We are always driven to move forward, to change, and to never stand still.  Today, I wonder if there is value in standing your ground and solace in the stillness of celebrating where you stand.


Is there honor in being immovable? 

In human culture we are taught being static and stationary is to be dead and non-revolutionary. Is there truth in that motionless homily — or is our ancestral DNA to always want to discover misleading us?

We are our own perpetual motion machines waiting for the inevitable breaking.

As bipeds, we were invented to move, and we mark the trail behind us with totems of our leftover blood and bones.  The only other animals that can stand with us and move on two feet are gibbons, ostriches and kangaroos.  Birds don’t count!

We can stand, walk, run, jump and hop.  We are the only animal capable of jogging.

When we stand, we are the masters of balance and agility.  Standing upright and motionless is harder than slouching.  Standing is more complex than running.  Compression is more taxing than expansion.

Should we be carving morality into stillness?

Are the timid and the meek our real rulers because they find satisfaction in stasis with their eyes pinned to the ground while the rest of us look ahead to navigate the rough terrain waiting to trip us?

What are the dangers of standing still, standing up, and standing our ground?

26 Comments

  1. Of course it matters, Karvain! The hallowing might be just because you’re too scared to keep propelling forward and so you look for, and find, a reason to plant yourself on a motionless plot: “We’re defending hallowed ground.”
    Should ground ever he hallowed? Insn’t it much more valuable to hallow people and not objects? If hallowings are internalized, they can never be stolen or fought over or lost to antiquity.

  2. The phrase “social climbing” reflects a common urge to be active in one direction particularly — apparently the phrase was first coined in 1922:
    H. L. Mencken in _Smart Set_ Apr. 142 [excerpt]
    All the tales of social climbing that I know of–and every _truly_ American story shows some social climbing–overlook the basic fact that an American family which aspires to rise must somehow rid itself … of its original faith.
    [end excerpt]
    To paraphrase the Bible and Wilde, a better class of enemy is obtainable through losing one’s own soul — seeing grass as greener elsewhere propels a lot of folks.

    Aloha ~~~ Ozzie Maland ~~~ San Diego

  3. Great point, Ozzie!
    There’s also the Westward expansion and the pioneer spirit that rule our American sensibilities over ownership of time and space.
    Now that we’ve spread out from each other — we’re now building, and living, atop each other in the urban core. The higher up you live, the wealthier you are from the street below.
    The search for permanence and meaning in stillness is in bright evidence in the monuments we build to ourselves.

  4. Hi David,
    Clinically speaking – “standing still” is tough unless we are 100% fit.
    http://www.opt.pacificu.edu/ce/catalog/COPE9462/Neuro_Zelczak.html
    I still remember my doctor used to do this “Romberg Test” (Fig. 25) every time he visited me for check up in my post “black measles” period.
    Otherwise, “standing still” provides us ample time for “thinking” – which we might not like because facing ourselves is tough.

  5. Hi Katha!
    That Romberg test isn’t as easy as it looks. As you so rightly suggest, the entire body is always in motion: A limb is moving and so is the head. To attain perfect stillness while standing is extremely difficult — and even tougher with eyes closed! It would help if we had a tail to help with the balancing.
    You’re right that stillness requires reflection and sometimes the images we see make us want to bend our spines, tense our toes, and start running away!

  6. It’s not at all easy David, I still have a hard time “standing still with my eyes closed” more than 30 seconds and I am considered 200% fit now.
    You are right, introspection is not always pleasant…but who says life is fair?

  7. Katha —
    I just tried the standing still test, too. Hard stuff! It’s amazing how our eyes balance us against a perceived horizon. Lose that eye footing, and you really have to concentrate on every joint of your body that is imperceptibly dealing with both gravity and the spinning world.
    Oh, I agree reflection is important — but few people are brave enough to do it on a regular basis because it shatters their self-esteem that they are perfect and touchable.

  8. Standing your feet apart – helps a little. You are right, we need a tail to stand still!
    I think “moving ahead” is prepogrammed…or else human being won’t even discover “fire” – let alone anything else.
    I can’t think of a world where I would be cocooned
    in my own shell without exploring…it’s the sheer joy of discovery!

