Mind and Meaning · July 1, 2020 0

More self-reliance, please

Watched Black Summer on Netflix. The only thing it has going for itself is the zombies. They have more character than the humans we are meant to care about. Black Summer is the prequel spinoff of Z Nation. If I had known that beforehand, I would never have started watching it. I didn’t enjoy Z-Nation and I’m struggling with this one, but feel compelled to watch ’till the end. I love a good zombie story, but these two shows leave me cold. Apologies if you’re a fan of either show.

So Walt Whitman laid down this challenge, One I am eager to accept:

“You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the specters in books; You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me; You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself. 

It’s a challenge to see the world through your own eyes, filtered through the lens of your experiences and hard-won knowledge. There seems to be no lack of individuals who want to do this for you, to tell you what you should do, how you should live, and how you should think. And being herd animals, it’s easy to get caught up in the endless procession of life gurus telling you how to live your best life and have everything you want. 

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with getting help from teachers, mentors, coaches, and gurus. Where it falls down for me is that many of these folks are as clueless as the rest of us in figuring life out. More than a fair few are just clever marketers who know how to tug on our heartstrings of pleasure and pain in order to separate the unsuspecting and those who lack self-awareness from their hard-earned money.

The self-help industry, in this way,  is a blessing and a curse. I believe many of the folks get into the game with good intentions, but they are driven by the same system of lack that fuels the anxiety of the folks that seek them out.

I like Walt Whitman’ s encouragement for us to do it for ourselves, to be self-reliant in the spirit of Emerson and Thoreau. The true path to liberation is an inward journey. One we must make on our own. 

Speaking of Emerson, he had this to say to about trusting in yourself:

Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought because it is his. In every work of genius, we recognize majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

Lean unto your own understanding is the goal.

Last thing, ponder this:

Which should you listen to, your soul or your will?


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