Journal: Response to David Brooks’ Second Mountain


Journal assignment completed for “The Self Before Selfies”

David Brooks’ The Second Mountain examines the pillars of one’s life and how self-fulfillment is not limited to worldly challenges. Instead, it incorporates a part of life that consumes an individual, where the obstacles become part of the self. There are other parts of life’s journey aside from career driven freedom. As a result, these new challenges make up the second mountain and it can include a vocation, spouse and family, philosophy or faith, and/or community. Regardless of one’s walk of life, everyone has a second mountain, and whether they choose to embrace it speaks to their self-commitment and achievement. It demonstrates a transitional phase in life, where “it’s not about self anymore…” (xiv).  I like the use of mountains as a symbol of obstacles because it appropriately captures the efforts needed to reach the peak.

 Brooks blends research, anecdotes, and conjecture to assert the variation in self-fulfillment. Essentially, personal happiness extends beyond traditional institutional means of commitment, meaning transactional places like education and the workplace are superficial in terms of one’s success. These are instances where the self learns and makes money, but the second mountain is where one applies those aspects. The first mountain pushes society to be individualistic because it is self-centered, consumer-driven, and profit-seeking. However, through the trials and tribulations of the second mountain, we can shift to a collective culture and restructure our lives and ideals to be interconnected and compassionate. This resonated with me the most because Samoan culture is extremely collective. Even after being colonized, these core values are prominent in island life, and I think it speaks to how prominent the notions of love, respect, and compassion are when it is implemented in personal relationships and beyond.

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