One day in a moment of clarity Rick Sowash said to me "Why study Johnny Appleseed when you can be Johnny Appleseed..." and what he hit in his moment of yearning was the very essence of the issue: focusing on the past instead of the present.
John Chapman lived on the pristine uncharted wilderness frontier of America and the salient fame of his story comes from that barefoot and fearless walking into the unknown to sew the seeds of the coming society.
We have no such wooded wilderness anymore, and the concept of wandering around in the primal forests, while having a nostalgic appeal, is not a viable reality.
We never lack for a frontier, however, in any historic time or place. In the 1920s Louis Bromfield wrote, "Life is hard for our children. It isn't as simple as it was for us. Their grandfathers were pioneers and the same blood runs in their veins, only they haven't a frontier any longer. They stand... these children of ours, with their backs toward this rough-hewn middle west and their faces set toward Europe and the East and they belong to neither. They are lost somewhere between."
Bromfield's time was of the 'lost generation' and they found their identity in the expatriate world of Paris, and in exploring the old country. While it had a certain sexy marketability and glamour, it was not really a forging into a new world... not in the sense of Chapman's frontier.
In our time there is a very clear and vital new world that is, in its own way, analogous to the untouched frontier of John Chapman's time. This unexplored territory exists not in the limited physical world outdoors, but in the infinite and invisible soul we access inside our selves. It affords the possibility of stepping into the next paradigm of consciousness by simply closing off the external world, and immersing oneself into the vast untouched frontier of energy and light and will in the self's interior.
In the most vital and authentic sense, the seeds we plant in this new world -just like John Chapman- prepare the way for the society to follow.