Regrets…

… I’ve had a few.

positive-thinking

Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse working in palliative care, recorded what she perceived to be the top five regrets of the dying. They were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Brown, Darren. Happy – why more or less everything is absolutely fine. Penguin Randomhouse. 2016

[Jo]. First off, I’d like to nominate Bronnie Ware for the most Australian name ever! (its even better when you annunciation it in a faux-aussie accent.

But she probably knows what she’s talking about, being there at the foamy, gurgling end for a whole bunch of us. Which is quite a tough gig in my opinion, since most of us…

…don’t want to get on the cart! (To paraphrase Monty Python)

Not to brag but I tend to rack up this precise list of regrets by the end of each day. Not through deep and serious introspection, but rather because I’m quite whiny… and have a tendency to feel sorry for myself. So I’m hoping when my time comes (covered in bed sores and crusty stuff of indeterminate origin) I’ve worked through all my regrets and general demise angst and am happy to go towards the light/infinite darkness/restaurant at the end of the universe.

We can only hope.

(That there is a restaurant at the end of the universe I mean)

Bh939zy.jpg

Life, lemons and lies.

A lemon is not a naturally occurring plant. It is a hybrid we (humans) created by cross breeding a Bitter Orange and a Citron.

lemon-uses-0-1494115921.jpg

Ergo, Life… could never give you lemons, even if it wanted to.

 

Blackface

I’ve really been giving this some thought lately. Well… as much as my paltry capacity to be able to deeply consider complex issues allows… and then post rumination (which to the casual observer smells a lot like something burning) occasionally manage to string two vaguely coherent sentences together, one of which will almost certainly express the heartfelt need to eat a sandwich.

I’ve really struggled with this. I think this is likely because of two reasons. One, I’ve never been discriminated against. And if I have been, I didn’t notice, either because I’m incredibly dimwitted (very possible) or that I am protected from such barbarity by an inflated sense of self that deflects these sorts of barbs away from my squishy core.

I think any overt act of discrimination towards me would likely evoke a sense of incredulity that my brain would immediately dismiss as some sort of aberration. I wouldn’t even know how to be offended. There is a bulwark in being an affluent white male that is difficult to emulate inorganically and difficult to circumnavigate without a trebuchet.

So there’s that. Problematic on the whole empathy front. I have to pretend to know what discrimination feels like… and I think we can agree that reality versus make believe are often quite far apart.

Two. My stoicism. When confronted by something to which I should (under normal social conventions) take umbrage with, I simply, eh… don’t. I mean I have to choose to be offended by someones actions… so unless they are punching me in the face (in which case a different set of problem solving skills come into play)… but people mocking me… would and should generally illicit some sort of ‘meh’ response. These things can’t really hurt you. Can they?

I started off by thinking about things that I thought were innocuous but for some or other reason I moderated my behavior not to do that something because of another persons feelings. I didn’t have to think very hard about this. I often moderate my behavior for my wife’s benefit. I resist the urge to scratch my testicles in her presence, I curb the desire to burp the alphabet, pee in the garden, pick my nose (and examine it) or pass wind in thunderous fashion and then hold her head under the blanket. I mean none of these things are inherently damaging, but I consider her… ummm… proclivities on the subject matter and moderate my behavior accordingly. I don’t tell her to get over it. Or to ‘toughen up’. Or negotiate. Or ease her into some sort of acceptance of the situation. I just don’t do it. That seems fairly considerate of me. But then again I kinda like my wife (plus that whole reciprocity dynamic we’ve got going on) As people decay out of my immediate social orbit I’m inclined to care less and less about their feelings.

But then what about basic civility and potentially just good manners. Menschkeit as it were. I believe this is important.  Of course now I run into degrees of scale where I have to remember who is offended by what and to what degree. Make fun of Mormons, totally fine. Make fun of Islam, bad. That one is pretty easy to remember. I mean either everyone (and everything) should be on the cards or no one right? Believing some humans ideals to be more sacrosanct than others doesn’t feel very egalitarian. Of course then again, its easy for me to espouse this kind of moralist equal playing field bullshit because… well… point one.

Let me think about this another way. Is it acceptable to don an SS uniform and a Nazi armband for a Halloween party? Weirdly that’s one is easy for me. I mean I suppose you could (you can do anything you want), but really, there are some very unwholesome connotations associated with that particular outfit.

Isn’t Blackface in the same ballpark? When I think about it that way, it starts to make more sense to me. Besides you can emulate someone of differing pigment without having to resort to tincture and shoe polish and thereby associate yourself with a practice that was on the whole meant to degrade a segment of humanity at some point in the past.

Case in point.

niel.jpg

Brody Shafer dressing up as Neil deGrasse Tyson. Kudos to him for a great choice.

Of course at this point when I’m almost there I throw a libertarian spanner into the works. If a pale skinned compatriot of mine were to don blackface because either he doesn’t know its offensive to some… or indeed has decided that everyone should just get over themselves, whose side would I pick..

*heartfelt exhalation*

Fuck. I’d probably inch towards the pale skinned compatriot. Not because I agree or endorse his decision… in fact I would likely find him quite loathsome (and likely tell him that), but perceived harm through his actions is so difficult to quantify… as opposed to actual physical harm…. so the decision comes down to defend this persons freedom to be an asshole or stand with the aggrieved.

