Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fun with Transcendentalism...

Having engaged in your own Transcendental experience, what did you learn about how Transcendental (or not) you are? Consider the prompts on your handout and also how this experience furthered your appreciation and/ or understanding of the Transcendentalists.


  1. In an attempt to become more trancendental in my life, I chose to give up my daily use of Facebook ® for a week, beginning on Friday, December 4th, and ending on Friday, December 11th. I realize that I use this internet resource quite frequently in order to feel connected with my friends, and with what is going on in everyboy’s social life. I came to a conclusion that I felt a need for Facebook, and made it part of my daily routine to check my profile page, update my status, and meander around the site. By giving this up to become more trancendental, I discovered my feeling of a need to feel connected with society, rather than withholding myself from materialistic things.
    Though it was difficult, I successfully made it through the week without logging into my account once, or looking on the account of others. Towards the beginning of the weeking, I felt a craving to simply look at the site, even if just for a minute, to see if anything had changed. This feeling soon died down as the week progressed, and Facebook was not one of the first things on my mind. I realized that, without spending my time on Facebook, I got my homework done much quicker, and had more time to do things that I wanted to do, rather than finishing school work all night. This led me to conclude that Facebook was not a necessity, and cluttered my time, giving me less time to do the things I wanted to do.
    Though the use of not being on Facebook has saved me much time every night, I don’t think I will continue to limit myself to no access for long periods of time. I will, however, try to use my time more wisely between the time I spend on the computer doing homework and the time I spend on the computer attempting to do homework, but really focusing on Facebook. Throughout this process, I have learned that I have an inner need to stay connected with the world, causing me to be materialistic with technology. I learned more about what I need to make me feel in touch with my peers, and how the feeling of being out of touch causes me to feel stressed about what I could be missing. On the other hand, I learned how much easier it is to focus my mentality on my schoolwork, and how much quicker I can get things done when I am not distracted by such things as Facebook, or other internet resources.
    I think that Thoreau would think of my acts of trancendentalism as minor ones, but that they are still useful in today’s society. By not focusing on what the rest of the world is doing, but rather focus on what I need to accomplish, I was able to have a mind-set that motivated me to take time to smell the roses, and not worry about the big picture. By focusing on the smaller things in life, such as playing cards with my brother rather than spending all my time on Facebook, I realized the importance to focus on the things that matter, rather than the things that have little importance in the long run.

  2. The idea of transcendentalism I chose for this assignment was the third selection, where I was to listen to my own directions and guidence and to limit how much outside help I ascertain. Even though I make thouhgtful attempts to execute this exersize throughout all parts of my life, I really focused on how much outside influence I went along with this recent week. It was almost as if I took a fine-tooth comb and used it to search through where the origin of my decisions were from and how I came to those decisions. I wanted to base every single decision and opinion I had solely with what I thought about the subject. This was no easy task; every decision I made had to be scrutinized and looked through before I could execute them. Through this experience, I saw all of the reliance I had through friends and peers adn how much this truly affected my day to day life. Several instances occured where a small decision was made on my part, and I saw through close examination of my decision making process heavy peer influence along the way. Along this process of decision making I found myself asking what my friends would think of me if I made this decision. This question is a giant limiting factor when people attempt to make choices on their own while separating themselves from peer influence. It is the fear of rejection from friends that will put a cap on the transcendental attitudes of us all, an attitude that would inspire us to make all of our decisions on our own accords. As for the rest of the week, I found that it was possible to make decisions while removing the peer influence. It took much consideration since the question of social acceptance arose with each decision, which was such an automatic thing for me. But after removing the peer influence factor in the process, I did indeed find that it was possible to do and that it was possible also to have a transcendental state of mind.

  3. In my recent experience with Transcendentalism in my own life, I went on a church retreat, where our leaders took away all phones, gaming devices, and iPods for the whole weekend. At first, I experienced some anxiety with not feeling my phone in my hand or on my person because it has become something I am extremely accustomed to. I found that I would constantly try to check for the time on my phone/iPod, something I do out of habit. I soon realized that the time didn’t really matter in the situation I was in, and began to relax a little and let time go on as it would. It was nice to not have to worry about replying to text messages or checking Facebook or worry about the time. However, I was relieved to get my phone back at the end of the weekend. You can only cleanse so much, in my case, and then it is good to get back into reality.
    As I reflect on our Transcendentalism unit and compare it to my own life, I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely not a transcendentalist in any way, shape, or form. I rely on technology VERY much, for one. My phone, computer camera etc. are parts of my daily life, and I really have no desire to give them up, nor do I think they necessarily hurt society if used for the proper reasons. While it is not okay to rely on text messaging to have almost every conversation of your life, it is also a convenient way of communication. Computers are extremely convenient and I like to think that I use them not just for social things but also to further my knowledge. Infinite Campus,, and an online Periodic Table of the Elements are all on my “top sites” list. While Transcendentalism sounds good in theory, I think that it is a far-fetched idea. In my life, it is good in moderation. Maybe one day I feel overwhelmed, so I will turn my phone off or not answer it that day. Or I’ll go on a church retreat where they take our phones and iPods for the weekend. It is cleansing for me in small doses.

  4. This Monday, I gave up my cell phone for a day. I decided to give it up because it is something I use for various uses and depend on daily. I use my cell phone to communicate with friends and family, as an alarm clock, as a watch, and even sometimes for music. Not only did I think it would be a good challenge, but I also saw my cell phone as making me dependent on such a little device, so it I thought it beneficial to try and do without it. On Monday, I found myself having a slightly more difficult day, rather than the simpler day I had expected since I was heading more towards the essentials of life. To start of my day, I had to adjust and use my alarm clock, which I learned that morning was messed up and not working properly. Therefore, I woke up late and had to rush to get ready for school. The rest of my day was surprisingly not that bad. Once in a while I had to ask other people the time when there was not a clock around. That was kind of annoying to me, as I wished I could have just pulled out my phone and figured out myself.
    My ideas about transcendentalism developed even further after this experience. Obviously, this was minor compared to Thoreau’s ideas and the people we looked at during this unit, like Chris McCandless. However, by giving up my phone I had more face-to-face contact and conversations, rather than indirect ones. I realized that, to begin with, I don’t really use or depend on my cell phone as much as I thought I did. Perhaps this was because I only gave my cell phone up for one day, rather than a month or something. In a way, it actually felt good not to be attached to it and have to check it whenever it rang or vibrated. I don’t my cell phone is a necessity, but it does make my life a little easier in some aspects. Though I may be a little dependent on my phone, it also allows me to be less dependent on other people. I don’t think I will continue to give up my cell phone; as I said before, I actually don’t use it as much as I think I do.

  5. I chose the first idea of transcendentalism, which was going out into nature and pondering things that mattered to me. First I thought of my friends and why it was a necessity to have friendship throughout the span of high school. I thought about all the people in my life that made me want to rip my hair out and who made me a better person. Second I looked at myself and how I measured up to what people expected of me and what I expected of myself. I looked at school and how well I thought I was performing in my classes and saw the flaws in it that my parents constantly point out. Though I do feel the need to do well in school and succeed, I also feel like I let my grades go because it is one area in my life where I have total control over my parents. While I sat surrounded by nature, I realized for the first time why I lacked the feeling of remorse when I got a bad grade in school. I liked the fact that it was one thing that my parents could not directly influence, it was mine, it was my fault and I loved it. Lastly, I focused on my undying love for the sport of hockey; it took me awhile to see that my attraction to the sport was due to the fact that it created a place for me to go that was totally unlike anything that I could relate to in my own life. It was a place for me to escape all of the yelling and noises of the regular world and submerge myself into an alternate reality where I could just go with the flow. In this other reality, I could be the best, I could know more then other people and finally have a vast array of knowledge that hardly anyone else could share. When I thought about all these crucial parts of myself I realized just how much the transcendentalists had when they walked away from the buzz of life and quietly pondered themselves and their lives.

