“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”
The above quote is probably one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s most popular. However, what got me hooked when I started reading him in my teenage years was this, “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” How true this you would think and how much courage and willpower this inspires when it is understood. Emerson was the first author to inspire me in a huge way, and then followed by Stephen R. Covey. But those are teenage days when one tries to find his identity.
What inspire me most nowadays are the stories of people’s exploits, how they live the life that they want and get the most of their short time on earth. Just like Hajime in SOUTH OF THE BORDER, WEST OF THE SUN, one of Haruki Murakami’s darkest novels. It is inspiring to read about Hajime’s life and one would think what a life he had lived, warts and all. Compared to the Siberian farmers who always dreamed of what lies West of the Sun or Shimamoto’s curiosity of what lies South of the Border, one needs to breakout sometimes, explore the world, and find their own answers. Clocking in day in day out in a rat job cannot be something inspiring, not to mention fun to do. So what is this little thing that you are looking for all your life? When you are old, what is this little story that you can tell?
At quite a young age, I always seem to imagine my own funeral, which was at once scary (not to mention a huge taboo!) but also quite fun to do. It just struck me later that I am not the only one and many people do that too, and I was amazed when I read that Gustav Mahler, the greatest symphonic composer in the history of mankind, in my humble and biased opinion, did the same thing too. One would imagine who will come, will that ex-lover come? will that hated enemy come? Which friend will come and which friend will just give an excuse not to come? What will they say? Will they cry? What kind of life would they say I have lived. It is something like Kanji Watanabe’s funeral in Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU. What a great film that is!
Life is a series of existential choices, or so people like Jean Paul Sartre will say. Condemned to be free they say. But is this really so? In my opinion, yes a person can choose whatever he or she wants to do but must live with the consequences of their actions. That’s why Sartre said we are “condemned”. Sometimes, the consequence of one’s action can be very serious and can hurt people. Like Hajime’s story, he didn’t realize that his action can hurt someone so deep they can never recover. Some actions will lead to death itself. In this context, are we really free? No. We are bound by certain responsibilities towards people. Towards ourselves. Even towards Mankind and the world. It is never as simple as do what you want and ignore the consequences of one’s actions.
Well, I don’t know why I am ranting but just something in my mind. It’s good to blog it out. Now, go get a life.