“A man who lives an intellectual life is like a man who carries a lantern in front of him to light his way. Such a person will never come to a dark place, because the light of his intellect moves before him.“ – Leo Tolstoy
I suppose I haven’t reached the intellectual level just yet, as I still stumble into dark places now and then. But on the whole the pursuit of an intellectual life, combined with a pursuit of the active outdoor life, and the family life have kept me above the darkest valleys I know some are struggling in. Feel overwhelmed at times? Tap into the Great Conversation and see what those who came before you thought and did with their own lives. We have it pretty good by comparison. But only if we fight for it.
Leo Tolstoy was influenced by Henry David Thoreau (and each was an interesting character beyond his writing). He in turn strongly influenced the nonviolent direction that Mahatma Gandhi would take in his own life, and there was a handoff of sorts when the two corresponded for the last year of Tolstoy’s life when he offered insight and direction to Gandhi. Thoreau and Tolstoy and Gandhi in turn influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., who incorporated their wisdom into his own philosophy and referenced them often in his speeches. An intellectual life lights the way for more than just the original carrier of the lantern.
A daily blog is the slow rising of the lantern. An attempt to light the way for yourself and perhaps for a few others now or someday. A way to balance the stream of consciousness and sound bite world we live in with deeper thought and contemplation. And a catalyst for probing deeper into the world – to travel more, to get outside more, to read more, to learn more, and to write better. The intellectual life is the life of pursuit. Its not a yawn-fest of casual reading in the study but a pursuit of understanding, both the self and the world. It’s a call to action. A call I’ve heard and pursue every day I wake up, which (thankfully) includes this one.