Saturday, November 5, 2011
Epicurus and Me
I love good books. I like thinkers who make me think. I admire thinkers who share what they think, even if it means death. My brain was absorbed with The Swerve, which has a lot of thinkers in it, and thinkers who died for saying what they thought. Stephanie Mills introduced me to the real Epicurus [342-270 BCE] as a man who encouraged simplicity; not the Bacchanalian lout others reported him to be. Ataraxia was his wine. Tranquility. Freedom from worry. Freedom from fear. He thought the universe was made of atoms, flying around and occasionally getting together for a chat. He believed in gods, but did not believe the gods had any interest in earth. He practiced free will. He taught others to do the same. He lived a long life because he kept out of the way of people who might think what he thought was a killing offense. Some of his devotees weren't so blessed. I was fortunate to be able to read The Swerve, about a scribe who stumbled upon a copy of Lucretius' poem On the Nature of Things. Via a random route, Epicurus chatting with his friends in Athens thousands of years ago caused me to feel happier today. I felt confused and uncomfortable when I finished the book early this morning. Whenever my brain touches Inquisitorial practices, my mind reels. What written or spoken words are so dangerous that the writer/speaker needs to be snuffed out? So I left the house in the chilly dawn to get those thoughts banished. Today, as I walked in the frosted morning, I felt kin with the birds looking for food and a glimpse of the sun. We are the same. An oak leaf floated off the tree to be returned to the atomic chaos that created it. It does not judge nor is it judged. It does not fear, and is pain free. Whether it enjoyed a pleasant time in the tree or not, is not my concern or any other collection of atoms' concern. My drawing for this blog post is saved as Same. There is no difference between the two lines. Each has a start and an end point, and if in mathematics or philosophy, it exists on several geometric planes or not, is no matter for me. I won't ever understand that. Whether Epicurus and his friends in The Garden led in a straight line or a chaotic tangle to my brother having a new puppy is unimportant. That the puppy is warm and fed, and my brother is happy with Mr. Bilbo Baggins is what is important. That I don't have to think as much as I do to be happy is what is important and pleasant.