The American Gulag

 I have been watching the snow melt. I have wanted to use certain bike paths, but some of them still have patches of ice, meaning I fear running on them. But, success will be had in the next day or so.

I watch the bush outside my kitchen window every day. This time of year, of course, it is barren of leaves. The only activity is very small birds which sometimes sit there. Above the bush is the sky. In the sky, various larger birds soar, hawks and geese.

Today, I picked up two thoughts from Alexander Solzhenitsyn\’s Gulag Archipelago, Volume 1. 

Page 271, \”for mercy one must have wisdom.\”

Page 280, \”if in order to live it is necessary not to live, then what\’s it all for?\”

Stop and think. At first, I could not understand that bit about mercy and wisdom, especially not in the context of the concentration camp. Perhaps it was a joke about the Russian jailers. But in my life, what does it mean? It refers to my personal relationships and having mercy on whoever I seem to resent. Having mercy or having wisdom seems like character traits not used enough today. And there I go, judging the mass consciousness. 

Now, the second quote. What is living? Who is really alive? When I read the second quote, I immediately thought of my career. I left my career in order to be really alive. I didn\’t want any longer to sit in an office performing meaningless boring tasks. Now I have choices, but it is up to me to consciously choose. What is the most alive way of being available to me right this moment. The right choice is not always an activity but always involves turning on my intellect and engaging in something thoughtful. 

In this instance, I ask fellow Americans, \”What is being alive to you?\” How are you being? Do you feel enlivened? Even at work, awaken to Life Itself? Even if I am watching snow melt or a barren bush, I need to capture Life. Life must be mine, or what\’s it all for?


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