“Suppose for a moment, that we define a virtuous act as bowing in the direction of Mecca every day at sunset. We attempt to persuade everyone to perform this act. But suppose that instead of relying on voluntary conviction we employ a vast number of police to break into everyone’s home and see to it that every day they are pushed down to the floor in the direction of Mecca. No doubt by taking such measures we will increase the number of people bowing toward Mecca. But by forcing them to do so, we are taking them out of the realm of action and into mere motion, and we are depriving all these coerced persons of the very possibility of acting morally. By attempting to compel virtue, we eliminate its possibility. To be moral, an act must be free.”
Going through life, questioning whether or not you are a “good” person, is the wrong question to ask. “Am I happy” is a more important question. “Have I cared for someone” has the potential to treat your own happiness as always less important than that of others to the point of your own happiness not being important at all. The fact that loving someone makes you happy is the part that is not stressed. Loving someone brings you joy. That is the main point. If the main point is for me to give love to someone else, then that must mean their main point is to give love to me. Who in the fuck is able to accept it and enjoy it? Therefore, that is important and crucial to the whole idea of “love”: accepting it and enjoying it for oneself.
Love is treated as a commandment instead of just being natural. And that’s the problem.
Sitting around waiting for death is a horrible way to live. I do not believe that God put us here to “test” us. I think He put us here just because He wanted us to be here. I don’t know “why“, but I don’t think it was to test us. I think it was more like “Hey, I want to create something that can enjoy something. Here you go, humans. Here’s LIFE.”
To be human is to be individual. Although all humans share a common humanity (that’s why they’re called “humans“), and this fact is used to consider individual human beings as part of a collective, the truth of the matter is that each human is an individual at the core of his or her being.
To be an “individual”, one must have a mind, which creates thoughts, desires, and plans and takes action. Among these desires is a sense of belonging among fellow humans. Humans have an intrinsic social need: a need to be accepted on some level. We are created in such a way as to need communication, both in speaking and in listening. The thoughts, desires, plans, and actions among humans differ. This is another characteristic of humanity, and a byproduct of the fact that humanity is composed of “individual” humans. If humans were not individual in nature, but were rather homogeneous, such as atoms sharing the exact same molecules and molecular structures, then concepts such as the ones mentioned above would be mute.
But, as it stands, humans are individual in nature; and individual with a desire for sociability and beloningness.
With the individual nature of the thoughts, desires, plans, and actions of humans, comes many influences. Although each person has his or her own will, that does not mean that our wills are not influenced by external forces (forces outside of our bodies). Other humans influence through their words, actions, etc. We react to each other. And we are reacted to when we react.
But despite all of this complicated interplay among humans, there is still a desire to be individual. To be independent. To be one’s own person. And this is not to say that in order for one to be an individual, one must not be influenced by outside forces. For this would be impossible. In that case, babies must not learn, because almost all of the knowledge that they obtain comes from outside forces.
And, in fact, it is impossible to not be independent. This is another aspect of our humanity: being individual in nature, we are inherently independent.
So what is all of this about?
To preface this, I would say that given all of the concepts and ideas that very intelligent people have communicated throughout mankind’s history, I have no expectations that my own ideas will have any influence that I would deem significant. Sure, if one person is influenced in a manner that we both deem positive, it could be argued that that would be “significant”, because the well-being of each and every person on the planet is important.
But you get my point.
However, for whatever reason, I have a natural desire to think and express my thoughts.
My thoughts, as are everyone else’s, are independent.
And one of my desires is to write my thoughts down.
I have no explanations as to why my thoughts may be of superior objective quality to anyone else’s thoughts, so I’m not going to attempt to argue that here.
And if you were to ask me how I could characterize my thoughts generally, I could only come up with vague descriptions such as “unique” (which isn’t very unique, by the way).
However, I have them, and I think them. And they exist.
Next, I have a natural desire to express those thoughts. I have a feeling that my thoughts have enough quality to be shared to others (and some agree with me and some disagree with me). And so, I share them. And I share them and I share them and I share them, in the hopes that someone can receive them and say “Hmm…he’s got a good point. I never thought of it that way.” Or “You know, I’ve always thought the same thing, but he elaborated upon my original thought in an effective way.”
Don’t misunderstand me here: I’m not simply looking for praise for praise’s sake. If you will recall what I stated earlier, I have thoughts which I think are worth sharing, and a desire to share them. It’s not so people can tell me how smart I am. It’s more than that. It’s just who I am. It’s just me. It is me to think, think that my thoughts are of fairly intelligent quality, and then attempt to share those thoughts with others in the hope that people can make sense of them and, even perhaps, learn something.
And, once again, this isn’t to try to “prove” to people how smart I am.
It’s just naturally who I am.
Once again, you may be asking yourself:
What is his fucking point?
I’ll try to begin explaining that to you now.