  6. In order for myself to engage in transcendentalism, I chose to refrain from watching T.V. for one whole week, December 2 - December 9. I found myself on the same routine every day after school: cheer, then homework, then T.V./Computer (Facebook). Since all of the finales of the reality shows I have followed this year were on during this time period, I knew it would be a challenge to give it up, but I was up for the challenge.During this experiment, I did not inform my friends and family what I was doing, simply to see their reactions, or if they would notice. As I suspected, the first night that I did not watch T.V. my whole family asked why, and of course, I told them it was because of an english project. They told me that it was a smart decision and that I would learn a lot in the process, little did I know the truth in that statement.
    While on Tuesday, and Wednesday I found myself craving to watch my favorite shows, from thursday on, it got a lot easier. While the t.v. did not interfere with my homework, I found that there was much better things that I could be doing with my time. For example, I encountered that watching t.v. takes me away from quality time with my family. Over the past week, I have learned more about my brother and sister than any previous week in my life. The time I spent with my siblings was priceless, and I can't believe that television got in the way of me spending time with them. I concluded that the television is not a necessity, however, I do not think that I will limit myself for long periods of time anymore. Instead, I will prioritize everything else above the television. This way, I will still be able to watch t.v., but it will not be more important than my family, youth group, friends, etc. One thing that I took away from this experience is that I need to be less dependent on material things because they really do get in the way of the more important things in life.

  7. For my attempt at transcendentalism I decided to sit outside and enjoy nature. While the prospect of freezing cold weather did nothing to entice me, the reflection did. My life is centered around success—in school, in happiness, and in my future life, whatever it may hold. I put success on a pedestal, as it should be. More than anything else, I want my life to be successful. If I am happy on a daily basis and content with whom I am and what I do, then I have reached success. I think about the kind of person I am daily. Part of whom I am, first and foremost, is an individual, with thoughts all my own, and a life that only I could truly appreciate. Transcendentalism thus applies, because transcendentalists also see how valuable the individual truly is. I have a unique sense of humor, though it is not often appreciated, and I am quirky in ways that are obvious if you know me even moderately well. But I must confess I am not always the individual. I don’t dress too differently from the status quo, except that I have no desire to put a bow in my hair. I find it easiest to do what everyone else does. But in a way that’s good, because I am not the stick in the middle of a river. I don’t run into an oncoming stream continually. I could incorporate transcendentalism in my life further by acting on my own accord more readily, because I let people push me around. I haven’t said much to tell them off in the past, but I want this to change. However, what will not change is my ability to divert from conflict. Without creating my own personal drama, I can relax and think lovely thoughts about lovely people and lovely things, which I love to do. Sometimes I run against the stream’s flow, but I feel that when I do, I handle it well. My quirks make me happy. I am individual. More importantly, I am successful.

  8. During the past week I gave up the social networking site Facebook. This was not too difficult for me because I’ve done this before in order to finish a project I really wanted to finish. During the previous times that I had given up my internet addiction I was able to finish homework without distractions and increase the time I spent with my friends. Being able to finish homework before or right after dinner is very rewarding and really takes the stress out of the night. My obsession over Facebook is in no way a necessity for me. I may act like it is or try to convince myself that it is, but in reality I could easily live without it. It may be nice to be able to check up on my friends and tell people what I am doing, but the amount of time I save without it is amazing. In my life I would say that moderate transcendentalism could be a good idea because there are many other things that I could give up that may not necessarily be worth the time they take up.
    The time I spent without Facebook really furthered my appreciation for transcendentalism because I realized that there are many things in life that waste time. Although transcendentalism sounds good in theory I also think that many parts of it are just ideas that set the bar too high. I also think that there is nothing wrong with using the internet to communicate with people, pay bills, and do other things that speed up monotonous tasks. I think it is a good idea to give up worthless habits on the internet and with other technology, but I see no reason to completely let go of technology. For example my iPod is technology, but I don’t think it is detrimental to me in any way other than I may have bad hearing when I grow up. Also, my cell phone is one of things that keeps me connected to my family and my friends and if I use it in moderation it can be one of the most useful things that I can have.

