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As humans, we often find ourselves falling into a routine in our everyday lives and don’t take into consideration the little aspects of life that truly make our lives the best it can be. Consistency and conforming to the norms of society is what much of what our lives are surrounded by. Being transcendental is what spotlights those who go the extra mile to make a difference in the world and truly have their lives have an impact. To be transcendental means to go beyond the norms of society and develop a more personal connection with oneself and the world.
This means it is important to find what makes life worth living and finding yourself as an individual in times of unclarity. It is valuable to be aware of the small things in everyday life that make a big difference. Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction was faced with an unbalanced life surrounded by consistency, he struggled with who he was as an individual.
Just as Harold reflected on the life he could be living vs. the life he was currently living he develops a more transcendental character as it is important to have realizations about the quality of life an individual chooses and how they make the most of it.
Stranger Than Fiction, Throeau, and Emerson all talk about the fact that consistency is a neutral aspect of life and doesn’t allow for growth and developing a more transcendental character. Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction is first seen as to brushing his teeth a specific number of strokes each day.
He is constantly living his life around the clock doing each thing he does at specific times each day measured in numbers. Rather than having a more spontaneous life, Harold’s life revolves around the clock. Emerson describes how consistency in life isn’t a good thing, and it does nothing to positively contribute to society as a whole. Emerson, prompting “With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.” (Emerson “Self-Reliance” 4) Harold lives his life with much consistency and it can be seen how he truly doesn’t live an extraordinary impactful life. His constant counting and strict routine prevent him from an adventurous and purposeful mindset and life. Thoreau, suggesting “Our life is frittered away by detail.” (Thoreau “The Ponds” 8) Detail is important at times but not in a larger context in terms of everyday life. Harold is constantly focused on the details of everything he does and sees. This directs his attention away from the little things in his life that have bigger impacts. His misplaced attention to every detail of each aspect of each day captivates his attention and prohibits him from living his life to the fullest. Silverstein, pronounces “Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go, For the children, they mark, and the children, they know The place where the sidewalk ends.” (Silverstein “Where the Sidewalk Ends”) A sidewalk in a sense is similar to life. Every step you take is forward with new things ahead. Harold realizes towards the end of Stranger Than Fiction that in his life the things that aren’t measured and consistent such as spending time with Ms. Pascal, music, and not counting every tile on the floor, will benefit his ability to live a happy and enjoyable life. Throughout Stranger Than Fiction Harold was able to become more transcendental through his ability to avoid the consistent life he had lived and found more appreciation in unexpected and audacious things in life.
Another key aspect that relates to Harold and individuals overall is the small things that happen daily or regularly that tend to go unnoticed. As Thoreau spent time at Walden, he emphasized the significance of appreciation for each part of each day. Thoreau, expresses “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” (The Ponds, Thoreau pg. 8 stanza 16) Throughout Thoreau’s readings, it is clear that each hour, minute, and second of each day shouldn’t be taken for granted. This becomes apparent in Stranger Than Fiction when Harold becomes aware of the fate he thinks he will face and realizes that lack of adventure and uniqueness that his life has. The realization frightens Harold as he knows that he hasn’t lived his life to its potential. Emerson, articulates “But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future.” (Emerson “Self-Reliance” 5) Living with the present mindset and taking advantage of the smaller things that make up each day and living that to the fullest is what matters. Too much focus on the past and future doesn’t allow for the present to be the best it can be. Whitman, states “Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power, Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine, The Modern Man I sing.” (Whitman “One’s Self I Sing”) Towards the middle of Stranger Than Fiction Harold begins to do the things he likes to do such as get more involved with music as well as spend time with Ms. Pascal. Just as Walt Whitman refers to the “Modern Man,” Harold takes on this role and begins to live his life less surrounded by numbers and perfection and therefore lives more freely.
An additional element Thoreau, Emerson, and Stranger Than Fiction touch upon is the emphasis on finding yourself. To know your standing in the world, and an individual has to know what aspects of their lives make them uniquely them. Thoreau, proclaims “Thus the State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses.” (Thoreau “Civil Disobedience” 18) Thoreau is referring to the fact that surroundings may affect the way you live your life, but for the most part, the individual is the only one capable of making the right decisions. Relatively the same people, setting, and times in his strict day-to-day routine ecompasses Harold throughout Stranger Than Fiction. This prevents his ability to live a more meaningful and transcendental life. Emerson, affirms “That divided and rebel mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these have not.” (Emerson “Self-Reliance” 2) Society, as well as internal struggles all, inhibit a person’s ability to fully express themselves and understand who they are. Harold was unable to experience the world and make connections with people due to the fact that he wasn’t able to find himself and truly understand his purpose in life. In a sense, he missed out on a lot due to the fact that he didn’t apprehend the abilities he had to express himself and make the most of the life he strived to live. Towards the end of Stranger Than Fiction Harold was able to obtain transcendental characteristics such as being a unique individual and was able to express himself the way a piece of him always had wanted to.
Harold Crick emphasizes what writers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman all put into their thoughts in their writings about how to live a transcendental, purposeful life. Harold Crick starts off in Stranger Than Fiction with a specific routine and overly consistent life. However, as he becomes aware of the fate he may face he takes advantage of veering away from consistency, finding the importance of the little things in life, as well as finding himself and knowing his role in society. The journey that Harold Crick embarked on was one that was full of unexpected events such as finding out he may die and meeting Ms. Pascal. The unknown is what was able to shape his life and help him figure himself out. Individuals in society, especially those who are in a strict routine similar to Harold was, should take the time to relax (in a sense), and find what makes them happy to live a more deliberate life.
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