4.21.2007

Know Thyself

Life has been simple. My biggest frustration of the day is when the fire won’t light because of rain soaked wood. And that’s about the only complaint I can come across. Life is good.

I don’t have too much to say. No, that’s not true, I have much I would like to say but find this electronic journal to be an insufficient outlet for saying it.

There is one thing I will share with you that has been very strong with me this last week. It’s about a book I’ve been reading called “Man’s Search For Himself” by Rollo May. While I would like the title to be a bit less direct and perhaps more politically correct the contents found within are utterly profound. May speaks of the immense loneliness and anxiety that runs rampant through the lives of many Americans. He talks about how we are “hollow people” and are nothing more than “…a collection of mirrors, reflecting what everyone else expects of us.” He goes on to speculate where this loneliness and anxiety comes from. One of the major conclusions he comes to is that we have no real relationship with ourselves and as a result have dysfunctional and fractured relationships with everyone else.

In the following quote May is talking about how as a people we want to “help the world” but don’t do the real work of trying to help ourselves.

May says it like this, “Just so, one person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect among the people around him. This is what our society needs- not new ideas and inventions, important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen [or superwomen], but persons who can be, that is persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”

One of the only off putting things about this book is the fact that it was written in 1953, before the great social upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s began in America. This book is frightening because his admonishments and observations are as true today as they were 50 years ago. Did no one read this book when it was first published? Are we such a psychologically slow people that some 50 years later we have succeeded in becoming one of the most mentally unhealthy societies on the planet?

I’ll end with these words of wisdom from William James, “Those who are concerned with making the world more healthy had best start with themselves.”

2 Comments:

Blogger kelsey said...

I don't know why this is, but I feel like part of why people don't look inward is because it's not something people feel comfortable with; we don't talk about it enough, there aren't enough people in this world that tell others to take time off, think, simply be. We have to pay bills, work, and other random societal obligations. We're supposed to be striving to do more, get more, and through these things "be" more. But then people get depressed and think I have this great life, why am I not happy?

I liked this idea, "One of the major conclusions he comes to is that we have no real relationship with ourselves and as a result have dysfunctional and fractured relationships with everyone else."

I see that happening a lot around me and in the past in my own life. I don't know why we have gotten to this point where the inside doesn't count as much, and it really frustrates me because to me it has become the most important thing, but I feel like I can't express that to most of the people in my life because I don't think they get it.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Tim T. said...

So, I was in the school cafeteria line when I glanced over and saw "Grits - .85 cents." I was in line for a long time and I started to think about you so I grabbed a stirofoam bowl of the great southern nector with a couple of packs of salt and a couple packs of honey. I sat and payed homage to you and our friendship. It was really nice.
I hadn't heard from you in a while and thought you were back in town already so I called your phone and some girl's voicmail was on there. I then proceeded to your blog. I read the whole front page with excitment. Your journey sounds pretty wonderful. Just to let you know, I put your blog in my quick bookmarks so you have one more faithful reader.
I enjoyed your post about your transition from Georgia to Seattle and I enjoyed Know Thyself too. It is true, we are further seperated by people when we are driven by fear tactics of prime-time television. I take it you didn't experience the Virginia Tech shootings like we did. It was exactly like Columbine, useless banter on the profiles of the criminally insane while we ignore the whole fact that the promotion of an indiviualistic society has left so many people so lonely that they have to kill 32 people to get any attention. Everybody has been talking about it but sadly they are just regurgitating what they hear rather than realizing the elements that create such a tragic incident. (I think I'll start posting again and I'll include some of this.)
I'm glad to hear you are doing good. I can't wait to have dinner with you so you can talk about your trip. How much longer are you planning to stay? Much love Bro.

10:48 AM  

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