Tortoise Philosophy (10/14)

“I’m going, lads, to Sparta,” said Odysseus to his crew, “but I still don’t know what fate may have in store nor what my own mind wants; slowly, by what I see and do, I’ll work things out.” —Nikos Kazantzakis, The Odyssey, Bk. III, ll. 576-578

I believe that Odysseus is right about working things out — all of the life planning and goal setting aside. Fate still shapes life by happenings beyond one’s control; and also, of course, human behavior, whether by good sense, folly or ignorance, shapes the rest. The goal, often  a life-long pursuit, is knowing what one wants.  The irony? Some people always sensed, however faintly, what they wanted in the beginning; but first, they tried everything else. Alas, in youth we are least prepared to make serious decisions.  Do I regret not being practical? No, I regret not being more practical, perhaps being a poetic engineer.

The earlier career mistakes occur the better. The sooner one finds his or her niche the better; there is life after layoff, firing, bad luck, getting lost, stupid acts and many more setbacks. I hope this truth lies deep in the intent and meaning of The Tortoise Factor. We move forward steadfastly and cautiously.

I am not Odysseus, but my life has been richer for all the hours passed in literature.  Literature has been the companion who helped me make sense of life. I mean literature, cram-packed with thoughts, ideas, characters, tears and laughter.  Decidedly lacking his poetic talent, I am still a Romantic and sympathetic with the perennially idealistic Shelley — fascinated and awed by life and intellectual beauty.

That’s what the Tortoise Factor and the Tortoise Philosophy are all about. Life requires good camouflage and a shell enabling essential retreats from the madness. Also I’ve always liked the occasional foray into a cause; but I’ve learned much about man-made beasts bigger than I. Keeping an eye on the back trail, occasionally one can still pull the tail of a beast or two. Beware, however, of over-complication  and mere shows of strength. They lead to Pyrrhic victories. By  nature the tortoise knows better.

Contemplating the animals is quite worthwhile.I want to be an odyssey of thought and reflection.   In life we are affected by panic, optimism and fear — not necessarily in that order.  Our strongest virtue in the face of these is perseverance. And we have only each other and the animals for company who are masters at perseverance. We are companions on a trail.   Humans long for the unconditional and animals offer it — best that we remember this. And for the tortoises especially, the vibrations, oh, the vibrations are the best warnings of danger and prospect.

Leave comments.  Throw me some fresh, green leaves — especially artichokes.   To be honest I am miserable without a way to plummet the world with words. I desire to make sense and to be a little useful.  I look for guest contributors. Make yourselves known.

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David Milliken

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