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Friday, February 03, 2006

Utopia

Mrs. Aginoth, a new visitor, has a blog in which she has begun to plot out her own fantasy utopia. I read through it and it is pretty comprehensive as an outline for a utopian society.

It reminded me of the crucial moment in my life that was my own crossroads. I quote Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

I was drafted out of college in 1972, the first and only year that the draft could take people out of college after their freshman year. I served my country and then went back to school. I was a bit full of myself, thinking I was handsome, athletic and pretty darned smart.

My philosophy course the following year had a year-ending requirement. Based on a book by B.F.Skinner, "Walden II", we were to design our own utopia and lay it all out in a long report. I was excited by the idea and began to design this uptopia. But soon I was frustrated. I thought Skinner did not give enough thought to the individualism featured in Ayn Rand's novels nor the tendency for man to be selfish and sinful. I saw that I could not believe in any uptopia I could create, for sin and selfishness worked against such a society and man's desire to excel and express himself worked against collectivism. I also discerned the bankruptcy of my own life's philosophy. I dropped out of school.

I wish I could say that I left school determined to study and meditate until I knew the answers I sought for myself. In truth, I wound up spending more time getting drunk or high on illegal substances than I did in study. Feeling sorry for myself to an extent, and feeling lost as well.

Eventually I began to seek answers, open to whatever truth I could find. Much to my surprise, I found truth in God and the Bible.

Later, I did go back to school and am a professional now, but it was a hard road since I wound up getting married and having children and responsibilities. How much easier it would have been had I remained in school, graduated with my degree as a younger man and gone on to follow my then-chosen career. I know what it is like to work full-time, go to college classes full-time plus be a father and husband (clue - you largely give up on sleep...) and I know what it is like to have to cut corners and eat oatmeal two or three meals in a day rather than one. Yet I have never regretted my "stop the world, I want to get off" moment that led me away from college and a neatly plotted-out life and on to a life full of zigs and zags.

2 comments:

Juggling Mother said...

Thanks for the link radar - although I must point out that my utopia is based more on my railings against my government and the media, than on my personal utopian world.

If I got to be God, and had a brand new world to start with, even with the current sins, selfishness & stupidity of humanity, i would probably plot it all out a bit differently:-)

Going to school later in life is very hard in many ways (sleep deprivation features way up there), but equally we would be different people if we had done things differently. Personally I would probably be a lot richer financially, but in experiences & understanding much poorer. I sometimes think about how that "other me" is doing in their quantum world, but I really don't regret anything I've done. as long as I don't repeat the same mistakes, and reconcile differences with those who matter to me, the fact that I did something stupid/embarrasing/wrong is all part of who I am today. And I feel that on balance, I'm not such a bad person:-)

radar said...

Well said! I love my family and friends and most of my current situation other than not enough money (!)

Ah, yes, but money cannot buy some of the experiences one has along the way, very true.