Whole

Beware Pinheaded Smurfs with CoffeeLet that feeling
Born in shadow
Let it make you
Make you strong

Let the demons
You got to carry
Carry you on and on and on

‘Cause all these things, all these things are yours
All these things, all these things are yours
Oh oh, all these things, all these things are yours

– “All These Things Are Yours”, Dopamine,
Third Eye Blind (Jenkins Stephan Douglas),  June 16 2015

That anger, that sadness – all those things you feel and do not understand are a part of you, for better and worse. They are tools in a world that defies the definitions others have given the world long before you were born.

There are truths. Then there is society. Sometimes they’re incompatible – not all the time, and some of the rules are pretty good – not killing, not stealing, (violence is generally a bad idea) etc – and even when others do it legally, ‘within the rules’, you can see the cracks in society – the lies.

And all you can do is apply truth vigorously, live it… and the first part of that is being true to yourself, to who you are.

To allow yourself to be whole. To recognize your flaws, your faults, and fix them as best you can as you own them even when the world might suggest otherwise.

Hedgehog 2.0.

927A9660.jpgSchopenhauer wrote about the Hedgehog’s Dilemma:

One cold winter’s day, a group of hedgehogs crowded together for warmth so as not to freeze to death. However, the pain from the mass of spines soon caused them to separate again, until the cold forced them back together, and thus they continued, moving from one source of discomfort to another, until they found a distance that allowed them to live but without the benefits of the full warmth of community.

To build on this, the longer a hedgehog stays out of the community, the longer the quills. It may not have started as a misanthrope but rather an explorer, maybe it was shunned because it was different, but over time without the issue of intimacy to contend with, it grows longer quills which makes it a misanthrope even when it tries not to be.

There are entire generations growing up more comfortable with a cold flat screen than other humans at this point.

Let that sink in.

Temporal Progression.

Future Past + PresenceWe are surrounded by people who think time is their master when, really, it’s quite the other way around. We drive time, we push it forward with our every breath – and how we spend it is telling.

Back in 2006, I lived a year without a watch – on purpose. It changed me; I slept better, I ate better, I was in all actuality more productive once I stopped trying to be busy but instead productive.

This past year, I saw it quite a bit. I stayed with some people for a period, and while I did I would check in and do things like ask if they wanted pizza when I returned home. They never said no, and yet when I returned they would show up, grab a slice of pizza and leave – leaving me instead to stare at a box of pizza minus their slices. The idea of spending time together seems to be alien for people only a decade younger than myself. Maybe it’s just me.

These past holidays, I saw people I don’t often see, and while sitting there I found myself watching them stare at their phones. The last visit, I found myself not only staring at my phone but grabbing a book to occupy myself while they stared at their phones. On driving home, after repeatedly going out of my way to see them, I decided that I wouldn’t let that happen again. It’s a waste of…

We’re alive, drawing breath, chasing rainbows most of the time because people before us told us we should. We ignore what’s right in front of us; when the people in front of us are not relevant we’re in the wrong place. When the people in front of us don’t think we’re relevant, we’re not in the right place.

If we pay attention, we have more time than we think. For example, I have more time to write than I think – always – not measured in seconds, minutes, or hours, but instead in what I can write. When we as a society figure out how to transcend time, and be in the right place at the right time, the moments we spend will have value. Yet generations have grown up in front of flat screens, just as my generation grew up in front of televisions.

This, some think, is progress.

Wrevolution

See as time goes by ...“That we were slaves I had known all my life–and nothing could be done about it. True, we weren’t bought and sold–but as long as Authority held monopoly over what we had to have and what we could sell to buy it, we were slaves.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

A sullen young man with ideas once wanted to change the world, wanted to be a part of the progress based on a vision of the future – like many young men, ideally like all young men. What young person doesn’t want to make the world a better place?

But what, exactly, is a better place? A measure of environment is in order – unless part of the financially elite, the view out of the front door of the house walked out of is to trade time for a dream – and a social narrative impacts that dream. Maybe it’s a house with a white picket fence and 2.5 children – the latter being painful for women, so I imagine they round down. Maybe it’s simply not to be living from paycheck to paycheck like a single parent might, maybe it’s to go to college because the social narrative told you to. Maybe it’s to join the military to get ahead – trading time, sweat and the potential for blood for a narrated step up.

