the will to live in a doomed world

I have a pretty clear view of where this country is heading, what with all the urbanization and increasing of production and population that’s been going on. When one just elongates existing trends from the last 30 years it gives a good idea.
Add to that the tendency of mankind to do things because they’re possible (in stead of what’s desirable) and it is clear: more roads, more buildings, more people, more houses, more traffic, more noise, more pollution in the Netherlands.

pic by Roger Waleson

Less animals, less patches of unkept nature.
Especially with the tendency of the Dutch to do everything thoroughly, optimalized and regulated.

This future is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing that will happen.
It is no good to cry over the loss of panda’s and silence and funny little frogs. These things are happening and these things are to be expected. Because we are who we are and we do as we do.

pic by Margan Zajdowicz

It is not my aim to sit here all gloomy and doomy and cry my eyes out, no matter what the tearjerking nature documentaries or accusing reports are trying to accomplice.

It is my aim to come to a mental attitude that aknowledges these processes and premisses and finds a way to exist happily within them. I just need some time to sit down and think about this properly. Apply my mind and find the nuggets.

SOME ASPECTS I SUSPECT IT WILL INCLUDE:
Within this future I feel there will be a chance to witness the unexpected beauties that will develop from the new situation. Like we never would have expected LOLcats and the joy they give when we first thought about internet and its implications.

lol by Mandy Julian

In the same vein there will be unexpected new things come into existence in a more urbanised world. Already the city birds sing harder than their country cousins. Certain bugs can exist thanks to the city warmth.

Humans can get involved. There’s already something called “Guerilla Gardening”. I have done so myself, throwing poppy seeds all over town to grow some flowers.
There will be other things.

pic by Michal Koralewski

A second thing that will pop up in this exercise of thought will probably be the embracement of shrinkage. I cannot shield the square mile around my cabin from urbanization and heavy industry. But I can shield my little patch of woodland. I can optimize it for animals. And I can find joy in sitting in the grass and seeing a bee emerge from the bee hotel I made and enjoying the flowery herbs I sowed.

I also expect there will be a word or two about human culture. Therein may lie the way to happily spend time and feel forfilled as a human being in an urban world. Or at least be amazed at what’s possible and how intricate it can be.

It will be something that’ll be lost to future generations too, just like our polar bears.
In the same way we no longer appreciate the intricate meanings of a gift of flowers a couple of hundred years ago. They were like lettres! Also in art the chosen flower was a communication.
Or the way women tied up their head scarves. There was so much meaning in that. It was a form of communication. For all the community to see.

Opera.
Myths.
Literature.
So many meanings, implications, reasons for public outrage or private chuckles in these expressions of culture are now lost to us.
And so will ours in the future. Internetmemes, ’80s music, action figures and films. Their meanings and communications are now gone or fleeting.

But joining in, becoming part of a contemporary cultural tribe, might be an answer to the feeling of doom one gets when realizing how the world as you know it is changing and that things get lost.

Other answers are denial, distraction or numbing (that last one by using drugs).
These are not my style. Although I use distraction a lot to manage the stressors I feel. When it is not the time to deal with them I use distraction a lot (aka watching movies or solving a difficult puzzle)

My style will be to identify what changes are to be expected in my country, in my environment, in my lifetime.
Then I’ll try to identify what attractive options I have to feel good about living in this world at this time. I expect at least these three aspects to be involved: trying to predict and spot unexpected opportunities budding from the new situation; embracing life on a smaller scale; looking at human culture for existential delights.

Art is one expression of human culture that delights my mind and spirit:
pic by Winnie Lee

Advertisements

Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 8: Being Perfect

In this last post I will match the life that will make me feel happy with the reality of my daily life. In other words, I’ll try and fit a square thing in a round hole.

Square Peg in a Round Hole_0565

Let me list some of the practicalities that make the shape of the hole in which I am trying to fit. Not abiding to them will be a recipe for disaster and disappointment soon or later on.

