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The July 1996 issue of The Sun was my first. I especially enjoyed Mark Burch’s essay, “The Technology of Simplicity.” In the last four paragraphs, he touches upon the roots of an ill pervading our society: our insatiable appetite for the newest and latest thrill, whether it be drugs, fast cars, increasingly violent and explicit movies, or some other product. Our nation’s attention span has grown so short that as soon as one president has been elected we start watching the polls in anticipation of the next campaign. As a society, we have forgotten how to find contentment within, how to sit in the woods and just be. After reading Burch’s essay, I made a vow to simplify my life, to ask myself before every purchase, “Do I really need this, or am I just satisfying a desire to have something new?”
In his story about learning mindful awareness by going deer hunting with his father, Mark Burch details how spending long hours alone in the woods sitting very still and waiting for a deer to wander into his blind eventually led him to meditation. “I ceased to care,” he says, “whether or not I saw a deer, and largely lost my desire to kill one. . . . Hunting was the occasion, a rationale both my father and I believed in, for something much more important to be taught and learned.”
I couldn’t tell if Burch still believes, to some degree, that everything his father said or did — including predation — is sacrosanct. Missing for me was some sense that Burch regrets having acted so mindlessly in his youth.