Something there is that loves a wall...

Coole ParkGalwayMoycullenOughterard

Hitched up the west side another 90 something miles through Galway ⇒ Moycullen ⇒ Oughterard ⇒ Ballynahinch ⇒ Clifden ⇒ Letterfrack ⇒ Leenaun... While standing in the road waiting for my next ride, I would often observe a sheep farmer rebuilding a wall. The walls were not mortared nor glued together in any way. The farmer would improvise his wall with stones that were laying about and would fit them just snuggly enough to hold the next layer soon to sit above it. Stone by stone, with grace and even pace, the wall eventually mended. The walls were not high enough to keep anyone out, but just high enough to keep the sheep in. I envied him. Where did the farmer find the patience and discipline, I wondered?


And now for the philosophical balderdash... It takes most of us a long time to acquire the patience of a stone mason. Just as we do so, we are too old and out of energy to do anything with our patience. The stone mason acquires the patience because to live he must. But how do you acquire the patience to do what you do not need to do? Such as? Such as paint a painting, write a song, bake a lasagna, sit still and watch the grass grow? The first few times may be fun, but how do you continue to do it when you are not compelled by external circumstances? How do you continue to do what you do not need to do?


This is where the argument for belief comes in. Without beliefs, you have no incentive to do anything. This is William James' argument for believing in something bigger than yourself. Is it possible to do anything an animal cannot do without a belief that what you are doing will somehow benefit you and others? To write this journal word by word and page by page, I find that I need it to benefit not only me, but someone else out there in the wide wild web either living or yet unborn. I cannot understand the willingness to act, no matter how we feel, without the belief that acts are really good and bad.The Dilemma Of Determinism.


Most of us use the words belief and faith interchangeably, but there is a difference. With belief, you know where you are going and what you are hoping for. The stone mason or architect knows what she is building, she has the blueprint in mind, she has been there before. But the first time she built a wall or a house she was not sure at all of the outcome. Belief is knowing the results of your actions — you did it once, you will do it again. Belief is based on previous habits. Faith is not knowing what the future brings, but going ahead anyway. It's that first step. Faith After playing Beethoven's Fifth numerous times, there is an habitual belief that you can play the same notes again, but a jazz player cannot predict the notes that will exit his horn. is an optimism Whereas, dread is a pessimism about what the future brings. Heidegger and the Existentialists are always writing about dread. I prefer optimism. It must be an American thing because we Americans are still naive enough to believe in happiness as normal. about the unknown.


Every few miles I would see a deserted farm house. These must have been hard times in Ireland. So why was everyone smiling? After knocking on the door of one such house, I entered, but no one was home. Abandoned. The family had left their half eaten meal on the kitchen table and disappeared. But why? Did they know where they were going, or was there a faith that wherever they ended up it would be better than staying where they were? I left and slept in their empty barn on a haystack. I dreamt I was Yogi Bear and coming home to discover me were the three Goldylox.


The next morning I discovered I had had visitors. Head lice were in my pack and in my hair. I sprayed them and me with insect repellant until I could find a pharmacy, buy some delicer shampoo, and scrub my head thoroughly. This was my first and last encounter with insects during the entire hundred day ordeal. OK — there was that mosquito incident back in Sweden, but it was no big deal. Lice, however, are scary, like alien body snatchers or unidentified viruses.