The economy is the manager you work for, the company store will sell you everything you can afford to forget your manager is fickle and controlled by algorithms and people who don’t care that you spend your life being a productive member of society. But what is productive? Is productive for a corporate entity the same as productive for yourself? If you care for a system, does the system care back? When’s the last time a bureaucracy gave you a hug, made you feel warm and fuzzy? When’s the last time a corporate logo stopped by and told you a joke? When’s the last time you didn’t feel defensive in a world so easily offended? When the world twists you, it still wants you to be useful.

Time. We measure ourselves in time. Some say time is money, but all things being relative, how much value does your time have? The sand runs down the clock while you try to climb up it and eventually, you get tired. Some people go longer than others, climbing to different heights, having started from different heights, but unless you claw your way to the top of the sand in the upper chamber, you’re covered in sand – and if you, somehow, find yourself on top of the pile… you find yourself being sucked down the hole as you stand on that foundation of sand.

That, too, is how we measure revolution – not the violent upheavals that sometimes come with it which we keep as landmarks in history books, but the things that lead up to them that aren’t as interesting because they lack the prerequisite blood, and maybe sex, that keeps people enthralled. One person’s death seems to be more important than the saved lives of hundreds, if you follow the modern media – the bloodier the better.

One hand onlyRevolution isn’t the upheaval, the violent revolutions only happening when peaceful revolutions are too improbable. The clock of sand isn’t based on gravity; it’s an ellipse drawn in the sand. It’s the snake that eats itself, Ouroboros. Pi has little meaning here, it’s all relative.

Revolution is a process, change being inevitable. The latin root of the word, revolutio, is ‘a turn around’ – but that isn’t seen between the landmarks in history that are taught in schools; the precis version given of blood and sex – not sweat, not changing minds, not the small things that creep through societies connecting people. The revolutions have been televised since there was television, the revolutions are happening right now. Not all are good, not all are bad – and the moral relativism that makes people fight over them is about as meaningful as the change itself.

Tyrants only bleed when the masses have bled, but the only tyrants that exist are those that are allowed by the masses.

“Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

 

The balance of society is never centered, it’s always moving one way or the other, shifting in the sand. And this is why it’s folly to pursue revolution as an end, as an absolute, as a goal. In youth and through age, most do not know this, passions fueled by the change that they want to see in the world when…

Well, the world doesn’t really care. It doesn’t need to be saved; it doesn’t want to be saved. All that can be done is to make the revolutions peaceful.

And that means not being a jerk.

 

Habits

aristotle quote blueWe are sometimes victims of our habits, and those around us. Sometimes we reap rewards because of them.

Alone, we navigate these – sometimes as wayfarers, picking our way through them with goals, and sometimes we bumble through like the lost at sea, unaware, with serendipity perhaps pushing us in the right direction now and then. As communities and societies, it’s done much the same way – with the added reinforcement that the individual gets for being amenable to what society wants.

revolutionary individualThe rebel, the would-be revolutionary, is the one who breaks habits, perhaps wayfaring, perhaps through simple carelessness, perhaps through a self-imposed role of contrarian.

The rebel believes that they are alone, the revolutionary believes that they are not.

Regardless, society’s habits do not change unless those of the individuals at a certain tipping point change, those of the individual do not change unless the individual sees value in it, and what the individual sees value in can be fickle.

Pigs in mud are content, dogs with fleas can be having never been without them.

Context

Crystal sparksWe miss things.

We look away. Sometimes it’s a matter of time, which is a matter of prejudice in the full meaning – not the popular usage.

Take for example The Wall, by Pink Floyd. I introduced the album to my father circa 2001, and he liked it. In 2004, I got a copy of the video for The Wall. The video is something that Tarantino probably looks up to, really, but it tells the story as they wished to represent it.

My father hated it, and would not listen to Pink Floyd after it. In his words, “They’re fucking sick!”.

Now, we could get into the metaphors, etc, but the video – is biographical to an extent, as is the music. It’s about tearing down metaphorical walls, something of a theme in every sentient human I know and have known. To me, it’s soul food.

That’s not what my father saw at all – in it’s own way a tribute of our differences. To him it was sick and disturbing. To me, in a way, that was sort of the point – because inside of ourselves, when we’re honest with ourselves, I think – there always lurks something sick and disturbing. Some might say that there is a darkness in all of us. My father was taught, oddly enough, to maintain The Wall, whereas I embraced that darkness early on.