  9. Katha —
    Are you allowed to bend your knees a little during the closed-eye test? Or must the knees be locked?
    I think we are pre-programmed to explore what’s beyond — yet some of us don’t have that need and stay in the same town in the same house in which they were born for all of their lives. Is that sort of “living” to be admired or shunned?

  10. There’s plenty of standing when one is “getting ones prayer on” as a Jew – I wonder if I should try closing my eyes while standing still during the occasional lull. 🙂

  11. Hi Gordon! Yikes! That sounds like it could be painful standing for you.
    Closing your eyes with the insides of your feet touching at the big toes and heels with arms down and head straight forward is a big challenge. Try it and report back how long you lasted before having to actively correct your posture even a little bittle bit.
    I remember the good old bad days of standing in line for hours to register for college classes and moving in masses from one table to another. Your back and feet hurt after! Online registration is the only way to go!

  12. Hi David,
    No bending knees! “Feet locked” is ideal, “feet apart” provides a little better balance. I can even feel myself swinging in a slow motion while keeping my eyes closed and standing straight with feet closed…
    Those who do not even cross the border of their own backyard – may be they are equally happy in their own lives?
    I guess it’s a choice David.
    May be they don’t bother whether the “adventurous” shun them or praise them?
    Thanks to my parents, I personally didn’t have a very protected life that I was supposed to have…may be the exposure shaped me in this way!

  13. David! Yes! We are impelled by nature to explore, learn and evolve. We are also bound to stand for certain things. So I guess we need to both stand our ground and keep moving and let the context define the right thing to do.

  14. That’s a very tough test, Katha!
    I think you’re right there are people who don’t need to move beyond fences to find happiness and satisfaction. That is sort of amazing to me because it seems generational in many American families that there was:
    1. Immigration from one country to the USA and/or from one state to another.
    2. A moving from a small city to a larger one.
    3. Moving from the USA to another country to live and/or learn.
    That’s a very rough outline that can take a century to unfold, but there does seems to be that pattern in many successful families of moving up and over and along to search for improvement and a wider education in the expansion of the horizon.

  15. I am especially interested in the idea of “defending your ground,” Dananjay. We see that used as reasons for war across the centuries.
    The whole idea of the state of Israel exists only because those who believe in the creation of that young state are restoring the historical significance of belonging to those who stood there, undead and undefended, hundreds of years ago.

  16. Well David, that is sort of amazing to me too – I can’t think the same thing happening to me – ever.
    I think the same thing is happening with the younger generation in India – they are flying out from the nest.
    Unless the horizon in broadened nothing can be acuired – it’s the mingling of culture that helps.

  17. Yes, Katha! The “mingling of cultures” is precisely what’s happening. Thanks to the expanding internet we are all drawn closer together.
    We must always honor our roots and our original supporters though, or we tend to face the same early demise of Alexander The Great. He was Macedonian, became the King of Asia, but then made the first, fatal, strategic error of his career by being seen as too “Persian” for the folks who helped make him king.

  18. Wow David! What an example!
    Being a GAC helps I guess!
    [For those who are not familiar with the terma – GAC stands for – globally adopted citizen]

  19. My father always says that when he stops moving, he’ll be dead! He’s always doing something–home repairing, cooking, wallpapering, walking, golfing. He can’t sit still. He still works a job three days a week. I’m convinced this is why he’s in such good health at age 82.
    I like to have a little more balance in my life.
    I like to be out and about enjoying the world around me whether it be experiencing music, the local parks, theatre, and sporting events. And certainly professional development and advancement is important to me.
    But when you’re on the move so much and striving to get ahead, it’s hard to appreciate the things you do have. And that has been my focus especially over the last five years. To enjoy the things I do have.
    So I do take great joy in being at home where I have a beautiful view of the woods and wildllife. I may strum my guitar, peruse some books, leaf through some magazines, spend down time with family.
    So there’s a time and place for everything…and though my father would likely not agree, great value in sometimes standing still.

  20. I miss the woods and the quiet rivers, Donna. The East Coast is a big sea change from my Midwestern upbringing.
    Your father sounds great!
    It is interesting how that generation was built on, and believes in, work defining the life:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2007/07/25/who-are-you/
    That tough work ethic is admirable and it works for them — but for the rest of us, we prefer to seek solace not in ongoing work that never ends, but in the peacefulness of art and beauty:
    http://wordpunk.com/2008/06/03/built-for-beautiful-failing/