I have always struggled with being mentally independent. At least in some ways. There are some ideas that I would say I have “independently” (meaning void of any anxiety-peer pressure driven acceptance), and some that I do not. I have no way of describing any defining criteria between the two, because I’m not sure if there is any, besides just a recognition that one is one and the other is the other.
But, at least for me, it is extremely difficult to be mentally independent in a way that I would consider to be “independent”. I have always attributed this difficulty to two things: a desire to understand objective truth, and assuming that people are well-intentioned.
Let me explain what I mean a little bit further. I’ve always loved learning. I love knowing truths. I think many people share those same loves. So, I’ve always tried to absorb knowledge, from whatever I could. To be mundane, this would include anyone speaking to me (as a child: keep this in mind); basically, any form of information that I absorbed through multiple forms of media (books, magazines, etc.). And, I always assumed that people were telling the truth. Or, at least trying to. But I encountered a couple of problems along the way, which I couldn’t begin to comprehend until I got older.
The first problem that I encountered was that some people are just fucking stupid. I kind of knew this when I was younger, but I almost felt bad for knowing this truth (sympathy for them because they were stupid), so I tried to ignore this truth so that I didn’t feel like a bad person. But the truth is the truth. Acknowledging that a stupid person is stupid is simply that: an acknowledgement that a stupid person is stupid. That in and of itself is not necessarily a value judgment upon said person. It is simply an undeniable fact. This was very hard for me to accept when I was younger.
I always wanted everyone to be the best at everything, but people are just different, and differ in ability, desires, etc. I felt bad when I felt like I had an advantage in, say, intelligence, as opposed to someone else. Just a general sadness. It wasn’t fair that they were born less intelligent than I was. And I didn’t think it was fair because I knew of the advantages one would have when one is intelligent, and neither of us really had any control in our respective intelligences. We were created that way through genetics and our environment, and didn’t have much (if any) say so in the matter. That was always soul-crushing to me.
Likewise, I felt bad for people who were physically disabled. I could go on and on and on about the things that I felt sorry for.
And although I still feel that sympathy in many different respects (nowadays, it more manifests itself towards criminals), I, through what I can only attribute to age, experience, and various lessons people have tried to teach me along the way, have learned to accept (at least, more so than I used to) the differences in advantageous and disadvantageous traits and life experiences from one human being to another.
But one thing that I’m not content with my grasp on is my own personal mental, ideological independence.
I realize that, at the time of this writing, it is only 5 days until my 24th birthday (it, apparently, took me over a year to finish this). And I realize that’s a pretty young age to expect “complete mental independence” (for lack of a better phrase due to laziness). But still, one area of my life that I would like to develop is mental independence. All humans, as they age from children, to adolescence, to adulthood, wish to be mentally independent. Once again, it’s part of our nature. But I think I have a way of expressing this more effectively than most (although there are surely writers who could communicate this more effectively than I).
I realize this is a very humorous thing to say, but the thing that scares me the most about independence is the responsibility. I just don’t fucking trust myself. I know how I am. I remember my history. I remember my mistakes, and how devastating they were for me. The more I tried to control a situation, the more shitty it became. Once I “shirked responsibility”, the shit was still there. But it was more manageable. I could just ignore it until it went away. The idea of being in control never appealed to me. There were several things outside of my control (such as the relationship between my parents), and the more I tried to control something, the more shitty I felt when things didn’t go my way. So, I just accepted the shittiness. And that was really hard to do. There is nothing more devastating than feeling like you have done a good job, only to find out that you hadn’t. I feel like this was the case for me in school a lot. I was a smart student, and I wouldn’t say that this disappointment was the majority of the time, but when it happened, it seemed to cripple me. For instance, reading the wrong chapter for homework. That type of failure was always crippling to me. Why? Why couldn’t I just say “Woops”, and move on? I think a part of it had to do with always being told how smart I was by teachers, and hearing my mom talk to other people about me. I just set my own personal standards too high (especially for my age). I couldn’t tolerate mistakes. And it all ate me alive.
The carefree attitude saved me, although it also caused a lot of problems. Instead of feeling like shit for not getting the grade I wanted, or for making a mistake, I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about my grades. Luckily, I didn’t flunk everything. But straight As went to Bs and Cs really quickly. And I was content with that. I didn’t care about school anymore. The subjects were boring, and I already knew what it was like to “Ace” everything. Why did I need to continue doing that? I didn’t know. And, so, I stopped trying as much.
But even when I did try, I still made mistakes. And it made me angry. So, I “ragequit” again. That has been my modus operandi for a long time now: just quitting everything. Barely getting by. The idea of college was terrifying to me when I was in high school. “You mean I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do with my entire life? I can’t even remember what page I was supposed to read for homework!” I had zero confidence in myself as a decision maker. I believe, knowing my history, this was justified. My “decision” was to coast, and I know I got pretty lucky along that coast. But still, I made the “decision” to coast, and it seemed to work out (in some areas). Of course, every decision will lead to mistakes somewhere, and this was certainly the case for me.
