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Maybe what we need is a new perspective
by Chris C Canton
The world keeps changing; always has and always will.
Some like to think nothing is the same as it used to be – Was it ever?
Indeed, there are fond memories - and an older generation to compare notes with - on the extent to which we worried about our lives, the jobs we held, the places we moved to and the economic gains we sought. That part of society and of what the world it represents to most of us hasn't changed much, really.
Yet, still there is another world within the one we are familiar with. There is this world that has existed since the dawn of time. Were we to broaden our perspective and reflect on what our place in the world means - how influential it is on our health and emotional well being - acquiring an understanding of that other world can more often than not bring about ever more positive changes in our attitude and values as we live out our lives in the society we were born into.
Note that fact: that we are born into a society. It is not our world but a very significant part of it. We do our dances with the steps we learned growing up as children, i.e. going to school, learning language and communication with others in our society, choosing jobs and careers, choosing the effort we make towards getting a higher education in order to live ever more comfortably within our society.
Although man's future is largely dependent on cooperation of societies, diverse though the cultures may be, the ability to fare well and fulfill ourselves lies mostly from within all of us. It lies in the concept of self and of how well we are aware of self, of competition, of survival ability; of knowledge of the world. The more knowledge we have, the more possibility for enlightenment, of sense of choice and less the sense of entrapment or futility with failed mechanisms throughout our society and lives that from time to time influences our emotional and physical well being and the choices we do make.
It is important to realize that just as we give definition and meaning to words such as comfort and wealth, it is equally important that there are parallel circumstances where these definitions within our familiar society can be argued for that “other world” that exists outside of the society we are familiar with. Indeed, a question to be asked is, what is the worth of working a job for a paycheck which, when saved, allows us acquisition of a given level of comfort and status in the society we interact in? Is this worth not the same as for one who has no job, who survives away from society, in the world largely removed from “man's fingerprint” of civilization? Is it not the same for the man who has traveled from cold barren landscape with little to aid in creation of shelter to a wilderness environment where there is plenty of the environmental materials needed to create warmth and comfort; to where survival is surpassed by luxury?
The point being, there exists within all of us choices to be made based on the extent to which we acquire enough of the knowledge needed so that technically we cannot claim to be “trapped” or "unlucky in life” but rather simply, uninformed. That we become depressed or unhappy based on competition for creature comforts or the lack thereof, is all in fact, based on the dance of which steps we have learned. And yet, time continues forth, and we age, tiring physically ever so slightly in small increments, our health, more sensitive and moving towards eventual precariousness. Our recognition of what we measure and define to be precious ever more preciously held to reverence.
We take these values and hold them to be absolute because this is what we know and these are the dance steps we have learned. We are happy because we don't hunger. We are content because we clear a place in the sun and luxuriate in its warmth. And right there is the bridge. This place in the sun where we luxuriate in its warmth. Would we not be happy again were we to hypothetically escape a rat infested tenement, when all other choices are exhausted except the choice to change direction; to walk in a straight line beyond the exit to the north end of the city; beyond the unemployment line for new jobs that may move us uptown a few miles further, beyond even the city, beyond the outskirts of the last neighborhood that lies on the edge of wilderness, and to keep walking to a hilltop, where the sun shines upon that hill, we lie down, able to see in every direction, and once again smile at the moment, regain our strength, and resorting to the knowledge within, still realize what it takes to afford a few moments of luxury and experience what true contentment, and emotional well being really is, how fleeting yet how persistent it is in our lives. It takes neither society nor wealth to acquire contentment, just steady breaths of air, knowledge of what is, and choices to make.
Chris C Canton is an author and poet. His poetry books include: Blonde - A Quest for the Truth of Color, Winter While Walking. He has also written a military adventure novel, Sergeant Major.
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