Better Angels of Our Nature

I’ve been distracted lately. Distracted by the same daily grind that gnaws away at my life, and has removed me from myself over the past eight years. I need to take a step back. I need to detoxify.

A week ago I thought that maybe, of all these “signs” that present themselves along the highway that I travel, there’s an underlying pattern. A message. I thought to record these signs in a list, but until now have not. Today’s signal was a nearly obscure quote, by today’s standards, that first presented itself as the title of a chapter in a Civil War film that I have yet to watch. Then it appeared as one of the last lines, if not the last line, in a movie that I watched this afternoon, American History X. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this phrase, and to come across it twice in one day, out of the approximately 11,600 days I’ve been alive, is at least something to acknowledge as unique. The thing is, though, that this sort of thing happens every day. It’s just that most of us aren’t aware of these things. Or, if we are, we usually don’t appreciate or honor them.

Their purpose? Simply to ensure us that we are still on our journey, or is there more to it? Are they directions? Or both? Nothing is as simple as we’d like it to be in this world. But that’s the problem: not looking at what something really is is ignorance of our own potential and leads to a laziness that, in itself, only makes life more complicated. I need to trust my instincts to analyze, and in that allow nature to reveal its intentions as opposed to me trying to make sense of it with incomplete data. If you have all the data, the solution presents itself. Nature will take care of me.

The overall message is embedded in the big picture. Take a step back. As if coming from a being that speaks at different speeds, in a different language, the words are still there, and we can interpret them. My new assignment is to pay attention to the better angels of our nature. Don’t learn, but absorb it, and look for the next sign. Gain perspective from it, and use that awareness to not only determine my coordinates, but also my destination. Follow it. Follow it.

Lincoln realia, 1865 New York Times, vol. XIV, no. 4236 (April 15, 1865)

Lincoln realia, 1865.
New York Times, vol. XIV, no. 4236 (April 15, 1865)

John Wilkes Booth: assassination. Matthew Brady: my grandfather owned one of his window frames. My own blood sees what he saw. The whole country did, but what difference did it make in the end? The better angels of our nature: just that. Affirmation that even if something leaves you in pain, it is always better honoring more the love and respect for others. April 14th. Assassination. More than that. Sic semper tyrannus. Virginia’s motto. This is what will always happen to tyrants. Assassination. 7:22. 56 years. $5 bill. Now his face is on that bill. He had 9 newspaper clippings in his pockets. What do you know? Another collector!

Something drastic will happen. This is what will always happen to tyrants. This is what will happen to us. What means most to us is what can be found in our pockets. “The things we carry often hold clues to who we are and what’s important to us.” If I were to die right now, they’d find eight mountain laurel seeds in my pocket. When we die, it’s a sign of what we’ve worked toward. If it’s nothing more than a wallet, you’re missing something. Like the child who learned his lesson a little too late, at least he departed with his testament in hand. At least he achieved awareness. He had that in his pocket. What awaits is an assassination of our constructs. “The executioner’s face is always hidden.”

A hard rain’s gonna fall. – Bob Dylan

I hopped a train with Townes just as we crossed the tracks tonight. Just put your hands on the wheel.

Let the golden age begin. – Beck

“I don’t even try.” Affirmation. Once you’ve found it, it presents itself to you continually. Stay on track. Follow it. You’re not crazy. You’re just one of the few that actually pays attention.

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