  1. My eyesight is worsening. I’ve been having double vision for over a year now. It is not getting better. There’s a history of eye trouble in the family ánd I carry a few genes that will facilitate said trouble.
  2. I have a chronic fatigue illness. It is not healing any time soon. The last few months I got one hour up-time twice a day. Before that I got three times. I probably will get back to that. Perhaps even get up to four hours. But it will be slowly and it will never be 8 hours up and working.
  3. I need daily alternating of work and relaxing. Relaxing time is for relaxing. No judging life during relaxing. No goals and no hurries during relaxing. Enjoy a hobby, knitting is mine.
  4. The alternating needs to be done consciously. Otherwise I’ll just skip on or the other. Go lie on the couch. Go sit at your table and work.
  5. Maintaining the body takes time and effort. I tend to forget this. I fail to allot time for it during the day (because it eats into my uptime). I forget to go pee…
  6. The days need to be quiet. Too many things on my to do list will make me feel jumpy. I will feel inadequate and will skip spending time on ‘useless’ things that are important such as social interaction, hobbies and lying in my bed.
  7. This next item is painful to admit…..but I am not well in the company of my spouse. Somehow part of me gets preoccupied in his presence, even if he just sits there, programming. My energy gets divided, siphoned away. I can’t concentrate (I guess I feel guilty when I do so)
  8. I also keep expecting that us living together should be like two of me living together, with both of us having my eye for detail and my drive for perfection. Of course this is not the case, the man can’t even read my thoughts! (which I still find annoying). Thusly, the house we live in is not the way I’d like it to be. And I blame him. Now please understand, I knów this attitude is rubbish. But this is still how it works for me, after years of trying to alter me. The result is that I am not happy in my house and not happy in the couple.
  9. Words are not my friends. I keep getting frustrated when words are not effective enough to express my thoughts. I blame myself for not communicating in a way that my conversation partner/reader/listener understands. It doesn’t help that my points of view often are in the realm where words are too crude anyway. Still I blame me.
  10. My fascinations are fluid. They change. They have a “best by … date”. I need to grasp the current one and work through it before it looses its viability. Also: there needs to be some sort of end result. Something I can show and share with friends.
  11. My days are unpredictable. When my mind is off, or my body, or the weather, or my inspiration, my day schedule needs to be able to cope with that. Without everything crumbling down. Also, I can no longer live with rigid time tables and must-do lists at which I fail at every time something unexpected happens.

So how do I fit a meaningful life into these restrictions?

pic by Rubenshito

  1. EYESIGHT don’t chose one occupation or skill on which I’ll be dependent for the rest of my life. So no miniature jewelry making or artisan work. Photography is fine as is blockprinting. Learn to knit without looking.
  2. FATIGUE better have some things I can do lying down. The thinking, the drawing, the knitting, it can all be done lyig down. And: for now don’t chose long or labourous production processes for the visible results. So no screen printing, wood carving, performance art or welding. Computer drawing/writing is ok. Painting too.
  3. RELAXING is a conscious decision. Enjoy your downtime. Think of fun things to do when resting and only do those when relaxing. Enjoyable movies, interesting knitting, an hour of surfing. Spend money on your hobbies, use quality yarn.
  4. ALTERNATING devise a basic daily routine. Get up and work then break for lunch and resting.
  5. MIND THE BODY insert daily routines to take care of the body. Routines that take minimal effort. How does one remember to pee? Use alerts. Friendly alerts.
  6. QUIET MIND only put two things per day on the to do list. The rest is bonus. Of course things need to be done to keep life (and the house) running smoothly. However, I can spend less time and effort on them. Just plan smartly, prioritize (when you’re not tired!), lessen any expectations about the perfect household, social relations etc. and delegate. Have someone clean your house, have plenty of storage spaces, install electronic birthdaywishes or reminders, wear the same clothes in different colours. Allot set amount of times to a chore and then do it 60%. Well enough is good enough.
  7. BEING TOGETHER. Got nothing for this one….. Practise? Copy how he does it? He doesn’t lose part of himself in my presence. I have no solution for this one. Yet.
  8. LIVING TOGETHER. Trying to change my husband didn’t work. Trying to change my expectations didn’t work either. The solution is to go towards another, third option: invent a new way of living together that facilitates both his way of living and mine. See the house in a new way and try to invent new ways of living in it. Having an intellectual goal of my own and a separate room to work on it will help. (a previous solution of mine didn’t work: me living my way in the house and having him stay there too. The house is too big for one person to run. And I still got annoyed that he didn’t read my mind).
  9. LANGUAGE. communicate in another media altogether? I lack even more skills in those…  A solution might be to not care so much about being understood completely. Allow room for alternate interpretations of my message and the novel thoughts they may provoke, in both the listener and in me. Adapting this attitude does require some sadness over not being well understood. Basically it tells you you are alone in this life… But if you allow for the sadness you will notice that in other ways people will assure you you are not alone. You’re thoughts are just not that well understood as they are in your head. But you áre known and you áre not alone in this world.
  10. ROTATING FASCINATIONS. Right now I seem to want to block print large sheets of paper, using the printing press. Enjoying an adventure through colours, types of ink and paint, paper and shapes. I could call it wall paper. Sellable artisan wall paper. But I also want to explore lines and illustration and make a little magazine. And I’m learning to sew Haute Couture style. And I’m making a Faraday’s cage. I need to grasp all these fascinations before they grow stale or wither! The solution is to have one job per day. AND have a tangible result to work towards. Even use this as a deadline, to get going every day.
  11. FLEXIBILITY My routines need to be robust but they need not be a harness. There are four things essential in my day: there MUST be food, there MUST be clothes, there MUST be one hour rest on the couch around midday. Also I MUST go pee. Well… that’s not too many musts. That leaves plenty of room to accommodate for unexpected inspirations. All other things can be pushed away or postponed. For example, I can get through the day without brushing teeth (because of my diet). I can live with messy hair. I can walk outside without scaring the neighbours. As long as these four “MUSTs” are met there’s nothing threatening me and I can feel free to drop all other to-do’s and want-to’s and ought-to’s. This is a conscious decision, an attitude I can adopt. A mental attitude.

Hey, this is workable!

pic by ItsMe1985

CONCLUSIONS about HOW MY LIFE IS MEANINGFUL

I get a sense of meaningfulness when my life revolves around exploring a fascination. Explore, play, create. I like to connect with people, using some sort of representation of that explored fascination.

I get a sense of meaningfulness when my life revolves around experiencing good emotions. I like to share these emotional experiences with people. This means going out and experiencing them together. I like that.

Relaxing and sharing relaxing time with friends are also very meaningful past times. No measurable result needs to come from this. Preferably not, actually!

Because of health and character I need certain things in my day. Upon inspection these are not too demanding, if I plan them smartly and if I lessen expectations on all the other things my busy perfectionist brain thinks up. Focusing on the priorities and that they are met should be enough to make me proud of how I live my daily life. Focusing is a conscious decision. A new habit to form. Extremely doable.

I still loose energy when in company of my husband. Has been like this for 15 years. I have no solution. Yet.

I do not need to worry about which fascination to explore, I can do 5 jobs in 5 days. There will always emerge new fascinations, I do not need to worry if one passes me by or when progress is too slow.

Funny how morals, salary, fame or what “they” think of me plays no part in the actual meaning of (my) life. I’ve shed the previous notions of how to rank a human life completely, for me it is enough to go by that inner compass, the one without words. Because in the core I am a decent person, someone with a tendency to do the right thing. I no longer need to worry about that, I can just go about my business and live the life that makes me happy.

brilliant picture by John Nyberg

EPILOGUE

This is the last part, part 8, in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I do not feel worthless anymore. Which I did, often and always, as hinted at for a bit in this post.

Coming back to that original post, “A Useless Life”, my feelings were influenced not only by other people’s ideas but also by my tendency to observe and judge myself all the time. This habit is now gone. (yes, I can shed habits that quickly. It correlates with the intensity of the epiphany how wrong or damaging the habit is. I’d call it “a duh! consequence”)

Also I did not distinguish clearly between relaxing time (laying on the couch being “useless”) and production time (which can also be spend on the couch, drawing or writing or thinking). And I was rebelling against how much time I need to lay down, because it feels like loosing to this disease. This is a battle I have twice or three times each year. (ok, three times at least each year, accompanied by a rage because usually I caused it myself by doing too much). It’s always difficult to surrender. To give up, to clear the calendar. To take the disappointments.

It doesn’t reflect on the meaningfulness though. It only requests I shift gears and  rearrange the pace of my days. An additional problem is that in those episodes I cannot think very clear, cannot make those decisions very consciously. I guess I could write down my strategies on a couple of post-its so I have a manual for when the next episode hits…

Looking back at that post about being useless there were three things convincing me. I could logically argue why and how I was useless. I felt useless. I knew it to be true.

While looking into this in the 8 parts you find on this blog I can now conclude that the premisses of my logic was flawed. As was the habit of judging and the standards I used for ranking.  The feeling of uselessness came from focussing on wrong things. Replacing the logic and the premisses and the habits automatically shifted my focus and lead to other feelings. (I don’t think you can change the way you feel about something without a change of view point. You can’t redirect emotions by will.)

The knowing it to be true comes from the feeling and the logic and an insecurity thing or two I picked up in childhood. I don’t know how to fix that last part. Therapy? A healing ritual? Or just living the good life until a new conviction of worthiness takes hold? I’m betting on the last one.

pic by Alicia Solario

Here are the other posts in this series:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfect or just admitting I can’t count

Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 6: having a heart

Having a heart is typical human. Compassion, love, delight, joy are important things. Emotions are important things. They probably should have a say when evaluating the worth of the life one leads.

 pic by Benis Arapovic

It is our heart that allows us to get ecstatic. I lack the right word in English for what I want to describe here, the Dutch word is “vervoering”. It is when you get swept off your feet. Experience something greater than yourself. It’s a good thing, an totally enjoyable thing. It has nothing of the sharpness that can come with the English word “ecstasy”.

The experience of being “in vervoering” can be prompted by a love experience, by your child, by your partner, by sex, by dancing, by religion, by a group experience. But also by a quiet, harmonious experience like as seeing a little child comforting its brother who has just bumped his head.

 pic by Jenben24

To be able to be swept off ones feet might be one of the most important things in a human life.

I also suspect that biologically it connects with the delight of sublime experiences I described in the previous part: having a brain.

Experiencing being swept of your feet cannot be judged with the brain. Or with moral values. It is outside the realm of things I use to conclude I’m useless in life.

PERVERSION
Experiencing this heart-thing or trying to relive the experience can easily evolve into perversion. Just like striving for sublimation to excite the brain can evolve in all kinds of addictions and mass delusions about what makes life valuable. Perverted excitement of the heart results in being overwhelmed by the emotions so much that you completely lose yourself and get truly rattled by that experience. It will make you feel desperate. Adrift.

SURPRESSION
Tempering the experience and being careful to never getting to the stage of excitement is no good either. You cage yourself. You hold back. You do not experience life to the fullest.

Getting swept of your feet is one experience that is powerfully clear in its message: “I am alive!”

No argument then. Experiencing the heart is one of the things that makes life worth living.

CONCLUSION

Being “in vervoering”, being swept of your feet, is something everybody needs to experience in life, at least once. It is one of the things that makes life worthy.

pic by Fernando Audibert

This is part 6 in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I don’t feel worthless anymore.

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 5: having a brain

To summarize the previous posts: feeling of worth can only come when I judge myself based on me being human and having human values. The human values are fluid and not clear cut. When judging myself I have to take make room for the validity of emotional standards and my unhealthy habit of comparing and judging all the time (on false premisses).

Now I want to look at that typical human asset, the brain, and how having one can give meaning to ones life.

 pic by ArtM

Having intellect is typical human.

No wait, I mean this the other way around since I do not assume other creatures to be void of intellect: “leading a meaningful life as a human involves the brain.”

Our intellect allows us to appreciate the finer things in life. The more complex things. The various connections a subject has to other subjects. To be more clear, I’m thinking here of the intellectual pleasure we can derive from art, literature, opera, fine bone china, architecture, urban coffee culture, fashion, mathematics, cinema, chess, politics, teenage fashion et cetera. All the things that are more than just things.

pic by Martin Walls

This indulging of the intellectual pleasure, this high flying of the mind, can go o extremes and become ugly and sickening. For example urban culture and office politics can easily migrate to rat race and adrenal pushing. Caffeïne addiction. Judging an extrovert lifestyle superior to an introvert one.

Leading an up beat life is exhillerating and fun but it is not good when it goes too extreme. This lifestyle is nonetheless glorified and presented as normal in adverts, sporting events, media circusses and American tv-series such as US Scandal (which I love to watch. But it’s too adrenal, the people are too witty and life goes too fast.)

There’s nothing wrong with high speed entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with an extrovert lifestyle.

There’s something wrong when we get addicted to it, when we take it to extremes and when there’s a group delusion that this kind of lifestyle is very worthy and to be desired.

 pic by Mark Normand

Returning to the joys of having a brain.

Things that delight the brain (or make us delight in having a brain) al seem to be more than the thing presented. Architecture is more than a building. Chess is more than a game.

This is called sublimation. And I think that enjoying something sublime is a biological thing. Certainly not logical. Even though it starts and ends with the brain and the brain alone.

 pic by Macin Smolinski

Animals know sublimation too. Sea gull chicks tap the red spot on the bill of their parents to make them regurgitate food. When presented with a lollipop stick with a red dot on them, they’ll tap on it. If presented with a stick with a bigger red dot on it, they tap it harder. When presented with a stick with the biggest red dot on it they’ve ever seen and unthinkable for any seagull they blow their little minds, will ignore their parents and will tap that big red dot. They experience sublimation. (see footnote)

Humans can do the same. I suspect big round breasts do something like that for men, even if they are bigger than breasts they’ve ever seen and are unthinkable for any human.

A more harmonious sublimal pleasure can be derived from the fields of culture I gave some examples of. I think it is important for a human being to have this in her life. I think it will make life meaningful. = CONCLUSION

Having said so I realize this pleasure is private, intern, solo. Let me think about that some more.

This is part 5 in a series in which I think myself towards a meaningful life. So I don’t feel worthless anymore.

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

 pic by Serkan Ozcan

footnote:

The seagull experiment was done by Nobel Prize winning biologist Nico Tinbergen. He didn’t use bare lollipop sticks but sticks with the shape of a sea gull head glued to it. He used different coloured dots on different parts of the silhouette. The interpretation of the experiments and research needs a bit more nuancing than I’ve presented it above.

I still suspect animals are capable of sublimation. I know the human animal is.

Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 4: Values

This is part 4 in a 5 part exercise to reason myself out of leading a worthless life.

In this part I’ll look at the values and morals we bring to the table when comparing and judging the world and ourselves. In a simple view I’d say our values are the things we base our views and judgements on. The measuring tape we apply. I want to know if these values make sense. I have a feeling they are not very consciously installed.

pic by Michaela Kobyakov

Most values on which we base our opinions (of ourselves) are influenced by:

  • group ideas
  • habits
  • examples
  • the way you were raised

pic by Marcus Österberg

GROUP IDEAS

Psychologists and Social Scientists have written plenty enough books about how our personal morals are shaped and influenced by the group in which we exist. Being it a circle of family, a circle of friends, a religion circle or people you identify with over the internet or television shows.

Excesses are peer pressure, collective blind spots, censure, masse hysteria and people who do not pick up on values: the psychopaths. But we’ll leave the excesses for the scientists, I want to think about the normal, soft-spoken values all of us got and keep getting from the groups of people we interact with.

Group values we internalize are about social behaviour, decency, bodily presentation, whether leadership is desired, whether personal sacrifices are desired, should we be obedient, which things we should be outraged about, which things in life are desirable and many more.

pic by Scasha

Of course a group has a different goal than an individual. Perhaps its values should be examined and judged before embracing them as our own?

Ah, but since values are such a muddled bunch, it is hard to distinguish were your own moral values centre around and which one are based on the group you’ve been hanging out with.
Perhaps this is not a problem after all. We are group animals after all. Perhaps we can rely on group values to be of some good for individuals too.

pic by Danagouws

One thing to do help us distinguishing some between group values and personal morals is comparing different groups. When you travel to another country it is very easy to pick up on the difference in “value flavour”.
For example: the Dutch are very much about efficiency. We will try to optimalise any production process. We’re also a trading country for centuries and we’re quite practical when it comes to marrying morals with profit. Outbursts, flamboyance and patriotism is not in our blood.
Norway, on the other hand, values family time highly. Women are equal to men and this shows in society. They love to spend time outdoors. There are
Norsk people get tired quickly when dealing with Dutch people trying to set up business in Norway. They are so pushy! They take no time to live, to obey the subtle pleasantries of human interaction. The Dutch get frustrated with the Norwegians, everything is so slow and fluid! No solid information is given, no initiaries.
A good example how departure from different values makes for different “flavour”.

pic by Arancia

Another example is how as a culture the USA views and values workers in retail and food industry. They are servers. They are servants. They are there to serve you. You can talk down to them. You are the costumer.
In the Netherlands, and also in France, it is different. People working in shops and cafe’s are the hosts of that venue. You are a guest. As a guest you are expected to be polite. You greet the server upon entering. You thank them when they hand you something. Even though you bring money you are dependent on the server and it’s a joint collaboration to get you the product/experience you desire. You are not better than the person helping you.

Traveling and talking to people from other countries and other social groups is good way to examine the values one takes from their own country and their own groups. Do I want to be a down to earth, efficient Dutch woman? Do I want to embrace the love for tv shows about singing? Do I want to join in the conviction society is crumbling down and we are no longer safe in our own homes?

Groups can have some specific and quirky ideas about life and what makes a valuable life.

HABITS

We are also creatures of habit. We’re lazy beings, mostly. Once your values are established and you use them to judge yourselves and others, it’s far easier to keep reusing them than it is to re-evaluate them once in a while.

I’ve got a life to live, I’m busy as it is, get away from me!
pic by Piotr Bizior

Re-evalution of ones morals and values feels like another chore to jot down on the old to-do list…

hmm. A new habit can be installed though. Without examining the values in dept. So that’s half the chore then. Doable. Especially when it’s wrapped in another new habit that is installed, such as judging less.

EXAMPLES

pic by Marinela Prodan

We pick up plenty values from other people. Being it aunts who like to dress up or famous people.
In my society examples are presented through the media a lot. I have to keep in mind media filter and colour every story to serve their own media goals.
I also have to keep in mind that any other person I look at in order to learn from, I’m looking from the outside. From the outside, exemplary people often look coherent. Consistent.
I have no clue about their inner torrents and multiplicity. I should remind myself that these people too have rich inner lives and are not as clear cut internally as they appear on the outside. I should not expect myself to be.

Famous people and media also help to shift values and morals. We all know examples of media stories where suddenly it is ok to say something about other people, to voice (or even have) an opinion that was unthinkable 20 years ago.
An opinion about Muslims. Homosexuals. Women providing home lives. Evolutionists. Surgeons. Cyclists. Squirrels.
We should not take those opinions and run with them. We should not get caught up in the crazy of today. We should not be quick to adapt our values based on the news.

THE WAY YOU WERE RAISED
This is a strong well of values from which you have taken many. It’s a good idea to shed some of them. To dilute all of them.
As a child it was probably easier to handle life by seeing things in black and white. As an adult you know the world isn’t like that. It’s a complex world. There are no clear cut truths. This is nothing to be worried about, complexity is not more difficult to handle than simplicity.
It’s just more nuanced. And a great source of beauty.

CONCLUSION
Values are taken from many sources outside of us. Groups, other individuals and child hood habits. It’s a good idea to be more mellow, to ease up. Both on the values and on the sources you took them from.

pic by Belovodchenko Anton

This is part 4 in a 5 part thinking exercise. Here are the other parts:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

Reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 3: Judging

So: feeling valuable in/at life can only be based on human perspectives.
These perspectives are not primarily logical or clear headed. This doesn’t make them invalid. Au contraire.

Now I’m wondering:

How does the mere act of judging influence the judgements I cast on myself?

As humans we are taught to judge all the time. We compare compare compare. We attach values at all the components involved. We do it in a split second too. It seems we can hardly use our eyes without comparing and attaching values.

(perhaps seeing IS the act of comparing? without comparing we cannot see?)
(- when a tree snow falls in the forest and there’s nothing left to see, am I then blind?)
(no.)
(- there you are then. Now enough with the philosophies, go get some results!)

We compare things.

All.
The.
Time.

And then we rank them. We rank options. People. Accomplishments. Fruit. Days.

It seems we cannot go a minute without comparing and ranking things.
It may very well be that this knack for judging is impairing the appreciation of the meaningfulness of our own life.

Our comparing and consequentally judging of apples things is influenced by:

  • our habits in comparing and judging
  • our upbringing
  • our skills in comparing and judging
  • our premisses

But all of these are subjective…

And therefor possibly flawed. Probably flawed!

All of these aspects can (need) be examined and tuned or changed before any good judging of the meaningfulness of ones life can commence.

This exercise would weed out the unarticulated notion that I am worthless. If my life is indeed meaningless then I will at least be able to put into words why I think this to be true.

But without examining the way I judge it will never be more than a strong feeling that I am useless. Just a snap shot decision that I am. Possibly just out of habit and faulty premisses imposed upon me as a child.

I should examine these four points. How they operate for me personally.

Right here, on this blog, and right now, after only one cup of morning tea, I am not prepared to do this. But I may make myself a second cup and grab my notebook to do some thinking off line…

CONCLUSION:

Before passing judgement it’s a good idea to have a closer look at ones habit, values, skills and premisses used in judging. They are probably not very sound ones.

This is part 3 in a 5 part thinking exercise:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

pic credits: apples by Tibor Fazakas, taking a bit by Gary Scott

reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 2: Being Human

Feeling worthless for a long time now I’ve set up a reasoning to find my way to a meaningfull life. This is part 2, is there meaning to be found in BEING HUMAN?

pic by Gözde Otman

I’m a human. (Oh go on, let’s just assume so. Squabble squabble SNORE!)

Implications of being human are, amongst others, that I have a body, that I know other humans, that I have intellect, that I have feelings, that I’ve learned to make decisions, that I have language. All these things have consequences for how I value life and how I value my own life. I’ll look at some of them in detail in future parts (5: intellect; 6: feelings)

For now I want to focus on how being a human influences asserting value to something.

A human has a brain. This gives him the chance to predict the future, especially the consequences of his own actions while still in the stage of contemplating which action to take. His predictions colour the value he attaches to his array of possible actions. It may easily cripple his decision making, having him linger in indecisiveness.
This ability to think ahead also gives him an inkling of how his day is going to go, his week, his year. This yields expectations. Expectations are compared to the actual day/week/year. This is a danger zone, full of judgements and disappointment.

pic by Elvis Santana

A human has feelings. Feelings are a formidable force in life. They may give value and meaning to a life in a way that cannot be grasped by the brain.
Feelings give a human a connection to those that are affected by his actions and by his life/existence. This also makes the feedback he gets from those around him pretty powerful.
We should all be skilled in experiencing feelings, in not being afraid of them. Not feeling prompted to act upon them either. Just feel them. I suspect they attach value to a life…

A human is a group animal. This gives all kinds of intertwined messages and feelings on which we try to base standards with which we measure ourselves and others (more explored in part 4).
Apart from this, being a group animal gives us another non-rational set of standards to appoint meaning to our lives. We need interaction with other humans, we are biologically programmed that way. Each to her own degree (hello introverts, you are doing fine).
This means that having a good time with friends (or peers) has something to do with worth. I don’t have a clear idea how but that’s because I’m trying to understand all this with my brain. This is not a brain thing, this is biological thing. A valuable thing, making life meaningful.

A human is an eye-animal. This too is a biological thing. We lóve beauty. A nice pattern. Colours. Horizons, rainbows, patterned animals.

pic by Miguel Ugalde

I don’t know (yet) what this means for leading a valuable life. I just know it would be something a scientist researching us would notice.

A human is a playful animal. This too is in our bones. What does this mean for leading a meaningful life? I don’t know yet… It may just give a tool with which to handle living more easily.

There are other traits that go with human being. I’m sure they too have implications for how we value (our own) life. But these are the ones that came to mind instantly.

CONCLUSION
When determining how to value ones own life it is important to acknowledge our biological characteristics. Some of them invite to attach meaning without relying on intellectual values. For example: feeling good in the company of others or when enjoying a view or playing is good for you. Time spend with friends is time well spend. It is a valuable way of spending time in your life, even if it does not yield visible results.

Also: because you are human your system of standards is muddled. And illogical.

pic by Chris Greene, from Norway

This is part 2 in a 5 part exercise to reason myself out of leading a worthless life:

1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

the post where I admit how utterly worthless I know I am is this one

reasoning towards a meaningful life, part 1: Existing

So I tried to reason myself to the meaning of (my) life. Because I’m tired of feeling useless and worthless. Here we go.

this thinking will consists of 5 parts:
1. being in existence
2. being human
3. being judgemental
4. having values
5. having a brain
6. having a heart
7. being me
8. being perfectionist or just admitting you can’t count

PART 1:
Is there meaning to be found in being in existence?

I exist.
(let’s just assume this, okay? I really don’t have the patience for abstract squabbles about the definition of “I” or the merits of observation vs. truth or about the shortcomings of language. SNORE!)

Animals exist. Plants exist. Molecules exist. Mountains exist. I can look at their existence and extrapolate things I notice about the meaning of their existences onto mine.


pic by Sherrie Smith

When I look at the world, at life, as a whole I find that all and everything is of equal value.
I cannot value a human more than a bug on any other bias than that I am a human myself. (this makes that I dó value a human more than a bug but if I just step besides myself for a moment there’s no logical foundation to do so.)

When I look at life I see things just happening. Molecules collide, bacteria die, animals try and pass the day in a undisturbed slumber. There doesn’t seem to be a plan or a big goal in their lives. Nor intention. Nor malice. Things just happen. And if something else or someone else gets caught up in it then that is by chance.

Sex drives, young emerge.
Enzymes fiddle, critical mass is reached.

When looking through the eyes of scientists there’s a lot to be marveled over in this world. Physicists, Chemists, Biologists, Zooölogists. They give wonderful insight in the world around us. There is so much delicacy in systems and workings in the world around us. Robustness too! Amazing co-existences. Awesome adaptations. There’s a lot to be wondered!

pic by ilker

But a set of standards to value life is not to be found when examining existence.
Science gives knowledge and insights and a chance to build a wild house of cards in your mind. But it doesn’t say when a life is meaningful.

CONCLUSION:
Any value or worth of (my) life can only be determined based on (me) being a human.


pic by Thad Zajdowicz

Basic decency: get up in the morning

I’m having a weird, troublesome morning.

Woke up at 6.30 after a solid 6,5 hours of sleep. Took some hydrocortisone to aid with getting ready to get up. Did some surfing to pass the 40 minutes it takes to kick in. Instead it made me drowsy, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I recognised this as a too-much-progesteron-mood and fell asleep.

Woke up again at 9.15. Took some hydrocortisone. Waited. Again my body relaxed. This time I was ready to get up. But my mind wasn’t. “there’s nothing for me downstairs.”

That useless, worthless feeling washed over me again. No, it welled up inside me. I was drenched in it but without a care. I felt very numb.

All I wanted to do and all I could do was lay there, with my head on my pillow.
I lacked all willpower to do anything.

This is a new for me. I have lacked the brainpower to do anything. I have lacked the basic energy level to do anything.
But the will power? Never before.

The scary thing was it wasn’t even scary…
Just on overwhelming thruth of “I’ll just lay here and wither.”

It was very weird to not being able to do anything because of willpower. Before i’ve not been able to raise my head or my arm because of lack of glucose. I had the same physical feeling but now from lack of willpower.

Eventually I reached for my phone, head still on pillow, and called my husband. He’s in the city.
Explaining to him made me angry with myself for not kicking my butt. But at the same time numb. And worthless for leading such a useless life. Very confusing.

Together we broke up the process. He said I HAD to get downstairs and get some food in me and a lithium mineral supplement (Biotics). While you’re downstairs, put on the heating.

I suggested to skip dressing and just go down. This alleveated some of the hurdles in my mind.

We hung up. I prepared to drag myself out of bed.
And I started crying?! Big round tears. It was my body in distress, it REALLY didn’t feel up for the task. And it was me having absolutely no more power, strength or courage to fight any more battles.

That’s when I lifted my head from the pillow for the first time in 10 hours. And instantly felt a bit better, a little bit clear headed. I put a bit of npc on, advise from husband.

I greeted the cat, put on a bra and went downstairs.
Body screaming all the way :(
Trembling, crying, having to take really good care not to tumble down the stairs.

Now I’m back in bed again. The heating is on. A cup of tea is waiting downstairs, with some cream in it. I’ve eating a bit of liverwurst, butter, vit d and lithium. I peed.
Just waiting in the comfort of my bed untill my feet warm up again, then I’ll go get dressed and go downstairs.

I feel quilty of having dragged my body around, it may take a while for it to calm down. I took another chunk of cortison.

I’ve got no idea what happened. The drowsyness from the hydrocortisone may have been caused by it being converted to progesteron immedeatly.
The mood of worthlessness is definately influenced by lack of lithium. The methyl-B12 and Forinic acid I take require lots of lithium (and progesteron)I noticed. I have been firing up the methylationcycle a bit the last two days. And it is day 3 of my cycle when I usually become all Strong Active Woman again but also have to start npc because Misery Woman is also awakening

So there it is. A rotten time getting out of bed. And betrayal by the one thing I have always counted on: my willpower. My strong mind.

Now I’m a bit scared. Worried. What does this all mean? It feels like I’m slipping. Entering a danger zone. I am worried.

For now I’ll revert to my how-to-deal-with-suicidal-tendencies-plan which consists of concentrating on the next half hour in your life and nothing else. In the next half hour I’ll get up, get dressed, drink that tea. After that I’ll look at the next half hour. (probably knitting and a video)(or breakfast)

It’s not that I’m suicidal it’s just that when I was (seriously messed up hormones caused it) I devised a method of staying alive and right now I can use that clutch. I’ll postphone analyzing what happened and worrying about it for as long as possible. Push away the worrying, today I am in no state to find solutions. That’s basic mental hygiene, I feel.

Of course beneath the surface I’m still convinced I’m worthless…

But I’m also angry. To strip away my willpower? How dare it/they!

a useless life….

Suddenly a feeling washed over me today. I am certain my life is useless. I’m squandering it away, laying on the couch, knitting, watching BBC documentaries.

This is a logical conclusion.
I am not using my brainpower, I am not using my artistic skills, I’m not even using my hands in making a nice home. I have no children to fill my life (for that is what they do, wether or not having children is the purpose of life itself). (I have no idea, I never wanted them. But I hear they can unleash the strongest love you’ll ever experience inside a parent, a feeling that strong surely makes for a meaningful life?)

I have no career, no project that is building, no affair that is growing.
Therefor my life is meaningless. Without purpose. Worthless.

Make no mistake, I’m not a dulled potatoe, I do experience a lot, laying here on the couch resting. I experience a lot of feelings. I see a lot. I think a lot. There is a lot to be pondered, about the world, the peoples, nature, nurture, life, colours, cats.
But it is all inside me. There is no outer manifestation of it. No book, no essay, no ongoing conversation, no art, no garden. It fleets. Isn’t it therefor meaningless? It sure feels like it.

The scary thing is that thousands, no millions!, of people have lived before me and have had this dept of inner life. No trace of them exists. We all look at the philosophers whose names have made it into Wikipedia and we admire them for they were meaningful. But luck has a lot to do with wether or not you end up on Wikipedia and/or wether you are deemed a philosopher. The names we know are but small portion of the real thinkers, the wise ones. All the wise women nobody noticed. Notices.
I’m not saying I’m one of those. I am saying I’m one of the ones whose inner kingdom doesn’t come out, visible to the outer world.

Pffft, I don’t even know if my inner kingdom is much of a kingdom at all. Worth ruling. Worth traveling through. Worth documenting.
But it’s the only one I know and I do enjoy my thoughts and feelings and riches. But is it worth anything? Am I worth anything?

These feelings, these notions of uselessness, are never far from my conscious. They fleet under the surface. Sometimes they flare up. And when they do they feel very true.
Not only do I feel useless, I can logically fund this opinion. On top of that: I KNOW it to be true.

So that are 3 times me telling I’m useless and there isn’t a thing to be done about it.

Well, in the last few years I have learned one thing about these truths. They are chemically induced. Usually it’s a Lithium shortage that raises them. Paired with a little low progesterone. I have learned I have to ignore these feelings. Get my supplements. Wait a while.

I cannot tell you (or myself) where or what is wrong in these truths. Like I said, logically it is rock solid. It fééls very true too. And I know it in my core to be true. Three times truth.
The only thing I can bring to the table as a countermeasure (other than my pill bottles) is that the whole train of thought must be based on a false premise. The train itself is good logic and solid. Hence the premise must be faulty.

I must be judging life, my life, by a standard that is not right. Not appropriate. It may be a focus on monetary value, it may be a longing for public appreciation, it may be a dismissed appreciation of the love my friends have for me, it may be a felt superiority to an animal’s life, but somewhere I’ve made a faulty assumption of how to measure a worthy life. A purposeful life.

Like I said, I can’t see it. I cannot even feel it when I am in this state.
And on top: this is a chronic enemy, these feelings of inadequacy are always present. Sometimes they drift to the surface. Sometimes they engulf me. But they are always here, in me.

Of course I am not convinced they are wrong at all! Not when the flare up and not when they lay in wait. I often wonder if they are not a core problem issue in me and should be addressed together with a psychologist. Or psychiatrist.

But they must be untrue. Must be.

  • Because one cannot live and be worthless.
  • Because there are a lot of faulty assumptions about worth installed in every child and I’m sure I have not addressed all of mine yet.
  • Because people are burdened by their capacity to think and to judge. Judging is like a knee jerk reaction, I’m not convinced yet it is a good habit.
  • Because I wouldn’t dream of using the same judging on another person and his/her life and its meaningfullness.
  • Because I do not hold animals or plants to the same measurements of worthfullness
  • Because assuming wrong premisses and wrong opinions is a better starting point than assuming being right. Simple statistics.
  • Because these convictions get dampened by altering the body’s chemistry, being it by taking progesterone or a brisk walk outside.

But all these fighting resolutions are of no use when I’m in that state… I feel worthless and I know I cannot stamp out the core of that conviction.

A frustrating state to be in because this sucks up energy and time, things I could put to use so much better. If I could find a good purpose…

 

 

pics by Bl4ck5corp , Vincent KilpatrickNick Winchester and SeeVee