The bench, a cat and a coffee.
And so I find myself sitting on a bench overlooking the town I have lived in for much of my recent existence (as a human). Its a small metal bench, nothing fancy. Theres some graffiti dotted around its structure. Illegible. Its the bench I go to to collect my thoughts and generally become very sceptical of the Disney fuelled lifestyle I was promised as a child.
No one really helps each other any more…
…is my conclusion and then I decide to go about my everyday business.
Alas, I begin thinking to myself, what is my everyday business? (Riveted to this metal seat). What the hell am I doing with myself? Is this what I am meant to do? Work, sleep, defecate? Wash, rinse, repeat? My mind twist and tumbles down a dark path of sceptical thought and just as I come to the attempted comprehension of what infinity actual entails, I notice a cat staring at me. Its not my cat. Who’s cat is it? It doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the cat gave me this look. This look of, what the hell are you doing on this bench? I completely agree and get up immediately.
This led to a coffee with an old friend of mine who very kindly gave me a book. I won’t bore you with the bits in between the cat and the coffee. The book was Three Cups of Tea, documenting the charitable exploits of Greg Mortenson, who after a disastrous attempt at climbing K-2, was rescued by a local village. In return, Mr Mortenson (I’m afraid I dont know him on a person basis so I’ll keep it to Mr for now), began extraordinary charity work in the area, building schools throughout Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It was an excellent book, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t help drifting back to that coffee scented philosophy class in school. Those lazy warm summer afternoons, the blinds were drawn and the chalk, dry, was crumbling off the board. This was the petri-dish for my sceptical mind.
Charity in itself, might not be charity. Karma in itself, is selfish. Is there a difference between the two? Karma as a concept denotes that the only reason for spreading good, charity, into the world, is to receive it back in the same amount. It works as a moral theory if you look at the result, but is the cause the correct way of thinking?
I am going to help Mr A with his particular problem, ONLY, because the cosmos will return this good deed back to me in another form…
…..a selfish act?
Do all humans live a hedonistic lifestyle, that manifests itself in many different ways? One man’s binge boat booze party abroad is another man’s soup kitchen evening in Whitechapel. They both get a kick out of it. Or, the drunk guy gets an immediate fun sensation, the kind gentlemen ladling liquid tomatoes to the poor and needy is just waiting for his fun sensation from the universe.
Or is the kind gentlemen in fact doing it from the kindness of his heart. Do we possess ‘kindness in our hearts’ anymore?
The whole point of sitting around in that classroom and discussing the subject of philosophy was, in my view, timetabled epistemology. The search for knowledge, especially knowledge of what we already know. That in itself sounds confusing, but I believe it to be the heart of what this type of thinking requires. Theres certain things in life, on a moral basis, we just know are wrong and right. It is then the task of finding the knowledge of why we know these things, which I believe to be key.
The whole point of this story so far is, well I don’t know what the whole point is so far and maybe the bench was a bad place to start, que sera.
I should really get onto the main reason for this blog. I am a keen traveller, backpacking mostly. I find it relaxing to see how other societies live, sample it, compare it to my own and take from it what I feel is good practice.
It was recently brought to my attention, that charitable work is a strong theme emerging within the backpacking community and so I began this blog to document my musings on the subject, my findings and what I intend to do with them on my next adventure into the world that we will so dearly miss when globalisation captures it all in its greasy cold necro-grasp.
This will be a place for me to upload my travel plans, my travel photos, my philosophy of life along the way and a cacophony of other miscellaneous thoughts I feel I can divulge with the public.
It is with this preamble, I continue a journey in the search of knowledge, experience and wisdom.
I hope you stick along for the ride.