In a world where most are in love with nothing, see value only in the temporary and blindly turn the entirety of ones existence to a mythological being, an agent of true change…a questioner of fallacy…someone that is able to see into the future is a dangerous and forsaken individual. Around me at this very moment are the same meaningless conversations, people ceaselessly engaged in mindless activity, floating aimlessly into the recesses of another day. The present giving way to the past without an inkling of novelty. It is as if time has faded and along with it a deeper, more meaningful sense of purpose.
If this is something you understand and have found defines more, rather than less, of your days it is because you are trapped. I understand how you got there – as of this writing I am still inhabiting such a world, but like Andy Dufresne I have began to tunnel my way out. Bit by bit, day by day I am chipping away at the prison my decisions have locked me in. It began with this blog, which I pay for out of my own pocket, as I stated earlier – not to make a profit – but rather to inspire commitment when there’s no gas in the proverbial tank. Next I began to place money back into what appears an overvalued stock market, willing to risk a healthy portion of my savings for the potential upside I know my courage and calculation will reward. The final two acts involve me publishing my second book and then going back to school for what will ultimately be a law degree.
I bring these up only for illustrative purpose and to ask the question – what are you passionate about? Doesn’t matter if it’s science or stripping – what speaks to you in a way as though it were a long lost loved one calling from beyond the grave. There is this endless fear perpetuated by the world that a person must do what’s logical. I say fuck that. Let someone else be a nurse, a doctor, an IT programmer. If you truly love something you don’t ever let it go. You don’t trade it in for anyone; not your mom, not your dad, not your spouse, not a single individual or deity on this planet or in this universe.
I’ll tell you why you don’t do this…because you will never be your most happy. Sure you can fill your life with substitute things but like the cavity of a tooth it is never gone, just merely covered. Slowly you will go through life with regret which will grow over time. Again those things you’ve added to complement your existence…spouse…kids…house…dog will all be there to hopefully continue to tow you through the thing that keeps snagging your line – that is the dream you gave up on. So before I close out this post I challenge you to take a chance, then take another one, and another after that. Keep knocking until the goddamn door opens and if it’s slammed in your face make like a Jehovah witness and keep on knocking. In time you will ultimately convert your most stubborn critic…yourself.
Knowledge, when actively and correctly applied, is power. In an earlier piece I spoke on this at some length. There is though one caveat I failed to mention…being right can be a very lonely place. Fields Medal recipients, Nobel Prize winners, celebrated individual geniuses such as Elon Musk and others; they are so far beyond most people in terms of intellect who can they relate to and how do they make sense of a non-sensical world? I’m reminded of the character Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) from ‘The Watchmen’ and a line from the film in which he states “the only person with whom [he] felt any kinship with died three hundred years before the birth of Christ…Alexander of Macedonia or Alexander the great as [we] know him”. Though fictional a person can’t help but wonder if this burden is something truly felt by the special few upon which the transformative ideas of the world are built?
As someone filling the rank and file I find myself quick to complain about the alienation of being part of the proletariat struggle (though this is self-induced) never thinking that there is an equally difficult struggle existing on the other side of the Bell Curve. For the sake of illustration, it’s worth noting this doesn’t just plague those of great mental ability. Take the superior athlete for example. As a native Clevelander I’ll use an easily relatable example, LeBron James. Regardless of how a person feels about him personally or as a teammate there’s no denying his skill level is far beyond the majority of his peers. It’s in that separation a great sense of personal isolation has to exist. For someone operating within a team sport, or a corporation for that matter, having a vision and aptitude beyond the next closest subset of colleagues can be crippling. As the saying goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown.
This is the part of my rant where I try to tie it all together. If as you go along in life you should happen to discover that you are one of these rare birds take heart. The road to achieving your goals will be an uphill battle, not merely because of what you’re attempting to accomplish but because in your way will find a slew of folks whose only existence appears to make your job harder. Prepare yourself for the burden of being different, of being special…of being great. I can’t profess to be one of these people, weird yes, gifted no, but what I do see and recognize all around me is that this world is overrun with DNA (do-nothing assholes). They control and dictate the situation of far too much economically, politically and socially. Know that the uniqueness you possess will be a one-way ticket to a deserted island, learn to swim with the sharks and everything will be okay.
The opening part of the above title is likely as well known in the United States (and perhaps most of western or Christian-leaning culture) as any other maxim. Taken from the new testament text of Matthew the passage loosely states to ‘judge not, that you not be judged…for with what judgement you use, you shall be judged and with what measure you use it shall be measured to you again’. How lovely and idealistic a recommendation…actually more like how misguided and baseless a concept. Judgment is the very foundation on which the decision-making process was built. It involves on some level the use of our otherwise expansive brains to see the necessary potential for action and to move accordingly based on various information (or even the lack there of).
