This weekend, I took an early morning walk with a friend. We traversed streets and avenues, deep in conversation about “serious things” of which there is often little active public forum in which to discuss. Our bodies, our heads, were bowed towards each other, intent upon the speaking and the listening, aware of even the bristling of hairs in response to a sharply rendered insight, a carefully unearthed gem.
We were passionate.
Do you remember the words of our dear Mr. Yeats? I’ll call it to your attention from his well-titled poem, “The Second Coming”:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I would not describe my friend and I as “the worst”, but we are far from the best, because for better or worse, we have somewhat bought into the fantasy of this city of ours. Yes, it is our hometown, and we are natives, so we cannot live it than who can? Nonetheless, at one point in our walk, we looked up, then left and right, and all we could see were brands (Citi, UBS, McDonald’s, et al.) and we were struck by the fallacy in our living.
That which had once moved us in our independently-spent college days, when we had the time for these alcohol or caffeine-fueled discussions on politics and philosophy, on words and deeds and prose, on the greater good, on design and engineering the moved mountains and built bridges and brought people together, on things that mattered, had seemingly faded to the background…
We had lost sight of our convictions. We had lost sight of our very own lives.
It was a sobering walk, but a necessary one, and I, for one, enjoyed the wake up call.
Sometimes that is all it takes: a walk, time, and real conversation. Perhaps that will evoke “the second coming” for this age that we live in, it feels very much like it’s dying, and we need something new.