Be honest. When you hear the word Steppenwolf, are you thinking Herman Hesse or do you start humming Born to be Wild?
We often think that we’re more “sophisticated” and culturally different than what we actually are but there’s no escaping our primal responses to stimulants in our society. There’s nothing wrong with preferring rock and roll to classic literature. It just depends on how we’ve been programmed during our formative years. Given all that, we don’t have to be stuck in our own genetic lagoon.
We are what we are although our experiences and choices in life eventually determine what we become. Several factors like the books we read, places we visit, new skills we learn, talents we discover that we never knew we had, people we meet, stepping out of our comfort zone, thinking outside of the proverbial box, seeking first to understand before wanting to be understood and our willingness to stretch our imagination can dramatically alter the distance we fall from our ancestral genetic tree.
Growth is inevitable if we go out there and explore, not only physically but mentally and spiritually. Traveling where you’ve never been or no man has been before can be rewarding. It can percolate your life. It pays to own a good pair of walking shoes, a passport and binoculars. A library card can do wonders. Books and other medium are means of transport too.
One great thing about travel is it does not only widen your horizons and understanding of other cultures, it also gives you something nice to remember and look back to during times when your disposition and the weather are bleak. If you live in the northern hemisphere like Michigan where winters can drag on, you’ll appreciate what I mean. As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”. And if we can eliminate prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness in our lives, wouldn’t that be worth the price of a travel ticket or a book?
I’m an old man and in my remaining years I make it a point to add some joie de vivre in everything I do. Whether it’s putting ink on paper, facilitating a dialogue circle, being with my wife, playing a musical instrument, creating art or yes even drinking coffee or tea. I want to savor it, exact the best flavor from it like producing the best sound from an instrument by making love to it, not just playing it. I always prefer my coffee percolated, not dripped. That way I can savor the full flavor of the beans.
Back to Steppenwolf: Whether you tend to be psychoanalytical about your humanity and animal-like aggression or just want to “keep your motor running head out on the highway lookin’ for adventure”, there’s always room for enhancement and growth.
Maybe coffee is a good metaphor for life. It all depends on how you prepare it. Even the cheapest courses coffee beans can give out excellent full bodied flavor if percolated. Here’s to a good cup of java! And may your choices in your remaining years percolate your life that you may live it to the fullest.