‘But lo! men have become the tools of their tools.’*
(Henry David Thoreau)
‘I always like to think we have two selves… The first is our potential self. […] The second is our real self. […] And yet, it is the other self, the potential self, that we obsess over. Because we know it’s in there somewhere, buried underneath all that rubble we call “life”. And if we can just set it free, just for once, just for a short time… Then maybe we’re on the right track, for a change.’**
I’ve mentioned Michelangelo’s unfinished statues many times: four huge figures wrestling themselves free from the marble they are encased in: life in motion, from real life to potential life, from here to there.
There’re basically two forms of sculpture: adding to and taking away. Michelangelo’s sculptures were about taking away the marble that got in the way of the figure he believed wanted to emerge from the stone:
“The least strained and most natural ways of the should are the most beautiful, the best occupations are the least forced.”^
I don’t think Michael de Montaigne, whose words these are, means there’s no great effort involved in being fruitful in our lives, rather he’s saying something about being who we are and not someone else.
We’re creatures who live in a state of motion. Here are four movements:
We move to take the initiative;
We move to make exist what does not yet exist;
We enlist others and move together in our adventures;
We move even though there’s no guarantee of success.
Try them from the heart. See what happens.
At the close of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman contemplates the end of his life, anticipating moving on when he has given his all. Life in motion is simply this: to fill and empty our days:
‘The past and the present wilt … I have filled them and emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold in the future.’^^
(*From Henry David Thoreau’s Where I Lived, and What I Live For.)
(**From gapingvoid’s blog: Set yourself free.)
(^Michael de Montaigne, quoted in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.)
(^^From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)