Saturday, February 23, 2008


The buttons cancel each other out and therefore there is no truth, no stable or reliable guidelines to follow. Everything disintegrates into chaos and uncertainty, in many ways reflective of life in the early 21st century.

Absurd and contradictory realities are present daily as we navigate the murky waters of an accelerated culture, with few reliable points of reference to help us on our journey. The landscape alters before our eyes.

I think that these days many people live with a staggering degree of cognitive dissonance that persists like some ubiquitous low grade migraine. It is always present under the surface.

The internal tensions are chronic; driving your minivan on grid locked highways knowing fully that this isn't the best of possible worlds, buying cheap goods at some big box store in order to keep family costs down, vaguely aware that you are participating in an economic system that is self defeating and contributing to an erosion of the ideals that you would strive to uphold. The list could be endless and staggering

Yet somehow we manage to function within this tension, going about our daily life, often half asleep, both by choice and out of necessity. How else would we function in the face of so many competing and conflicting narratives?

Thankfully there are profound moments of beauty that offer a glimpse of something much larger than ourselves, something less temporal and grander than what our own limited imaginations could possibly conjure up.

Our vain efforts at understanding are left mute and impotent in the thrilling echoes of a baby's inexplicable laughter, in snow packed mountains shrouded in mist, or in the awakening mass of abundant life that resurrects each spring. In these instances the fog lifts momentarily and we are fully awake, soaking up profound truths that are older than our own collective memories can recall.

Yes, the signposts are either fading or are often pointing in contradictory directions. Yet beyond reason or anything we can construct there are persistent echoes that have lasted throughout the ages that will continue to resonate long after we are gone.

There are wise words, profound moments of beauty and faint whispers that offer a fleeting glimpse of larger forces of life. Perhaps the real challenge is to stop and listen from time to time.

(A quick shout out to the fabulous boingboing - for the link to these wonderful buttons and for providing great fodder for contemplation)


Comrade Kevin said...

This is quite true and often times I agree we have fallen into a kind of chaotic netherworld where we fail to focus on that which unifies us together and instead are focused on dividing ourselves into smaller and smaller identity groups.

Hence is the paradox of post-modernism.

Liberality said...

I can really relate to this post. There have been many times when I find myself stuck in traffic thinking "we are killing the planet" thinking about the exhaust spewing out of the tailpipe of my car but I have to go to school/work. I see the big goal which I want to reach but there are all of these obstacles in my way that are as important as well (like survival and paying my bills). I shop at Target but also try to shop at mom&pop stores too. All we can do is change one step at a time. It adds up and is important. Like now, we eat about 45% organic whereas 5 years ago I didn't know anything about organic produce vs regular supermarket fare. It is going to help? Yes, I do believe so.

Dean Wormer said...

That is beautiful-- almost poetic in it's imagery.

It's sad that sometimes I catch myself experiencing a rare feeling of euphoria and don't recognize right away that I'm feeling happy. These moments sneak up on me when I'm thinking about my wife and kids, my dogs, camping -- being home.

The big ticket things don't keep one happy. They keep us distracted from the fact we're not happy.

Westcoast Walker said...

Wow - thanks for all the really thoughtful comments!

Kevin - I agree with you about the pitfalls of post-modern tribalism, in the absence of a larger narrative we seek solace through affiliation with like minded people - this isn't bad in and of itself, though I agree that seeking out unifying elements is essential.

Liberality - I like your line of thinking, perhaps a series of small, though not insignificant steps is important, and you are right in noting that we still have to function within this world and find ways of balancing things out. I think the internal tension is important,as is ongoing reflection on such matters. The folks I feel sorry for are those who stop (or choose) not to live within this tension.

Dean - Those essential moments/people in our lives are important reminders of where we find meaning, of what makes life livable. Being "in the moment" is a challenge while in the midst of the busyness and noise of life, though when we are able to strip away the layers those simple joys really do shine through.