Thursday, January 23, 2020
Then, a beat of deep stillness followed by a lion roaring back.
The sound of the lion's roar is the threshold telling me I have stepped from one world to another. After so many nights abroad filled with artificial light and the hum of appliances, there is no truer sound of being home. The timbre of the call, the way it rolls through the cold night air to find me. Its powerful vibrations shudder the door on its hinges. My heart instinctively skips with excitement.
The renowned writer of the African wilderness Laurens van der Post said of the lion's roar that "it is to silence what the shooting star is to the night sky."
-Boyd Varty, The Lion Tracker's Guide to Life
Given the paths I had walked so far, I was obviously drawn by the notion that a change in people could change the world. Yet something about the whole business of life coaching never quite sat well with with me. Coming from the South African bushveld, I felt pretty certain life did not need a coach. The unbroken stream of life that animates all things is supremely intelligent, and nothing in the wild needs a coach to help it discover what it truly is. If we had lost our way in the modern world—our sense of value, direction, and belonging—it was because we had lost contact with something more instinctual, more innate. All of this shuddered on its mooring in my own subconscious as the roar cut the night.
-Boyd Varty, The Lion Tracker's Guide To Life
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Monday, January 20, 2020
The modern world will always be in crisis because its wealth and freedom have created a crisis industry. In the agricultural era, society could afford to support just a few intellectuals, usually beholden to royal patrons who didn’t welcome criticism of their policies. . . But after the Industrial Revolution. . . a new class of secular doomsayers emerged armed with charts, theories, and printing presses.
-as cut and pasted from here
Our culture is the result of a trillion tiny acts, taken by billions of people, every day. Each of them can seem insignificant, but all of them add up, one way or the other, to the change we each live through.
-Seth Godin, as culled from here
Philosophy is simply asking us to pay careful attention and to strive to be more than a pawn. As Viktor Frankl puts it in The Will to Meaning, "Man is pushed by drives but pulled by values." These values and inner awareness prevent us from being puppets. Sure, paying attention requires work and awareness, but isn't that better than being jerked about on a string.
-Ryan Holiday, from The Daily Stoic
So, wars: what does it mean to win, what does it mean to lose? And the wars, of course, against yourself. I certainly am always at war one way or another with myself, and some of them are wars I must fight to try to slay the demons, to kill the dragon, to lay the ghost to rest. But there are other wars you fight with yourself that are really not worth fighting at all. The war to make yourself be more, do more than you have it in you really to do or to be. I think of that wonderful line from one of the poems of my beloved Gerard Manley Hopkins where he says, "My own heart let me have more pity on." My own heart let me more have pity on. That's a lovely phrase. Be merciful to yourself, stop fighting yourself quite so much. Maybe what you are asking of yourself, what you're driving yourself to do or to be, what you put a gun to your own back to make yourself do, is something at this point you needn't have to think about doing. So. think back at the end of the day to the wars you're involved in. How are they going?
-Frederick Buechner, The Remarkable Ordinary
When I turned eighteen I received my selective service card in the mail, in case the United States need to draft me, and I declared that I wasn't going to sign it. The Vietnam War had just ended and every adult I knew had been against it. I had no problem, personally, with fighting a war; I just didn't trust my government to send me to one that was completely necessary.
My father's reaction surprised me. Vietnam had made him vehemently antiwar, so I expected him to applaud my decision, but instead he told me that American soldiers had saved the world from fascism during World War II and that thousands of young Americans were buried in his homeland of France. "You don't own your country nothing," I remember him telling me. "You owe it something, and depending on what happens, you might owe it your life."
The way my father put it completely turned the issue around for me: suddenly the draft card wasn't so much an obligation as a chance to be part of something bigger than myself. And he'd made it clear that if the United States embarked on a war that I felt was wrong, I could always refuse to go; in his opinion, protesting an immoral war was just as honorable as fighting a moral one. Either way, he made it clear that my country needed help protecting the principles and ideals that I'd benefited from my entire life.
-Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging
Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.
Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.
-Martin Luther King, Jr., from his 1963 Letter From Birmingham Jail
Sunday, January 19, 2020
It's five-fifteen in the morning, and my father is waiting outside my door. As I open it, I'm struck by his size. In my late twenties, I'm now bigger than Dad, but I don't feel it. In my mind, I still come up only to his shoulder. He has the weathered quality of a lifelong outdoorsman, his skin like tanned leather—a bit worn, but hardened by the elements.
-Boyd Varty, Cathedral Of The Wild: An African Journey Home
My sales philosophy is different. It's called "value first." Simply put, I put value in the hands of my potential customers before I ever ask them the buy anything.
-Jeffrey Gitomer, Little Red Book of Selling
Value is, at bottom, simple. The balance of values is complex, and how to trade them, to choose the worthiest course, is the problem of how to live. Life has its absurdities, which we might expect and find humor in. As for the meaning of life itself, in human history, we have yet to formulate an answer. But we have found good enough reasons to potentially find meaning in our own situation, enough so as to find personal peace. We needn't resign from life or withdraw, but can instead ready ourselves for being ever more attuned, in faithful practice. For the basic joy in the surfer's kind of relational connection, even in an ordinary surf, is a real basis for peace in the sublime mix of the beautiful and the grotesque, of the fortunate and the unfortunate, of the just and the unjust. One can relax the perfectionist scruples, ease up on the angst, and be less anxious. One can get stoked and simple engage in worthy activities that give one the grace needed to call the present good enough within a life that's being well lived.
-Aaron James, Surfing With Sartre: An Aquatic Inquiry Into A Life Of Meaning
Kenyatta and I had been together for nine years, and during that time I had never been able to consistently contribute a significant income. I was a writer and felt myself part of the tradition stretching back to a time when reading and writing were, for black people, the marks of rebellion. I believed, somewhat absurdly, that they still were. And so I derived great meaning from the work of writing. But I could not pay the rent with "great meaning." I could not buy groceries with "great meaning." With "great meaning" I overdrew accounts. With "great meaning" I burned through credit cards and summoned the IRS. Wild and unlikely schemes often appeared before me. Maybe I should go to culinary school. Maybe I should be a bartender. I'd considered driving a cab. Kenyatta had a more linear solution: "I think you should spend more time writing."
-Ta-Nehisi Coates: We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy