Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I know I've lost most of my readers. Who could be interested?
Here's my subjective definition of ruts as I use the word here:
one's consuming passion, major preoccupation, primary interest (For women it's likely to be someone; for men: something).

Look for a moment at the 1st and 2nd halves of life: -35 expanding, seeking adventure, filled with the world and wordly expectation. Look at The Four Stages of Life with special reference to Youth and Manhood. (Working near the Nat'l Gallery I used to visit that painting about twice a week during my lunch period.)

Youth represents the 1st half of life, in the course of which the youth gradually does one of two things:

1) They find the tribe that suits them best and join it.

2) One becomes an individual for one of two reason, or perhaps a combination of the two: simply a misfit or perhaps increasingly contemptuous of the available tribes.

Now we come to ruts; a rut may be good or bad. Young people usually have a horror of ruts: life is an adventure; why spoil it? taste variety. Wonderful!!

But it can't go on; the 2nd half of life is said to begin at 35 (an indefinite figure of course; some are old at 18). You begin to feel that you have been everywhere and seen/done everything.

At that point a person of necessity may begin to review his options and set some priorities (he or she may fall in love!)
Anyway there remains so much time to do--- what?

The consequence is a rut (consuming passion, overriding occupation, compulsive use of time). It leaves out a lot of things that no longer seem so important-- like trying every foreign menu or visiting every foreign country; those things may finally begin to become tiresome in comparison to one real love.

There's something you must do, something in which like C.S.Lewis you may find yourself saying "I love monotony".

Truthfully the person in a rut is much more fortunate than the person without one, just drifting with the tide.

Here are some of my ruts:

managing drunks (1966-76)
tennis (1970-2006)
the holy grail, which led to a family upheaval and move to a foreign place.
William Blake became obsessional about 1978 and led to a book? about his religious faith.
About 1985 through a strange chain of events I become a genealogist; if you're interested in my ancestors (hah!) check out the Clayton and Leech Families.
Linux (hopefully a forthcoming post about that)

The secret of ruts for me has always been an alternation. I can remain compulsive about nothing more than a resonable period. Drift or pick up the last one. Right now I blog for a while, then do linux for a while (in a very amateurish way).

Everyone should share with us their favorite ruts. Do it!


xianchick said...

if i ever get into a rut over a person... please slit my throat.


cheers to you and your ruts.

Zach Young said...

I'm still a youngin' but here is my somewhat short list of ruts:

-computers (programming/linux)

The second seems to start at the middle of the first and continue through the beginning of the third.

If I wanted to pretend to be really young, here's what my ruts used to be:
-star wars

There probably used to be more, but I've forgotten them since then.

From your definition of ruts, I've always had 'em.

anonymous julie said...

Who couldn't be interested?

Making stuff, and playing outside... both of which fall under loving beauty (as does reading and writing... all seeking to know and be known.)

I wonder if I just do these things to stay busy, or if it's because they are really living. It probably began as the former and became the latter. Every day a new adventure!

Larry said...

An encouraging response. Thanks to all.

Chick: you put your finger on the problem of the generalization: they all have exceptions and exceptions and exceptions. Re a person: yes, many women are not likely to be commited to a person, and by the same token many men are.

Zach, I really liked your comment. Re existentialism: would you elaborate. Otherwise yours conform closely to mine.
Re the youthful ones: same again except legos; guess I'm too old for that.

Your comment is right on: yes, it does all reduce to the desire to know and be known; in that we are very very much alike. As Paul said, "for now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" 1 Cor 13:12.

Re 'loving beauty': yes, yes, it's BIG, but it can be a temptation. Kiekiegaard said somewhere that aesthetics is prior to the Spirit.

Years ago we got in a real argument with our dearest friend over that idea. A teacher of Lit she was arguing that style is worth more than content. Oh my! I've never read anything for style.

To everyone I must amend my list of ruts to confess that the most continuous prevalent and emphatic commitment has always been to Christ (as I understand the word).

Larry said...

Correction re my last comment: change 'has always been' to 'since I was 30 has always been'.

anonymous julie said...

Anything else pales next to this, where I find God - hiding, seeking, making, finding.

In hiding I am (we are!) sought; in seeking, found; in creating, created; in finding, lost.

Zach Young said...

Regarding existentialism, I've mostly been influenced by Camus. The others are alright too, but I really identify strongly oftentimes with the main character of 'The Stranger' Mersault. Just the way he lived his life inspires me for some reason. There have been other influences too, but that is probably the one that has influenced me the most. I just saw something in it that was really free and very desirable and liked it a lot.

Larry said...

Thanks, Zach. I'll certainly look up The Stranger. Frankly I know almost nothing of or about Camus, but it's time to do something about that.

Well I did look up a discussion of the net re the death of Mersault's mother: he didn't look at his mother ('s corpse). It came to me that at the funeral of both my parents I was careful not to look at their bodies (presumably for reasons different from those of Mersault). I wanted to remember them as they were in the flesh. I have never considered the body as having much importance after death. We Quakers, and many other Christians, don't emphasize the body at all, a way of witnessing that the body is not what life is about.

I don't know what if anything this has to do with the Stanger, but I felt led to share it here.

God bless.

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jon said...

The Holy Grail? Do tell! I just posted something about that on my site, too!

Jon said...

Languages--German, Russian, Hebrew.
Writing Systems--Shorthand, Shavian.
Harness Race Handicapping--Back in it again!
Western and Eastern Mysticism--the big one.
Science Fiction.
Blogging and the Web.