Unfortunately I have to stand on the side of the asshole. Which sucks. I don’t think you can pick and choose your freedoms. I really do believe that.

The first cut is the deepest

I am never taking a Gillette Mach 3 to my dome shaped melon head ever again! Or to any other body part for that matter. Okay, that’s a lie. I wanted to try some outrage on for size, see how it fits. Turns out outrage isn’t really my color or indeed my cut. (see what I did there)

In the spirit of full disclosure (and other body parts) I did try shave my legs once… which… if anyone had walked in on me would have had them hauling my plus sized carcass out of the bathtub and frantically bandaging me up… all while giving me a serious oration about how ‘life is worth living’.  APPARENTLY there is little to no skill transfer in being able to shave your face and being able to the navigate round the curvature of your knees and ankles with a razor blade. Who knew.

9db5ea870e4366c7c8632ce7be0ffdd3.jpg

While I roll my eyes at corporations who wants to moralize and preach ideology in their commercials and press conferences I don’t really mind if they do. I mean really, who cares? Apparently though we do care… enough to get a little bent of shape, suggest boycotts on social media, debate the state of the world (which is completely fucked btw) with our co-workers around the water-cooler and listen to angry soliloquies from our favorite podcast or youtube personality on our morning commute. That doesn’t really feel like time well spent… but maybe thats just me.

Razor blades is a tough space. It looks competitive and while you can make a commercial that glorifies a macho lifestyle the net effect is likely a zero increase in razor blade sales for that particular brand. If you want to blame someone… blame the hipsters and their penchant for facial hair and beard oils. Might as well try a change of tack and appeal to a different market segment… the one who is likely still doing the shopping. But hey, if it doesn’t work out for us… consumers are fickle… and unlikely to remain outraged for long. Strategically, I think its probably not a bad idea.

In any event, while I don’t agree with Gillettes eh… attempt to school me in acceptable behaviour, I am inclined to take the stoic approach to their machinations. If you choose not to be offended… you won’t be.

Easy peasy. Japaneasy.

Zeno-ness

I’d never heard this particular anecdote about Zeno before. (In all honesty I don’t know very much about the founder of the philosophy I’d most like to… eh… aspire to). As far as I remember pretty much all of Zeno’s writings have been lost… and so whatever we know of him is apocryphal at best, or is commentary on his work by another philosopher in their own work.

img_0728-1

A non extant text called Republic notes that Zeno advocated for the abolishment of civil institutions, including money, temples, law courts and marriage. He also thought genders should dress alike from head to toe and also practice free love. All of this, he believed, were constraints that held us down, and abolishing them would free us to live much simpler lives.

Entry on stoicism, Ethics 101, Boone, Brian, Adams Media, 2017

There are some definite libertarian ideas in there. Probably more of an anarchist than a middle of the road libertarian. I could likely get behind most of them. Except for the abolition of money… I kinda like money.

A book for all and none.

I’m casually re-reading ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’, which, as it turns out, seems to be working out much better for my internet addled mind than reading it all in one go and then getting irritable and frustrated when it all starts to blur together into a lumpy alphabet soup of meaningless words and chunks of mystery meat. I envy people (that were gifted with concentration spans of more than your average Fantail or Comet) that can devour this sort of literature without having to resort to a piecemeal approach. How nice must it be to be them!

I interpose my exercise in mediocrity (insofar as all reading Nietzsche really does is underscore how stupid I am) with Playstation by pretend hunting hapless elk in a simulacrum western reality where I pick up faux-tuberculous and start to feel bad about my mass-murdering tendencies. I really enjoyed Red Dead Redemption 2… I’ve binge played it to (almost) completion, sacrificing sleep and sociability… and squashing that nagging feeling that I really should be doing something (with my life) that involves just a smattering more vitamin D.

GT_RDR2_03+(1).jpg

I don’t think Nietzsche would have approved of Playstation (or indeed of Red Dead). But then again, Nietzsche went insane… probably because of a lack of blowjobs. Wait… that might have been Schopenhauer… I might be conflagerating my disgruntled Germans here. In any event I’m pretty sure blowjobs were frowned upon by the Lutheran Junkers at the time… so certainly we can’t rule it out as a potential cause of dementia.

Continue reading “A book for all and none.”

Arbor Mortis

I wake up every day at 03H59.

Which is a stupid time (I know). But it is also a very considered time. Most importantly its thirty one minutes before Jocko Willink gets up. I have this weird competitive thing (forward slash mental disorder) going on.

I don’t actually roll out of bed, attack my day and kill my enemies (unlike Jocko). It takes me a solid ten minutes to haul my (plus-size) carcass out of bed. Then I loiter around and lollygag for a bit. This morning I thought it might stop raining if I waited…

At zero dark thirty it was still bucketing down and I was running out time. I decided to swap out my backpack for a poncho instead for my 5mi tour de neighborhood. On my way back and probably 700mtrs from my house I suddenly hear a thunderous crack behind me. I turn, three or four meters away this huge tree comes down across the road, directly were I was a second ago.

Holy cow! I stop and stare. Death by tree. That would have been… so incredibly… uncool!

Continue reading “Arbor Mortis”