How do I know paper or electronic money has no true value? Observe how all that is non-human functions day in and day out without an exchange of paper, coin, or plastic.
Regarding man and all animate creatures Earth is an oasis relative to the known universe. Outside the atmosphere exists a cold airless desert. Ask a man stranded in a desert what he prefers — water, food, a moist vagina, or a trunk full of gold coins.
Man attributes wealth to gold, diamonds, and paper money. One day man will realize rocks and paper are worthless relative to clean water, pure air, and a healthy flourishing Earth.
Indeed, your present condition is critical given your financial state of affairs. But, over the last several miserable years, you have, believe it or not, awoken.
It is because of your misery that you began to write once again. The last time you wrote anything of content on a regular basis was during your short breath of freedom traveling alone throughout Europe for over a year. Remember that? Remember…that was when you decided to become a landscape photographer? That was when you picked your subject matter — the cascade volcanoes and the northwest coast. What happened with that idea? Yes, you did take some significant quality photographs with your large format camera and produced some fine prints, but that only lasted for a few years. Eventually, you let yourself get swept up completely by the momentum–years rushed on by with the great wave. You let yourself become numb and fell asleep. Now it is time to begin the process of waking up. Writing is a good sign that the sleeper has awoken.
You have also learned an important skill in the last year – surviving with very little. You never were very good with money, credit, or debt, even when you were making big money. The temptation to Live, when there was actually time to Live, over-powered any sense of restraint. Not that you lived high off the hog. Hell, all you did was enjoy eating out, traveling, paying for a house and car, golf, romance – of course that is all extra expense in addition to all the other shit that costs money to live “the dream”. You were just doing what most people do that are riding with the momentum, except, you may have been a little more aware of how valuable the time to actually Live really was. And, now that you have fallen from the crest of that momentum, you realize how insanely expensive it is to ride that wave and actually Live, both in terms of time and money.
Believe it or not, your current miserable job is also good for you. You can actually see and feel the very base and nature of the wave and from where it draws its power. You get to experience it firsthand — you and the other slaves that reluctantly perpetuate the momentum, with no benefits, and not enough money to live. You can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel how much the human being is truly worth to the momentum. In your previous high paying desk jobs, the pain and realization of your slavery, wasted time and energy, was masked by the thin veneer of sedation, contentment, and acceptance. But now, when you are at work, there is no confusion…this is work…not a passion…not a career…not achievement…not fulfilling…not important…not important other than the fact one needs to engage with the momentum in some shape or form to be able to live. The key difference is a clear, conscious break and divorce from any delusion that the momentum has anything to do with your passions, interests, or fulfillment. The problem of course is…how do you get from living to Living and Becoming?
This piece, like Piece One… from Steppenwolf, didn’t really ring true until I was in my late twenties and through my thirties. From the age of 0 to 20, my life was ideal…improving my mind through school and the university…and my body through athletics. The world was wide open and dreams were to be had. It wasn’t until I entered the adult world…the one that requires money making…that the below passage began to sing its heartfelt tune.
“You have a picture of life within you, a faith, a challenge, and you were ready for deeds and sufferings and sacrifices, and then you became aware by degrees that the world asked no deeds and no sacrifices of you whatever, and that life is no poem of heroism with heroic parts to play and so on, but a comfortable room where people are quite content with eating and drinking, coffee and knitting, cards and wireless. And whoever wants more and has got it in him — the heroic and the beautiful, and the reverence for the great poets or for the saints — is a fool and a Don Quixote. Good. And it has been just the same for me, my friend.
I was a gifted girl. I could have been the wife of a king, the beloved of a revolutionary, the sister of a genius, the mother of a martyr. And life has allowed me just this, to be a courtesan of fairly good taste, and even that has been hard enough. That is how things have gone with me. For a while I was inconsolable and for a long time I put the blame on myself. Life, thought I, must in the end be in the right, and if life scorned my beautiful dreams, so I argued, it was my dreams that were stupid and wrong-headed. But that did not help me at all. And as I had good eyes and ears and was a little inquisitive too, I took a good look at this so-called life and my neighbors and acquaintances, fifty or so of them and their destinies, and then I saw you. And I knew that my dreams had been right a thousand times over, just as yours had been. It was life and reality that were wrong. It was as little right that a woman like me should have no other choice than to grow old in poverty and in a senseless way at a typewriter in the pay of a money-maker, or to marry such a man for his money’s sake, or to become some kind of drudge, as for a man like you to be forced in his loneliness and despair to have recourse to a razor.
Perhaps the trouble with me was more material and moral and with you more spiritual — but it was the same road. Do you think I can’t understand your horror of the fox trot, your dislike of bars and dancing floors, your loathing of jazz and the rest of it? I understand it only too well, and your dislike of politics as well, your despondence over the chatter and antics of the parties and the press, your despair over the war, the one that has been and the one that is to be, over all that people nowadays think, read and build, over the music they play, the celebrations they hold, the education they carry on. You are right, Steppenwolf, right a thousand times over, and yet you must go to the wall. You are much too exacting and hungry for this simple, easygoing and easily contented world of today. You have a dimension too many. Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life today must not be like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours –”
Hermann Hesse — Steppenwolf
This is the first of five posts (pieces) that will provide some background for my critical thinking project, that once complete, may change the direction and content of this blog…and then again…it may not. These background pieces are little snippets from a few authors that wrote works or pieces within their works that struck a deep chord within me…a chord that rung true…to me. There are of course more authors and pieces, but these few suffice, for they hit on some of the big questions…and their thoughts…are also taken from other thoughts…that came before.
Now, we can all say that these pieces, which serve as foundations for my critical thinking, skew the process from the start. But, this is who I am and how I view the world…for these few thoughts ring true to me…from what I have experienced, observed, and thought…from youth to the present. These thoughts run deep within me and throughout me…like the blood in my veins…and cannot be extracted…without ripping out a piece of who I am.
“Whereupon it occurred to me – so it is with every one. Just as I dress and go out to visit the professor and exchange a few more or less insincere compliments with him, without really wanting to at all, so it is with the majority of men day by day and hour by hour in their daily lives and affairs. Without really wanting to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waste of the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all. And they are right, right a thousand times to live as they do, playing their games and pursuing business, instead of resisting the dreary machine and staring into the void as I do, who have left the track. Let no one think that I blame other men, though now and then in these pages I scorn and even deride them, or that I accuse them of the responsibility of my personal misery. But now that I have come so far, standing as I do on the extreme verge of life where the ground falls away before me into bottomless darkness, I should do wrong and I should lie if I pretend to myself or to others that the machine still revolved for me and that I was still obedient to the eternal child’s play of that charming world.”
Hermann Hesse — Steppenwolf