Monday, December 1, 2014

D21 - Life's Givens

The nine givens in life every person must deal with:

1. Mortal – to be mortal and thus at risk of death during every moment of life.

2. Fallible – To make all decisions on the basis of only partial knowledge thereby rendering myself fallible and constantly open to the risk of being wrong.

3. Addiction – to be susceptible to tolerance and addiction placing my self control at risk.

4. Disenable – To be susceptible to disease and genetic disadvantage, thereby jeopardizing the plans that I make for each new day.

5. At Risk – To be vulnerable to physical and mental impairment through accident, natural disaster, crime and the hazards of war.

6. Meaningless – To arrive in the world with no inborn meaning, thereby rendering a personal search necessary.

7. Bad Will – To carry within me a capacity for bad will towards others rendering me capable of inflicting harm on others.

8. Aloneness – To enter the world as a separate entity (nobody but myself) and to stand responsible for my personal “connectedness” and/or aloneness.

9. Pleasure – To be characterized by behavior that is constantly vulnerable to persuasion from pleasure and pain.

I do not do so well with numbers 6, 7, & 8. It is like I have to constantly remind myself that everyone is also dealing with these same things and has always had to deal with them.

D22 - Don't be a hater

The first time I saw Kreayshawn's "Gucci Gucci" music video I could not help but burst out laughing.  How could anyone produce something so blatantly ridiculous?  But you know what...?  She has a music video and a recording contract and is doing what she wants with her life.

Letting go

The sooner you can let go of the idea that you can be perfect, that you can trick people into thinking you are perfect, the faster you will get better.

No one plays all the notes.  No one remembers all the things.  No one is on point 100% of the time.  It is disingenuous to pretend like it is possible.  You are not fooling anyone else and only making yourself feel bad for all of your perceived short-comings.

There is an incredible release of tension that happens when you free yourself from these notions of perfections.  As a performer it is the only way to transcend the notes on the page and perform the music.

Letting go is like taking out the garbage.  Mistakes are going to pile up, and ignoring them, fighting them, or, worse, stressing out over them is not solving the problem.  They will continue to pile up like garbage in front of you and soon become a barrier between you and the audience.  It is unpleasant for you and them to feel the tension and even embarrassment for the ever grown trash heap in front of you on stage - even the nicest dinner party with delicious food can be made uncomfortable by an offensive stench that gets worse throughout the evening.

Take out the trash, let go of the mistakes, recognize that you have to be continually sweeping the space in front of you clear - the audience will appreciate it.  Ignoring and pretending doesn't make the trash go away.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

D23 - Pyramids

The question is this: If you could magically turn back time to prevent the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of human beings, would you?  If you count yourself among the functioning population in a civil society, the answer is an easy "Yes."

Why, then, do I hesitate when the result of that exploitation happens to be the Great Pyramids of Egypt?  Is the mass exploitation of humanity justified if the end result is a Wonder of the World?

Perhaps it is that we are so many millenia removed from the suffering of those ancient people that it no longer repulses us in the same way.  Is there an experation date on suffering - some moment in time when reprehensible means are overlooked by the magnificent ends? 

The suffering of the movers of those great stones are as ephemeral as their tradgically short lives, leaving only the ends of their labor to judge.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

D21 - Sleepy

Tiredness most affects my happiness and impacts my quality of life.  But it is a very specific type of tiredness, the kind where I can tell from the moment I open my eyes that it is going to be a frustrating day of everything sucking.

Everything sucks and there is nothing I can do about it.  I have no patience for anything.  My focus wanders like a cab driver working through rush hour.  My thoughts are directed in all different directions, doubling back upon themselves, often sitting in traffic jams where they are baked in the hot sun.  No sooner do I arrive at my hard won destination than I must head off for another.  My mind is exhausted, yet cannot rest.

Friday, July 6, 2012

D20 - The rational life, Part 1

I try and live my life as a rational being and that is part of the problem.

Rational decisions are made with disregard to emotional skewing and represent the best decision to be made based on facts and reason.  Kurt Vonnegut wrote how, " is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

Exhausted is exactly how I feel.  Frustration, sadness, lethargy are the emotional byproducts that fuel off exhaustion.  It is not a packed calendar, nor my mind being pulled in multitudes of disparate directions at once.  Years of working several different jobs has finely attuned my multitasking abilities, though like everyone I am not beyond the occasional late bill payment or forgotten commitment.  

The exhaustion I feel is the pressure of rationality.  To always justify to others and to myself that what I am about to do next is the most logical progression from where I am now.  Even for simple decisions - what I should do for lunch - the questions fly mad in my mind:  Is this the restaurant that you will be happiest at?  Does the price justify the happiness it will bring you?  If you don't have a lot of money, how can you justify spending anything on lunch?  A never ending volley of inquiries that necessitate all kinds of rationalization gymnastics to subdue.  

The side effects of this constant self justification are twofold, neither is very good and the second is more harmful than the first.  First, I fear over-rationalizing my behavior effectively blinds me to the difference between actual justifications for my behavior and self deception.  In short, I am so deft at the rationalization game that even I can't tell when I am playing.

Second, it has a paralyzing effect on my decisions.  Like the naively optimistic Candide who postulates that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, if I believe my actions to be rational, then I have made the best decision available, thus rendering all my other options irrational.  I am trapped in the rational path of least resistance. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

D19 - Smart phones suck

They suck because they make you want more than you need.

They make you feel you need to access to your email/twitter/facebook/tumblr all day, every day.  The truth is, the world will keep revolving just fine if you have to wait, but the temptation to absorb your consciousness into the tiny infinite world housed in your pocket is so palpable it can cause real, physiological stress.

The damage from these devices would be minimal if it ended there.  If we were satisfied with checking for new messages and, upon finding none, then replaced the device into our pockets. But we have arrived at a time in history when our minds need to be amused every spare second of the day.  No longer do we have to sit uncomfortable and alone with our thoughts on the brief Metro ride home.  God-forbid our mind be blighted by old-fashioned boredom when we can be blissfully swiping our fingers across a glass face at words and images that are not really there, miming the actions of social interaction substituting a cold machine for flesh.

I long for the good old days - which in actuality were pretty rotten (see: polio) - where we had to believe in a world that still existed when we closed our eyes.  The devices we have grown dependent on shroud us in a constant fruitless anxiety that we are missing out on life, or, even worse, deluding us into thinking sitting in front of a screen can substitute for living it.