This combination of collection and contemplation is central to effectively curate ideas and learn to predict the future.*
[The Miser] remains cold and indifferent to the joys and sorrows of others, even his own […] the memory of past feelings or experiences is the only form in which he is in touch with how own experiences.’**
For the whisky distiller, the “middle cut” is the flow of alcohol that is taken and casked after the volatile alcohol from the beginning of a distillation run and the bad tasting alcohol at the end of the run has been avoided. Something really interesting then follows. The alcohol can be casked in similar containers, stand side-by-side in the same environment, and yet turn out completely differently because of the smallest of influences in the casks.
There are a number of things I take from this as illustrating who we are and what we can be as humans.
We all have more volatile (unstable) and bad tasting characteristics but I believe there is a promising middle cut to all of us. The way we each then collect from life and reflect upon these things produces very different people.
This is my hope: all of us can find our difference
Youngme Moon writes about how our determination to be like others or more well-rounded will not add but detract from our difference:
‘The truth of the matter is, true differentiation – sustainable differentiation – is rarely a function of well-roundedness; it is typically a function of lopsidedness. The same can be said of excellence.’^
Instead of looking at others and wishing we were more like them – perhaps this is something Erich Fromm’s miser, we look at them and are glad that they are like them.
Walt Whitman captures something of this when he describes how his mother was captivated by a native American woman calling at their home asking if there is any work for her. I include it at length simply because of how it illustrates how one person can be so open to another:
‘My mother looked in delight and amazement at the stranger,
She looked at the beauty of her tallborne face and full and pliant
The more she looked upon her she loved her,
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity:
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace … she
cooked food for her,
She had no work to give her but she gave her remembrance and
The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle of the
afternoon she went away:
O my mother was loth to have her go away,
All the week she thought of her … she watched for her many
She remembered her many a winter and many a summer,
But the red squaw never came more was heard of there again.’^^
The miser cannot see the middle of another nor themselves. This inability reduces our capacity to imagine the future, which means, a better today. I haven’t come up with a name of the person who is the opposite to the miser but they are marked by there ability to notice more – including how much they have, to reflect and imagine creatively as a result of what they have, and then the ability to act, to create, to explore as only they can.
Today is not only a sequel to the past but is also a prequel to the future.
(*From Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious – 2015 edition.)
(**From Erich Fromm’s The Art of Being.)
(^From Youngme Moon’s Different.)
(^^From Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.)
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