Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Person of the year

Every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again.
~ Herman Hesse, 1877-1962 ~

Fun and joke aside, we have a lot to be thankful for. Just to get up this morning and see another day is gift enough. The prospect of seeing another year, infinitesimal as it in the cosmic scheme of things, should be of monumental significance, let alone that each of us is a singularity, never to be repeated. Even if you subscribe to a life beyond death in the Elysian fields or someplace inside pearly gates, or as some reincarnated entity, it will not be you as you are now. You are, as Kent Davy has put it, the "momentary concatenation of the dependently arising streams of factors that have eventuated" as the person known as you. It cannot, and it won't, happen again, ever. Appreciate yourself then, even if, especially if, no one else does.

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is transformed through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expression … It is your business to keep the channel open.
Martha Graham, 1894-1991
Time magazine is right on the button to name You as the Person of the Year for your control of the information age. Each of us is at the leading edge of evolution, with more access to power and information than any pope, king or potentate heretofore. We might not individually be capable of launching armadas and conquering hordes, nor should we want to, but Rameses, Genghis, Alexander, Plato, Charlemagne, Galileo and Napoleon would give their eye-teeth to know and do a fraction of what we are capable of now. Civilization has progressed through the stages of hunting/gathering, agriculture, and manufacturing, each with its hierarchies, oppressions and divisions of labor. For the first time, each individual, albeit some more apt than others, is a centre of production and consumption of the world's current and future wealth: information.
Whatever I do, however I find a way to live, I will tell these stories ... I speak to you because I cannot help it. It gives me strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there ... I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words. I will fill today, tomorrow, every day until I am taken back to God. I will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don’t want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run. All the while I will know that you are there. How can I pretend that you do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as you pretending that I do not exist.
~ Dave Eggers ~
The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel , 2006
in Francine Prose, "Lost Boy," The New York Times, 2006/12/24
So how are we making the most of this opportunity that is our life? Are we spending it in drudgery, enduring each passing day, year, cast from one contingency to another, being swept along by the current, deferring our dreams until? Or are we awakened to our power, making a choice and seeing it through? Until recently i used to say i still didn't know what i wanted to be when i grew up. This may have changed as this publishing business seems to be the right fit; I get to write, draw, play, create, perform, pontificate - and get paid doing it. But then previous reinventions of myself seemed right at the time ...

Each man has his own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him. He has faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exertion. He is like a ship in a river; he runs against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely over a deepening channel into an infinite sea. This talent and this call depend on his organization, or the mode in which the general soul incarnates itself in him. He inclines to do something which is easy to him, and good when it is done, but which no other man can do. He has no rival. For the more truly he consults his own powers, the more difference will his work exhibit from the work of any other. His ambition is exactly proportioned to his powers. The height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of the base. Every man has this call of the power to do somewhat unique, and no man has any other call ... By doing his work, he makes the need felt which he can supply, and creates the taste by which he is enjoyed. By doing his own work, he unfolds himself.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

As we begin a New Year, let us do so with passion and vision that we can be and do all that we are capable of. Right here, right now, you are and have all you need to proceed; this is the entry point; begin now. I have no warm, florid feel-good wish for you. It is only for you to choose. Then i will celebrate with you your courage, your greater idea of yourself and the inevitable and subsequent expansion beyond your present limitations.

Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward – your destiny – are here and now.
~ Dag Hammarskjöld, 1905-1961 ~