Getting ready for next semester. I’m in the (tolling) process of trying to sublet my apartment here in Los Angeles in order that I may make my move up north. I have lots of artistic ideas I want to pursue, but neither the focus nor peace of mind to sit down and execute them. I’m reading a book (Nabakov’s “Laughter in the Dark”), I’m boxing up many of my childhood memories for viewings later in life, and I’m preparing myself for a long overdue journey of independence, and self-reliance.
Upon revisiting Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance”, I have stumbled upon a few quotes I find relevant to my life:
“These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are, they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rise; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied, and it satisfies nature, in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye aments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. Her cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time” (28).
“ Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.
3. But the rage of traveling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is a vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is imitation but the traveling of the mind? Our houses are built with foreign taste; our shelves are garnished with foreign ornaments; our opinions, our tastes, our faculties, lean, and follow the Past and the Distant. The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. It was in his own mind that the artist sought his model. It was an application of his own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to be observed. And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty, convenience, grandeur of thought, and quaint expression are as near to us as to any, and if the American artist will study with hope and love the precise thing to be done by him, considering the climate, the soil, the length of the day, the wants of the people, the habit and form of the government, he will create a house in which all these will find themselves fitted, and taste and sentiment will be satisfied also” (34).
One of my goals for next semester: learning how to live in the present. To borrow words I once used in a letter addressed to a falsely perceived lover (I was merely infatuated with the idea of being in love): Living in the moment, truly in the moment, produces the most pure euphoria known to man. Every sense engaged, every sentiment unquestioned. Freedom in the truest sense of the word. Freedom to see, hear, taste, touch, talk, believe, appreciate. As humans, we tend to passively and nostalgically lead our lives while at the same time replacing the present with worries about the future and glorified moments of the past.
Although I agree with Emerson that you cannot escape your problems by traveling, I do believe that by giving myself space from the all-too-familiar environment I have been caught up in for a while now, I will be able to more clearly self evaluate and assess how to continue living in a healthy, happy and less stressful way. Maybe this is the naivety and hopeful, unfounded optimism of an inexperienced 21 year old talking; however, if in a perfect world one can accomplish these goals, why not in this imperfect one? It is, after all, the imperfections of the world we live in that make it as perfect as it is.