In pursuit of excellence

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” Socrates dropped those words of wisdom centuries ago. He might have added that the unlived life may not be worth examining. This site is dedicated to seeking out the answers to how to both examine and live life more fully.

I am finally at a point in my life where I am comfortable with and ready to pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake and be a true lover of wisdom in much the way that Henry David Thoreau wrote about it in Walden:

“To so love wisdom as to live according to it’s dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust, not only theoretically, but practically.”

This blog, Zen Motivation, is about deepening my own understanding about excellence in the all the ways that we can be excellent morally, intellectually, physically, mentally, spiritually and practically. The ancient Greeks had a term for this. They called it arete.

H.D.F. Kitty breaks it down nicely (he’s referencing ancient Greek culture so pardon the masculine expression of this thought):

“Thus the hero of the Odyssey is a great fighter, a wily schemer, a ready speaker, a man of stout heart and broad wisdom who knows that he must endure without too much complaining what the gods send; and he can both build and sail a boat, drive a furrow as straight as anyone, beat a young braggart at throwing the discus, challenge the Phaeacian youth at boxing, wrestling, or running; flay, skin, cut up and cook an ox, and be moved to tears by a song.”

And if you want to bring that a little closer to our time, Robert A. Heinlein put it this way:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, love equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialisation is for insects.”

That, too me, is the epic life, and I want to examine it, live it, and document it.

I am a big fan of Socrates so you’ll probably see him referenced a lot through out the blog. In his time, Socrates refused to be recognised as a teacher. He preferred, according to Plato, to be seen as a “midwife of ideas.” And this is the spirit to which I am approaching this blog as a “midwife” to ideas.

In pursuit of this excellence, I will post here 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Expect anything from philosophy, history, literature, sociology, ethnography, psychology, and travel. Also photography will feature here through my own documentary photography.

And as always, I enjoy engaging in dialogue, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, by email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+

Happy trails,
Clay

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