, get pulled under, and nestle comfortably in a sea of apathy and indifference. Maybe because humans were not meant to be comfortable underwater for an extended length of time.
How many of us fool ourselves into thinking that we are right where we are supposed to be? A couple of air tanks on our backs and we can convince ourselves that living underwater is natural. What we fail to take in to account is that the air is artificial and the tanks are supplied by an outside source. To summarize, we willingly concede our freedom to a faceless outside entity. Why?
I love to dream. Daydream, REM dreams, making plans that are contingent on an unlikely financial windfall, or thinking what might have been if only I had made a u-turn back at the intersection of “Still have time” and “Shit it’s too late.” These are likely thoughts that most of us have or have had. The vicarious existence through thoughts of “If Only…..” takes the mind away from the painful truth of “not quite there yet” but lays hope to the “things will be different tomorrow.” It is a narcotic state of existence that is as addictive as it is lethal.
Or maybe it is just acceptance. In which case, I wasted all this time thinking when I could have been sinking.
See you at the bottom.
Used bookstores, plays and talk of ideas rather than celebrity non-reality twitterings would indeed be a world I could call home. We can live in that world by frequenting used bookstores and libraries, attending community theaters and talking of ideas rather than the latest celebrity fall from grace. We can turn off the TV and the talk radio that is often more shouting than talking. We can read and then read some more and discuss ideas with others.
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Our world will be small, an island of refuge from cookie cutter thinking in a sea of conformity. But occasionally, others will crawl out of the sea to join us. They, too, will understand that bigger is not always better, that ideas and creative free thinking are liberating and that change can come but it will come in quietly and slowly like a river etching a canyon rather than a tidal wave inundating the shore.
I never worry that you will be pulled out to sea and drown in superficiality though you often lie on the beach dreaming of what if because you do dream of the possibility of what if and that dream is the first step in making the what if come true. You also see the mountain on the island’s horizon. And you are loathe to accept mediocrity as the standard we should aspire to.
You also refuse to have others think for you for you know that allowing others to think for us is the first step to enslavement. An enslavement where substance has been replaced by appearance, where getting ahead means running in place and where everywhere there is that undercurrent of thought that something’s not quite right.
No, my friend, I will not see you at the bottom. Instead, let’s meet on the beach and watch the sunset on the sea of ridiculousness that surrounds our island. We’ll lie on the beach and gaze at the stars dreaming our what if dreams knowing that tomorrow we will set out for that mountain.
Ahh…the thought of an untouched beach at the base of a mountain. I do believe that such a utopia exists for the rare that will continue to take the necessary steps to reach it. I am so often ready to relinquish my place among the few that continue to think, and succumb to the instant gratification of becoming one that follows; high stepping blindly to the beat of an on coming holocaust while telling myself that it is only a shower.
Akin the world I loathe with the sea. Equal the trappings of that world as weights on the ankle. A thinking man would have been able to avoid those weights had he been aware of them from the start. Once they are on, they are on, and they are on. Whether they are on for good is not the question. The question is have they become comfortable.
He continues to smile but regrets that smarts did not always equal thinking.
Questioning if the weights have become comfortable means there is still wiggle room and wiggle room means escape from the weights is possible. Having the weights on does not mean a life sentence. Feeling the wiggle room means escape is within reach. It is why we can still dream our what if dreams and it is why we can reach the island and climb the mountain.
So continue to smile but leave the regrets behind. Regrets mean we are hung up in a past that never was instead of embracing the now that is and taking the steps into the future that can be.