Coasting has worked out for me, but I think it is, at least to a significant degree, at its end. “The writing is on the wall.” I can see, pretty clearly, what my main option is for the future. It is in contrast with what I dream to do. I will probably have to do both simultaneously, and it is very probable that my dreams are going to be opposed to what it is that I ultimately have to do. My only option is to try to do both simultaneously until the dream can become the job, and that is uncertain (unlikely, most would say. I know I won’t succeed without optimism, however). All of my thoughts need to develop over time. I have to figure out how I want them to develop. I’m still so anxious about what it is that I want to do that this anxiety freezes me. I want to write about “big” things. And when I try to go down the path of thinking about them, I become anxious. Either because I don’t have everything that I want to say figured out, or I start thinking about after the piece becomes completed, and what is going to happen. It is hard to concentrate. In my opinion, I think this is a good thing in several ways. I am cognizant of the sands of time ticking away. I realize that the journey is long. Doing what I want to do is going to be really fucking hard. And it is all for an uncertainty. It is hard to concentrate when these factors constantly occupy your mind. The only saving grace from this as far as the work is concerned is the joy that you obtain from doing the work. But I don’t want to treat my work as digging in the sand with a stick. I treat my work as a future career. That’s my attitude. “How is it going to work?” “How can you expect to-” blah blah blah. I don’t care to listen to your concerns, regardless of your motivations.
I want to write my thoughts down. This means that they need to be developed. This just takes fucking time. Learning takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of labor. It’s just hard to learn something. It’s even harder to write about something. I think that all writers are “teachers”. When you write something, you want to impart ideas to the reader. You want these ideas to be beneficial to the reader. You don’t want to have the reader say “Yeah yeah yeah, I already know this”, and stop reading what you wrote. You want the reader to say “Huh. That’s good.” That’s hard to do. There’s so many good writers out there that the prospect of you being a good teacher is slim. But, once again, that’s where the love of the work comes into play. In a sense, it doesn’t matter how good of a teacher I am. Even if I’m a shitty teacher, I’m going to keep writing. I’ll keep getting bad reviews, but I’ll keep fucking writing. Because I love to do it. I firmly believe that persistence is what I’m going to need to succeed as much as I can succeed, whatever level that ultimately happens to be. I would encourage everyone to write about how shitty I am as a “writer” or a “teacher”. Start your own blog called “Cody Alan Reel SUCKS”, and lay forth your arguments as to why I’m a lazy fucking sexist neckbeard who lives in his mom’s basement and is going to be flipping hamburgers (1, 2) his whole life. Maybe you’ll end up being right. Don’t you want to be among the first to be able to take credit for your predictions?
Of course, if one is going to take action, one must assume responsibility. There’s always some difficulty with this. Even when one takes responsibility, there is a guilt that comes with it. Or a somberness, when facing punishment. I can’t say that I’ve ever had, nor kept, many responsibilities in my life. The fact that I’m struggling to think of them really signifies that to me. I would characterize myself as a “weasel”: I’m always able to “weasel” my way out of things. I’m thinking something like chores. I never really did them. For one, some of them didn’t make sense (and still don’t). For instance, making one’s bed, or cleaning one’s room. Making one’s bed makes zero sense to me. It gets messed up every night. It doesn’t matter how it looks in the morning. And as far as one’s room goes: well, it’s my room. Sure, my parents owned the house. But it was still my room. The toys are going to come right back out the next day. So why not just leave them out? It still doesn’t make any sense to me. Authoritarianism is not a valid argument. Why should I put the toys away? “Because I said so” should never suffice for a youngster. If you can’t explain why something needs to be done, then it doesn’t need to be done. Teach your child how to reason: not how to fear authority. I’ve weaseled my way out of many other things besides chores, but I won’t get into them all now (chores were certainly a significant part of it; especially early on in life).
I suppose I should talk about things that I was “responsible” for in the past: namely, times in which I got in trouble. There were plenty of fights with my brother that I was responsible for. But the main thing I can think of for getting in trouble and being “responsible” for is porn. I don’t recall a time where I felt like I was “in trouble” before it came to porn. Looking back on it, there was definitely an overreaction. So I drew some pictures of boobs as a kid. Why do I need to see a guidance counselor because of that? So I planned on bringing some porn over to a friend’s house. What’s wrong with that? I can’t describe the embarrassment when I was “discovered”. I can’t even remember what was said to me at the time, I was so embarrassed. All I remember was the porn fell out of my shirt, I didn’t get to go over to my friend’s house, my mom called my friend’s parents and apparently he was asked about the porn, and I don’t know what else happened. I think they really made a big stink out of nothing. Maybe that was just my young mind overreacting due to embarrassment, but it seems to have been made a bigger deal than it actually was. So I was “responsible” for drawing pictures of boobs and trying to take porn over to a guy’s house. Big deal. (I can’t remember exactly how old I was at the time. I think I was in my very early teens: maybe even 12). I think this is partly why I still have a problem with “responsibility”: inconsistent, nonsensical parenting. My mother certainly provided a lot of that, and confused the Hell out of me. Then, there was the parents fighting, pitting one against the other, then, as a kid, I had to “take sides”, yadda yadda yadda. Except it wasn’t like a regular divorce with two “normal” parents: at least one of them was insane.
