“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Chapter 2
The quote above perfectly synthesizes with the movie Into the Wild. I have to say; this was one of the movies that has probably gotten me thinking the most out of any production I have seen. Sure, it’s easy to feel inspired by a movie, think about it for a while, and go back to living your life the exact same way you left it before you sat on your couch for a few hours. Watching Chris McCandless leave everything behind to escape the reality he dreaded and search for happiness, however, was more, I feel, than inspiration for a brief moment.
Being at the stages of our lives we find ourselves in right now, we feel both pressured to follow certain paths and continuously told to do what we love, what makes us happy. Even though the time to make the final decisions regarding one of those paths has not arrived yet, that question never leaves my mind. Am I willing to give up comfort, family, friends, habits to search for what I want? Sure, maybe my “Alaska” is not so extreme as to actually leave everything and hitchhike to Alaska; truth is I still am pretty clueless about what my Alaska is. This relates to the movie Lost In Translation as well; having always lived in Curitiba, Brazil, I do not know whether I am comfortable living around the world, exploring new places and meeting all kinds or different people, something I so often dream about now. Both Bob Harris and Charlotte learnt to enjoy their environment at one point with each other, and appreciate the different culture and different surrounding they found themselves in. As much as I love to travel, I have only been at a different country for no longer than two weeks, and I must admit, I probably don’t get off the tourist track very often either, if at all. Cosmopolitanism, as suggested by Appiah, portrays the possibility that citizens from all corners of the world are able to connect with each other, no matter what they believe in or grew up doing. Relating to that, Planetary Culture makes a fascinating point on how by the term “planetary culture” the author means that “a natural society is one that follows the way, imperfectly but authentically” and how that is directly related to the global aspect of Buddhism.
This brief video explains the general gist of Cosmopolitanism, and how it requires acceptance, and not general consensus on everything.
Interacting with different cultures is probably one of the things I look most forward to in college. I think it’s fascinating how people from all cultures and backgrounds are able to come together in times of chaos, desperation or joy and love, due to the fact of adaption and acceptance.
“Most Americans are against gay marriage, conflicted about abortion, and amazed (and appalled) that a Saudi woman can’t get a driver’s license. But my guess is that they’re not as opposed to gay marriage as they were twenty years ago.” (Appiah)
As we are all familiar with, technology seems to be presenting itself a continuously growing tool, which helps communication with people all over the globe, promoting a Cosmopolitan world. As I was reading The Global Soul, however, something caught my eye, “We may find that we have more and more ‘connections’ in the telephone, on airplanes, senses, and fewer and fewer in the classic human sense”; Is technology actually detracting from genuine human interaction? I thought this was an interesting perspective and was able to find this intriguing take on the subject: