Monday, July 27, 2015
Aside from the state of being alive, there are very few things that are objectively good, if in fact any are. I'm talking about more than things seeming good or being good, I'm getting more at judgements that lead us to believe something is unflinchingly good or bad, and what we do about it. It is 3am and this may not make much sense in the light of day.
I'd hazard a guess that 95% of the things we have chosen to call good, and then acted as if they were, had little to no intrinsic, undeniable "good" in them. But we somehow felt or thought it useful to call them "good." We judge so very much not merely in terms of does it serve some purpose or reach toward a goal. In a thousand little and big almost invisible assumptions about "goodness" we accept and reject elements of reality as we encounter them.
This may court or shun things, people and situations. Almost as if our thoughts build our world and lives by pushing our attention toward some things and by blinding us to others. There is a major world religion that by and large says our thoughts make reality.
Sometimes our characters do this categorizing into "good" and "bad." They build themselves little internal cages that become their prisons: they trap themselves in expectations and assumptions. It can make sense when they do. Putting a value judgement on things makes it easier to insulate oneself from the actual complicated and nuanced world. Why deal with the vague and not-always-readily-obvious-realities when it can become this simple:
- Assess all things, people and situations you already know or encounter and label them either good or bad.
- Move toward the things labeled "good" and away from the things labeled "bad."
- repeat steps 1 to 3
So much simpler and less scary than actually connecting with each moment honestly and completely as they happen (and connecting with each thing and person in those moments). It is also a form of death-while-living: in exchange for promising freedom from pain and uncertainty, it demands only a subtle but complete disconnect from one's own life.
Being vulnerable and connected to one's own life is arguably the only way to be present and actually live life, as opposed to watching oneself living life. Does Hamlet stay in the moment? Not a whole lot one could interpret. Hamlet bemoans his situation and only swiftly addresses the central issues of the play once he already knows he is literally a walking dead man. Do we stay in the moment? No, often distraction, stress and compromise between contrasting goals leads us to shield ourselves from genuinely experiencing all of the emotional realities of a moment as they unfold.
It can a useful defense that keeps us alive; admiring the beauty of a lion's run as it angrily charges you may well be the last thing you ever do if you can't put that aside long enough to avoid being killed. However, similarly closing oneself to fully seeing the truth, in an important relationship in our lives for instance, may not only not protect us, but may actually allow far more harm and heartache into our life than fully recognizing reality ever could.
[Truth has a habit of being impervious to our wishes and immune to our opinions. Without launching into too much weird hair-splitting, I think you can almost say that one of truth's defining attributes is that it is not subject to whim. Not sure if such an objective truth becomes one and the same with objective reality, a reality that exists regardless of whether we think it does or not, but it seems like objective good would have to somehow interact with object realities and objective truths.]
So being alive may be an only objectively good thing because of its opposite. The opposite of being alive is the ultimate lack of options, dearth of possibilities. And possibility is the substance of the future, and each moment of everyday we make possibilities real.
It is tempting to translate this into something actionable for all of us by saying, "be alive," but that feels like a bit of weak direction, like a director saying, "be angrier." Instead, I think the objective for all of us, in work and life, may be "keep going." I'll close this late night blog post (please forgive any errors and rambling-ness) with a quote I've heard attributed to Tracy McMillan:
Everything works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.
comments: Post a Comment