I seem to be finding it harder and harder to write about anything. I would hope that I become a better reader and editor as time goes along, but I continually find that things that I wish to write about overlap so much that distinguishing between things to separate them into “pieces” becomes very difficult. It truly feels like I just want to write about my life, my one life, and it is hard to write about my “life” in separate pieces. It is hard to decide how to frame each piece, or to keep it “on track”, when I feel like there are so many things that I want to say that intertwine.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with with regards to mental independence is how to handle other people. I envision someone screaming dumb things at me an inch from my face. Or punching me in the face. I desire to express myself honestly. And I accept that there will be people that hate it. But some of those crazies will think it is a good idea to stab me in the stomach. That’s the risk you have to take when you wish to speak honestly. (Or when your sense of humor is as fucked up as mine is). But it certainly occupies a significant portion of my thinking when I desire to write something, or do something.
One good thing about getting older is that you start to learn who, in your past, was wrong. As I write this, I think of the times that I tried to write in my mid-to-late teens. Writing was so much harder back then. Who was I writing for? I didn’t know. Well, myself, obviously. But who was going to read it? I had no idea. The few that did read it made me feel very self-conscious. I don’t think the small sample size understood what I was trying to say (and clearly, my inability to articulate myself had a significant role in this). But what changed in those 9, 10 years? Why am I so much different today than I was then? It bugs me that this development is “out of my control”. It just happened. Naturally. I just naturally became a better writer because I got older (and practiced a little bit). My language skills got better just because I had more experience, my brain chemistry is different, etc. That’s such an annoying, hopeless position to be in. To just be stuck as a shitty writer, with the only “saving grace” being time. That’s so fucked up. Why can’t I be the best writer that I will ever be right now? Sure, that thought frightens me. But why can’t I be at my max level all of the time? Why must I grow? Why can’t I control my growth? That tortures me. There are some things that become worse the more that you try to control them. That is a significant theme throughout my life. I have accepted it, and have become moulded by that philosophy. And, in my opinion, it is completely justified based on my history. It is how I have found my personal level of “contentment”. But it eats me alive sometimes to have development out of my control. Sure, it isn’t completely out of my control: because I desire to write, and thus, write, it will inevitably get better over time with practice. So what I’m getting better at is within my control. But so many things aren’t. And it is those that bug me.
I deplore when I realize that I was wrong in the past. I’ve had some pretty weird viewpoints about life that are really hard to put into words. I think that is what my mission shall be: trying to explain my past ways of looking at the world. I think they’re quite interesting, and I don’t care if you disagree with me. It is really weird, the things you think when you are extremely mentally dependent. Some really fucked up things can happen very easily. It is quite frightening.
Once again, there are so many different directions that I could take this that I find it hard to decide which way to go. I had certain mindsets in my past that I maintained, even if all they produced was failure. My mind was constantly focused on Hell. And so, naturally, the thought of Hell affected almost all of my perspectives about everything. I don’t really need to lay them out here: it’s the same old suspects. But some of them truly are odd. The way it affected my overall perspective is so strange. It produced this deep skepticism that still remains to this day. It was an ethical skepticism: “Is this person a Christian? Is this person a Christian? Is this person a Christian?” The skepticism that remains today isn’t about whether or not a particular person is a Christian. But my cynicism definitely remains. And it is so odd to me. Over and over, I find people to be trustworthy. But I’m still painfully cynical. I’m content with quite a bit of my cynicism, but I find myself in situations often where I’m asking myself “Why am I being so cynical right now? What has this guy done to me?” It is a conservative hangover. It’s very fucking odd.
I am looking forward to my confidence building over time. “Coasting” has been my saving grace. I’ve been very lucky. I don’t handle failure very well. And it has always seemed like the more I have tried to fix something, the worse it made it. But my philosophy has changed over time, and I’ve “settled in” to something that works for me. That’s what we all long after: just that way of moving throughout the world that satisfies us the most. I think I’m pretty good right now with what I have. I want to explain it and elaborate on it more throughout time. And, of course, I hope to be able to write about more subjects, and just get better overall. I’m confident that it will happen with time and practice, even if there are many things that I write that I end up not happy with, for various reasons.
