Monday. June 4, 2018
3:30 a.m. It occurred to me, your using whatever occurs to me or happens to me is basically the same process Emerson used all his life, only not thinking of it this way. It is equally well described as pondering, or thinking deeply.
After all, there is no reason for you (or anyone) to assume that this is something new in the world. What seems new is usually a rediscovery of something old, but in a new context. The world a grown-up lives in is the same world it lived in as a child, only as the person changes, the world that it interacts with changes in effect. The same mattress may support dreams, or lucid dreams, or out-of-body experiences, or the mere recharging of energy, or – snoring.
Of course, and don’t think we didn’t know where everybody’s mind would go as soon as we said mattress. But that reaction in itself demonstrates the process. What is important to you is what you will see. Only, this statement doesn’t mean what it will appear to mean.
Yes, I was d\going to say, we’ll need to unpack that. What I got was that the world presents itself to us as it is, but we experience it as we are.
That’s a better phrasing.
So, if you will make a habit of slowing way down and experiencing the world deeply, then you, like Emerson, may come to a different level of meaning. Or you may whirl by, skating atop the surface, skimming, and get an entirely different experience. No judgment from there, either way, only recognize that a given mode will lead to a given kind of result and not its opposite.
Got it. One of your (our) readers wonders if this series of conversations is nearing an end.
Do you think it is?
I didn’t have any such thought myself, but I can see that it might be so, if only due to the length of the material we have accumulated. I haven’t totaled lately but we must have nearly 80,000 words. [In fact, almost 73,000 before this entry.]
And you see how that is no longer so relevant.
I see that it may not be so relevant, but I don’t quite see how. It seems we aren’t really putting out books anymore; more like, day by day on the blog and facebook, as well as the TMI Explorer list and my personal email list of those interested. But none of that gets out to a wider audience nor of course does it produce any income; quite the reverse.
Yes, and you are beginning to sense that income and the material are to be kept separate, lest what Thoreau called “the curse of trade” extend even to messages from heaven, as he put it.
I hadn’t thought about that, not consciously anyway. But it’s true, I have been proceeding along Henry’s path more than Emerson’s.
Emerson did produce books, but remember that he made his living as a lecturer more than as an author. Thoreau, too, made his money by working his father’s business, not by journalism (which he could not have done) or preaching or teaching (which he could have done in terms of talent and skill but not in terms of temperament). There is a freedom in not having to make your love pay your way for you.
I take it we are recommending to people that they need not think their self-transformation has to monetize itself.
Very funny – to quote a friend. No, there’s no need to cash in, and the process of trying to cash in will very soon vitiate the connection, if placed first. Also, it will tend to constrict your life to accustomed channels.
You may want to explain that.
What you think you are doing may shape or warp or impede what you really are doing or mean to do or were created to do. Churchill did not come to earth to be a petty politician, nor to dabble in the many things he did dabble in, nor to write histories or have children or even to love Clementine. All of those things, he did, but they were not the reason he was there. He was there to save England and the world from Hitler, or rather, to save it from the part of itself that Hitler embodied.
Or take any other historical example you choose. Washington thought of himself as an English planter, a member of the Virginia aristocracy. Do you think he, at age 40 , imagined himself as military leader of a revolution, or as president of a new nation, or as symbol of integrity and purpose, as he became? Napoleon had his eye on Roman examples, even if his methods were those of a medieval Italian head of a city-state. He thought of creating a dynasty and becoming first among equals with the existing monarchies. But that was not his business: He was there to move Europe out of the Middle Ages (and in the process to stir up troublesome but dynamic tendencies). Abraham Lincoln had an insight, a superstition almost, that he would do a great deed that would make his name live in history, but he did not know it would be emancipation and saving the Union, how could he?
To put it into other terms than political, writers like Melville or Hemingway wrote as truly as they could. How could they know that what they were would count as much as what they had done? That is, they, nor Tolstoy nor Dostoevsky, nor Yeats, knew that they would transform language and perception. They knew only that they were as true to their craft as any priest to his priesthood.
It’s funny, the words are coming, but I get the impression you haven’t yet been able to say what you mean.
You know the solution to that.
Recalibrate, slow down more. All right.
What we mean is this. If you were to try to rule your own life by your idea of what your life is all about, even merely externally, you would face two alternate temptations, or we should say pitfalls, dangers. One is that you would have so firm an idea, and would push so hard, that although you might succeed at it, your very single-mindedness would assure that you did not see alternative possibilities, including some that would be better for you, for which you would be better fitted if you should happen to notice them. The other, complementary, possibility is that you would expect the world to bring you your place, you not needing to strive to fill it.
The latter has been my temptation, I think, as it was Thoreau’s. The former was Carlyle’s, say.
Both temptations, or pitfalls, are continually available to anybody at any time, regardless what path they have ben taking up to that point. Life is less consistent than it may appear in prospect or in hindsight, because a life’s pattern may always be derailed, or may calcify, by a person’s decision or decisions or lack of decisions.
So what was this session about, now that it is nearly over?
Your lives are choice, and sometimes opportunities for choice are missed because of fixed ideas. Becoming aware of more choices is part of waking up.
And that’s enough for the moment.
All right, our thanks as always.