on being

by john

A close up of river sediment in cross section. Age: 1.8 Ma. Relates how? Read on…

The past few weeks I have been seeing extreme weather reports all over the world. It seems that we are helpless against mother nature and her whims. There are the fires in Europe, Hurricanes and Typhoons all around the world. We are able now to see the bigger picture of what is happening around the world. And we are also seeing first hand the impacts of more extreme weather.

On top of this, there are also human created problems. Waste, poverty, economic and monetary policies and pollution to name a few. Recently there was an article on Greenpeace about Plastic Particles in Tap Water (This one is quite scary. I tell people to drink tap water and use recyclable water bottles. The answer is to drink filtered tap water with a reverse osmosis filter).

There are trash islands floating around in the ocean. Palm Oil Spills. It seems that we are unable to escape the byproducts of our civilisation. But yet we are addicted the the very things that will destroy us. Palm oil is used in a lot of foods we eat daily.

Perhaps we are all addicts. We may be addicted to different things, but we all need something to fill the void that inevitably appears in our minds. We invented boredom. Some people play sports. Other people read, or garden. Some people are addicted to recognition and fame. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that we were created this way.

It seems that there are a mountain of problems to deal with. How is it possible to cope? I try to limit my news intake. The study of the media has taught me to be careful of what the media says.

It seems that all the problems are related, similar to a huge ball of wires you keep under the table. It also seems that there are a hundred monkeys trying to untangle it at the same time.

It seems that everything is out of control, as if somebody decided that our lives would be a dark satire. We are the most creatively irrational species.

But this whole world out there was merely the picture I got from reading news. In reality, I am in a safe and quiet room in a safe neighborhood. I play music and go surfing.

There seem to be two worlds. The one we create with words, and the one that isn’t.

I thought about what I was doing exactly yesterday.

The only truthful answer is that I’m being human. That type of answer usually gives me puzzled looks, so I invent some more socially acceptable answer. But what (the hell) are we really doing? Can I actually control my life? Is there ultimately anything that will make a difference? (OOOoooh!)

There are things that we can’t control. Certain things are beyond control of anyone. Like when they want to eat. Or when they are hungry. Or when they are tired. Or when they feel the urge to mate. Or even what they think. Have you ever thought to yourself…”I’m going to think about thinking later”?

I think I was concerned at some point in my life whether the actions I did made a difference or not. Or whether they were important. I now believe that it is impossible to judge whether one is “making a difference” or whether something “matters” – and if anyone else tells you different, they are either lying or earnestly ignorant. I even thought about “meaning” for a long time.

Now of course, this may be an unpopular opinion. I believe I had some conversations with some people about this. It seems that to look at the underlying structures that power the fantasy around us is considered impolite. The fantasy has become real. Or is it a nightmare?

I think that there are some things that do matter. And the fact is, we all need something to think matters in order to live a somewhat sane life. Nihilism is a pretty extreme path to take. But how is it possible for the brain to comprehend two conflicting truths? How to reconcile a valueless, uncaring world with the fragile human ego who is obsessed with things like “value”, “meaning”, “truth” and “purpose”?

Many great people have tried before us. Some were lonely people who lived in cottages in the mountain (and stayed unmarried (not that they didn’t try!!)). Others were people who did the same thing every day (it was said that people could set their clocks by their schedule!). The thing is, thinking about these things is extremely impractical. To even think about emotions is impractical. Discipline, moving forward and doing things is what is considered “valuable”.

There is something called “cognitive dissonance” which is basically when the real world contradicts your expectations and the feeling that results from it. There are also ways in which the brain tricks itself into not thinking about such things, or somehow finding a way to make our internal “story” work.

We have somehow created a imagined world full of wonderful things like economies, health insurance, zoning laws, governments and corporations. Is this some type of rebellion against nothingness?

Some people say that we should find some type of goal to work towards. I personally think that this is very practical advice. Doing stuff definitely keeps your mind off things. I find this one very useful. This is why employment and the economy are important. Keep people working and consuming things! They won’t even notice that their time on earth is passing by! Just make sure you’re doing it of your own volition (or try your best to make it pleasant).

But what is it exactly that I personally am not thinking about? Why is it a big deal to be able to not think about things? People pay a big deal of money for experiences that help them not think about anything. Movies…TV, Drugs, Relationships, Alcohol, Possession, the list goes on…

If we are unable to control even our thoughts, and even further unable to control our bodies, then why do we even do things or even bother wasting time thinking? That’s right – you don’t. Don’t think too much.