I love writing, and I just look forward to becoming a better thinker. I accept the fact that I’m repetitive, but I believe it is all related. In my heart, I believe that every “repetition” is a building block upon an entire life’s work. I can’t ask someone “Hey, do you think this builds upon this? Or did I just repeat myself?” I have to interpret my work how I wish. And I need to make my work fully my own, to my full potential. That’s (one of) the lifetime challenges……
I want to be a good thinker. And I want to be able to say “Hey, here are my thoughts.” I hope they can be received honestly. And that’s all that I can hope for from them (besides the dreams of them somehow paying the light bill down the road).
Anything that is written, as this is, must come from some perspective. Something that is created must go somewhere. Must have some meaning. There has to be a reason for why the creator created it. It must come from the vision of the creator. The creator wants people to see his end result. He has intrinsic motivations that he expresses outwardly. This fact isn’t exclusive to “artists”. This is true every second of every day from every person on the planet. I’m not going to attempt to rewrite “Human Action”, but human beings do things in attempts to satiate their desires. This occurs constantly. There is no avoiding this. Along this path, each individual has a different perspective: an overall way of viewing the world, or an outlook.
This outlook is influenced by countless factors. There’s certainly a “natural” element to it: genetics, “fate”, etc. And, of course, experience has a large part to do with it as well: particularly, early on in life. Of course, experience always changes a person, but youth includes a deep impressionability that is unlike any other time in a person’s life. A person’s childhood affects them forever. It doesn’t mean that they will always be “the same”, but one’s first experiences shape the way a person views the world, and these first realized experiences “stick with” a person because of the desperate impressionability of youth, as well as just the fact that your first experiences will be the experiences you carry with you the longest in life simply by virtue of them being “the first” that you recognize.
My first thought is that it is very clear how an individual can become just an absolute disaster of a person because of their earliest experiences. I just imagine a baby being raised in a scientific experiment where he or she is conditioned to be extraordinarily angry, and I quiver. Thankfully, most parents care for their children, I would argue, so this situation is not the majority. There’s certainly a lot of problems that will always exist in the world with regards to parenting, but at least there are many parents that care for their kids, even if there will be those unfortunate souls who are abandoned or abused in ways hardly imaginable to the compassionate mind.
What should we do with our time here on Earth? There is hardly a more important question. This is about what we do. What else is there but “to do”? There’s nothing but “to do”. Life is “to do”. So what to do is what life is. Since “life” is all we have while we are alive, and we do things while we are alive, it is important to know what we are doing, and why. Anyone that doesn’t like the question “why” should be avoided: they have absolutely no sagacity in them whatsoever. You should always ask “why”. Why? That’s the spirit. You get it. Be skeptical of me. I encourage it. Challenge me. You should ask why until you reach your breaking point. For me, that takes a while.
If action is inevitable, does it matter what action is taken, or why specific actions are taken or not taken? From what perspective would these matter? Who do these actions matter to, and why? Quite obviously, it matters to the person taking the action. Individuals take action in an attempt to satisfy themselves more so than they are currently. And we do this until we die. That’s the end of it. That is “life”.
I am tempted to ask why we are different from one another. Why we have different desires, personalities, etc. One might say “Because God wanted it that way”, but I’m skeptical of religious answers. They’re usually a way to fearfully avoid questions. And I try to “avoid” that. “We just are” is probably the best answer, but I can’t get the question out of my head. A sane person would just “move on”, but I never do. I ponder the unanswerable perpetually. I don’t know why. It’s just how I am. That’s just how I see the world.
Everyone that exists has a perspective of everything they can conceive of. This makes something such as “perspective” hard to write about. Perspective regarding what? Whose perspective? Even when discussing perspective “in general”, you have to give examples to illustrate your point. For instance, one of my “perspectives” or “philosophies” is an acceptance of evil in the world. What do I mean by this? Surely everyone knows that evil is an inevitability. Well, this perspective is very prevalent to me on a regular basis. I’m always deeply aware of injustices that I find are important to me, and thinking about them takes up a large portion of my time. I know they’ll never go away completely, in an ultimate sense, but yet, I still think about them. I’ll never “ultimately” satisfy my hunger: I’m always going to be hungry in the future, and I’ll think about food at that time. This is how I feel about “injustice”: there’s always going to be another one to direct my attention to. Injustice will always exist, but it will always get my attention to some degree. That’s the point. I’m always going to notice things, and always going to talk about them. That’s a large part of my “perspective” about life. And, as I said, it occupies a large portion of it.
Another perspective that occupies a lot of my time is: why do I have to be here on this planet with other people? I understand the humor in that question. And, of course, why do other people have to be on this planet with me? The majority of people that I encounter just “exist” in my world. I’m not friends with them, nor enemies with them, but just aware of them. I think this is inevitable for everyone. There’s just too many people to be intimate with them all. And, of course, I’m more grumpy than extroverts who enjoy the presence of other people, so this attitude of mine is “skewed” from the point of view of someone that would consider themselves to be more extroverted. There’s many jokes about how “cold” people are, especially in big cities. I don’t want to go on some moral crusade about it.
