The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Tabula Rasa as a Latin word that translates to “clean slate.” Of course, the complete definition runs through a gamut of philosophers—from Aristotle to John Locke to David Hume—who have argued that the human mind is devoid of, in varying degrees, knowledge and ideas prior to the imprints created by experience and encounters with the external world.
While not completely sold on the idea that the mind is empty prior to experience, I’ve always been a fan of the concept of a clean slate. Tabula rasa at its most basic. Who wouldn’t want a fresh start? And yet, if the empiricists insist on an “original state of mental blankness,” is it possible to achieve tabula rasa after the first gleanings of knowledge have inscribed themselves so deeply in one’s mental tablet?
It’s a concept that I’ve wrestled with when it comes to the most mundane of things. For most of my life, I’ve been one of those people who love starting things but can’t quite seem to finish anything. I have about a dozen journals hidden away with a handful of empty pages at the end—just because the itch of starting something new won’t let me be. I have boxing gloves I’ve used just once after promising the gym owner I’d be back next week, a yoga mat I’ve used about six times in the last two years, and let’s not get started on my calligraphy sets and bouquets of pens and sharpened pencils. I have a growing pile of unread books. And hell, apparently there’s a Japanese term for this—tsundoku.
For a sloth-like and stubborn creature of habit, I’m actually very restless. And last year, that restlessness inevitably turned its high-focused spotlight onto The Bad Bread. Much as I loved writing for this blog, there was a part of me that wanted to be rid of it so that I could do the same thing under a different URL. But while in conversation with a friend who couldn’t see the logic of my constant running away, I realized that what I was trying to get away from, all this time, was myself.
Running away can sometimes be the convenient option afforded to people when they feel there’s nothing at stake. But to live life that way, constantly abandoning things out of boredom or because things get a little too inconvenient, eventually becomes a prelude to a life of disappointment and regret. I don’t want to keep running away just because I can, only to look back at my life and realize that I’ve accomplished nothing—all because of one nasty habit. You can’t get anything done unless you hunker down, work hard, and see things to completion.
Well, that got didactic fast. So, I guess what I’m trying to say, in the most roundabout of ways, is hey, I’m back and I think I’m here to stay. Welcome to TheBadBread.com – a chronicle of one disorganized person’s messy journey to finding the meaning of life through books, art, and the many fine schools of philosophy history has built for us. I hope this is a journey you can take with me. So, welcome, old and new friends. Come for the article, stay for the conversation.
Oh, and a happy 2017 to you, dear friend.