  9. During the week I took a walk with my dog through the cold and Thought about school and my social life. With finals around the corner I'm nervous with what grades I will get at the end of the semester. While walking though I realized that grades are only a small part of life and that I shouldn't be so hard on myself because of the grade I get. I saw that if I try my best, than I will get the grade I want. Many times my parents will push me do to better and question why I got the grade I did. While this is okay it can get annoying and I see that doing the best I can will make it better. I also saw that I need a better balance between work and play. Sometimes I do homework while not allowing myself to be a high school student. This is why while on my walk i decided to put more time for myself while still doing my homework. Lastly, I saw that I should take pride in what I do. Looking back at the semester I realize how far I've come and many times we don't pat ourselves on the shoulder saying "good job". I knew that I've come far and I know that I can go farther. Without the stress of society I looked into Transcendentalism to find peace. With the quiet snow falling it was easy to forget about school all together for once and think about what I want to set out and accomplish, not parents or teachers. I won't be so hard on myself now, but rather I will congratulate what I've done with my life.

  10. For the last week I decided to listen to my thoughts and my thoughts only. I found that it was a relatively easy task for me because my parents started pushing me to think for myself a few years ago. Although sometimes it was hard for me to try and listen to only my own thoughts. For instance, I usually go to bed around 10:30 but I'd had a lot of homework and I decided to procrastinate and not start my homework until late. This then caused me to not get to sleep until about midnight. And about every half-hour my dad came down and gave me mini-lectures about how I had to go to bed. Making my own decisions in school was harder than I had anticipated. Until then, I hadn't realized how much I care about my friends' opinions, and how often my decisions were based on what they thought, or what I thought they would think of me. But as the week continued, the task became easier, as I thought it would. This activity reminded me just how important it is to listen to my self and not let the rest of the world control my thoughts like a puppet. Because I am not a puppet.

  11. I decided, in the spirit of transcendentalism (after finding solitude in a snow bank) that I would be honest with my evaluation of my current situation (my life). This is what I wrote, for this is what I felt...

    I choose to not edit and organize what I wrote into a traditional structure due to the transcendentalism nature.

    Reflection on my life after finding solitude:

    I feel I am a slave. A slave to a system; but at least the system is of my choosing.

    So... then I suppose I am a voluntary slave; an indentured servant per se; But the indentured servant feels like a slave; just a slave with the hope of release.

    The system to which I am enslaved goes by another name; this other name often has positive connotations ... It is -> education. In all I will spend 12+ years in this structured controlling system.

    Is this confinement, conforming, and enforcing system really in need to be broken though.

    It is in this environment where I can be trained, tweaked and perfected... It is in this place where I have an ability to thrive, it allows me to be able to plan for my future ... without this structure could I truly excel; or would I just always live in the moment -


    over the same moment

    I am happy where I am; but I am even happier that I can choose where I want to go (something that would be impossible without this structured environment)

    Is independent thought and creativity that has limits inside the structured walls of a school truly free thought? But is thought that is untrained and ignorant truly free either?

