If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.
– Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Suppose you were to be informed that … tomorrow – your life would end. And the messenger explains – that you are receiving this information … as a Courtesy. So that you would have time to reflect … some time to compose your soul.
Now, for the purpose of this exercise, let us disregard all the Practical issues (which, of course would arise if the situation were real, and not hypothetical) … issues such as debts (both financial and social/interpersonal … chaos that you’ve created, messes which you’ve never cleaned up … is your Last Will & Testament in order? … things like that.
Let’s just focus on this question – “If I had to put my life down … and walk away from it … how would I FEEL about the way I’ve lived it?” … Would I be satisfied? … Or would I wish I had lived it in a ‘better way’? Would I change any of the choices I made?
[If I were in this situation …(I will tell you this) … I would feel far from satisfied.]
Also … even though I’m about to quit on this idea, I don’t want you to quit on it.
(You have my permission to take some time … right now … and deal with it. And (if not now) … then come back to it in a day or two. And get what you can out of it.
And, before we move on, let me offer a couple quotes –
My contemplation of life and human nature in that secluded place [cell 54 of Cairo Central Prison] taught me that he who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality, and will never, therefore, make any progress. … I discovered my real self in Cell 54.
– Anwar Sadat
If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better the answer he has, the more of a person he is.
– Thomas Merton
(Also) – Merton says that – ‘Solitude is a way to defend the spirit against the murderous din of our materialism.’
(So … take whatever alone-time you need.)
For the purposes of this essay … I want to shift (the same question) … to the societal level … that is –
Suppose we were Really Smart … how would we restructure our culture?
Someone said (I don’t recall his name … a Canadian, maybe) – that
What Americans have in place of a culture … is – a fast-moving economy.
Personally, I think there is truth in this.
Suppose that we (Americans) were to spend as much time talking about our Society … as we do talking about our Economy.
(Maybe we think our economy is our culture. Mmm?)
Anyway, if we did … that would increase our ‘culture talk’ by at least 1,000 %.
Culture (as you know) … is a sort of soup … the main ingredients of which are –
Beliefs (shared paradigm)
A sense of belonging … a sense of – WE.
(and so on)
And – the way that an individual might take on (as a project) – the development of his or her own character … and strive to live life in the best way they can think of …
just in that same way … a Culture might take on the responsibility of becoming the best Society they can (collectively) think of. Mmm?
What do you think? … Would not this be a Wonderful Development?
Surely one of the Best Films Ever is – “La Belle Verte” (French, 1996, Coline Serreau)
Here is a summary (from IMDB):
The “Green Planet” belongs to another solar system. Through the simplicity of their lifestyle those who live there are a real step ahead of us: they spend their time concentrating their knowledge, strength and energy on the development of their minds and bodies in a natural environment which they dearly preserve and care for. Once a year, they gather in the crater of a dormant volcano to decide which planets they ought to send messengers to. There are volunteers for every planet except Earth, which is considered too polluted and too dangerous. One woman alone, Mila, decides to go there to seek out her identity, as Osam the old sage has revealed to her that she was conceived there during a previous trip by her father.
If you haven’t seen this film … I hope you do.
Anyway … as it is … the group, on this planet, which (currently) takes the prize … for taking responsibility for the shape and structure of the culture we live in … is the One Percent … the Super Rich.
Solzhenitsyn comments that our modern age is characterized by hurry … and by superficiality; and this is (of course) true. But how did this come to be?
It is the result of the (deliberate) work of the Super Rich.
They do this, of course, as occupiers; they (most certainly) do not want us messing around with their world. They do not want us to reshape the culture into something sane and humane. This would not serve their (perverse) purposes.
It seems to me … If they can do it (reshape the culture) … we can do it.
Perhaps you’re wondering – what you could do?
Well …. (if you can’t think of anything else) … how about organizing a (weekly) neighborhood potluck … right where (wherever) you are?
[ref: my blog postings of July 4th and of July 18th 2018]
I don’t know …
No one knows what you can do.