A reflection from Dan Curtain that mulls over the beauty of life, responds to some questions that have arisen in the context of this new culture, as well as his desire to live intentionally as a result of his experiences here.
During my lunch break I walked the several blocks its takes to get to Plaza de San Martín from the UCC. I found a park bench and sat, soaking in the life around me. The sky was the bluest of blues, and leaves the greenest of greens. Niñas frolicked and giggled, while pigeons pecked at the crumbs left behind by a woman’s Media Luna pastry. Chess pieces slid and clinked at the various tables near me. Occasionally, I am able to tap into this attentive existence and truly absorb the beauty that surrounds me. But, as Martin Laird mentions in his book, Into the Silent Land, this beauty also exists within. It is common to perceive God as “out there” beyond our reach, which isn’t entirely false, but God also exists within. There is something even more inherent to our existence than the exterior milieu of life and the internal anxieties that plague us. Silence. Stillness. These are experiences safeguarded by the mind, untapped by the chaos that surrounds us. This chaos, though, isn’t all bad. It simply is. We are just as much a part of nature as is a squirrel that inhabits a tree or a fox that digs a hole.
While in class I made a comment: there is a trend amongst the younger American generations of today. Many of us are tired of society’s script, a script that has one seek a degree, then a job, then a spouse, then a house in the suburbs, then maybe a few kids, then a big wad of money, and then… we die. What most of these life goals lack, though, is intentional relationship. These norms are reflections of the consumerist, individualistic society in which we live. So, people my age travel, exploring the world, attempting to find life elsewhere because we have failed to find it in our very homes. Since arriving in Argentina I have been asked, “How can you travel so far for so long? Won’t you miss your family?” I will miss my family, but I am sadly as much a product of my culture as anyone else. Family and relationship aren’t regarded as important in our American culture. Thus, I strive to rid my body of this cultural toxin with patient, intentional “counterculture”.
I’ll leave you with a few words spoken by my professors today in class…
“Today, people die in the hospital alone. People used to die at home surrounded by those they love. Philosophy is as much learning how to live as it is learning how to die.”
“Our societies exist on killing but also on the idea that killing is bad. A ‘new’ society built on killing is not new at all.”