“The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.’ To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law.”David Foster Wallace, 1993, E Unibus Pluram
I am a nobody with a splash of somebody.
After living type-A life, at the behest of lore and culture, it all seemed so circular. My energy shifted toward less, not more. Learning, listening, reflecting, contemplating existence. This has been an exceptionally pleasant part of life – the part containing all other parts.
How can this be? How can contentment increase while pursuing LESS? Pursuits are still here… merely catalyzed by different energy.
A mission to “know thyself” gradually dissolved into a journey to “know us” – humanity – fundamental conscious experience. In this way, this is now a journey for everyone.
RIP, the Knower…
“There is a plague on man,“ says Montaigne: “the opinion that he knows something.”Batchelor, Stephen. The Art of Solitude (p. 123)
Life is a gradual increase in confidence, until confidence finally devours itself and reveals the only truth… you know nothing. Here, bliss awaits. But not the naively ignorant kind. The confidently ignorant kind.
What is it like to be human? Blast into a world of ideas, instincts, and conditioning, gradually recognizing their madness, and letting go? Finally experiencing freedom, in the ultimate sense.
Have a Seat 🪑
Consider this a quiet room at a chaotic house party – welcoming of anyone seeking refuge. Have a seat… It’s wild out there. 🍿
Humanity has been grappling with absurdity (both cosmic and self-imposed) for centuries. This then, is a “modern day” tribute. Someday, it will be ancient gibberish. (As opposed to mere gibberish.)
Please, don’t subscribe.
- Above all, Everything is OK.
- We live in relationship with common truths.
- We get stuck in similar places.
- There are reliable ways to find relief.
How this began, circa 2020:
(Read one kind note from a visitor, here). I appreciate interacting with you all – whether on post comments or email.
Values and Behaviors
“In David Foster Wallace’s view, if culture worships ridicule without recourse, we needed the opposite. An anti-rebellion. Not a wrecking ball, but honest conversations about possibilities.”1993: A Call for Anti-rebellion
In 1993, a favorite author reflected on how American culture seemed infatuated with ironic mockery. He pondered the antidote might be sincerity: being brave enough to be authentic, even if it doesn’t play to the tastes of culture. I believe in this. I am certain we all need sincerity in our lives, in our relationships, in our institutions and communities.
Careful Consumption of Knowledge
Make contact with great minds. Commit to always learn. Remember that information is distinct from knowledge. Mindless consumption is a modern psychological tragedy, and deceives us into feeling as if we are growing. The world runs on ideas and philosophies – whereas information drips… clickbait, memes, rage-of-the-day, seem like simple carbohydrates for the mind. Focus on the ideas and philosophies. Acquire them, take them apart, inspect them from thousands of different angles. Avoid the allure of mindless information.
Share thoughts and ideas. The magic of language is being able to turn our feelings into thoughts. The more we turn our feelings into thoughts, the more we understand ourselves and our relationship to the world. Our relationship with the world, with other humans, whether a close friend or family, or the stranger on the other side of the world, even humans we never meet or have yet to be born. Our connection to other humans is a treasure. Expression, then, is how we can contribute to this connection. How we can add value and build meaningful relationships with other humans.
Add beauty to the world. The human mind does not – should not – merely express in words. Human genius is more profound than words alone can ever convey. Whether it be music, painting, photography, or other creative endeavors…. give the mind open space to roam. 86 billion neurons are ready to work – if only you give them the chance. Not only is artistic expression endlessly satisfying, it can stir the deepest emotions in self and others. Most of us live in a collective daydream that life is mostly about getting through the day. Art reminds us that beauty and absurdity are in every direction… always. Art jolts us out of our routine and reminds us that we are alive. Consume art. Create art.
Increase wellbeing in other people’s lives. Donate time, energy, mind, and resources to each layer in the onion of humanity: family, friends, community, city, country, world. Care for friendships. Let people know you love them, frequently. Show it. Equally, help complete strangers around you. Create public resources and tools. Help humanity improve itself. Thoughtfully balance the allocation of energy between personal wellbeing versus the wellbeing of others. We are all responsible for each other. This is obviously hard – the world will accept more than you can ever give. Even so, giving too little is as terrible a mistake as giving too much.
Deeply understand the the nature of my mind and its contents. This is the well from which all other values are nourished. Meditation, journaling, solitude, and careful contemplation. Inspecting feelings before you act on them. As William James said, “we are mere bundles of habits”. Watch your habits closely. Observe your mindscape repeatedly over time – carefully curate actions in support of all other values.
Treat my body with respect. It’s a gift – a miraculous culmination of millions of years of evolution. Use it or lose it. Pump your heart beyond it’s resting pace – regularly. Run, Bike, Hike, Walk, Explore. Use your muscles. Do calisthenics. Stretch. Sleep well. Eat a majority of clean, unprocessed food. Modern life, unfortunately, discourages all of these things. Fight back. The brain does more than generate thoughts – it runs the entire body. Keep your brain in a deeply engaged relationship with the body – move yourself around. Otherwise atrophy awaits.
Experience the World
Feel the diversity of humanity. Travel. Experience other cultures. Befriend the emotion of being lost, and uncomfortable, and venturing away from familiarity. The motivation is not to flee from boredom, or find happiness somewhere other than where you are. Rather, to deepen appreciation for other perspectives. Experience first-hand things you have only read about, or seen in photos.
Basic Human Needs
Shelter, food, autonomy, accomplishment, confidence, self-respect, humility. These are fundamental to all other values and behaviors. I am including this here to remind myself this: I’ve been focused heavily (perhaps too heavily) on this category for most of my life – I need to allocate precious time to other dimensions of my journey. I am so so grateful I’ve had the opportunity and access to make myself strong in this area. However, I will not continue growing by investing most of my time and energy here. I need to make a change.
Staying On Path
A few reminders I use to keep myself on track.
Favorite resources I return to again and again for new perspectives.
Universal ideas for vitalizing your wellbeing.
Thanks for exploring with me. Please comment on any post if you are so inspired.