Salubrious Respect

There is something to be said for early rising in spring; that first silence of the day, before man-made clatter and the automated chirp that is the siren and horn. There is also something to be said for waterside walks at sunset, observing poppies at the golden hour, watching the message of pink as the sun slips from view, which is not to say that it does not return.
To possess a storage of such observation is to be rich. Even better when accompanied by passages from Cicero, to be mulled over like a good wine, never to just be swallowed. Thence the word respect, to look back on, consider, observe. But even for people who do not read or take up permanent abode in nature when deep with age like Chomei - who writes from his hut of solitude, "of the beauties of the ever-changing scenery of the hills one never becomes weary. And to one who thinks deeply and has a good store of knowledge such pleasure is indeed inexhaustible" - the need to retreat, to observe nature, is apparent. A tear-drop-eyed woman yesterday felt she had to apologise for our having happened upon her alone, on a waterfront trail. "Better to walk alone in nature than not to go at all," she said, not knowing that my friend and I both do the same.
I would posit that it is those people who walk alone - and as the woman said, though company affords its special joy, it is not a prerequisite - are people who can be trusted. But here we return to the apology: why would anyone need to speak in defense of their solo retreats into the womb of the very nature whence we came, also alone? That wicked part of society that ties people to each other like weak slaves. The kind of society that whispers at adults doing things by themselves: the kind that mechanizes marriage, bearing theirs like a police badge, writing up outsiders who include those who are happily married but grant each other free time to pursue their own interests, and simply time to themselves.


Such is the chorus quick to bad-mouth their significant other: saccharine martyrs (martyrs are never syrupy: their love burns within, flames necessarily licking up the pathetic: to consider them is awesome) who would throw others into the jail they constructed from the mistake that is their approach to life. They do not see that the institution of being with another person, a co-helmsman for life, is a special gift, that it is hard, but that if one wants that privilege, there is a burden to be borne. They steal the high social rank they give themselves, always reneging on paying for the favour. And in the mean time, they spread half-false stories of those people getting on with their lives, walking alone in nature if they want to - free as birds.
There is something to be said for enjoying birdsong in the morning, tuning into it, then tuning out, then capturing the calls again - the noisy swifts! No money or status could possibly pay for such pleasure and privilege. There is indeed a price tag on everything in life, but some things are worth far more than what they cost.
We have all been granted freedom to understand life as we will. While many intelligent people use their minds in an attempt to pepper other people's stews, there is no over the counter remedy for human life. The freedom of individual decision invalidates the prescription of the universal. While the universal, as an ideal, remains unaffected by 'man's meddling, it is exactly the specifics of each individual's mangling that makes a return to the ideal - if it is desired - dependent on particulars. Universals only apply to healthy respect.



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