There’s so many people that exist today. It’s frightening, in a sense. For one, babies are being born into an imperfect world, and thus, are going to experience suffering and joy, back and forth, throughout their entire lives. Would it just be better for them if they were never born? If they never had to experience the bad? Sure, they’d never experience the good. But what about the bad? Is it worth it to bring another child into this world? I don’t think so, but I’m not in charge of the decision of others to have children. Secondly, just the number of people is frightening. Human ingenuity has a way of finding ways to make things work, but I just envision a doomsday overpopulation scenario when I try to conceive of the number of people that exist on the planet. I truly can’t, so I don’t think about it too often.
“Growing up” is a phrase I commonly hear. I want to whine and complain, and already I can hear others saying that I need to “grow up”. And I’m already ignoring them. Whining and complaining is fun. It is going to my grave with me. I’m never just going to “accept” something shitty. I’m going to whine and complain and drag my heels the entire time, and if that depresses you to a point where my very existence makes you feel negative emotion, then all I can tell you is just to grow up.
A less frequent thought pattern that enters my mind is failings in my past. Failure drives me mad. It eats me alive. It cripples me until God has mercy on me and somehow motivates me to act again. This has gotten better over time, but it used to be unbearable. I guess everyone goes through that, though. I’m glad it’s over to the extent that it is, but I still think about present mistakes I’m no doubt making now, and how they are going to affect me in the future. When I feel the most in control is when I make my biggest mistakes, so it really isn’t any wonder that I’ve shied away from independence as much as possible. Of course, this has caused problems of its own. That’s the problem with problems: they always exist.
My career failures eat me alive as well. The more that I hear I can’t, the more that I want to prove that I can. It feeds me. I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to starve myself to death from lack of nourishment, but I can’t give up, because I know that would be spiritually defeating. I’m never going to let myself give up, even if I don’t succeed. That regret would be unbearable. I enjoy the challenge and the ridicule. It makes the dream that much more sweet. My “delusion” is what I live for.
In many ways, my overall perspective is hopelessness. When I notice injustices, I feel hopeless. When I’m working on my career, I feel optimistic. That’s all the more incentive for me to consume myself with it, of course. But I face my own hurdles there as well: namely, getting burnt out. Another struggle of work and relaxation. It’s easy to notice your failures when your eyes are on the goal. If it ever does happen, it is going to be a giant, unpredictable slap in the face.
All of the doubt fuels me. All of the “advice”, “hate”, everything that says that I can’t or that I won’t fuels me immensely. It’s why I do it. I do it just because I’m told I can’t. That drives me every single day. I wake up, and say “What am I going to write today? What jokes am I going to create today? Today is the day I go viral.” I don’t really care if today isn’t the day that it happens. It’ll happen tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be an old man, full of regret for these days. But that’s a chance that I’m willing to take. I’d rather regret trying than regret never trying.
Admittedly, I have a long way to go. The more that I want to write, the more I realize just how far I have to go to get it to a quality that I’ll really be satisfied with. But the thought of being able to wave my paychecks in the faces of my doubters is motivation enough. No doubt, you are looking forward to seeing a 40-year-old me flipping hamburgers. May the best man win.
Keeping with themes already mentioned, perhaps the deepest question one can ever ask is: Why are we here? Why do we have life here on this planet? Man has always had this question. This question is at the root of all of the “what” that I mentioned earlier. Because what you do is largely influenced by why you believe you are here. Many who believe that we are here to serve God live out their lives in accordance with what they believe serving God means. If you believe that we are “just here”, that will influence the what that you do while alive. The “why” is at the root of every “what”. It drives every “what”. “Why” helps create your entire overall perspective of your life: your attitudes, your actions, etc. Perspective is impossible to avoid. Some may ignorantly say “What do you mean ‘perspective’? You’re looking too much into this. I don’t have a ‘perspective’.” But you’re wrong. You have to have a perspective. You have to have some way of looking at the world. It doesn’t mean that you have “rose-tinted glasses”, but you have to have some intrinsic beliefs that affect the way you see the world. This is impossible to avoid. This perspective is altered by countless things. There’s always a reason for doing the things that we do.
What was my reason for writing this? I enjoyed it. Have I said anything “revolutionary”? Have I said anything that isn’t already commonly known? No, I haven’t. I just get pleasure out of writing about truths, and, clearly, the fact that we all have different perspectives, influenced by countless things, is a “truth”. Have I essentially said something as true as “We need air to breathe”? Yes. So why write about it at all? Because it brings me joy. That’s the only reason I need.
