Thursday, February 2, 2012

may you live in interesting times

A few months back, when the occupy protests were new, one of our professors sent out an email to the graduate students about an "occupy the future" conference at Stanford. James F. Short Jr. an emeritus professor here at WSU, who is nearly 90 years old, sent this in reply:

This is an ambitious agenda, to say the least. We were at the CASB at
Stanford during the height of Viet Nam war protests and had the opportunity
to hear Linus Pauling and others speak at rallies and marches. While most
activities were peaceful, the Center was firebombed in what seemed obviously
to be a target of opportunity rather than a target of protest. It was an
exciting time to be alive, confirming the ancient Chinese curse: May you
live in interesting times! We appear to have two large-scale social
movements under way and headed for confrontation: the Tea Party, which has
had some time to mobilize politically, and the Occupy movement which has yet
to coalesce around central issues. The Tea Party seems likely to fragment as
it becomes increasingly involved in electoral politics. Perhaps the Stanford
movement can provide the intellectual capital and momentum to mobilize
campuses elsewhere. Stay tuned!

I keep thinking about this note he sent out, especially that center line: confirming the ancient Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. I had never thought of it in that way, but since he said it something has become clear to me. I want an uninteresting life. My ultimate goal is to seek a life of simplicity, peace, and love. 

After I came to the fundamental realization that this world in which we live is not ok, I began to deconstruct why. At what point in history was it ok? The more I searched, the more I recognized that it was the times in human history that were not under the purview of an empire that were probably the most simple and happy times to live. Sure, in ancient Rome they had lipstick, but they also had slaves and death matches for sport. I want to be in a place that doesn't matter, off a "little road barely on the map" as Feist puts it. 

After years of seeking out the most extreme lifestyles my time and place in history allowed me to try, I have decided that all I want in life is to live a life that is above all uninteresting. I think this is the least risky life to lead, truly, and those who think it is taking a risk to break from the status quo should talk to anyone who lived in europe during WWII. They would've taken uninteresting over mass killings any day. Give me knitting by a fire, you can have your collapsing empire.

1 comment:

String said...

princeville, hawai'i. on maui.
that's my pick anyway.