(See what happens when I have a few hours of free time? My entire post backlog gets typed out and published. ;-) And my brain feels tremendously more put-together and decompressed as a result - writing is my mode of reflection and making sense of my own thoughts.)
Through the blog of Marcin, I ran across this post by Dave Pollard. (Marcin focuses on an entirely different segment of the post than I do, but our thoughts on things tend to diverge, though I find his endlessly fascinating.)
My favorite bit: things he's learned, cribbed largely from lessons he's learned from other people past and present - which is partly how wisdom grows; people pass it down.
- We do what we must, then we do what's easy, then we do what's fun (Pollard's Law).
- Things are the way they are for a reason; if you have any hope to change something, first understand what that reason is. It's rarely obvious.
- Life's meaning, and an understanding of what needs to be done, emerges, most often, from conversation in community with people you love. (from Nancy White)
- Community is born of necessity.
- Communities can only succeed when their members have no choice but to make them work.
- To get people to change, first Let-Yourself-Change, to become a model that shows people personally, one-to-one, a better way to live, rather than just telling them what to do. (from Gandhi)
- You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete, a working model of a better way, one that others can follow. (from Bucky Fuller) You want to save the world? Do it bottom up, not top down.
- Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. (From Margaret Mead)
- To be nobody-but-yourself - in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. (from E.E. Cummings)
- Our civilization is in its final century.
To state the last one in other words, "this too shall pass." And #6 is something I've been trying to explain to people frustrated by their inability to make Grand Sweeping Changes to What Other People Do in their world - it's similar to the Catholic philosophy of evangelism, which doesn't involve holding up signs on street corners but instead quietly and steadily going about living in as Christ-like a manner as you can, explaining your beliefs when asked but never trying to push them on others, and knowing that your example may be inspiring others in a way you yourself might never know. (I was raised Catholic, and although I don't practice much now - for reasons I'll probably discuss here someday - it's had a deep impact on how I live and think.)
Pollard's post is interesting food for thought, especially the several parts I disagree with, most of all this one:
"The real, authentic me would not take on commitments that would be unreasonable and tedious to discharge. The real, authentic me would not procrastinate. The real, authentic me would not find himself fretting about my work backlog, or watching TV because I'm just too tired to do anything else."
I don't know. The "real, authentic me" is human, and real, authentic humans aren't perfect. I think the "real, authentic me" messes up, procrastinates, and occasionally collapses in exhaustion or gets bored to death. But the real me also knows those shortcomings, accepts her imperfection, and still keeps trying to get asymptotically closer to it. Which is probably what Pollard meant in the first place. I feel like I should insert something about the journey being more important than the destination here.