I find the need for mental stimulation to be annoying and tiresome. Boredom drives me constantly. It is frequently satisfied, but it always comes back. This will always be the case. My entire life is going to be a pendulum between boredom and being swamped. This constant lack of complete satisfaction drives me crazy. “The world doesn’t revolve around you, Cody. You can’t always get what you want.” I have to wonder why people so proudly proclaim these obvious truths. My first thought is “Well, Cody, didn’t you just admit in this piece that you are writing about basic truths, and that you enjoy it? Aren’t they doing the same thing by stating truths?” Well, I can certainly see that they get some satisfaction from it. But who am I trying to tear down in this piece? People who say these “truths” often do it to make themselves feel better. They themselves feel like shit, so they try to make other people feel like shit so that they feel better about themselves. That’s a major theme that I see any time I see “advice” flying around. That’s not why I started this piece. Am I not ridiculing these assholes? This comes down to “who started it”. If I were to be envious of someone and then tried to tear down what they were doing, this whole situation would be different. That isn’t what started this piece. I’m discussing people that do that frequently, and that doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily doing that myself.
People are obstacles. There will be helping hands, and there will be fisticuffs. I think there is a natural tendency to focus on the bad that is actually necessary to our survival. If our house is burning down, we can’t just sit and watch the T.V. show we are enjoying just so that we “feel” good. We need to do something about the fire. Focusing on the bad isn’t a bad thing. It is crucial. But it goes without saying that we need to be able to fully experience the good when it comes around. My entire childhood revolved around how bad everything was: how bad I was in the eyes of God, how lost the world was. There was a lot of “bad” that has affected my perspective of the world to this very day. But, of course, there were many great things about my childhood that also stick with me to this very day that I’m very thankful for. My life is going to be about fully embracing the good when it comes around. I’m going to still enjoy railing against the bad, because it brings me joy, and it feels important to do so. But that has always been easy for me to do, and it will always be easy for me to do. Enjoying the good will be much more difficult (which is such a fucking irony, on so many levels). It is going to take a reprogramming on my part to fully be able to appreciate the good. Developing a life philosophy takes……….well, a lifetime to do. If I die sooner rather than later, none of this is going to matter as much. But I’m not going to “bank” on the fact that I’m going to die soon to keep me from developing a life philosophy. Death has consumed my mind for long enough. Thinking about Heaven and Hell has consumed enough of my life. Sadly, this occurred early on, and you remember what I said about earlier experiences. It will be tough to move on from this, but it is absolutely fucking necessary for my mental health to do so. I pity those still trapped in a “Heaven and Hell” mindset. And damn you all that introduce that concept to children. Children should never be made to fear. They need to be taught things about life, and they need to experience happiness. That is the role of a good parent. If it doesn’t make their life better, they don’t need it.
Of course, the hard part is explaining why fearing Hell is not something that children need to learn. That would take a lot of time and in-depth explanation to explain. In simplest terms, if God exists, and wants me to go to this perfect paradise, why does He want me to go? The common explanation is that He loves me and cares for me. Well, if He does, why would He make me torture myself while I’m here on Earth? If it is because I am a sinner, why would He ever forgive me for my sins? In other words, let’s say that misery exists on this Earth because we are all sinners. Why should that be our focal point if we are religious? Why must we focus on that exclusively as Christians? Once again, if our house was burning down, we should turn off the T.V. But our house isn’t burning down. Isn’t that the point of being a “Christian”? “Christian”. “Christ”. Obviously, that’s where the term comes from. So who was Christ? Well, there’s a lot of talk of forgiveness of sins, and of love. So if we are Christians, why can’t we accept this? Why can’t we forgive ourselves? If the Almighty has forgiven us, as Christians believe, why would we consider it a requirement for this forgiveness to torture ourselves? It does not compute. If we cannot accept the forgiveness of our sins through Christ, then Christ was pointless. Christ did not die for us simply for after we die: He died for us while we are here. He put us on a planet, not in Heaven (although, admittedly, initially on a perfect planet, but we fucked it up. How could we fuck up a perfect planet? I don’t know. Why do I believe this? At the risk of turning people off, I’m going to say that God forces me to with a gentle force. It isn’t a fearful force, but a loving force. I guess the nature of “believers” and “non-believers” is that there will always exist an incompatibility between the two, but we don’t have to murder each other because of it. “Live and let live”. If it makes you happy to debate, then do so. But you shouldn’t feel a “duty” to do so if you get no enjoyment from it. If that means people condemn you as some religious crazy, I guess you’ll just have to live with it (I’m talking to myself, of course)).
