Sunday, April 16, 2017

Getting better at life

I find myself alone today, which is not surprising, since I am alone most days.  But what I found this morning, which was unexpected and new, is a newly functioning capacity for positive thinking, for ACTUALLY believing myself when I say things will get better.

Loneliness is never a lack of people.  There are people all around us.  In my own case, I push people away often, in irritability and mistrust.  Even though my adult experience has been fine, primitive parts of me continue to enact survival scripts from my early childhood.  I try to catch myself, to pattern interrupt, and sometimes succeed, but it is like facing a steady and strong wind.

So I do my practice, and recently I have been allowing up the most painful feelings I have ever known.  And what I am finding is that when they are allowed to speak, to expand as much as they want to, they diminish, and I find myself slightly more present to my own experience, and this, over time, will make me more present to others, and them, in turn, more present to me.  I have to be there, after all, for them to notice and care about me, or at least for me to be able to accept what they offer.

And it occurred to me that this skill--that of being present to experience, of enjoying life, of enjoying the company of others who are in turn attracted to my own lust for and embrace of life--is a skill which can be gradually improved across a lifetime.

What I am wrestling with in my Kum Nye practice is the tacit truth that what matters most is who you ARE, not what you can do, or what you have done.  Being--how you interact with the world through your senses and what underlies the senses--can be improved; or, perhaps, awareness of what was already there can be improved.  The two amount to the same practically.

It is an odd fact of Socialism is that it takes the same economic logic of Marx's version of "Capitalism" and makes them worse.  People have concrete and very specific values.  Life is about material comfort and progress, with nothing said about the more subtle aspects of life which make it genuinely worthwhile.

Socialism, if I might put it clearly and bluntly, has no means of placing high value on old people.  Their economic use is gone, and they are now net burdens on a system which simultaneously insists everyone must be within it, and also insists that it can decide which lives matter.  There is nothing moral or beautiful about this.  It takes the bottom line of Capitalism--which only there applies to business profit/loss statements--and applies it generally as a morality based upon naked utility.  Hence Shaw's poison--but humane--gas.  Hence some senior Japanese some years ago wishing out loud that old people would just get on with the business of dying.

This vision is anti-Humanist.  It sees no inherent worth in ANY human life.  It takes the logic of valuing people according to their economic productivity to the final possible extent, that of making of men machines in a massive assembly line, and denying them all other dignities and possibilities, something which cannot be said of what is called "Capitalism".

What is the point of life?  What is the VALUE of life, and how, philosophically, do we even begin to answer this question?

Economics only speaks in principle to how to get more stuff produced and distributed.  The most efficient, the best, economic system ever developed is free markets, free trade, enforceable contract law, and enforceable property rights.

Socialism, as I keep saying, is not an economic system at all.  It is a poorly constructed, utterly imbecilic system of MORALITY.  But because within its value system only material things matter, and since economics is historically what deals with things, it finds itself obsessed with HOW goods are produced and distributed, with the only real things in life being those which can be counted and weighed.

I am feeling a bit sad, and abstraction of course is how I deal with these things sometimes.  I would not change what I wrote if I were happy, but it's quite possible I might not have written it at all.

But I also feel cautiously optimistic, genuinely.  I am feeling the capacity to generate and maintain for increasing lengths of time positive feelings.  I do feel this will be a good day.  It is beautiful weather, and I will go for a long walk after doing my Kum Nye practice, and possibly smoking a cigar and reading for a couple hours.

Here is the thing: I cannot directly affect world events.  I cannot even affect the emotions of people close to me, at least directly.  How could I, when they themselves can't control them ? Most of what you see in the world is utterly beyond your control.  It will happen or not happen according to many factors, many of which cannot be foreseen by the actors themselves.

But connecting ones happiness and sense of well being to a massive world like this is a surefire recipe for unhappiness.  Something will always be wrong somewhere.  And being overwhelmed takes away what power we DO have.  There are many occasions to make small impacts here and there, and the Big Picture in many respects is an Emergent Property of countless small acts.

It is undoubtedly more useful to make oneself an excellent meal than to worry about anything.

I requoted Corrie Ten Boom somewhere, but I don't think here: "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows.  It empties today of its strengths."

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