Our problem isn’t that we’re individualists. It’s that our individualism is static rather than dynamic. We value what we think rather than what we do. We forget that we haven’t done, or been, what we thought; that the first function of life is action, just as the first property of things is motion.
― Fernando Pessoa, The Education of the Stoic
Never have I thought so much, never have I realized my own existence so much, been so much alive, been so much myself…as in those journeys which I have made alone and afoot. Walking has something in it which animates and heightens my ideas: I can scarcely think when I stay in one place; my body must be set a-going if my mind is to work.
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions
Walker-thinkers have found various ways to accommodate the gifts that their walking brings. Caught paperless on his walks in the Czech enclaves of Iowa, maestro Dvořák scribbles the string quartets that visited his brain on his starched white shirt cuffs (so the legend goes). More proactively, Thomas Hobbes fashioned a walking stick for himself with an inkwell attached, and modern poet Mary Oliver leaves pencils in the trees along her usual pathways, in case a poem descends during her rambles.
How did you fall in, Eeyore?” asked Rabbit, as he dried him with Piglet’s handkerchief.
“I didn’t,” said Eeyore.
“I was BOUNCED,” said Eeyore.
“Oo,” said Roo excitedly, “did somebody push you?”
“Somebody BOUNCED me. I was just thinking by the side of the river–thinking, if any of you know what that means–when I received a loud BOUNCE.”
“Oh, Eeyore!” said everybody.
“Are you sure you didn’t slip?” asked Rabbit wisely.
“Of course I slipped. If you’re standing on the slippery bank of a river, and somebody BOUNCES you loudly from behind, you slip. What did you think I did?”
Challenging boundaries is not simply social rebellion. It is the catalyst of social evolution. When systems go unchallenged, they grow complacent and corrupt. Raising generation after generation of rule followers and conformists may be more convenient for society, but it inevitably leads to tyranny and, ultimately, revolution. Raising independent thinkers, conscious objectors, and peaceful activists creates a social balance that can endure. Peaceful parenting, then, by its very nature, is socially responsible because it creates the catalysts of social evolution that protect our society from the complacency and corruption that lead to tyranny and revolution.
―L.R. Knost, InHumanity: Letters from the Trenches
To think better, to think like the best humans, we are probably going to have to learn again to judge a person’s intelligence, not by the ability to recite facts, but by the good order or harmoniousness of his or her surroundings. We must suspect that any statistical justification of ugliness and violence is a revelation of stupidity.
―Wendell Berry, “People, Land, and Community”, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant.
Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation.
It will do both of you good.
―Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
Infinite mercy flows continually
But you’re asleep and can’t see it.
The sleeper’s robe goes on drinking river water
While he frantically hunts mirages in dreams
And runs continually here and there shouting,
“There’ll be water further on, I know!”
It’s this false thinking that blocks him
From the path that leads to himself,
By always saying, “Further on!”
He’s become estranged from “here”:
Because of a false fantasy
He’s driven from reality.