A Kurt Vonnegut tattoo, obviously worn by a Vonnegut devotee. As am I, though I have no tattoos. Vonnegut rocked my 20 year old mind back in the day, as I'm sure he's done to many others. One of the handful of people in this world I can without hesitation say his work changed my life. This passage stood out for me, for personal reasons. I quote again from "Breakfast of Champions":
I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.
Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.
So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.
What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.
And all music is.

Now, for personal reasons, 11/11 was an important day for me too, and after I read this passage, I decided - way back when - to commemorate it every year. And Lo! I have done so, by starving. Fasting it's called, and I'm doing it right now, and believe you me, it sucks. Go 24 hours without eating and find out. No fun.

But fun is not the point. Rather, it's the suffering. Temporary suffering. Chosen suffering - I could eat at any time, but choose not to. I choose not to in order to keep this day apart, special. And like any holiday or commemoration, this is done in order to lift yourself out of the day to day, step back, and look at your life. Look at what you take for granted. What you do and don't appreciate - for instance, can you honestly say you appreciate the food you ate today? Or was it part of the overall mundane day to day existence you live everyday, and since you live it everyday, you take it for granted?

And that's the point. Taking things for granted is a curse, and the only way to break it is to force yourself to appreciate even the most mundane aspect of life. Breathing. Eating. Sleeping. Warmth. Friends. Love. Etc. All of these things and so much more could be taken from you at a moment's notice, maybe never to return, and then - and usually only then - will you appreciate that which you've lost. So, start appreciating these things now, while you have them, before you lose them. Because you will lose everything, eventually. It's only a matter of time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings all members, I'm a recently registered participant on this forum so I would say I ought to present myself. Well, I'm 28 years old, a guy, and I enjoy reading physics in my uni. I certainly hope chatting with you folks... bye bye x