I AM THE HEDGEHOG
Long after the hare has gone home I'm still inching my way around the track.
I'm a toe-in-the-water type not a plunger who goes straight in fully immersed. I'm immersed eventually, very much so, it just takes a while. When most will have lost interest, when the particular pursuit will have passed into the background of their lives, I'm still doing the slow-burn thing, still learning, still maintaining that interest.
On the face of it this might be pitied, particularly in the present age where everything needs to be immediate, where surface reality is all reality, where life is fast, sparky, all about style and appearance, where contributions have to make a splash, visibly so, have edge, have direct relevance and so on. My more subtler methods, doggedly working away in the shadows, have little place in the contemporary scene.
I think my methods are more about conservation and with what endures. I was recently reminded* that it is the stuff that endures that is invariably of high value. In other words, the ephemeral, such as the values of consumption, comes and goes and is just as quickly forgotten, whereas the qualities that have staying power tend to be the more important ones.
This was probably accepted wisdom until relatively recently but has become counter-intuitive in the age of newness, immediacy and instant gratification. We do away with old things and ‘move on’ as if the past has nothing to offer. Although I’ve been a great ‘mover-on’ in life too, so much in my personality - the hedgehog - points otherwise. I am concerned with the longer haul, the broader picture, with preserving aspects of the past in memory and artefact; I am concerned with wholeness and the greater truths and what transcends the moment.
* It was the philosopher Bryan Magee who I was re-reading. I am grateful to him for reminding me of this rather obvious piece of traditional wisdom.
it is the stuff that endures
that is invariably of high value