Sunday, July 23, 2017

A perfect life

I was contemplating this morning, this rainy, thundering morning, whether it is better to treat life as if EVERYTHING mattered, or as if NOTHING mattered.

At first glance, a life where nothing matters would seem to be necessarily empty, but as I thought about it, one where everything mattered would be unnecessarily FULL.

Ponder the sheer volume of information which confronts each of us each day.  We ignore--I'm sure I've seen a number, but let us say 99%--of what we see, hear, feel, think, taste, smell, out of necessity.  We cannot bring into consciousness literally every detail of an average city street.  We would be come paralyzed instantly. It could take a lifetime to live one minute fully.

And if nothing means anything, then we are free.  We assume--or in any event, this is what pops into my own head--we must be free to do evil, but why?  Most atheists make their peace with the world in some fashion, even though they know life is simply something that happens once, for them, then eternal nothing.

And as I zigzag back and forth, it occurs to me that there is an inherent tension between the two.  Some things seem to matter, and some not, but they seem different for most of us, and they change over time.

And it occurs to me that if, as I would postulate, the point of life is to LEARN, and if it is the case that a certain amount of exploration and experimentation, and boundary crossing has to happen to learn, then it follows logically that there can be no one behavior pattern, no one strategy which can be called perfect.  We make it up as we go.  We try, but in trying can never know if, when we did X, we should have done Y.  Unless, that is, feedback provides and enables learning.

In any given domain, relative perfection is approachable.  John Wooden came close to being the perfect coach, for example.

But in life, there are no fixed rules, unless one is religious.  But ponder even that.  Christianity is bound to instill the literal fear of God and of Hell in you.  It prescribes a behavior pattern--seeking salvation in Jesus, avoiding sins, loving ones neighbors--which is rooted in an emotional openness, theoretically, which is very hard to maintain when ones eternal soul is on the line.

For me, I am trying to land in time, and to stay above time.  I am trying to walk a difficult, perhaps impossible, line.

But I do recall to mind the aphorism from Lao Tse I have often quoted: "Renounce sainthood.  It will be a thousand times better for everyone."

What if life is about playing, and it is not really as serious as so many panicked people want us to think it is?  What if no such statement can even be made from a position of confidence, and all we can say we are doing is picking a strategy, one of learning, one of spinning, one of laughing, one of trying, failing, succeeding, being lonely, finding love, and in all of it trying to find what beauty is there.

I can't remember if I posted this, but I wrote in my journal the other day a good question: What gift is God trying to give me which I am simply being too stupid to see?  It is a useful question, trust me.

Off to work!!!

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