  12. I gave up my facebook for a week. I decided to do this because the transcendental belief that I connected with most was the belief in the importance of standing up for your morals and beliefs and making your own decisions. I knew that on facebook, people are easily exposed to other people’s comments and ideas, and may be more likely to give into the opinions of others with that exposure rather than standing strong in their beliefs. I didn’t cheat at all, but I did use more email as an alternate source of communication. My parents thought it was a great idea to give up my facebook. My sisters got a little bit annoyed because they use facebook to communicate with me a lot. It freed up a lot more of my time. I had more time for homework and got a little bit more sleep. On the other hand, I was unable to talk much with my older sisters. When I don’t have time during the week to have a conversation with them on the phone, we can talk quickly via facebook. My behavior and beliefs did not really change at all. I don’t think that I am easily influenced by the opinions, behaviors, and beliefs posted on facebook. As a whole I believe that my opinions are strengthened when I am exposed to the beliefs of my peers. After this week I am planning on trying to continue to limit the use of my facebook, but not quit using it completely. I will spend less time messing around on it so that I will have more time to spend on schoolwork, with my family, and “experiencing life” as I believe a transcendentalist would have encouraged. However, I will still use my facebook to communicate with my older sisters and with other people I cannot see regularly. I strongly believe in the importance of maintaining personal relationships with others, and while facebook is not nearly as personal as a face to face conversation, it certainly beats no conversation at all.

  13. Participating in transcendentalist activities have always been positive encounters for me. Once I can let my mind relax enough to know that it is acceptable to not be fully accessible at all times of the day, I find it to be a completely liberating experience. I find that my mind is able to wander in ways that it normally cannot, my thoughts and ideas have fewer restrictions for whatever reason. But I have my own theories.
    When I have my phone on me, I check it just to make sure that no one is waiting for a response to their text. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I am ignoring their message. As I was thinking about this concept this week, I had to wonder why? We live in an age where almost everyone is just a text message or phone call away. People are so easily accessible, and this has so many benefits. However, this week I could not seem to ignore the cons. There are times when I want to smash my phone against the wall and delete my facebook account. Is it really that big of a deal if I don't want to talk to anyone ? I think everyone has these days, where you can almost hear the quiet and solitude calling out to you. Your mind needs to rest, and sometimes the only remedy is to sit and let your thoughts wander and your mind vegetate. But there is that phone, that facebook, that iPod and television, ever-present and waiting to drown out the silence. You almost feel like you can't do what you need to do because of what other people will think, or at least I know this is a struggle for me.
    I think that in a sense, we are no longer comfortable with ourselves. We cannot take the silence or solitude, but most of all we cannot handle our own thoughts that accompany them. Self evaluation is a hard thing, because we are often times not even encouraged to engage in such activities. We only see ourselves in the context of others, but fail to see ourselves in the rawest form. No distractions, just you and yourself.
    I personally think that transcendentalism is, at some degree, absolute bliss for me. I am amazed at what I can do when I have no technology to bog me down. I wish that I was able to be a transcendentalist on a more regular basis, and this unit has definitely made me think it is a much more attainable goal than I once thought. However, taking the first step is the hardest for me. After that, I seem to almost dive in head first, longing again for the freedom it offers.
    It is a new goal of mine to spend more time listening to myself and not others, especially by means of giving up technology every once in a while. I look forward to all of the opportunities these moments hold.

  14. I decided to delve deep into the idea of transcendentalism and self-reliance in the rough outdoors that is my backyard. While lying in the snow and looking into the sky I relazied that high school is all about pleasing other people whether it be students, teachers, principals, parents, college administrators, etc. the main point of high school is pleasing others. In order, to brake free of the shakles that held be from being completley self-reliant I decided to ignore what people think of me and do what makes me happy. Therefore, the next couple days I decided to wear clothes that were very controversial and unique, ie. my poofy, white coat. During this expeirment of mine I noticed some laughs and jokes thrown my way. However, many people actually find the coat quite hip and cool. It was then that I realized that many people only make fun of others because they are insecure and not meeting their own expectations of themselves. Therefore, I have decided to ignore comments as such. Which fall directly into the idea of transcendentalism

