A dark, cold, and damp morning.
As I was pulling into the parking area at McMahon’s Mill, I had the strange thought that I should see fishermen, bicyclists, and hikers standing around steel barrels with fires in them on strike and picketing the conditions. I often have strange passing ideas like this; probably just a reflection of my depressed and angry mood. Normally I appreciate nature in all of its variety, but at times I grump and complain, just in my head, mind you. I know, though, that this is just a symptom of my mental state.
As I start walking towards Arthur’s Rock, the Potomac’s muddy water is running high and fast. It’s full of tree trunks, limbs, and all of the other detritus that washes off the banks and out of the tributary streams and creeks. The trees don’t bother me but the massive amount of trash does: random bits of foam insulation, tires, beer cans, all of the crap people can’t be bothered about getting rid of properly or making the effort to recycle.
I get to Arthur’s Rock, climb up, and start my alcohol stove to heat water for tea. The stove is vexing me a bit as it doesn’t like the cold, but then takes off as it gets warm. Soon the water is hot and I pour our tea into the cups, sit down and contemplate life as I sip.
For some reason that I have yet to figure out and unrelated to all of the other problems with the world this year, this winter has been particularly difficult for me. I miss Arthur with an ache so deep it is, at times almost debilitating. I know I’ll get through it, but I do want to know why.
I have purposely not written much this past year, thought it might be best to not dive into subjects that I am passionate about. I still don’t want to do this, but in the effort to achieve that all important balance in my soul I feel I must. I can condense it down, though, into two simple problems; extreme selfishness and willful ignorance.
So many, it seems, can’t put up with any inconvenience that doesn’t satisfy their overinflated sense of self worth; a narrow, blindered, view of the world that is the definition of the extremely selfish. These folks want more and more and more. They refuse to change anything that doesn’t directly benefit themselves. They see those who work to change things for all as somehow flawed. They also make excuses for others like themselves.
Choosing not to believe something simply because you don’t want it to be true is the height of folly; As is choosing to believe only one part of a truth that happens to suit your worldview. You don’t get to cherry pick the truth. You also don’t get to threaten, commit acts of violence, make-up conspiracy theories, and such, to justify your twisted take on reality.
Another big part of this is denying science. Science is great when it gives things you want, but when science tells you things you don’t want to hear scientists become “pointy headed geeks” who don’t know what they are talking about. I find it fascinating in a sad way that the greatest tool that science has given us, the internet, is used mostly for porn and spreading bullshit conspiracy theories, not for expanding human knowledge.
I could go on about these things ad nauseam, but I’m sure that if you have read this far you probably already understand what I’m talking about.
As Above So Below
A final thought is selfishness and willful ignorance are actively encouraged by those that want to control you. This stuff works its way from the top down and from the bottom up, just like the Hermetic philosophers of the far past taught us. It’s insidious and it’s certainly not a conspiracy theory, it’s just human nature. You see it in everything from schoolyard bullies to our elected officials.
The solution is to practice “sublimation of self” putting the needs of others ahead of your own. You are the only one who can decide how this concept can work for you. Stopping to think about who your words, actions, or attitudes might hurt or help is a simple beginning.
Back to Arthur’s Rock
So I finished my tea and my overthinking, poured Arthur’s tea over the rock, and packed up my stuff to make my way out. As was leaving I thought of the thing Arthur always said before a creatively weird story or a pithy comment in his deep voice, “Well you know Dad…”
Trent Carbaugh, Dec. 2020