Judgement exists in two forms: judgement before an action and judgement based on the interpretation of (ideally) relevant facts. The first part of this involves the use of prejudice. Prejudice as it’s viewed in today’s world is a very loaded and dangerous word. In the modern liberal wing of political thought, it is an enemy of the people that needs to be snuffed out from existence in order to bring balance to the world. But, let’s think about it for a second, what is prejudice at its core other than a preconceived opinion not based on reason or actual experience; essentially it is a thought lacking perspective. Developing perspective on a matter is an act that requires involving oneself in something an individual may otherwise, and most likely doesn’t, have experience in. The problem is that we are hard wired to judge, especially in situations of duress…which are from an evolutionary standpoint brought on by uncertainty…things we don’t have experience with (particularly as it relates to our well-being – this is called the ‘fight or flight’ response).
Unwarranted prejudice, something very much alive and well, makes no sense and can even be categorized as reprehensible if for no other reason than the individual has made zero attempt at trying to understand that with which they are casting judgement. This doesn’t mean that the act in and of itself should be abandoned. It’s because of the blanket manner in which judging is itself judged that we as a species (which is far, far more important than the characteristics of race and certainly ethnicity) find ourselves still in a rut. It goes back in large part to the earlier piece in which I spoke about the dangers of being nice – by forgoing this natural, built-in mechanism, we find a large number of us taken advantage of by life’s inequalities (the majority of which are unfortunately predicated on race, gender and socio-economic status).
What we need, perhaps now more than ever, is to judge; judge whether or not a particular company is a good fit for us before we pack up our bags to discover it otherwise isn’t (my case), judge whether college is a good fit as the debt we are likely to be straddled with will take decades to pay off, judge to what degree an elected official is full of shit (as they all are to varying degrees)…the list goes on and on for the unforeseeable future. When we judge it has to be understood that the system of weights and measures is so out of whack it’s like comparing the American standard of measurements to the Metric System. There’s ‘rich justice’ and ‘poor justice’. There’s the judgement of the rights of victims versus the rights of the accused. There’s even the judgement of majority versus minority opinion. No where does it state that life is fair, at best it’s a sliding scale and to see and act as though everything is peaches when most things are broccoli is like cutting a brake line before driving downhill – not a good idea.
I wanted to follow up on the piece I wrote yesterday to speak in greater depth about a particular sub-topic that emerged from it. Weaved within the idea or concept of commitment is a fixed constant that depending on a person’s scientific or spiritual affiliation is as inescapable as paying taxes…time. As a greater fan of the sciences than the supernatural the doors that have been opened recently in the paradoxes of this idea have been amazing. From absolute time (Newtonian) to quantum time to relativistic, an individual could spend their entire life in pursuit of studying these fields and only make microscopic progress. The expansion of these theories appears boundless but one thing that is certainly not is the human lifespan. It is from this point I will move forward.
In the article prior to this one I spoke about commitment and what I felt was a better way to view the process, particularly as it relates to emotionally underdeveloped individuals like myself (see neurotic twats). I still stand by the importance of viewing life in terms of a series of decisions rather than unwaveringly blind devotion but it’s the second part I feel necessary to clarify. True a decision can be made in favor of something, made against something or not be made at all. There’s one small caveat to the last choice though and that’s where time comes in. As time passes and events unfold and become the past a tiny phenomenon occurs that effects the foundation under which indecision stands.
This anomaly moves the resulting outcome of indecision toward a either a positive end result or a negative one. Based on my own experience I have found it trends more toward the negative. I can’t speak to why this is; whether it’s bad luck or part of a greater course of interconnected things I’m unable to see and have no data to directly correlate. Regardless the prevailing logic the only thing I feel that matters is the present or immediately foreseeable result. I have found that there is a small pattern between the time lag and the type of decision being avoided. It is this pattern that could potentially help patch the messy roadwork between staying indecisive and choosing a course of action.
A pair of examples that come to mind because of their diametrically opposite timeframes are post high school career life decisions and the unhealthy romantic relationship. With the first a person could put off making a ‘decision’ in theory for the rest of their life. While the ground on which this commitment stands is not made of sand it’s not necessarily concrete either. Along the way chance or circumstance will expose a person to a unique variety of opportunities. There’s a very strong potential for one of these being an excellent future life pursuit, but if a person remains in the neutral zone the prospect for a more meaningful existence will be lost. On the other hand, in the case of the unhealthy relationship the longer one waits to address the issue, to make the necessary decision(s), they will discover the quick sand they have built this part of their life on sinking at a frantic rate.
