When in doubt, scout.*
Individuals who never sense the contradictions of their cultural inheritance run the risk of becoming little more than host bodies for stale gestures, metaphors, and received ideas, all the stereotypic likes and dislikes by which cultures perpetuate themselves. As Carl Andre once said, “Culture is something that is done to us. Art is something we do to culture.”**
Alex McManus imagines our age to be like a rushing river and we have to get out of in order to see what is ahead.
Perhaps wandering is another word for scouting. It is about slowing down, but more than that it is about attention overcoming distraction.
The Wander Society refers to those who fail to wander – who’re not paying attention – as “sleepers.” This is the sense of Lewis Hyde’s opening remark.
Ben Hardy adds his own warning:
If you don’t shape your environment, it will shape you.^
Here is Wallace Stevens‘ pressure of reality to which we must bring the power of our imagination.
Our imagination is our truest self, I think, and it forms in a reciprocal relationship with its environments.
It’s a falsehood to say that people either have imagination or not – we could not exist without imagination. Neither is it about our imagination being fixed for life – we do not know how far our imagination can be grown. Imagination needs reality in order to play and develop, to produce its art and artisanship. At the same time it changes reality.
In meeting reality with our imagination, we shape ourselves, the interaction of self and environment being well-described here by Hardy:
When you change your environment, such as surrounding yourself with different people, your thoughts and emotions change. These inner changes then alter your values and aspirations, which requires yo to further alter your external environment. Thus it is by tweaking your conditions that you proactively shape who you become.^