Monday, 11 April 2011

Paris and I ~ 'How Soon Is Now?'

iPhone Photo Chronicles
~ How Soon Is Now? ~

How Soon Is Now?, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

Chugging into town on a murky Monday can still hold some surprises and make you think the week isn't going to be so bad after all.

This isn't this Monday, it was the last one, but the effect was still the same. OK, I've exaggerated the colours, but this is really what my brain saw, a glorious sunrise which only lasted a few mintues, but while it did, above the head of the dozy commuters, glimpsed between rushing trees and houses and fleeing stations, it inspired not a little.

They say the higher the pollution, the better the sunrise or set, which is a sad way of looking at things, a sad reality perhaps, but we don't need to think about that now, do we? Should we be wondering and worrying about whether we can go swimming this summer, given the higher level of radioactivity in the seas at the moment?

Perhaps we should be thinking about it, but worrying? It depends what good that will do. This makes me think of Aesop's philosophical puzzle about the grasshopper and the ant.

The ant sweats and toils all summer putting food aside for winter while the grasshopper laughs and dances and thinks the ant's mad not to enjoy himself now. Then later, in the winter, the grasshopper's dying from hunger and asks the ant for charity. Depending on the version (this comes from 2500 years ago!) the ant refuses or grudgingly helps out, chastising the grasshopper for his rashness and lack of prudence.

Actually, it wasn't written as a philosophical puzzle but as a simple and quite clear moral tale, ending bluntly with the weighty "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity", or "It is wise to worry about tomorrow today". In the cuddliest, kiddy-friendly version I found, the grasshopper is scolded by the ant but doesn't die, puts his newfound wiseness into practice the following year and survives the next winter swimmingly (biologically impossibly, given their lifespan) and the clanging moral becomes the gentler "He had learned to think ahead and plan for the future".

So what's so philosophically puzzling about that, you may be wondering. Well, quite simply, should we worry about a time other than this one, and which indeed may never come, not for us in any case, if we happen to pop off the planet in the interim? It may seem prudent to prepare for the future, but what if that interferes with 'now' to the extent that you are not enjoying your present moments? Is there anything but 'your present moments'? Are not our 'present moments', in fact, our life?

Going further, we think that we will be the same person next winter as we are this summer, but will we? We, as this current, summery person, thinks that the wintery person will feel the same way as we do now, and will therefore appreciate our efforts to make that wintery person happy, and content, or at least not hungry. But do we have the right to impose our beliefs on someone who is not there to defend themselves - i.e. the person we will have become in a few months' time.

If that seems too obscure, consider all the old people living in misery regretting their lives and not having done more or vising exciting places or telling people certain things which would have brought pleasure or relief in what was, at that time, the present.

Sitting on this train, I could be tempted to think I'm wasting my time (as I have done in other posts on this blog), and may think that just as soon as this boring journey is over I can get on with enjoying my life again. And yet for most of my fellow travellers, at the end of this particular tunnel lies grain gathering and storing, as opposed to cheery chirping and carefree prancing around, which many of us don't consider to be that much fun, in fact.

Do we have another moral brewing here? I'm I going to go all hippy on you and quote about a million trippy songs and say "Live for today, coz tomorrow never knows..."? Nope. Because as with many philosophical puzzles, there aren't always clear answers, and many of our moribund morals can quite easily be shown to be doubtful at least, and highly judgemental, self-righteous or dictatorial at worst. I remain neutral, then, but it makes you wonder a little, doesn't it? Have a nice day, y'all ;-D

© 2011
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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