Inner balance requires at least this: you must know who you are and where (in the largest sense) you are. The rest, all the way to happiness, is simply a matter of maintaining this awareness at all times. Knowing who you are, and where you are is the sine qua non basis for becoming someone else, somewhere else, should you want it — and you usually do.
I’m tempted to say this can be reduced to the “old vs new” issue, but I know this is, in fact, only a quantitative thing. It’s not at all like the old generation was all for pleasure delaying and vehemently against instant gratification. As a matter of fact, it is the older generation that willingly devolved its taste towards instant gratification. This shift in taste is not an overnight invention of the very young, it’s just their heritage, what’s being left to them. It is our fault.
“Is death”, maintains the weaker intellect. Utterly false, as far back as Epicurus: “When we exist death is not, and when death exists we are not” – behold common-sense boiling it down to the obvious disjunction. The only certainty of life is suffering.
Truism time! Enjoy life, for it is extremely short.
The moments of such revelation are seldom, perhaps you get one every year or so, and they are almost instantly negated or, worse, dismissed out of misguided cynicism. This is probably the only revelation worth living by. Yet we almost never do, even after being blessed with it, more than once.
Enjoy life, for it is absurdly short if you don’t. Plus, it’s sometimes shorter than expected.
There are only two ways of looking at things, two lenses: love and hatred. Craving and aversion, in Buddhist teachings. Indifference is not the middle ground, it is merely a way of not looking at things, and it’s mostly worse than either love, or hatred.
You must try and see everything through the lens of love, first. Sadly, if things still appear distorted, they sometimes look much better when seen through the bloody lens of hatred. But there are, really, very few things that require this. Most everyday mundane affairs (and these are what fills our lives, not big, heroic decisions or events) can be approached with love.
“Thou shalt not entertain any firm beliefs.” Good or bad, that’s not important. Intuitive, or based on the best science, it doesn’t matter either. What seems to matter now is that you should never be certain of anything.
This age demands that you remain ignorant, despite the unprecedented amount of knowledge this age amassed. No matter how much you know (or feel) is right, you should not base your confidence on your certainty. “You must never be certain”, is what is asked of you. And it prepares the ground for “every opinion is valid.” Coupled with “anyone is entitled to their opinion on anything”, this heralds the end of civilization.
|“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher (1844 – 1900)
|“Tribes are what matter now.”
Seth Godin, marketer (1960-present)
Staying in sync with the present time is not that big a deal. Keeping your eyes open, your ears keen, and your reflexes intact isn’t particularly difficult. Following your herd is not something hard (or something to be proud of). Most people are on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not. It’s not that I’m not “most people” (which I’m not), it’s that I’m not in sync with my times.
Sometimes, to be ahead of your times, you need to live in the past.
In a seaside town, on a sunny week, at work. Always at work, then back “home” at more work, under never-ending stress, playing Atlas all the time. Not today. Against all ods, today will be a day for sea toe-dipping, plenty of sun burns and a few seaside glasses.
Sometimes you have to stop and smell the seagulls.