peace corps, Philosophy

Theory and Action

A friend, in his blog, wrote about how Peace Corps. tells us upfront that this journey has a lot of peaks and valleys. He wrote that he used to think that it’s weird that anyone would feel down after being in a country for an entire year.

Well, next month I will be in this country for an entire year. And yeah, I am definitely in a valley. It’s partially because even though everyone says 2-years, it’s actually 27-Months. This means that after one year, you aren’t over that hill yet. You aren’t halfway finished. You just sort of feel like you should be. This last Christmas was a really depressing time for me. In fact, arguably, one of the worst times of my life. Nonetheless, “right now” is giving Christmas a run for it’s money.

Everything just keeps changing. I’m learning that it is impossible to keep all of those plates spinning with no problems. You know the plates. You spin them too. The plate named Finances. The plate named Work. The plate named Family. The plate named Health. The plate named Friends. And I could go on and on. It’s just that, eventually one’s going to wobble. And when one plate wobbles, they all tend to wobble. Hell, you might even drop one. It might not break, but it will at least be chipped; and you’ll have to put in a lot of time and effort to fix it.


We can't ALL be this guy.

I worry about who I am supposed to be. I think I know what a lot of people want me to be. I think I know how to make the people around me happy. But what if the person they need or just want me to be is directly opposed to the person I’d like to become? What if I’m wrong? What if the person I’m supposed to be is not what I imagine? Somtimes, I feel like the world doesn’t want me to try.

I understand. Trying is a huge risk. You could lose everything by trying. But you have to try, right? Won’t you feel like you never reached your full potential if you don’t try? Won’t you feel regret? Won’t that nagging, aching, feeling that you could’ve been so much more follow you until the day you die? I think it would.

One of my favorite stories is this. I think his life came to a sad end (he ended up committing suicide), but I still find his story inspiring.

There once was a guy named Larry Walters. He always wanted to fly. He made his dream a reality by tying a bunch of balloons to a lawn chair. He thought he’d level off at a height of about 30ft. However, he shot up into the air and reached 16,000ft!

Larry Walters

How's The Weather Up There?

He said, “It was something I had to do . . . if I hadn’t done it, I think I would have ended up in the funny farm. I didn’t think that by fulfilling my goal in life — my dream — that I would create such a stir…”

When asked by a reporter why he did it, he simply answered, “A man can’t just sit around.” That is one of my favorite quotes.

This reminds me of a movie called Waking Life. I won’t get into the details of the movie*, but at one point a group of four young men look up to see a man on a telephone pole.

Waking Life Old Guy

All Action. No Theory.

A conversation begins: (I just call all of any of the four young men “A Young Man” it’s not just one saying all of the lines)

A Young Man: “Hey old man, what are you doing up there?”

Old Man: “Well, I’m not sure.”

A Young Man: “Do you need help getting down, sir?”

Old Man: “No, I don’t think so.”

A Young Man: “Stupid bastard.”

A Young Man: “No worse than us. He’s all action and no theory. We’re all theory and no action.”

I think I am both. I’m Larry Walters/The Flagpole Guy AND The Four Young Men. The young men talk and talk, but don’t actually do anything. Larry Walters and The Flagpole Guy end up doing things, but seemingly for no solid reasons. I feel like I often end up compartmentalizing these two conflicting parts of my personality. I feel like I often act and try to come up with theory later or theorize without taking action.

I believe that someday I can become theory and action. Anne Braden, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Che, Hellen Keller, Huey P. Newton, Abbie Hoffman, etc. I think that’s what separates them from the rest of us. Most of us are too much theory or too much action.

Barack and George

Theory vs. Action


Right now, I feel very depressed. I do. However, I try to remember my passions and motivations. I am optimistic. That doesn’t mean life doesn’t hurt sometimes.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

*Ok, I will. Waking Life is a film about a guy who begins to realize that he has found himself trapped in a series of dreams he seems to be unable to wake up from. In his dreams, he listens to several theories and ideas from professors, artists, lunatics, and a myriad of other people. The film does not have one particular answer or viewpoint, but rather combines them all and kind of lets the viewer decide what to make of everything.

**I am not especially political at all. I’m just playing around.


One thought on “Theory and Action

  1. Mom says:

    DO NOT let life get you down. You should follow your dreams. If you want/need to try something, DO IT. Those people who truly love and care about you will still love and care about you. If they don’t then they are not truly interested in your happiness only their own.

    Life is short son. Take advantage of every moment and every chance because you may only get that chance once.

    I love you very much and want only for you to be happy.

    Love Mom.

    PS. trying to get care package together so let me know anything you might want or need. want to ship it mid August.

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