Cyprus was a relaxing experience and one to which I realize that I am privileged enough to be able to put into my agenda. In this day and age of workaholics and a life that never stops, it’s more necessary then ever to regain perspective or just disconnect from all the responsibility that life teaches us we have. I learned this by accident several years ago when I went to Florida to pursue an ex-girlfriend. Since then I’ve tried to plan a life where period without a plan and without contact are intentionally integrated. It happens to go well with traveling, which tends to open perspectives and break patterns.
Yet I’m lucky, to have grown up in America with a middle class family that is white and affluent enough to be well educated and get good health care. By dint of my birth I was born into a a family that was able to provide a loving house hold. from womb to tomb, to borrow a phrase from James Lowen, the social class I was born into, predicted the likelhood I was going to make money and live a long and healthy life.
Over the last 6 weeks I’ve read 3 novels, 2 travel tales, 2 US history books, an semi-fictional autobiography (describing childhood as a superhero), a biography, a book on management, plus two others that I started and either hated or have since put down. Additionally I’m in the misted of another history book as well as what might be called a social history. I of course don’t imagine I’ll remember it all, given 9 of the 13 just mentioned were audiobooks and many were just for fun, meaning I wasn’t taking to many notes. I’ll likely replay some in between thing as I tend to repeat audiobooks regularly. It’s amazing how reading more makes you realizes you know less, and yet feel empowered. But why do you ask did I just brag about how many books I just managed to read?
Because I just managed to take a month off in Cyprus and sit on the beach for many days with my girlfriend and other new friends…which costs money. There’s a research doing study that seems to indicates that if your mindset is that you are born with talent then you are likely to fulfill your goal, where as if you think talent is developed you’ll push and grow outside of any boxes you might be fit into. I have been unboxed for a good portion of my life, school didn’t work for me so I had to make my own way, and I’ve always been a curious fellow that digs into things (but I still have some areas of a boxed mindset). Yes because of my social class, because of what that class provided in terms of health, education, context of social cues, I have been able to make my own way in life and I can save the money and afford to make mistakes in credit, in education, in work, and in a personal life that I can recover from and use the unboxed mindset I have to “pull myself up by my bootstraps.”
Someone recently has been talking about how a huge percentage of Americans are one accident away from disaster, aka poverty. A single Car crash, to sickness, to layoff, to whatever. I know that I’m likely to be able to avoid or absorbed this sort of an accident and I’m thankful, but I feel a responsibility to help change this structure and improve the human condition. It is of course telling to me that Jay Leno and others love to point out how ignorant most of America is, and how unlikely those who are being questioned are to realize how social class, history, geography, and politics has shaped our lives. As much as we in American believe that we are ‘the freeist nation in the world where anyone can make good,’ I know that I am a product of background as much as anyone, and because of this, I’m more free then someone with a different social class background to be a callous, materialistic, shallow, human bent on shaping my packet of chaos into my own sense of order, or be entirely the opposite. Needless to say I’m continue to try and be the opposite.
I used to be indignant, bitter, and frustrated by how ignorant Americans are. I used to blame the government for our problems. But I now believe that some of this has happened by our human designs. I’m worried by this, but hopeful. Being in DC has taught me that one man can make a difference, but you have to unbox your mindset, be willing to challenge your norms, find a goal, be persistent for years (or a lifetime), then remain sane by stepping out (and letting go of that responsibility for a while) when you can. Perhaps that’s just my strategy. There’s an added piece to this as I feel my responsibility is compounded by the freedom I have to be economically unboxed as well as the situation we find the world in (water crisis, economic inequalities, countless environmental issues, Malthusian questions, culture wars, etc.).
The only way I see this having a long term impact on society is to prepare the next generation and encourage them to use the knowledge of our past to change their future, not by hiding the past from them, but by having them ask the questions and search for the answers. As we teach them to question, we need to listen to them more then we talk, for it is the child’s mind, not yet hardwired, that is most likely to provide the world the fresh insight that we need to change our path.
Perhaps this is just a bit unintelligible, but I wanted to give people some hint of what’s been going on inside my head lately.
Oh and just in case anyone was wondering what I’ve been reading:
Shadow of a Giant
Shadow of the Hedgemon
Notes from a small island
Made in America
A People’s History of the US
The Thunderbolt Kid
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Journey to Cyprus
The Relationship Cure
Seeing Like a State