The scout and the forager are two mental attitudes I try to incorporate into my life. The mindsets were informed by reading these three books:
– The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef
– HumanKind by Roger Bregman
– Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
When it comes to what we believe, humans see what they want to see, writes Julia Galef. In other words, we have a “soldier” mindset. Tribalism, wishful thinking, and rationalizing, we are driven to defend the ideas we most want to believe—and shoot down those we don’t. The “scout” mindset is different. Unlike the soldier, a scout’s goal isn’t to defend one side over the other. It’s to go out, survey the territory, and come back with as accurate a map as possible. Regardless of what they hope to be the case, above all, the scout wants to know what’s actually true.
If I get upset over a news item, I try to remember this advice, pull back my mind on its leash, and ask myself what is that landscape like, what can I actually see and hear, what is real.
The forager is the other attitude that I find helpful. As a forager I don’t expect to eat the same thing every day or sleep in the same spot. In fact I know that it is better for my body to eat a greater variety of foods. I have also learned to sleep in many different environments. When organizing accommodations for a tour I tend to book several inexpensive hotels in a row in order to afford a nice hotel once in a while. I much prefer this to staying in the same mid priced hotel every night. So far the band hasn’t complained. :-)
In a way, artists are modern nomadic foragers.
Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are therefore most dangerous.
This quote is sometimes attributed to Queen Victoria. Snopes reports that it originated, albeit in different form, from a letter to Queen Victoria from Belgian King Leopold.
It is true, artists cross a lot of borders. We travel to different countries and cultures. One evening we might eat in any restaurant that’s close to the gig and the next evening we might be invited to eat at Tetsuya’s (link to post from 1999), in Sydney, or at one of Michael Chiarello’s restaurants (link to post from 2011). In fact that post touches on the same foraging concept, as I wrote:
I joked with Houman about the ups and downs of touring… one day we perform in a club with a bad sound system and the next in a fabulous theater or performing arts center, one day we cannot find a decent meal in or around the venue and the next day we are invited to Tetsuya’s in Sydney or the Bottega in Napa!
Certainly, fans of artists span all divisions of mankind. Many years ago I met a lord of some kind, after a concert. Later I received a certificate in the mail, declaring me a CGLN – Commander of Grace, Lion of Nassau. I learned that there are Knights and Commanders of two groups, hereditary and by election. Okay. I put the certificate between books on a shelf, where it was found by Arko, my Tibetan mastiff. Arko took a liking to the wax seal–perhaps it had an interesting scent–and ate much of the document. Was the document real? I have no idea.
This is what today is like and tomorrow may not be like this at all. I observe the landscape, the options, the emotions, and I know that tomorrow will be different… maybe better, maybe worse. Tomorrow I’ll pluck the fruit that I will find then and it will be good.