Learning to Stay Pensive

Usually, a new year is ushered in by a fleeting best self. But, after a year like 2018, there was a lot of room for retrospection and ultimately some very substantial goals. While I can not set goals for my community, state, or country, on my independent list, I can make some serious changes of my own that will hopefully inspire my community, state and country. For me the challenge of living in our contemporary society is the abundance of information. Constantly being disseminated at a pace that seemingly starts to speed life itself up. Keeping up with this information in a comprehensive way becomes nearly impossible causing me to harbor polarized opinions. I notice that I have began to adopt a binary approach; things are right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, good or bad. The complexity is lost in an effort to keep up with “what’s going on” and when the rest of your world is seemingly speeding along in the same race there are dire consequences, for the individual and communities. It blankets our society with a shallow standard, making it easy for simple narratives to thrive. As I was running in this marathon, I couldn’t help but feel perplexed when I couldn’t find a real reason to be running in it. What is the purpose of trying to keep up if it prevents me from being present? If it strips me of my depth? Still, despite that thought, I found it hard to quit. I found it hard to pull myself away from my orthodox ways of interpreting the world around me; through the window of a record speeding train. Still despite not knowing where this train is going, I couldn’t break free of this mad mans approach to understanding the world. For this reason, I realized I needed to adopt a new way thinking and really, needed to purge myself of this lifestyle. With that thought came the organizing of my breakaway.

Outdoors men and women seem to already have that pensive moment throughout the the day when they look up from firmly planting their feet to see the humbling view that the grandeur of a mountain carries or the stunning silty blue of a glacier. It beckons you to stop and think. The outdoors have always been a place where humans go to sequester themselves and find a purpose beyond what is being perpetuated. For this reason, I chose the Alaskan wilderness as my therapist and asked the question; What does the natural landscape have to teach me and how can understanding that help me more pensive in my day to day life? Sitting in my cabin, in the first days of my adventure these are my notes:

The sanctity of true reality, too powerful to be disturbed by our metaling, stands stoic presenting a quite example. No matter if it is a mountain or glacier they are relics built by the environment’s biggest shifts. Massive tectonic plates broke through the earths crust and valleys of water froze to create an astonishing record of the past. Of course, In the age of men all of the worlds natural wonders are prescribed a name, a meaning and a history. In our contemporary context these wonder’s meanings are harnessed by our ego. They exist in the narrow visions of science and as landmarks on maps but nothing except the poets come close to describing what these mammoths truly represent. Beyond their tangible ridges and silty blue ice they are ancient beacons for any beings that transcend their creators to almost the point of domination. They are reminders, that no matter the power there is no greater force than the world that hosts us.The silence of these giants keeps a mysterious curiosity alive and conjures an existential gaze. Deep in that trance, finite and humble beings see themselves next to these monuments, see humanity next to these monuments and realize the life and chaos we create is all apart of our imaginations. Very tangible, but never as enduring as nature itself. Nothing the human mind has dreamt up has ever been as solid as the mountain. Nothing we have painted has ever been more telling than the glacier. These truths are littered across our landscape and can be subtle like the tree or magnificent like the ocean. These are not deities but reminders of the ancient lifestyle that persists and continues to outlast each emergence of any other. It is a reminder that what we are living in is a product of our own. It looks nothing like the world around us. And relies very little on it beyond resources to propel life. And because it is a product of our own construction there is error and room for improvement, unlike the ecosystem. It’s a shock realizing that your reality is just a small phenomena inside a larger truer reality….

It does not mean we can negate the fact that the chaos that is humanity is also a collection of our lives and therefore very real and dear to us. Still seeing “our” world next to these mammoths allows for people to come at the complexity with a different perspective. Often times a more comprehensive and wholesome perspective. It’s not that suddenly our day to day takes on no meaning, rather you suddenly realize how delicate and vulnerable we are. You suddenly realize every move anyone makes has unseen implications that can never be taken back and therefore demands a pensive approach. In juxtaposition to those things that have very little vulnerability we are a speeding train that is reacting, building and destroying habitually. Nothing about that promises certainty. Rather it’s tumultuous nature suggests something is integrally wrong. Sensing this, lack of purpose or determined direction, in every culture except their own humans have waged war in the name of enlightenment ultimately enduring a bloody past filled with paradigms of the elite. While much of this bloodshed has been in vein it still leaves us with a history that allows us to see ourselves more objectively. In order for this history to truly be valuable we need to be constantly reference it in any issues as it is the base of our reality. And while that is a formidable task it easier to go about doing it when you are not so pressured by trying to find a meaning within it and rather just enjoying the journey of understanding the world around you…

We do not need to speed toward a future that is not determined, rather we should take our time unpacking the intricacies of what we have created and learn from those things that are more definite than us.

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