The High Country of the Mind

Topic: Describe how a work of art, music, dance, theater, or literature has inspired you.

Part of the Advanced Placement English curriculum at my school involves reading Robert Persig’s book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The novel as a whole challenges readers to think about their ordinary thoughts; it encourages them to travel to places not yet visited. However, these unseen places typically are not physical places that require actual travel. Instead, theses places are states of being and different levels of thought. Persig makes reference to, what he calls, “the high country of the mind” in Part II of the novel. The “high country of the mind” involves unrestricted thinking that leads to questions as opposed to answers. Persig challenges the reader to think in ways that are not definite, and to instead to open ones mind to those thoughts, which seem to form circular patterns. In the “high country of the mind,” Persig claims “one has to become adjusted to the thinner air of uncertainty, and to the enormous magnitude of questions asked…” and in turn, must ask, “what is the truth and how do you know it when you have it?” It is with this statement that Persig and Zen inspired me to challenge my own patterns of thought.

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Why write the predictable, textbook papers when you can take a flying leap into the realm of the unknown. Why think in terms of right or wrong with you can formulate an untraceable pattern of thought? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance challenged the “box” that I have always been encouraged to think inside of. It inspired me to look beyond the ordinary and easily explained, and to be open to the things that do not necessarily have answers. After all, life is not always black and white, so why not try and understand some of the grayer areas?

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