Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Search and Everydayness

One of the things that always seems to happens when I spend some days following loons around a lake in my kayak is that some things get stripped away and some other things come to the forefront. I think of it as the difference between "urgent" and "important." In regular life (not following loons), the urgent always seems to trump the important. In "loon life," the important almost always forces its way to the front of the line. In fact, one of the most difficult parts of "regular life" is that there is always something urgent that has to be dealt with immediately--or so it seems.

Something that is lost in that trade-off is the idea of "the search." I was formally introduced to this idea while I was reading Walker Percy's National book Award winning novel, The Moviegoer. Percy's novelistic gift is for diagnosis, and one of the observations his main character, Binx Bolling, makes is that "the search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair." Why are we not always on the search? Binx notes the results of a recent poll that "98% of Americans believe in God and the remaining 2% are atheists and agnostics--which leaves not a single percentage point for a seeker. Have 98% of Americans already found what I seek or are they so sunk in everydayness that not even the possibility of a search has occurred to them?"

And so, I am thinking about how to keep ahold of "loon life" back in New York City. And pondering what exactly takes us away from the search, and what moves us to embrace it?

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