Changing Temples Pt. 25 – In Absentia
There is still great pleasure in contemplating the notion of Changing Temples both in terms of the exceptional surprise at the very deep satisfaction found in writing the installments but also in the accuracy of the metaphor. The writing satisfaction has been something from the inside out. The fact that there were actually readers of the installments added tone and color and savor to that satisfaction. There is no question about that. There is something stirring in the thought of someone in the wide universe out there being a participant in the ideas, the discoveries, the examination of this strange jouney called Changing Temples. Thank you for rewarding me in that way. It means more than can be said.
That is prelude to a brief discussion of the long, long interlude since the last installment and the not so brief interlude before the one previous to that. In part, my keyboard went on the fritz. In part, I have been RePatriating. But, in truth, it was much more than that. My best friend was sure I was “a bit off the reality rails”. Consequently, the last installment, “Einstein’s Relativity Rails”, was a sojourn out of my mind in order to observe the journey, the rails, the conductor, and, particularly, the lounge car, where, thanks to Italian Prosecco, I was spending many pleasant hours. There is a saying in Al-Anon that “the mind is a dangerous neighborhood, don’t go in alone”. It was also a sojourn out of that dangerous neighborhood where OCD tendencies and loneliness did a Tango. As noted, the sojourn was brief. So the deep veracity of the Al-Anon slogan was revealed.
The dangers are subtle, teasingly diaphanous. The Philosophers that have meant the most to creating the self that is Changing Temples vigorously contend that there is no spending of this life’s energy, or evaporation of the finite days given to one, that can honestly be said to be better or worse. As Hamlet rightly observed, “there is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. That nutshell of Hamlet’s has been explored by Montaigne, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Pyrrho, Ovid, Cicero, Epicurus and boundless others. “External circumstances take their savor and color from the inner constitution.” (Montaigne)
Put in a slightly different frame of reference, “Fortune does us neither good nor harm; she only offers us the material and the seed of them, which our soul, more powerful than she, turns and applies as it pleases, sole cause and mistress of its happy or unhappy condition.” (Montaigne)
It is tempting beyond description to evaluate one’s daily “use” of this life (the Protestant Ethic gone viral) or one’s application of the material and seed granted by Fortune. What is wasted time? There are significant traditions which answer that question by discussing the uncountable treasure that is each moment of life because of that fascinating construct called Death. It is having that end in mind that makes one evaluate and assign to it either quality or utter, spendthrift wastefulness. That is not an altogether false basis, but it is still thinking that makes it so. “Thus ease and indigence depend on each man’s opinion; and neither riches, glory, nor health has any more beauty and pleasure than its possessor lends it.” (Montaigne)
So, at least temporarily, there is an escapee from that dangerous and boundless nutshell of the mind who once again encounters the deeply significant way in which Keats captures the very heart of Changing Temples:
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
How rich the garners may be is a matter for others, but the brain teems and now these high-piled blog installments will be bursting with grain again.
Continued . . .