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Archive for April, 2013

“I feel that I am entitled to my share of lightheartedness and there
is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s self simply, like a boy.”
–Leo Tolstoy, on learning to ride a bicycle at age 67

I doubt this is Tolstoy, though he looks 67...

I doubt this is Tolstoy, though he looks 67…

Entitled to lightheartedness, to enjoying one’s self like a child…I like Tolstoy’s sense of entitlement. There has been a lot of talk of “entitlement” in the news lately, and none of it is lighthearted or joyful. Perhaps it is because of the delayed spring-both seasonal and political-that we have had lately.  This has been America’s winter of discontent, of malcontents, of contentiousness. (Gotta love those Latin root words…)

Entitled to lightheartedness. That is the takeaway phrase from Mr. Tolstoy’s quote. A difficult frame of mind to maintain through the necessity of work, the vicissitudes of spring weather in Alaska, the relentless barrage of the 24-hour news cycle. Cycle…hmmm. Sounds like a great idea to me.

I think I’ll go just now and refresh my sense of entitlement. See ya!

Good mood

 

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“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your
envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.”
–Cesare Pavese

Cesare Pavese, Italian poet and suicide, WW II anti-fascist and member of the Communist party, dead before I was even born, speaks to me nonetheless. Being a Communist, he was probably an atheist also, but what he said, as quoted above, could just as easily have come from my 10th grade religion teacher Fr. Jerry, or one of the good Sisters who taught me from Kindergarten through high school.

Certainly that second sentence could be paraphrasing St. Paul, as he chastised the Philippians, the Romans, the especially wayward Corinthians. Paul was all about traveling light, traveling in the Light of the World. Traveling in the light of love, faith and hope. That’s what I was brought up to believe, and more importantly, to act on in my life.

Being human, it’s nigh on impossible to give up those envies, jealousies, fears. Having knowledge of the past and thoughts of the future, it’s a constant struggle to be fully present in the now, to be fully present for others, to be self-aware and yet not self-centered.

I remember my mother, with unconscious yet infinite wisdom, one day counseling me about my shyness. Yes, when I was around 13 I embraced the conceit that I was very shy. To this day I remember her telling me that being shy was ultimately being selfish, self-centered. “Why would you believe that everyone is looking at you, making judgements about you? That’s a very selfish frame of mind. Everyone has their own concerns, their own troubles, and yours are no more important in the great scheme of life than theirs. The person who can think first of others, or who at least gives freely of their attention, joy in living  and their time to others is the one who can find true purpose and happiness in their life.”

Or some such–that is paraphrasing in light of my own later maturity. However, I clearly remember my shyness being very much discouraged as selfishness, and I at that formative period in my life did NOT want to be a selfish person.

Now, I may have traveled far, but I am incapable of traveling fast, and usually fail at light also. I guess that is just the result of being imperfect, so far, at throwing off all those heavy, malodorous, wearying traits so well articulated by Pavese above. But I’m conscious of those imperfections, and still striving. I just need the occasional dead Italian poet to dash that cold water in my face by way of reminder.

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