MUSINGS: A side order of philosophy

I’ve come to realize lately that I don’t know what a normal person (i. e., one without my kind of brain and with a system more like everyone else’s) considers “active” and what’s “passive.” I don’t even know what “passive” is. Can you help?

Does anyone have, offhand, an example of a book that starts out with an “active” (as you would define it–I haven’t yet defined the term, hence the scare quotes) protagonist? Or a movie. Movies will do here because it’s more likely that we’ve all seen the same film than that we’ve read the same book.

A more specific question: do you consider that the first Harry Potter book starts out “active” with Harry being active and proactive and not passive? The way I have been perceiving it, he was on the receiving end of abuse and disdain, and stuff had happened TO him to make him have the potential to be the wizard he will become, but at the beginning and up until at least the first plot point, I did not see him as “active.” Does anyone have thoughts on this that might illuminate active vs. passive characters?

I’m finally getting some insight into the specific differences between the way I think and the ways that others (apparently MOST other people) think, and it’s helpful, especially as fodder for the mill that’s grinding away at the question of whether I can change enough to do what I thought I was doing. (That isn’t supposed to make sense, so don’t worry about it.) The discussions here have been very illuminating! I thank everyone for participating. If you do have an answer for my two questions, I’d love to hear it . . .don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it if nothing comes immediately to mind, though.

It occurs to me that people cling to the illusion that they have a lot of power, control, and/or influence over what happens to them. This is foreign to my way of thinking. The way I see it, we can’t control what happens to us; the best we can do is trim our sails, cope and get the most out of it that’s possible, and enjoy the ride. We don’t know how many days or years we have left, or what’s going to really be important or remembered–will all the angst over some decision at work make that much difference in the long run? Probably not, but the moment you take with a child or a cohort to teach, comfort, or commiserate probably *will*–but if we are convinced that our actions make that much difference ultimately, then we are deluding ourselves. What happens will happen, and what will be will be. The universe is unfolding as it should. Our choice is basically to be happy . . . or not, and to try to find and fulfill our mission(s) in life (or not) while having fun and helping others on the way. To develop our individuality and to help others whenever we can is the POINT.

This sounds flower-child and hippie or whatnot, but that’s the way it is.

In the comic strip PEANUTS, Lucy Van Pelt once asked Charlie Brown why we’re here. “What are we supposed to do with our lives?” “Help others, I guess,” he says (or something like that.) She thinks a moment, then turns back to him. “What are the others here for?”

If that’s not a Zen moment for you, then count yourself lucky, as you don’t think like I do and therefore are going to fit into the world well. I never really have wanted to be like everyone else, which has only added to the world’s frustration with me.

A gypsy once told my mother that I am an “old soul.” My mother went wide-eyed. I was too jaded even at age ten to really be too awed by this; after all, we were at a school Hallowe’en carnival, and we had gone into the gypsy booth for fun. I’m certainly not implying that an old soul is “better” or “worse” than anything else–it just IS; it is what it is. I yam what I yam.

However, if indeed you grant the possibility that such souls exist, I feel that I must be one, for I have always sensed a bigger picture beyond our own and forces and events that far exceed the trivialities of our daily lives. I’ve never been that worried about keeping the house dusted daily or being a little late to class or to a meeting now and then, because I always say, “In twenty years, who’ll remember?” Things you can’t predict or control come out of nowhere to change your life in an instant, and if you’ve been singlemindedly focused on something else, this can cause a recalibration or a trainwreck–that’s why they say “live each day as it comes, and stop to smell the roses.”

People do take on and fret about stuff . . . they have road rage and honk because the guy in front of them didn’t go immediately when the light turned green, and they roar around him to Show Him Who’s Boss and How It’s Done. Grandpa used to say those people were racing towards the cemetery, and wasn’t it a shame that they missed the journey on the way.

I guess what informs my present moment is a little of that. And if it makes me “passive” because I often choose to let others go their own way without challenging them on every little thing, then so be it. I figure there’s no point in raising Cain over everything. It just makes you look like an aggressive, paranoid control freak, anyhow. If people are wrong, mention it once in a tactful way, and then let them go–they’re going to learn for themselves. Or maybe YOU’RE wrong and you can learn from watching them. I’ve always thought it more fun to sit and watch the sideshow, for all the world IS a stage. And it’s not all so earth-shaking. “Vanity, vanity . . . all is vanity,” saith the Preacher. Why is everyone so aggressive (but they call it “assertive” and “asking for what you want”) all the time? These little things are not so important. Choose your battles. Life is supposed to be fun.

Do you want fries with that?


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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