In Plato’s Apology, Socrates declares himself “a sort of gadfly” to Athens, constantly stinging it, ‘stirring it to life.’ Among other things, he is concerned with the idea that Athens’ survival depends upon the quality of its citizenry. That quality is determined by each individual’s continual self-examination, that is, reflection on what makes a good life and how to live it. This is no easy task. Just what is the method whereby one examines one’s life, and just how one recognizes what the good is, requires an investment of time and effort that many people find insupportable.
I live on 17th Street.
Before dawn on any weekday morning, my street awakens. Bedroom windows in the apartment next door open onto my driveway. Showers start, people cough. Someone sings in Spanish, a radio is tuned to classic rock. Minutes later, a guy walks to his car, lunch box in hand. A mother stops briefly to tie her small daughter’s shoelaces before hurrying on to school.
I grew up in Malibu.