Vaulting Ambition

The man that hath no music in himself, Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.

William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice (V, i, 83-85)

Just a bit ambitious aren’t we?

That was the response when I described my new blog to friend yesterday.  Seeking truth across faith, science and philosophy?  Humanity has only been pondering these questions without resolution for about 5,000 so what’s to add? What’s the point anymore in the age of 21st century technology?  And isn’t it the height of hubris to think that one can add something new to the conversation?

Ambitious?  Yes…Terrifyingly so

According to Aristotle, all men (ie humanity) seek knowledge, understanding and that man’s highest good is the contemplation of truth.  For Aristotle, knowledge, truth and understanding is not some nirvana to be attained but something to be constantly striven for. It is in the seeking and striving for truth, knowledge and understanding that man finds his purpose.  It is in this context that Aristotle thunders his challenge to us from 25 centuries ago: The unexamined life is not worth living! Humbly, I have decided to reach down and pick up Aristotle’s gauntlet and this blog is a record of my reflections of what I discover in faith, science and philosophy.

Too often around me I see people tumbling through life like boulders careening down a hill, living with the illusion of being control but in truth  totally subject to the force of gravity. To me, living Aristotle’s maxim is to be like a skier cruising down a slope, at times slaloming around obstacles, other times, stopping to take in the beauty of the scenery. Even though the skier, like the boulder, must come down hill, the skier is in control and enjoys the “fall” much more than the boulder does. Who would you rather be?

When I visit my Uncle Tom in Colorado the first thing he says to me after pouring me a glass of red wine is “so, what has become apparent to you since the last time we met?” We then settle down in two easy chairs in the shadow of his library of Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World, drinking and refiling our glasses as needed. Conversation isn’t always serious; we will share some good laughs, especially after a bottle or two. What is important though, is that during those few hours, we actualize Aristotle’s maxim.  We always come away from these experiences, refreshed and with a deep sense that we learned something new. This blog is inspired in part by those experiences. So… grab that glass of wine, get comfy in that chair and tell me, “What has become apparent to you since the last time we met?”

Post Script: My Uncle Tom is one of my mentors (too many others to name right now!) Even as we get older we still benefit from having trusted, wise mentors as part of our circle. Ideally as we go through life we will be both mentors and mentees and quite often we will be both simultaneously. Who’s your mentor? Don’t really have one? Then work on getting one. Be warned however, a good mentor relationship takes time and effort and is built on mutual trust, a willingness to listen, honesty and did I say trust??? It is however, worth it. Mentorship is a two way street and benefits both participants.  So find that older relative with life experiences to share and start working on that relationship.  At the same time, take that youngster, perhaps a nephew or niece, and bring them under your wing. In the future I would love to do a post on mentors so let me know what you think. Who are your mentors?  What makes the relationship work?  What have you both gained from the experience?

6 thoughts on “Vaulting Ambition”

  1. You have given me something to think about!! My mentors??? One of my mentors is my sister, Joan. It is a relationship built on trust, acceptance and unconditional love!! Another is my brother, David, who keeps me thinking with his deep questions. David asks questions which makes me search within myself for honest answers.

    Great job, Joe!

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  2. Good for you, Joe! I wish you well in this work!
    Regarding the mentor/mentee relationship: I think even more foundational than giving or receiving advice or stories is the nature of the relationship itself. Is there mutual regard, respect, humbleness and vulnerability? Does deep listening and responding happen in both directions? Does the mentee feel heard? Does the mentor elicit the wisdom and inner dreams of the mentee, or simply impose his/her own? Is there wonder, and an acknowledgement that both stand before Mystery?

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  3. Great start Joe. I am delighted to read your effort here and to share your “journey” of life. As an older uncle I have fond memories of you growing into manhood and becoming who you are today. I look forward to your life unfolding on these pages as your spiritual, intellectual and physical journey continues. I am most fortunate to have had mentors along my way who were “trusted sources” as I grew into the person I am. The earliest mentor and the one who had the most profound influence on me was my brother-in-law Owen Mahony who is married to my older sister Teresa. Through the way he lived he gave power to the words he said to me. With Grace, I listened and benefited throughout my life from his wise counsel. I have had other mentors along the way and I believe I have had the opportunity to be a mentor to others in both my professional and personal life. I hope to revisit your site and maybe add some thoughts. Congratulations on the launch of your Blog.

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  4. When I was a young kid 9 or 10, an old man spoke to me freq about life, he became what I would later call a mentor and probably the only one I’ve ever had. As an old farmer he supplemented his income working in a sausage plant, never owned a car and always rode a bicycle. He said your life needs to be like a fistful of good dirt with shit keeping it potent and healthy, the better it clings together the better it is. He created new life every summer in his 2 acre farm and said to remain focused in life like a plant is focused on growth within itself. He also said success in life is solely based on happiness from within and when choosing that fork in the road go for the one that will bring happiness for you and for everyone around you.

    I asked about friends as I had none, my brothers were the leaders of the local youth, and he told me to have lots of friends by sharing your self with others, however, to never have a friend that is too close that it detracts from your personal identity.

    Much of this was retained subconsciously for most of my life, only after years of self introspection, mostly with a little weed in private meditation did I recall these ideas.

    Today I am very successful, not so much in money, but in the love of my family especially my wife, my friends at work in a very healthy work environment, and mostly in my love of life. The govt and society cannot change that because it is who I am.

    One more component people need to focus on is establishing a goal in life, many goals actually, ones not based on religion, govt, society, friends or even family but those that provide direction for a smooth flow towards death. A happy death if you will, as it is the most important goal.

    For guidance in reaching that goal just reread the first part of my comment.

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