Moving to Higher Ground

A time for renewal, realignment, and stillness.

Friends, I’d like to officially welcome you to the first edition of The Walled Garden newsletter which we have titled Garden Pickings. It’s been many months (dare I say over a year) since we decided to start a regular email featuring the best works and events from within our philosophical community. Nonetheless, while the inspiration was there, the will was not. We’re grateful and excited to now be coming out the other side of a long development period with a new website for our community and a renewed sense of our mission and vision as a philosophical community. 

This past Sunday, the first of October, I took a trip to Baldy Mountain – the highest peak in the Los Angeles region. I went to the mountain for two reasons. First, I new that this would be the day when I could finally launch the new website that we had been building since we discovered that our old website could not serve as an effective container for the works we wanted to pursue. Mountains are great places to make big moves! The second reason was that October 2023 happens to be my 30th birth month, and I could see no more meaningful way to enter my third decade alive than to carry my didgeridoo to the peak of this fantastic mountain in order to receive inspiration for the years ahead, as well as to reflect on the many lives I’d lived in my twenties. 

The hike felt much more like a pilgrimage. I’d never been to the peak of Mt. Baldy before, and if I’m honest, the pressure of moving countries and setting up a new life in Southern California had left me with little time or bandwidth to make the journey. Nonetheless, I felt called to the mountain on this day, and so there I went.

As I wandered to the peak through ice-cold winds and mystic clouds, I reflected on the journey I had taken throughout my twenties. I felt deep gratitude for the philosophers, theologians, mystics, historians, poets, and leaders of the past and present who had offered their wisdom to me and you, assuming you’ve been walking with me on this path for some time. My mind returned to the transformative lessons we had all learned from people like Sharon Lebell, Prof. Joe Siracusa, Rocco Jarman, Kai Whiting, Mark Vernon, and many, many more. We had spoken with and learned from Stoics, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, and everyone in-between. As I contemplated the diversity of cultural, philosophical and religious background in those we’ve all learned from, it occurred to me that there was a thread that tied all of these fantastic people together; they were all encouraging us to move to higher ground. Higher ground in our reasoning, in our caring, in our relationships, in our service, in our learning, and in our Being. If there is any true service in philosophy, it certainly must be to call us to the mountain within, and to inspire us as we walk up this mountain one step at a time, moving slowly but surely toward higher ground in our lives. 

As we enter a new season in The Walled Garden Philosophical Society, I hope that you’ll join us in the searching for higher ground in our individual and collective pursuits of truth, wisdom, virtue, beauty and divinity. Life can and will at times present us with many challenges, and it can often seem as though there is no sense and no meaning in what is becoming an increasingly fast-paced, chaotic and uncertain world. Despite these appearances, I and we in The Walled Garden would like to encourage you to remember the wisdom of the Stoics: we do live in a well-ordered cosmos, despite the fact that we so often forget this vision. Peace always arrives when we remember the truths that our current age has taught us to forget.

Simon Drew

Australian poet, musician & philosopher based in Southern California. Published author, philosophical mentor and co-founder of The Walled Garden Philosophical Society.

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