Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hubris, Geography, Dreams

I learned the word hubris in third grade. It has stuck with me since. I remembered it as meaning "excessive pride." It's been the downfall of mythological, historic, and fictional characters for as long as stories have been told. Hubris and karma are not the same thing. I'm not sure they're even kissing cousins.

Hubris rears its head in my life plenty. Whenever I'm outgrowing my britches, feeling larger than life. It's like an existential gut check, reminding me that I'm not all that. A little humble pie goes well with morning coffee. Maybe hubris is like a tea kettle with the water at a rolling boil; it's got no choice but to whistle to let it out.

And the hubris whistle says, "Stay humble, my friends."

Some of my reading has brought hubris back into focus. Characters in Neil Gaiman's "Sandman," who want to capture Death, to live forever, and end up summoning Dream and keeping him locked up for 75 years. And when he gets free, he goes about setting things right. There are all kinds of similar story lines. It's the Faust story retold, where someone wants more power, more knowledge, doesn't want to abide by the balance that life seems to move towards. They want to be outside the rules. In life and literature, it rarely ends up well.

Geography has been on my mind of late. The mountains, the beach, cabins, beach houses, New England, the South, the Eastern Shore. Maybe it's a restless leg syndrome of the soul. Wanderlust. Maybe it's being in the same place for too long. Maybe it's feeling like I have burned a path from Easton to DC that my car or truck would drive on their own, without me touching the steering wheel. You've seen what taking the same path too many times does to grass. It's not there to tell you about it.

The last several months of my life has been about change. A life revolution. Except that it hasn't. There is a stasis. Mentally things are different, except they aren't. But I'm also wary of hubris. Don't get too full of myself. Don't overreach. There is something to be said for familiarity. I've seen it when running the same route, of how much can be different, with the right eyes.

Ultimately, at the moment, hubris and geography and dreams combine to want something simple. Maybe a wee bit of solitude at a surf shelter like this one. Read, write, split firewood, try not to break my ribs surfing, cook simply, eat simply, walk and run through the woods. Recharge. And hey, there's a sauna. Sabbatical. Sanctuary.

Long live Cabin Porn for helping dreamers keep it simple, and be humbled by humanity's lowly role in nature's magnificence.

No comments: