Days Gone By
While many modern self help gurus have touted living in the present, in the “NOW’ as they have put it, as the proper way to live in this modern world, one must live for self and forget about history and what is shaping for the future. These things lead to discomfort, they say.
Some other philosophical thinkers have expounded on a very different approach. Colin Wilson, the writer who was a member of England’s “angry young men” following the second World War, was such a one.
Wilson wrote a book called “The Outsider;” Using great creative writers as examples he noted that some of the greatest, who he designated as “Outsiders,” are aware not just of the present day but of “other places and other times.” They possess the key insight to not be limited by the illusion of the moment but to expand into eternity, as it were. It may not be a comforting pleasure trip, being an outsider, but that quality exemplified in creators like Van Gogh, T.S.Eliot, H.G. Wells, William Blake and Earnest Hemingway is what makes us, as human beings, distinctly unique.
Which brings us to Outlander. Outlander, the series is now in its fifth season on the Starz media. I truly enjoy this production which is like an epic film with very high quality acting, storyline, locale and Cinematography, which goes on and on most wonderfully. It is based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon.
The series tells the story of Claire Randall, (played by Caitriona Balfe) a former military nurse from World War two who, with her husband Frank, (played by Tobias Menzies) visit Scotland in 1946. There she finds herself transported through a time portal at an ancient site to the year 1743.
Once she understands her predicament Claire, who is extremely intelligent and has a previous knowledge of history, is able to bluff her way into appearing to be an English woman who had been captured by Scottish Jacobites. She is escorted to an English military headquarters where her adventures in time and history begin.
Her arrival in Scotland just a couple of years before the battle of Culloden puts her very much in the thick of things. Early on she meets James “Jamie” MacKenzie Fraser, (played by Sam Heughan) who becomes her Highland lover. The ongoing story, of Claire and her mates and friends in two different time periods has steadily grown in popularity over its years of production. It is not a pretty story, though it has great beauty; it is a violent story, though it has great love and tenderness. One is given few moments to settle into the “Now” in this story.
All that we don’t want to look at is here and all that we most want to look at, is here. We must look through Claire’s eyes and realize the dilemma of considering she might actually be able to change history by knowing in advance where it is headed and if she could change it… what then?
Outlander deals with very basic life experience, with family, with friendship with loyalty, with love at its deepest and best. These concepts touch the core of the human condition; they form a kind of spiritual responsibility our heroes and our own consciences do not shy away from. Our own natures and our history cement this. We all time travel when we rethink the past and hope to improve the future through our choices. In watching I came to realize that we still have much of our human bravery or we would not want to watch, and absorb so much realness. I’m very proud of us for that.
My daughter had a new catalog this week of neat novelties and other gift items. One item that caught my eye was ” Stainless Steel Soap” to remove fish and other odors.
Not wanting to pun, but something smelled a little fishy about this item. I decided to look into it with some further research.
To begin, as I read, I was reminded of the “Stone Soup” story. We all remember the story of the hungry soldiers, who, having nothing but a stew pot and a stone cajole local towns folks into adding meat, potatoes, other vegetables until the soup is complete and the stone can be removed for another day.
It is claimed Stainless Steel soap works by the steady action of running water and air combined with the steel cake. The Wikipedia article on the curious invention makes the point that a stainless steel spoon might work as well. The article adds, “In the absence of plausible chemical explanations of why this may work, or experiments using controls, it is unknown whether stainless steel soap is actually effective.” Another article I found states that a steel knife can work for this purpose “but only up to a point.”
Well not to “throw cold water” on this invention I will observe that the use of water and air for cleaning our hands with or without stainless steel aid is bound to be a step ahead of most of the hand-washing I see in public rest rooms these days.
If a new invention can encourage that, hey, I’ll invest.
I’m not really that keen on modern self-help books. One thing however, that I agree with them about is that we can actualize our dreams by keeping them real in our minds.
The lives of great people often exemplify this truth. Abraham Lincoln dreamed as a youth on the prairie and read law books by lantern light, going on to become one of our greatest and most inspiring presidents.
My favorite writer, Ray Bradbury, sold newspapers while he dreamed of being a writer. He stuck to his guns and published wonderful books all his life. He received a special Pulitzer prize citation, the first such received by a science fiction writer.
In a statement he made near that time, he spoke of how he, when a boy, would never have dreamed of living to be 86 years old, much less having the same passion and interest in life that he had as a youth. And yet, even after a stroke left him in a wheel-chair, he still started each day with the same zest and passion as ever. He wrote, even if dictated, several stories or essays, every week.
“You’re here in this world to love and enjoy life,” Bradbury continued. “If you’re unhappy, get out of writing then, do something else.. I have no time for you if you’re going to ruin your life with negative thinking… I want you to fill your life with feeling, with loving, that’s what you’re here for… you’ve been put in this world to love the act of being alive.. There isn’t a morning I wake up that I’m not grateful for the gift of life.”
Well said. As everything he ever wrote always was. It is really true, if we can hang on always to those simple truths about life there is nothing we can’t accomplish. And we can do it with joy!
Early as I arrive at the diner for my coffee in the a.m. already the rumblings on the morning news are at work.
These days the news is filled with rousers, to say the least. Even so, I’ll hear solutions and ideas, along with the usual complaints. I like that, I try to follow suit myself.
It can be disillusioning, to watch a movie like “The Core” with heroes who plummet into the Earth in order to set off just the right amount of nuclear explosives to get the inner Earth back on schedule. And following that reflect on the real life effort of a few years back, to stop a single oil leak in the gulf of Mexico. We have to admit we haven’t been very well prepared even for likely environmental problems, much less unlikely ones.
Solutions, solutions. I suspect that these are times in which the greatest minds might put their heads together and plan a bit in advance for future leaks and other happenings. Billions are going into obscure outer space research, maybe for a bit some of those billions should be spent here on Earth instead, before any more food supplies are ruined, jobs lost, ecology disrupted.
Charity beginning at home was always a good old fashioned idea! Maybe we better take it out of mothballs and try using it again. It applies in many areas!