The occasional observations of Carolyn Kephart, writer

Sunday, August 02, 2009

On Shining Brightly

This last month of summer makes me want to hold on to the heat and never let it go. The inevitability of another year's demise makes me restless and brooding, ironic in a time of harvest. The Zen way, which I admire, is to give one's full mind to the Now and to treat every action as a ritual; I've been trying very hard to be as conscious as I can of every moment, and in doing so I realize just how necessary reflection is to the health of the spirit.

When speaking of reflection, I don't mean the current hyperactive obsession to make oneself an object of dedicated perpetual scrutiny. There is nothing more limiting than self, and when it comes to the things of the mind, people desperately need to get out more. It's crucial for the betterment of the world, which is quite literally dying for a dose of sublimity. The worst of what we are is being exalted. Popular entertainment is mining our baseness and reaching rock bottom. Most of what purports to be uplifting is doing it for the dollar, and is cloying and condescending. It's bafflingly, appallingly childish, this joy in kicking over what was built with care, in smearing and scrawling, in the gleeful obsession with the low and the vulgar.

When a toddler tries to run out into the traffic, it's testing the gentle caring arms that will pull it back into an embrace that is meant to sustain as much as restrain. The current state of societal arrested development both annoys and disturbs me, but more babysitters isn't the answer. We need to be better parents to ourselves, and grow not only up, but outward. We need to quit stuffing our selves with junk and defacing our minds and bodies and deliberately putting ourselves in harm's way simply because there's no one there to stop us. Little children are precious beings full of promise; why should that be any less true all their lives?


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