For the last few years, my writing has been decidedly utilitarian. Most of my articles and entries were written to answer a question, fulfill a need, inform the reader.
Tonight, however, I write because I can’t seem to figure things. I have a broad, unfocused restlessness that’s keeping me awake because I can’t even seem to find it’s boundaries and therefore can’t process it. Blogging to the rescue!
It started with a general frustration with the way people abuse other people online with cruel anonymous comments: attacking religious beliefs, mocking illnesses, scorning race. There seems to be no taboos as disrespect and discourtesy proliferate.
Then I think I began to think critically of some things that I often take for granted: my faith, my job, my political views. Probably this came from some of the disparaging remarks I stumbled upon, but that’s really no matter. I think it’s very important for people to think critically and talk openly about the most sacred things in their lives.
Ultimately I ended up with a passage from Emerson’s Nature running through my head:
Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. Almost I fear I think how glad I am. In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and a sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed,, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befal me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.
Those words have always been so full of essence for me because they best describe those days of childhood when I would lie beneath a hundred tall trees and stare heavenward through tears. There was so much feeling and emotion compressed into a moment that my fifteen-year-old frame couldn’t handle it.
But you’re probably thinking that I skipped a part, so I need to go back and explain the transition from my religion to transcendentalism. Trying to do so is like trying to recount yesterday’s dream: some parts are so vivid and some parts are vague but the transitions are the really difficult parts to recall. “I was standing high atop a cliff, and I was studying algebra; then I was in our old house, I can’t quite remember how I got there.”
The reasonable part of my brain is telling me that this is an aggrandized cop-out, a sneaky way to appear intellectual and to sound sincere while ignoring responsibility. He (reason) dutifully informs me that feeling strongly about something is not the same as taking responsibility for it. That’s the addiction, says he, of the movie theater: you come away having felt deeply and done nothing.
So my raging emotions must sit beneath the schoolmaster of reason yet again. I picture my emotion at a chalkboard, writing out one hundred times: “I will accept responsibility for my beliefs and my actions.”, writing this while reason peers over his horn-rimmed spectacles. But the eyes are not on the board, they are staring out the window, lost in imagination.