One of the first things I remember learning from my father is that you don’t stop in the middle of the trail. If you need to stop to drink some water or tie your shoes, step aside so that people coming along behind you aren’t forced to stop along with you.
This was a basic lesson in situational awareness and respect for others. In adult life I am always surprised when I see someone thinking far enough ahead to accomplish these simple acts of respect. Surprised that is, albeit pleasantly, because it’s so damn rare. In the States we’ve become resigned to the fact that everyone drives in the left lane, seemingly without a thought to the long-lost rule of “keep right except to pass”. In markets and trains and on trails and sidewalks I constantly encounter others simply standing in the middle of the way – and not always because they are staring into their smartphones. Just now I was moving down the aisle of a train with my rolling bag in tow and a woman leaning out into the aisle several rows up saw me approach, looked me in the eye even, and then turned her back to me and continued with whatever she was doing. Now, I’m sure she had something important to do, but when I reached her a few seconds later I had to stop, ask her to move out of the way, which of course caused us both some minor frustration, and then continue on my way. With a little bit of situational awareness she could have simply tucked herself into the row for a second as I passed, which would have given us both the satisfaction of a job well done (on her hand) and being noticed and cared for (on mine).
“Way” means road (check?). It’s impossible for me to imagine really, how one’s brain could operate in a manner so disconnected from others, from one’s surroundings. It’s also one of the basic building blocks of civilization – that is, giving a shit about someone other than yourself. This is part of what makes life better, and in many ways we’ve lost it.
Why waste time being shocked? Fear comes from unfamiliarity. We may choose to reject certain actions of others, but we should not be surprised at the extent of human action.
Anything that has been imagined has been done, and everything that will be imagined will be done. It is impossible to stop the march of progress. We should devote our energy not to dismay but to civilization, the project of bending progress to good.
This ancient phrase – a real occult classic – is attributed to the “Emerald Tablet“, a bit of lost (or invented) arcana that was of great interest to an eclectic series of early alchemists, philosophers and scientists including Aleister Crowley and Issac Newton, who produced the canonical English translation. AASB succinctly encapsulates the idea that “man is the counterpart of God on earth; as God is man’s counterpart in heaven” – and since God and man are one and of each other’s invention, then so are the real and the imagined.
I was in Poland not long ago on a bit of a wild goose chase and as I was preparing to return home, I went looking for a book to read on the plane. I found an English bookstore and the book that fell into my hands was Nicolai Lilin’s brilliant Siberian Education, his memoir about growing up in Siberia’s “criminal underworld”. (The book has attracted more than its fair share of controversy; it is written in the voice of autobiographical memoir and was promoted as such, but the author has since made it clear that it’s ‘literature based on old memories‘).
The book is full of maxims, and one of my favorites is “don’t keep money in the house”. Money is an invention of government, and only used by non-criminals and cops – useful but dirty, and not worthy of welcome in the home. To me this expresses beautifully that home should be a place of refuge from the business of everyday life, and that we should be attentive to what we choose to bring into our homes, into our hearts.