Was he wrong? No, he was not, he was absolutely right in what he saw – in his context, in the context of his own life and what he thought the world should look like. Was I wrong? No, I saw in my context that it all fell into place. That he was a cornerstone of some of my Walls was a bit poetic in his reaction. Pink Floyd was also a tool for me to help work my way around things, and he believed in brute force – which is not to say that he wasn’t intelligent, but that he was forged of the same materials in a different furnace.

That’s one example of context. Others abound. We all prejudge things to at least a small degree, and some of us – a few, it would seem – take the time to get to understand the contexts better. To see things from different perspectives, to appreciate these perspectives for what we are. It’s important for creating lasting solutions in a world that doesn’t really care about context – it doesn’t care about our prejudices, it doesn’t care about any of what we care about.

The Laws of Nature, which we’ve started figuring out, don’t care about what you think of the next person.

Society, on the other hand, does. We live in both, and we live where contexts are always in conflict – and the big ugly ones remain unresolved because they fester, they are not allowed to heal, and they remains bricks of the wall in our society.

No Matter Where You Go

CavemanIt didn’t start this way.

It used to be that when you didn’t agree with the group, you’d wander off somewhere else on the planet and do your own thing. It could be about anything – if you saw more good in the risk of leaving the group than the bad of staying, you could wander off. Do your own thing, whatever it was, wherever you went. It was all pretty straightforward. If you got a group together that agreed on this, you’d have your own little starter tribe moving off to another part of the world.

No matter where you go…

The beauty of the world was that we hadn’t quite figured out that it was round, much less finite. It was all pretty infinite since we were using our feet back then. Then more you disagreed, the further you and your group walked. Maybe you were very angry but you find somewhere relatively near that was hospitable, and because of that you ended up closer than you probably should have to your original tribe. So you came up with a tree branch that you could whack other people with, or you figured out how to sharpen it. If you encountered people that you didn’t like, it was a simple matter of whacking them over the head or introducing them to your sharp and pointy stick. Eventually they would do the same.

Maybe you reconciled. Maybe you didn’t. At some point, you either ran out of people or one group moved further away than another. Things moved on. Nobody remembers Ug’s last stand where he was surrounded by pointy sticks, all begun because he believed in picking the fruits a little earlier than they did. Ug felt strongly enough to die for it. He’s not in your history books. Ug also had strong feelings about quantum mechanics, but we’ll never know.

If only Ug had wandered away, we might know.

And so diversity in thought came to the world as people moved just far enough away from each other to not get on each other’s nerves. They created little genetic pockets that caused a change in appearance, however small, even as they figured out how to make metal to chop down forests so that they could use that new invention, fertilizer. Populations grew, and soon the distance that was far enough some time ago was no longer far enough away for some. Wars were waged, walls were built, and conquerors decided that their way of life was so good that people wouldn’t mind a little violence to have their way of life.

As luck would have it, during that violence many people who disagreed with the invading way of life would be removed from the planet…. or the invading force who was convinced of how awesome their way of life was were removed. None of this was decided on merits. It was decided by technology, by aggression, and by strategy. There are some that say that this hasn’t changed very much since.

During all of this, one of the descendants of the folks that killed Ug – remember Ug? – figured out that things floated and, with a little work, they could make things that could take them over water. On a planet mainly covered in water, this was a pretty big deal though they didn’t know it at the time. Some guy would later be accused of proving the Earth was round the same year that the globe was invented, all because he was lost. He wasn’t the first, of course, but the people who wrote the history books wanted him to appear first – so he did. We know better now.

And so some people got to wander again, finding different lands where – surprise – they found different people who had been minding their own business and fighting with each other for as long as  they could remember. This was inconvenient, so after a while they conquered them if they didn’t slaughter them. Or, maybe it was time to have some slaves again – slave technology had been around for a long time and hadn’t changed much. For slave owners, who had the authority and power granted to them by themselves, sea faring meant being able to travel with the comforts of slavery to do things that they wanted to do without getting too dirty or sweaty. That these were other human beings didn’t mean too much to them. In fact, they denied it despite obvious indications that this was so.

Populations grew. There was no real place left to wander, and when you get enough people packed closely together for a long enough period of time, they find things to fight over. They did. World Wars came and went, bringing aircraft into the mix even as they started flying around. And so things went.

Meanwhile, with people all over occupying more and more land, there needed to be more effective ways to communicate. Before you know it, there were wires running and people tapping away in code to let other people know something that someone thought was important.

This evolved to the Internet, which you are likely using right now. Connecting the world that had been made of wanderers, it demonstrates how far apart people have grown more often than not.

…there you are.
– Confucius