Holidays From Ourselves

One of the most unfortunate facts of our existence is that wherever we go we take ourselves with us [1].  This ought to seem obvious, but it is not always so.  Much time and effort and expense is spent traveling to places in the belief that life will be better somewhere else than where we happen to be at the time.  And yet when we arrive we go about making wherever we end up into an image of what we have known and what we are comfortable with and we make it as unpleasant and flawed as the places we have known in the past, not because there was something wrong with the places themselves but because we carry within us the genesis of our own dissatisfaction and discontent in our own flawed and corrupt natures.  To be sure, what we create is often a bit different than what has been created in the past, in the sense that our own flaws are somewhat different than the flaws of those around us, especially if we are distinctive enough to be unwelcome for some reason or another wherever we are from, but it is a difference in emphasis not a difference in kind.

From time to time I note that friends of mine have taken holidays from social media, a space of time away from the negativity and stridency of contemporary public discourse.  One of the ways that our age is particularly unpleasant is in the way that we publicly display the worst aspects of our character and behavior.  This is not true only in the photos or videos that we post of ourselves but also loathsome political opinions and the sharing of all kinds of libelous fake news, some of them from sources that claim to be reputable.  Often, for the sake of my own personal equilibrium, I feel it necessary to edit my own social media settings to make it impossible to see the leftist propaganda that many of my online friends and acquaintances feel it appropriate to post for some reason.  I find that it is far easier to appreciate social media when one is liking photos of people enjoying summer in the Southern Hemisphere or trying to increase their income through having their own artsy and crafty home-based businesses.  Photos of adorable small children and funny memes are the sorts of things I want to see and support, as well as creative original writing of the kind that I do my best to provide.  It would be better if people policed themselves so that their public posts showed the proper level of respect, but if they cannot I can police the sort of material I see at least.

One of the odd quirks of being a philosophical and reflective person is that one never takes a holiday from those tendencies.  Whether or not this is a good thing I leave it for others to judge, as I am certainly have a biased opinion in favor of my own interests.  Wherever one goes or whatever one sees becomes the fuel for drawing patterns and insight.  When one goes to visit someone’s house, one notes their collection of books, music, movies, objects d’art, or anything else.  One notices the tendency people have of referring to themselves and their own supposed skills and greatness over and over again and makes a mental note to decrease communication with such people because they are tediously self-referential.  One finds people with whom one enjoys spending time, makes friends with strangers on long airplane trips out of a shared love for Hong Kong melodramas or excellent nonfiction or music or whatever the case may be.  One joins community orchestras because they need a violist and one finds people not unlike oneself in a shared love of chamber music by composers like Mozart and Haydn but otherwise rather diverse.  Examples could be multiplied indefinitely.  Even going to the restaurant or sitting at work and noticing the distribution of parking spots taken can provide the fuel for a lot of insight, if one chooses and cannot turn one’s brain off.

If there is one group of people who love to take holidays from themselves it is most students.  I have rarely seen people to be more happy about being badly served by their schools in terms of time spent in the classroom as students.  To be sure, I am someone who went out of my way to get into more difficult classes as a student because I was bored with an Advanced English class in the seventh grade, among other such situations.  I am also someone who, even when not in school, has continued to read at a torrential pace, so I am aware that I speak as a very unusual person in this regard, probably far in the range of what most people would consider particularly nerdy.  I’m okay with that, and I suspect that most of those whose celebration of snow delays and other times off from school or time wasted in the classroom are simply marking time before they can do something they think they want to do in life.  To be sure, a lot of adulthood for most of us is spent in tasks one does not particularly enjoy where one is essentially marking time, and for many people this unpleasant experience starts in school.  One wants to let the children know they should enjoy the time they have where people actually want them to learn and reward them for it, because most of life only goes downhill from there.  How depressing is that?  No wonder we want to take holidays from ourselves.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Holidays From Ourselves

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