At the end of the day it’s your life; only you can live it. To do or not do, that’s all on the person. The final call belongs solely to the individual party. Solace in having the freedom to pursue, avoid, or act in direct opposition to a present or future decision/commitment is liberating. But keep in mind that as time robs our bodies of the mobility of our youth it also acts to make decisions potentially harder and less easy to avoid. So, in summary, use your head – as the saying goes there’s a time and place for everything…just keep in mind time is not necessarily your friend, or on your side
It doesn’t matter who we are, what matters is our plan.’
– Bane from the film ‘Dark Knight Rises’
I suspect it’s not often a person glancing an opinion piece on the various subjects of life – particularly those meant to be inspiring or uplifting – will find a quote from a despotic, fictitious character. Fortunately for those reading, this is not one of those kinds of articles. In fact, this one is quite the opposite. The human concept of having dreams, specifically as it relates to achieving things, albeit going on an exotic beach vacation, purchasing the nice home with property in the suburbs, or landing a role in a big Hollywood production, is a breathtakingly misguided principle. To paraphrase the late George Carlin – ‘you know why they call it [dreaming], because you have to be asleep to believe it’.
Google any quote about dreaming and I’m sure you’ll see a million plus different results. You could also see something similar if you were to look at any twenty-something year old, white girl’s Instagram account. Few people seem to understand you can have an idea, vision or dream of what you want to accomplish but this means jack shit if you don’t have a plan. Sure, some people win the genetic lottery and are born not having to do much to get much (i.e. any of the Kardashians) but most likely you aren’t one of them…I know I’m certainly not. What you need is a plan.
Herein lies the problem; what if you don’t have plan? What if your only goal every day is just to get by? What if it feels like the cards are stacked against you? Well, then – as the old adage says – get a clue. Try things, as many different things as you like, have time or resources for, then see what sticks. After you’ve narrowed it down – and this could take awhile (which there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with) – the next step is have a plan. Think of life as if you were building something. Unless your Michelangelo chances our you’ll need to come up with a blueprint. This blueprint will become the draft template from which you make decisions and take actions. Build in some contingencies as life is likely to throw you a curve ball or three. Step by step you will build your life in the closest approximation to what it is you desire.
While it’s normal to get emotional about life there’s no need to turn your existence into an Academy Award winning performance at every bend. If you stop dreaming and start simply doing you’ll find you’re oftentimes too busy to get caught up in the trap. Dreaming is really just a futile exercise, instead be a thinker then a doer. You’ll likely get much further along the path you’re taking to get to the things you want. Remember while sleeping is good for you and your body when you get up, getting going and start putting that plan into action. Let other people dream of the things they want – you’ve got work to do.
Despite what film, artists, writers, scholars or humanitarians tell you there are two forces more powerful than any other that flow through the human experience and neither of them are love. Sad, I know, but a truth whether recognized or not. In fact, some of the most powerful structures on the planet solely exist based on these two emotions – religion and the legal system are examples that come immediately to mind. And while to a lesser developed mind these constructs may certainly have held a vital function the day of their role as the prime movers of mankind is in desperate need of an ending. They are like an error in our coding in need of debugging. Their existence serves only to slow down the software of our life.
The first necessary step is recognizing the source of these emotions. Fear is a simple one, it’s root is in the unknown and genesis can be directly traced to the fight or flight response in our sympathetic nervous system. Fear is built almost, if not completely, on the mechanism of self-preservation. In today’s modern context this includes a variety of offshoots of which the first that comes to mind is mistrust and warfare between nation states. Again, how this can be addressed will be explained shortly. Let us move on now to guilt.
Guilt, with the exception to a certain smaller variety of criminal offenses that result in unnecessary physical or financial damage, is a fundamentally misguided principle. In combination with fear guilt is (conscious or unconsciously) harnessed to induce near fanatical panic and in this panic, people are moved to an immediate sense of shame leaving them vulnerable. Vulnerability gives way to an instantaneous need for reconciliation (not necessarily in the religious sense) in order to correct their mistake. It is precisely at this point that they (we) are moved to a state of submission. Our constant movement between these two states of being, the individual and the servant, ultimately gives way to a condition of slavery.
Stripped of the remaining fabrics that bind the illusion of freedom (the state which a healthy concentration of people spend life living in) we trudge along on the path of life forced to give credence to our existence by either the choice of vicariously living through offspring, some type of religion/spirituality or a combination of the two. Existing in a manner of dependence based on being fulfilled by others and/or some mythical figure(s) is in itself a challenge the former I have no experience on the later I’ve discovered is an exercise in futility.
