To Survive or to Live? – Skate across America Day 83

December 25th, 2010



Total Distance for today: 0 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 553 miles
LOCATION: Tour Paused for Holidays in Raleigh, NC. I’m visiting with family, friends, and fans back in Fowlerville, MI
STATUS: Celebrating


I woke-up on Christmas to eggs, pigs in a banket (sausage+roll=awesomeness), and some Sunny Delight. Thanks mom! 😉 We ended up driving to Kalmazoo to spend the day with my grandparents on my Dad’s side of the family. I was glad to see them, and I was able to sort-out a misunderstanding that I had with my grandmother prior to leaving. (She was concerned for my safety. I suppose someone needs to be!) My grandparents may not always understand the crazy adventures I find myself on, but I do know one thing: They care about me and believe in me, and that’s all I ask.

To Survive or to Live?

While at my grandparents’ place, I had the chance to watch the movie “Wall E.” I’d never seen it before, but people had told me it was really good. It did not disappoint. If you haven’t seen it, you should; it’s movie-making at its finest. Basically, it follows the adventures of “Wall E”, a robot left behind to clean up the mess by a humanity that has taken a “space vacation.” The plan was to let technology take care of a global pile-up of trash and toxins, while the lazy human population goes off and engages in pure self-indulgence. Something went terribly wrong, as what was supposed to be finished in about one generation drug on for about 700 years. Wall E ends up falling in love with a female “probe” robot sent back to assess the situation. He then follows her to the human spaceship, and after a long and winding plot, they all return to earth to fix the problems and repopulate it.


I must say that the scenes between the two robots before leaving earth are among the most compelling I’ve watched in a while. Sure, it’s hilarious, but the interesting thing is that the director finds a way to help us identify with Wall E and his struggle. We see that he has somehow gone beyond his original programming and developed a personality – complete with interests, emotions, habits, and even a conscience. The movie is essentially silent in terms of dialogue for about the first hour, yet, I feel that Wall E says more through his behavior and actions than he ever could have with words. Regardless of what you think of the movie and it’s message, the mere fact that we can feel so strongly connected to this animated robot without any dialogue makes it a masterpiece in my book.


Film-making quality aside, the most interesting part of the story for me was the state of humanity. Having developed sufficient technology to take care of all of its needs (including a way to not even need to walk!), humanity has fully committed itself to self-indulgence. The purpose of each life is to be pampered, entertained, and constantly at ease. It’s humorous, but it also carries some form of warning. This parody of humanity has certainly lost something of that which makes it alive. It’s not that humanity should define all of it’s existence and meaning through struggle; rather, it’s that a life lived without driving purpose, challenges to overcome, and the ambition to become is less than life. It reminded me of a passage from one of my favorite books, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche. I’ve referred to the author and the book before. The passage to which I refer is warning of the coming of the “Lastman,” who basically fits the image of humanity in “Wall E.” Here is the passage:

It is time for man to fix his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.

Still is his soil rich enough for it. But that soil will one day be poor and exhausted, and no lofty tree will any longer be able to grow thereon.

Alas! there cometh the time when man will no longer launch the arrow of his longing beyond man- and the string of his bow will have unlearned to whizz!

I tell you: one must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you.

Alas! There cometh the time when man will no longer give birth to any star. Alas! There cometh the time of the most despicable man, who can no longer despise himself.

Lo! I show you the last man.

“What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?”- so asketh the last man and blinketh.

The earth hath then become small, and on it there hoppeth the last man who maketh everything small. His species is ineradicable like that of the ground-flea; the last man liveth longest.

“We have discovered happiness”- say the last men, and blink thereby.


Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Prologue


A love for ease, a lack of ambition, and a lack of desire – these are things that mark the “human” population at the beginning of “Wall E,” and though it is a parody, we can see a semblance of these things in our culture. How many still launch themselves bravely after goals that appear too hard to accomplish? How many of us still want to choose how we shall live? Would we rather not be told what to do next? Would we not rather have the easy answer delivered on a silver platter?


As usual, today’s take-home message is simple: Don’t be afraid that you will fail while attempting something great; rather, be afraid that you will attempt something easy and succeed. Do not be afraid that you will break the rules in this way or that; rather, be afraid that you will break no rules and then become as one who’s existence was of no consequence. Do not be afraid to live. Merely surviving is for cowards.

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