Lessons from Kierkegaard

Life Lessons from Kierkegaard

Back in January I thought it would be easy to smash through this 98-page guide on Life Lessons from Kierkegaard by Robert Ferguson for The School of Life.

It wasn’t.

I actually found it incredibly hard to follow and I loved that because it made it more of a challenge. The Kierkegaard excerpts were the tough bits. And Ferguson makes people like me understand a tenth of it.

Despite this, I did take some thoughts from it.

  • How to wake up
    • Am I on autopilot right now?
    • Am I living an aesthetic (in the moment), ethical (focused on myself as a goal) or religious (no idea) life?
  • How to see through things
    • With all the Instagram accounts and Real Housewives of Springfield episodes, am I losing sight of what’s real and what’s fictional?
  • How to avoid living in the past
    • Am I falling asleep each time I create comfort in a memory from a past experience?
    • Should I try to create happiness in a new way in each moment?
  • Why we should cultivate dissatisfaction
    • From Diapsalmata, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought, which they seldom use”. This might be the most frightening thought itself. Not sure whether my thoughts should be unfiltered or what that means.
  • On not thinking too much
    • When I justify not doing something I know I should do, this is a result of thinking too much. Almost happened last week for the gym session on Monday. I wrote my colleague two emails about not joining him. But I hit delete before sending both emails. What a waste of time and thoughts. In the spirit of our favourite sportswear company we love to hate, “Just do it”. And don’t think too much.
  • When to say nothing
    • This was my favourite lesson. As I have too much noise in my life. The TV is usually on. I’m always listening to music. I’m constantly distracted by Instagram and Facebook feeds full of absolutely valueless content. I also talk too much. I share too much. I don’t take enough time to process. I don’t meditate. I’m a bad listener.
    • Kierkegaard: when “silence rests over the land, and from some far meadow you hear the lowing of cattle, or from a distant farmer’s house the homely bark of a dog”.
  • How to deal with despair
    • Being truthful about life’s potential for awfulness is the first precondition for enjoying life.
    • Is it harder to praise or complain about life? In the past, I would have said praise. Now I would say it is harder to complain about it. There are things that could be better, but there is so much more to praise than complain about.
    • There’s a great School of Life video titled Should We Laugh Or Should We Cry? and it covers the philospher Democritus. Very relevant to these thoughts. Too bad Democritus didn’t extend his thoughts to women or slaves at the time.
  • How to think about death
    • Kierkegaard urges us to hear the quiet background hum of death throughout our days. Not for it to spoil them. To enrich them. And remember to to waste them as they are not endless. No promise of tomorrow.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Just finished reading Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Decided to pick it up for the second time and it will be read again as a treasured classic.

Professor Lidenbrock and Axel encounter the Ichthyosaurus and the Plesiosaurus in their travels. Verne’s classic was published in 1864, only a few decades after fossils of both creatures were discovered by Mary Anning of Dorset, England. Anning’s fossil discoveries included the first ichthyosaurus skeleton; the first two plesiosaurus skeletons; the first pterosaurus skeleton found out of Germany; and other fish fossils.

Mary_Anning_painting.jpg
Mary Anning and her dog Tray, credited to “Mr Grey” in Crispin Tickell’s book Mary Anning of Lyme Regis, (1996), Wikipedia

I also have a suspicion that my first reading of Verne’s classic years ago would have contributed to my love for Iceland. Professor Lidenbrock purchases a copy of an Icelandic saga by Snorri Sturluson and they also travel to Reykjavik to climb Snæfells.

I was super fortunate enough to visit Borgarnes on my trip in 2008, including a visit to The Settlement Centre which recreates early Iceland and the Saga of Egill Skalla-Grimsson. Egill was the son Skalla-Grimur Kveldulfsson, who was one of the very first Viking settlers, and who claimed the land around Borgarnes.

In 2016, my sister and I will climb three of the tallest peaks in Australia. We will climb Mt Bogong in VIC, Mt Kosciusko in NSW and Mt Tennent in ACT and we’ll do this in just 33 hours over 3 days. I’m taking this up as a mental and physical challenge, and look forward to continuing climbing in the future, with my sights set on the peaks of Iceland.