Moving forward the question requiring our attention is this, how do we separate ourselves from these two unnecessary weights? How do we purge ourselves of fear & guilt? While many experts (of which again I am NOT one) will offer up a novel’s worth of advice, or perhaps even a series of books, I have a small series of suggestions:
- NEVER GIVE MORE THAN YOU RECEIVE.
- DEMAND HONESTY FROM THOSE CLOSEST TO YOU & GIVE IT IN RETURN, THOSE WHO ARE NOT ON BOARD WITH THIS START DISCOUNTING THEM FROM YOUR LIFE.
- STOP SAYING SORRY ALL THE TIME. SORROW IS RESERVED FOR SERIOUS OFFENSES ONLY. APOLOGIZE IF YOU MUST BUT MAKE IT CLEAR AND CONCISE. IF YOU DON’T FEEL ITS NECESSARY TO APOLOGIZE YOU CAN ALWAYS COMMUNICATE THAT AS WELL.
- UNDERSTAND YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES YOUR WHOLE LIFE (SOME WORSE THAN OTHERS) – APOLOGIZE AND MOVE ON. FORGIVE YOURSELF & THE OTHER PERSON AND GET MOVING.
- NO ONE, ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IS YOUR SUPERIOR. RESPECT IS ONE THING AND IS WORTH DEMONSTRATING BUT YOU (NO MATTER YOUR STATION IN LIFE) ARE SOMEONES SERVANT.
You owe it to yourself to stop the cycle before it starts…or if it has to develop a plan to get off the roller coaster and on the long but rewarding road to the nearest approximation to freedom a human being can experience.
In a spin-off from my post yesterday in which I profiled the genius of Gustave Le Bon and his book ‘The crowd’ I wanted to follow up with a discussion point inspired in part by the girl I’m dating. I’d also like to thank her publicly for tolerating my strange and never ceasing babel. The topic was thinking and the action as a generality. Le Bon was obviously a keen observer as well as excellent thinker. His insights into humanity are as brilliant as they are underappreciated. That last part is what has drawn me specifically to this concept.
You see I believe that to a certain degree thinking as a requisite to life can be broken down into two types, active and passive (this is probably someone else’s idea but I have zero interest in additional research on this point). The parallel to this in science could be stated as voluntary versus autonomic…programmed versus non-programmed. In passive, autonomic or programmed you have a type that doesn’t sit around waiting for other parts or deeper parts of the same region of the brain to get involved, it simply goes like a five-year old after an ice cream and a can of Red Bull©. Active, voluntary or non-programmed on the other hand involves the coordination of at the very least various types of input and processing before a certain output is arrived at.
This in lies part of the problem…a reality I feel Gustave may have missed. One of the critical components as he pointed out of the crowd (let us presume society as a whole) is the turning off of the mind to allow oneself to more aptly be seduced to the will of the crowd or majority. Where Le Bon believes this is something humans do almost with little effort it’s the why I would say I differ in opinion with. Critical thought may or may not be the default mechanism for human beings. I would like to think it is to some extent, argument could be made to what level that is exactly but I have no interest in that debate. The point I would like to address is as follows.
I believe, particularly in an advanced society, one that even the basic existence thereof requires far more of our brain bulk than ever to just operate through the basics of, there is a two-fold issue with thinking. The first is that it is energy intensive and while our evolution has allowed an ‘upgrade’ to our mental software our hardware is incredibly outdated. The second and perhaps less obvious is the double-edge nature of thinking. What I mean by that is this, say a person is in need of a new vehicle (it doesn’t matter whether it is ‘new’ or ‘used’ per se, they just need something to replace a non-working one) and they spend countless hours researching only to end up buying a total piece of shit (something this author has done on more than one occasion). Time, energy and effort completely down the tube for nothing.
What a person learns from this, which happens in so many day-to-day situations for most folks it’s impossible to count, is that even spending the time and being engaged they gain nothing. The value of thinking has diminishing returns and the cycle of this goes on and on until they (at varying speeds) begin to subconsciously turn off this labor-intensive process because it’s results are financially or even physically painful. This phenomenon occurs most often in economically developed countries where these types of choices have over-run the human experience. It leads some in the population to then ultimately question the value of active thinking at all. Once this epoch is reached it’s all but a foregone conclusion. The greater part of the brain has been put on a permanent vacation and life becomes more manageable (though certainly not less stressful). It is as they say “ignorance is bliss” and a state of nirvana has been reached because they are no longer teetering back and forth on this double-edged sword.