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Submitted by Braden Buchanan on Fri, 2008-11-14 16:44.

You walked through my town (Franklin, PA) a couple of days ago. I didn't speak with you, but there was an article in my paper this morning about you.

The reason I say "Wow!" is that it is so rare to become acquainted with someone that has such similar perceptions as I do. I've read over some of your offerings and I am very much intrigued by you and your journey.

My wife and I have like aspirations. We are in the process of disconnecting ourselves from what our life has been, and becoming transient. Before you think it, I will tell you that this is not a rash decision. This has been in the works for about two years now. The progress seems way too slow at times, but I firmly believe that the timing will be more appropriate because it has taken this long. What started as a panicked flail to get our heads above the surface has evolved(one of my favorite words too!) into a more measured and sustainable treading of water.

This is something that I wrote last winter during a period of discouragement.

"I believe that as these winter months slog onward, the time will become more and more auspicious for us to leave this place not in a attitude of disdain and disparagement, but verily in the spirit of new adventure and awakened genesis!"

When we do finally get our ducks in a row and are able to leave, it will be the exact right time to do so.

Now, we don't exactly have a goal like you have. To us it's more like a temporary early retirement/vision quest. We're just going to drive around until we want to stop for a while and then do so. We've never left our hometown and we just want to see what and who else is out there. We're both 29 years old, without children, and figure it's now or never.

I definitely wish to discuss more about my personal thoughts and philosophies in the future, but one thing stands out at the moment. It seems that one of our primary differences(maybe why I was so curious about you) is something that I am currently struggling with. How do you gain and maintain your empathy and compassion? Although I am very hopeful that our evolution is continuing and increasing it's speed, I feel like I'm surrounded and alienated by such a depth of ignorance that it's very difficult to remain optimistic.

Maybe that's the essence of your experiment? Am I missing the obvious?


“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, resignation being confirmed desperation.” -
H.D. Thoreau

Submitted by fellow human on Sat, 2008-11-22 20:24.

Hey Brady, thanks much for your contribution thus far.

You asked "How do you gain and maintain your empathy and compassion?"

One of the things I intend to do here is to illuminate and popularize some unfamiliar concepts that I believe profoundly equalize all people---that allow us to see ourselves in others and others in ourselves. I think this is the best if not the only route to compassion.

One of these concepts essentially suggests that we do not choose our abilities and way of thinking.

Every one of us is an awareness that has awakened in a body---or set of genes--- and, at least for our initial years, a life situation that is not of our choosing.

I believe we do not decide to have our perspectives or insights. Whether you believe that God or coincidence has produced us, we've simply ended up with what enables us to have those perspectives and insights--or not have them.

People do not decide to like or dislike foods or to be afraid of or appreciate heights or to be mathematical geniuses or sane or insane. These things simply comprise us and we have utterly no control over them.

When you experience others, I believe you're basically looking at yourself in a different skin. There is cause for appreciating what we have received that seems advantages but also cause to respect and accept others as being the only person that they can be from moment to moment, and in fact someone that you arguably could have just as easily ended up like.

I like to say that people are doing the best they can with what they have received and come to understand thus far in life.

The real interesting thing to me is that, although we seem to have personal (although not necessarily static) limitations plied upon us that we are bound to work within, we are as information to each other. Depending upon how aware we are of how we react to one another we may be as a stimulus by which others (such as the ignorant) may further grow.

Thanks again for your input and I hope you have more to offer.

Please go with care. -fellow human

Submitted by Braden Buchanan on Fri, 2008-12-05 17:25.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond. I hope you are well and your trek is smooth sailing.

Your response was helpful although not as comforting as I would like. The concept that brought me to ask you my initial question is similar to your reply. Unfortunately, that means that I am going to have to be the person that changes first!(oh well) Which is what your new story about your hat at the bar illuminated for me. Thanks for that as well.

My personal experience has started with arrogance. I developed a bit of a superiority complex. Along with this air of moral superiority was a very unwelcome (but altogether necessary)kid brother, alienation. Basically, I feel that I needed this separation from the rest of humanity in order to gain some much needed insight. I guess you have to climb a pretty tall tree to see what's around you.

The next leg of my journey has been to recognize this arrogance and start to temper it with humility. To try to be more compassionate. Easier said than done. Especially when people are trampling others to death to get into Wal-Mart. But, I'm trying, which I guess is the point in a journey. It's supposed to be a challenge.

This is where I've got with it.

In my opinion, we're all still monkeys to some degree. We all act like monkeys at times and this is to be expected. And what makes us act like humans is the same thing that made us crawl out of the mire and grow legs in the first place. A true and earnest yearning towards the Godhead and a closer walk with it in this higher state. Whatever a person's system of beliefs may be, I think that there is a general concensus that things like love, kindness, charity, and last but not least self-awareness are "good" and "humane". And that things like violence, jealously, and greed are "evil" and probably animalistic. It seems like the potential should be in everyone to strive to be human at a higher level, but why is it so much more pronounced in some people than others. Is this just a by-product of genetics and conditioning? Why are some people so content to sit around like monkeys fighting over mangoes and flinging pooh at each other, while others are screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard over the din,"There are much more important things than mangoes!" Isn't it being even more arrogant to expect so little out of humanity compared to how I act?

Your thoughts will always be appreciated.

You've only got a couple of weeks left. Enjoy the hell out of 'em!

Submitted by fellow human on Fri, 2008-12-19 11:54.

Hey Brady, please excuse the delay in confirming your comment: been really just getting hell out of it more than enjoying but that's what I figured I, with my lifelong challenge to be organized, signed on for.

You said "...but why is it so much more pronounced in some people than others(?)"

Just wanted to quickly suggest that, within the design you hint at above, people may be here to facilitate the growth of each other, but not just in the classic sense. This growth can (and does) take place via mere observation of one another, even without real relationships and also, through negative example: people demonstrating or clarifying and certainly giving us perspective on ways in which we don't want to behave that we might not so easily understand otherwise. Of course they add an extra stimulating challenge against the ways in which we desire to conduct ourselves in relation to them as well.

Lastly, this life, and we, are so complex. I believe I see more and more dimensions to what growth is. I would respectfully suggest that when we are frustrated because others are not at our level (as I am sometimes myself) that this is strong evidence that we are not, or at least part of us is not, really at the level we think.

Thanks for the good wishes my friendThis is how I generally appear from the front. . .This is how I generally appear from the front. . ..

-fellow human