Thinking about the idea that “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”, paraphrased from Lewis Carroll, is it that culture helps us find our way in life? This idea that by exploring representations, depictions or distorted versions of reality we might understand better how to live, what our options are, and where they might lead.
Not, necessarily, to say that culture’s an example we should follow or something to be held up as a form of reality, but that it might be able to help us find our feet in the real world more safely than by simply wandering off track (Notes One). A sort of imaginary place where we can consider our paths, reflect on all the different ways of being human, and decide how best to navigate our own life.
That said, is this how we’re approaching it? As something to reflect upon, weigh up and consider rather than just incorporate wholesale into our way of being. Often, culture seems more like something to laugh about, criticise, deconstruct, feel superior to, or thankful not to be part of. An entertaining, consequence-free, light relief from life itself – somewhere we’re safe to let our guard down and not take things too seriously.
Maybe I’m misreading it, maybe it’s also a place to let our heart wander and find places of belonging we might make part of our soul. Thinking of the many stories that might light our path, inspire us on, and let us feel we’re not alone in our perceptions (Notes Two). A map we’re creating for our own, inner landscape that will help us find our own, unique way through life.
Almost as if these characters, places, events and worlds become a second home – a retreat or sanctuary from life where we might gather our strength, consider our resources, and imagine the kind of person we might hope to be in the world. A place we might come to understand the problems or opportunities we’re facing and consider how to respond for the best. Somewhere we feel our struggles make sense.
It’s just interesting how symbolic we are, how much we read into these stories and relate them to our selves and our surroundings. That this whole imaginary, codified reworking of “reality” into representations of it might somehow be meaningful, inspiring and useful in terms of living our lives in the real world. As if we need the vision, the arc, the themes, the focus, the motivation in order to make sense of it all.
And maybe we do, maybe we truly need some deeper sense of life holding meaning? This idea that there is a map, a direction, a path to take and destination to reach – that it does matter what we do, as much for ourselves as for the world around us (Notes Three). Essentially, perhaps, the beautiful notion that everyone’s journey is important and we all have valuable challenges to meet and contributions to make along the way.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Culture as information
Note 1: What’s the idea with culture?
Note 1: Definition, expression & interpretation
Note 1: Culture as a conversation across time
Note 2: Society that doesn’t deal with the soul
Note 2: Literature that’s treating the soul
Note 2: Making things up as we go along
Note 3: Passing on what’s important
Note 3: How much do intentions matter?
Note 3: Pace of change & getting nowhere fast
Other examples of authors trying to help us find our way was also the focus of Spiritually committed literature.