Thoughts in and of Ancient Lycia
From my Turkish journal, 22 February 1996
Phaselis is a romantic tangle of Graeco-Roman ruins in a beautiful natural setting. I hiked back into the brush, got scratched up, but was rewarded by ruins and views out to the Mediterranean, and up to snow-capped mountains.
From Phaselis to the resort town of Kemer. I am sitting at the moment facing the sea drinking beer at an 'Italian' bistro. Table set on the lawn. Vegetation like Arizona: prickly pear cactus, rosemary in bloom, a palm or two, oleander, ice plant. Overcast and a bit cool. The cactus pads have names carved into them: Hasan, Samer, Erkan.
Living life versus thinking and reflecting on it and its 'meaning.' Surely this is a bogus distinction? Primum vivere, deinde philosophari doesn’t quite cut it. To live thoughtlessly is not to live, and to live the thinker's life is to live in a certain way. So what is the valid content of the distinction? Thought interferes with the immediacy of experience. Thought distances, and distance is distortion. But total immediacy would be blindness.
Thought without life is empty; life without thought is blind. The true life is a thinking life infused with experience broad and deep. So travel and suffer and get scratched up by the brambles of experience, but take good notes! Press the grapes of experience for the wine of wisdom. Stomp them for their juice, not excepting the grapes of wrath.
Breathe and feel and take a good snort of the sea breeze. Play the fool; better to love and have lost than never to have loved. Take your best shot, put your ass on the line, go deep, and pay your dues.
Above all, take risks! Calculated, deeply thought-through risks. You learned long ago in your Thoreauvian adolescence that a man sits as many risks as he runs. Go to the brink, but with cautious steps. Take it to the limit, but know the limit. Dissolution into the Apeiron can wait for later. Travel and act, theorize and think, but don't neglect to meet the mat of meditation often to quell both action and thought to enter the Silence.