Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.
~ Bertrand Russell
I’m certain I have nothing to add to that. If that doesn’t make you the least bit wistful, then I’ll wager you are young.
The grandeur of the Declaration of Independence… consists… in its being the perfect way of an action to appear in words. And since we deal here with the written and not with the spoken word, we are confronted by one of the rare moments when the power of action is great enough to erect its own monument.
~ Hannah Arendt
The foundations of the American democracy are unique, regardless wether you think it is a “good” or “bad” construction. If you would like to take your knowledge of it to the next level, I highly recommend:
Unlike the other townspeople, who are constantly doing things together, he is content in his own company — a perfect embodiment of the great film director Andrei Tarkovsky’s advice to the young.
Most of all, the boy cherishes his time with Bertolt — the ancient oak he loves to climb.
More recently I’ve been drawn more strongly to photographing them, standing under them and just generally appreciating them.
Forty years after the Voyager sailed into space, we seem to have lost sight of this beautiful and sobering perspective, drifting further and further into our divides, fragmenting our fragile home pixel into more and more warring factions, and forgetting that we are bound together by the improbable miracle of life on this Pale Blue Dot and a shared cosmic destiny.
Also quoted in this piece is Carl Sagan’s original commentary on the “pale blue dot”. Gets me every time.
Books are key to understanding the world and participating in a democratic society.
That’s a quote from Carl Sagan. I don’t think it has to be physical books — recall Mr. Sagan is from the pre-Internet epoch — but definitely *reading*, and definitely you have to be doing the hard work of deciding for yourself what you are reading.
PS Please excuse my not mailing this — but I don’t know your new address.
If you click thru, DON’T skim… read thru to the end.
Yet whatever one calls it, we share a rough idea of what’s meant: a lasting sense of one’s self moving in a sea of selves, dependent yet alone; a sense, or perhaps a deep and common wish, that I somehow belongs to we, and that this we belongs to something even larger and less comprehensible; and the recurring thought, so easy to brush aside in the daily effort to cross the street safely and get through one’s to-do list, much less to confront the world’s true crises, that my time, our time, matters precisely because it ends.
I feel the sentiment with which Tycho Brahe died, perhaps as strongly as he did — His “ne frustra vixisse videar” was a noble feeling, and in him had produced its fruits — He had not lived in vain — He was a benefactor to his species — But the desire is not sufficient — The spark from Heaven is given to few — It is not to be obtained by intreaty or by toil — To be profitable to my Children, seems to me within the compass of my powers — To that let me bound my wishes, and my prayers — And may that be granted to them!
In a world whose absurdity appears to be so impenetrable, we simply must reach a greater degree of understanding among men, a greater sincerity. We must achieve this or perish. To do so, certain conditions must be fulfilled: men must be frank (falsehood confuses things), free (communication is impossible with slaves). Finally, they must feel a certain justice around them.
(Part 24 of 27 in ~ Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)
I wish I could have read this section from Thibault in the early days of my parkour journey.
If there’s an aspect of parkour training which is alien — or at least, was alien to the entirety of my experience — it is the idea of not jumping, of not doing the challenge, and having that truly be training.
Sometimes, parkour is simply spending time with fear. Sometimes, parkour is simply being calm in proximity with danger. Sometimes, parkour is simply learning to love oneself despite not reaching goals. Sometimes, parkour is simply walking away. While that may seem ok, it’s better than ok: It’s terrific!
In order to feel that one’s life is flowing more slowly — and fully — one might seek out new situations over and over to have novel experiences that, because of their emotional value, are retained by memory over the long term. Greater variety makes a given period of life expand in retrospect. Life passes more slowly. If one challenges oneself consistently, it pays off, over the years, as the feeling of having lived fully — and, most importantly, of having lived for a long time.
~ Marc Wittmann, from The Psychology of Time and the Paradox of How Impulsivity and Self-Control Mediate Our Capacity for Presence