"It isn't difficult to keep alive, friends- just don't make trouble - or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that's expected."
In the Preface to the Vintage International edition of the play Bolt explains this theme by offering the idea that,
". . . we no longer have, as past societies have had, a picture of individual Man (Stoic Philosopher, Christian Religious, Rational Gentleman) by which to recognize ourselves and against which to measure ourselves; we are anything. But if anything, then nothing and it is not everyone who can live with that, though it is our true present position."
The themes of this play are relevant to me, probably because I am going through a mid-life crisis, while enjoying early fatherhood, and the worry I once carried about other people's impression of me fades in the face of my son's life and his smile.
The collision of these experiences have made me reconsider the necessity of basic values.
The world seems to invite each of us to be anything yet when this achievement is reckoned there is a nothingness about it.
Mark Erelli, one of my favorite singer-songwriters, summed our current social values (when commenting on the recent teacher demonization in Wisconsin) by observing that,
". . . the American Dream has taken quite a hit in recent years. We have 'American Idol' but there's no popular TV show called 'American Expert.' We deride the educated as 'elites,' preferring instead the sexier narrative that one event or contest could pluck anyone from obscurity and set them on a pedestal to be revered and worshiped."
There is a nothingness about a popularity that chases after notoriety for its own sake (as evidence of its value).
When faced with this nothingness, I've decided to take stock in my innate desires and consider what I am rather than what I do.
The adjustment has led to a joyful experience where the act of becoming has replaced a need to arrive.
Sir Thomas More says prior to the death sentence brought by his unwillingness to compromise his self and his values,
"You have your desire of me. What you have hunted me for is not my actions, but the thoughts of my heart. It is a long road you have opened. For first men will disclaim their hearts and presently they will have no hearts."
As I face the second half of my life I hope I can strive for this sort of courage and if I discover unexpected trouble I won't make my heart ulterior as a condition for "living".