  15. When I decided how to engage in transcendentalism, I decided to go to the lake off of Broadway and sit for a little bit, listening to my thoughts and what I really think, not what others think of me. Thinking my own thoughts is a really important idea to me. I always feel like I am easily influenced, doing what others tell me to, trying to make them happy at all times. To some extent, it is okay to do that, but when you reach the point of not doing anything at all for yourself, that is when it becomes a problem. I realize that when making decisions, I need to spend a little more time thinking about what would be best for me, not what is best for the people around me at all times. I won’t be trying to hurt them, just trying to find a balance between helping them and helping myself. There are a lot of pieces of my life that are missing, that I would like to change. I do not spend enough time with God. It is my goal in life to live for him, and I am not doing a good job of that. I come home, and fall into bed. I always think that I should read the Bible, but I always come up with the excuse that I need more sleep, I am to tired, and cannot sacrifice fifteen minutes of my sleep. This needs to change, immediately. I need to make God a priority in my life, rather than a minority, and spend as much time learning about him and talking to him as possible. Also, when I evaluate my priorities, I do the bare minimum amount of work to get the grade. I need to spend more time on homework, go in for help, basically whatever it takes. This is tough for me, because I have always skated by, but I will not continue to make the grade in my high school and college career if I continue to act like that. Basically, I need to evaluate my priorities in life. Instead of watching the Nuggets game, I should do homework. Instead of sleeping the extra half hour, I should read the Bible and spend time with God. It will be a big change to make in my life, but I really think it will make a difference.

  16. The other day I elected to walk to the shopping center near my house rather than having my mom drive me. I began to regret it as I trudged through the fridgid cold. It became evident to me that I am certainly not transendentalist in the ways pertaining to nature. This was not an activity which centered me. I do enjoy solitude as transendentals though. Being left alone allows one to remain with their thoughts. This aspect of transendentalism I to enjoy. Opportunities to think independently are fleeting as the world slowly adheres to group think. As the world becomes progressively smaller chances for solitude such as this are scarse.

  17. For my transcendental experience, I decided to give up using the internet for all activities not related to school from Monday to Friday. I choose to do this because I waste a lot of time on the internet, doing everything from listening to music and watching videos on You Tube to messing around on Facebook, reading sports articles on and even doing random web searches merely to amuse myself. All of this unnecessary internet usage is a real problem for me because it results in me wasting huge amounts of time and distracts me from doing my homework and prevents spending time on other more fun and constructive activities. I am a huge procrastinator and using the internet is the biggest way I allow myself to procrastinate, only serving to make stress and anxiety worse.
    Because of the facts that I use the internet a great deal (you could probably say I am addicted) I knew giving it up would be quite a challenge. However, I thought that this assignment and the fact that my final exams are rapidly approaching making it very important that I focus on schoolwork would provide me with the motivation to stay off the internet. When I began my experience I was very motivated to abstain from internet use. When I got on the computer I was tempted to go on the internet, however I remained disciplined and did not use it. However, after a while my motivation to stay disciplined decreased and I became extremely tempted to use the internet. On Wednesday, I found myself feeling particularly stressed which is why I talked myself into going on to the internet in order to listen to music while I worked on an essay. This led to me being unable to resist going on to facebook and spending over twenty minutes messing around on the site. I was disappointed in myself however the fact that I had already gone on made it harder to stay disciplined afterward, which is why I talked myself into allowing myself to again go on the internet the next day.
    The extreme temptation I had to use the internet and my ultimate inability to abstain from using it for even four days shows that I have a serious addiction to the internet and that I am not very transcendentalist. This ultimately has had a negative influence on my life because while the internet has many useful applications it can be very easy to misuse and abuse and can cause a serious distraction. It is especially problematic because the fact that some of its applications are extremely necessary in daily life makes it easy to rationalize misusing and abusing it. This is something I definitely do. This experience has definitely showed me that I need to be more mindful of my use of the internet and definitely need to try to use it less. While I do not plan to completely give up using the internet for fun I definitely will tr to use it more moderately and make sure playing on the internet does not get in the way of more important things. Through this experience, I have concluded that while I believe that the full transcendentalist approach is impractical and unnecessary in modern life, it does merits that I should attempt to apply to my everyday life. These merits include prioritizing and getting in touch with what really matters as well as making sure that nothing gets in the way of these things and being mindful of the influence of technology and distractions.