"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Saturday, May 9, 2009

5/9/09: Manhattan III- Angela

Saturday was filled with another trip to Soho to see Wendie’s friend, Angela. Mary drove to the ferry terminal where we took the quick trip across the Hudson to a bus that would drop us within walking distance of Angela’s place.

Angela lives with her parents in a neat, industrial-feeling flat on the top floor of a building near Broadway. After a quick reacquaintance and tour of the apartment, she took a break from studying as we all walked to a nearby coffee shop (always a good choice!) to enjoy some java, chocolate chip cookies and some surprising conversation.

Wendie, Mary, Chris, and Angela spent most of the first few minutes getting back in touch with each other while I resumed my familiar and enjoyable role as “people watcher.” Soon enough, however, the conversation suddenly turned to the topics on which I thrive: the state of society, life, and how people view their roles in it. The highlights (which will prevent a full- blown rantI AM MERCIFUL!) included an examination of how we define seemingly simple terms and ideas; ones that are taken for granted, yet thinly understood. Terms like “happiness,”, “freedom”, “success.” We discussed whether people were, in reality, living their own lives or those imposed upon them.

Ultimately, the simple sounding yet complicated idea of “knowing yourself” was discussed as was the idea of waiting for what I call “Leonard Cohen’s Miracle”. In a nutshell, this has to do with waiting for “someone or something to show you the way” (Pink Floyd); a divine, life-changing person, vision, or influence to alter your existence and “bring you” happiness. Something that magically enables you to lead a life of self-realizing authenticity. This, of course is a big barrel of bullshit. That’s the currency of cults and religion: The manufacture of convenient delusion. They remove the notion of responsibility and accountability for our own happiness and relieves us of the age old realization that no one can “bring you” happiness. This creates the perpetual victim who has "waited half their life away" while failing to understand a very simple truth: You have to get off your metaphorical ass and go get it yourself.

These “miracles” exist, but they do not come as lightning bolts from the sky. They come from within; your own internal voice. Religions of all kinds have vaguely alluded to it in various ways, sometimes with cartoon characters (Casper the Holy Ghost?). Sometimes with ideas such as that your “soul” is a little piece of “God” itself residing inside of you…meaning that We Are God! With this concept, the battle, the struggle that defines how we experience life, surrounds the elimination of the static that prevents us from seeing it: ego. It’s our handlers in the media’s job to try to be sure you’re never quite able to actually internalize; you may just realize how corrupt and self-destructive equating material success to happiness REALLY can be.

Heavy stuff. I was right at home! I don't make a very good cocktail party guest...

This was one of the better conversations I remember having. It just flowed! We could pick up, then run with ideas and themes taking them in new, yet applicable directions. This is rare and says a lot, since there were five of us actively taking part!

After struggling through conversations with Musty this week, it cemented my conclusion that these are conversations you can’t have with just anyone. These are concepts that the English language is just, sometimes, NOT equipped to articulate. If you’re having conversations with people who “get it”, you wont need to articulate them. There are ideas that need an "unspoken understanding" to be discussed. And, if the person you are engaging with lacks conceptualization, you may as well be talking to a stuffed penguin.

I thoroughly enjoyed Angela’s company and I am glad I got the chance to meet her. She’s one of the people who can always add something to your life and help you grow. Pretty high praise for someone I only spent a couple hours with! 

During the conversation, Mary mentioned something that reminded me of an email I had received a while ago. She had read some of my commentary regarding suburbs and the homogenization of culture. She vehemently disagrees, which I thought was great because she wasn’t disagreeing out of a defensive posture, she just thought I was wrong! It reminded me of a quotation that says “Agreement is not required. Thinking for oneself is.

I’ve decided to post the email, with his permission, because it means a lot coming from him and perfectly articulates all that a person should hope to gain when seeking out truth, offering opinion & observation, and exploring ideas.

No man can tell another man how to live…” Name THAT movie!

Hey Todd,

Just wanted to drop you a quick line. I finally finished reading your journal from '08 and have caught up with the new Te Nosce blog. First off, I just really enjoyed reading all about your adventures, struggles, triumphs. So often people don't follow through the way you have with full descriptions of everything they're experiencing. I'm talking partly about actually updating every day (I don't have that kind of discipline), but also I'm talking about your (sometimes brutal) honesty about how you feel about the given moment. It's just...cool. Growing up in California, I especially appreciated viewing through your eyes things that I had seen myself. Your slow journey gave me new perspective on the beauty of the state.

While I am wrapped up in this world of mortgage and work and taxes and such, you've made me think about it a bit more than I normally would have. Not what I expected when I started reading your blog, but I'm better for opening my mind to some of what you've had to say. We'll not see eye to eye on everything, but I think that you'll agree that that's okay.

For what it's worth, I am okay with my entrapment in this system. It works for me. That being said, you can also count me among the others you've mentioned who say they wish they could do what you're doing. And if it's okay, I'll be following along as if I'm out there too...not as simple escapism (though I suppose I have to admit that's part of it), but also...well, I'm just excited for you and to see where this all will take you. Hope that makes sense.

I don't know if it will work, but I'm going to try attaching a favorite song of mine by a group called Poi Dog Pondering (perhaps you ran across some of them back in your radio days, though never at a mainstream station I'm sure). Anyway, the lyrics speak to me when I think about your travels. If it doesn't work, maybe you can google the lyrics so you can see what I mean. The song's called "The Ancient Egyptians". I think you'll like it.

I'll catch you later. Safe travels my friend.