Monday, July 18, 2011
And so it is.
Preparing to take chances again.
Plunging headlong into another culture so utterly different from my own, beyond the fear and the fatigue, beyond the heartbreak and the grief, I'm compelled by the thought that this is so because I haven't given in nor up--I have refused all alibis for immobility and cowardice, I haven't lost my sense of outrage (nor my sanity), I haven't sold out, I haven't taken anybody's shit.
And, knowing myself, I never will.
* * *
One sees them everywhere--ill-groomed, self-indulgent suburbanites seated before televised football games; on city sidewalks gray-skinned, gray-eyed men in business suits whose bodies one cannot imagine in another garb. By the age of forty they have given up; they still have half their lives to live but they will never be seductive to other humans.
Giving up begins by giving in; it begins in comfort. It begins each time comfort enters as a factor in any decision. It begins when one does not go down the Grand Canyon because the trail is hot and dusty and the mule the guide is offering you lurches, when one does not even go to Italy and France because of the hassles of not understanding the language and not digesting the food, when one did not set out to escape czarist Russia by hiding in a hay wagon by night.
For how many men the press of family and professional responsibilities, economic necessities, the importance of a long-term job function as alibis! Alibis for not being set on fire by chance nakedness, alibis for not ecstatically opening one's eyes to the fierce bird of hope and risk of soaring in the skies of chance. He took on this summer job in case a buddy would roar by on a wreck of a motorcycle and shout, "Let's travel the hemisphere!" He hastily married and sired a child in case his buddies would rush off to join the insurrection. How many family and professional responsibilities were first taken on in order to function one day as an alibi for not taking chances, not plunging into passion, not fighting for justice!
One loses one's manhood [or womanhood] by selling out. One exchanges the hot passions of youth--passions for eroticism, ecstasy and justice--for the cold passions of age. . . . Indeed everything one despises in oneself turns out to be some cowardice.
-- Alphonso Lingis, Trust (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), pp. 79-80.