It's time for the results of the gathering no moss survey. There was a modest return, and I didn't feel like pestering people to boost it; it's not in my nature. My reason for posing the question was an old difference of opinion in the Geras family, the interpretation of the proverb obviously turning on whether moss is bad and to be avoided or good and to be gathered. Naturally, I had both these interpretations amongst the entries.
It's good to keep moving… A recommendation to avoid stasis, entanglements, stagnation.Moss good:
Somewhat Millian: the need for constant testing of what one believes and of development and growth through new experiments in living.
Condemning people who don't stay in one place, who are spatially impermanent, drifters. It expresses the judgement that drifters don't pick up lasting connections, permanent social relationships, and are therefore rootless...Or another - from Joel White - which I quote at length with his permission, as the most detailed and interesting received:
I immediately think of the tempting Temptations because of my African American-ness. I loved, as a kid, their song Papa Was A Rolling Stone. It had such deep resonance in the black community and as a child coming of age in the 1970s and trying to come to grips with who I was, who I am, and who I could be - this was one of the songs that haunted me, although that may be too strong a statement.And the result? Of the 25 entries, one was for there being no moral point to the proverb at all - just an empirical observation. 11 were for the second interpretation here, moss good and to be gathered. And 13 were for the first interpretation, moss bad, so keep moving along. Decisive or what?
"My Papa was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home." That was the line. "And when he died, all he left us was alone."
It spoke to me of a lack of permanence in my community although my "Papa" was a permanent rock for his family. More importantly, it spoke to me as a black man-to-be. I remember wondering as a kid who was something of a know-it-all, instead of "alone" did they really mean "a loan" so that Papa (as symbolic of the black man) left us (the black family) indebted, with an obligation to pay that which he had incurred but could not settle.
But back to your question re the moral saying; my wife brought home another moral saying one day which resonated with both of us. "Bloom where you're planted." That's what your moral saying means. There is something to be said for permanence and something of a risk in movement. I'm a Florida boy surrounded by beautiful, mysterious moss. Left alone, it seemingly grows out of thin air and hangs from the canopy of trees.
Just so as you don't get too cocky, you moss-bad people (for I myself am of the moss-good party), let me point out to you that according to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy ours is 'the original meaning'. It seems right that we should have tradition on our side.