Life is about learning who to listen to and who to ignore. There will always be an inherent incompatibility between all of the ideas that exist: either you believe murder is acceptable, or it isn’t (I’m not talking about self-defense or abortion, but simply murdering someone walking down the street whom you have never met in your entire life before that moment). If you take all of the actions that a human being could take, there will, obviously, exist contradictory actions. Some actions are simply incongruous with others. The same is true for ideas: some ideas are just completely contradictory to others. Some ideas cannot simultaneously be believed. Life is about figuring out which ideas to adopt for yourself, and then, applying those ideas into actions that satisfy you the most. Once again, this is all we do, every single day, of our entire lives, until we die. This is “the struggle”. Living this “struggle” without being able to stop and smell the roses makes the struggle all the more difficult. And I think that’s the lesson here. Don’t ignore your burning house, but make sure that you’re actually focusing on your burning house, and not some other non-issue. Focus on what is important, enjoy the good, but don’t waste your time on struggles that don’t benefit you to focus on. Life is about figuring out which struggles are worth focusing on and which aren’t. It’s a constant conflict, but if you believe smelling roses is “bad”, and should be avoided, or even worse, condemned, you need to reevaluate your life. What good is eliminating the bad if good is seen as a bad? Then, you’re just eliminating the good, and that, by very definition, is not “good”. (Once again, don’t interpret this to mean that focusing on the bad is inherently bad. You must find some good from focusing on the bad, or else, you are wasting your time. The degree to which one focuses on “bad” differs from individual to individual, with there, obviously, being a diverse, individualistic pleasure derived from focusing on the “bad” to degrees, and upon which “bad” is focused).
Sadly, even good news can be perverted with duty. There has to be some naturality when it comes to good. I’m thinking of moralistic phrases like “You can’t always get what you want”, or “Stop and smell the flowers every once in a while.” There’s a dark side to these phrases. I already mentioned one aspect of the dark side to these phrases: the “envious” side. But there’s a more innocent dark side as well. I have found that a lot of these phrases are repeated by people that aren’t very smart. This isn’t a knock on them, but just an observation. I think that when people have a hard time understanding the world, they just repeat these phrases to themselves to help them get through the day. There’s nothing wrong with that: do the best you can with what you have. It’s just an observation, and more reason why I, personally, resent repetitive, “feel-good” phrases.
I am becoming more and more convinced that each person gives his or her life its own meaning. Lives are long. Days add up. We just need things to do. We crave mental stimulation. We crave meaning. We desire things, and try to achieve them. All of this adds up to “life”. We create our lives for ourselves through our actions. We accept the things that we cannot change, but we still take actions to better ourselves. We make decisions. And we desire. We see the world through a “lens” affected by genetics and our experiences. The variety of these “perspectives” is immense. There will naturally be conflicts among various perspectives. But I cannot live your life, and you cannot live my life. I live mine, and you live yours. The best thing to do is to focus on oneself. Do what you want, and do the best you can. A large majority of us care that other people succeed, and we can “live and let live” when people pursue their own interests. Of course, there will be busy-bodies that try to physically force individuals from living their own lives, and they should be condemned as the moral busy-bodies that they are (and there are plenty of them). But, intrinsically, we should all understand the value of the individual will. It should be cherished and respected, because the will is what makes a man who he is. We can’t respect individuals if we don’t respect individual will. This does not mean that people and choices cannot be critiqued and condemned, but will itself is not something that should be destroyed through violent subjection. The human will is human nature. There can be no peace among humans without peace of human wills. There should be a definitive critique of evil wills, and, simultaneously, a heralding of good wills. Life is a constant conflict between these two, and that’s just the way it is always going to be until we die. (I’m not saying that, for instance, murderers should keep all of the rights they had before they murdered. There are, of course, actions that should be dealt with. But humans still need the ability to exercise these wills, and they should not be prevented from exercising their wills in a matter that only affects themselves. “What if their actions affect their family, Cody? What if their family doesn’t like the choices the individual is making?” Why is a “negative rights” philosophy so prevalent today? Why was there an “Enlightenment”? Men have written about this whole concept of “the will”, and of individuality, so I’d suggest you go read some of them, as I’m probably not going to be able to add anything more beneficial to the conversation. But it is “natural” for man to be able to exercise his own will. When a man’s will chooses to do good, peaceful, loving things to and for his fellow man, good, peace, and love increase. Without his ability to choose to do these things, the entire purposes behind good, peace, and love are lost). I’ve spoken a lot about “will” here. But don’t I believe that humans don’t have free will? Well, the question becomes: free from “what”? I’ll write more about this later.
There is a deep, moralistic fear among progressives and conservatives. For conservatives, that fear is facing God’s wrath, and going to Hell. For progressives, it is the fear of not being a good person. Both of these, very obviously, overlap. The differences are in the specific details. But they both miss an important point about life: they do not value happiness. To the conservative, “God” is more important than your happiness. For the progressive, “social duty” is more important than your happiness. I reject both of these ideas wholeheartedly. I’ve already discussed why I think the idea that God doesn’t care about my happiness is nonsense. But as far as “social duty” is concerned, what good is it to hold this “moral” idea if it doesn’t bring you pleasure? What is the ultimate goal with regards to this “social duty”? There has to be a goal at the end. If the goal involves any sort of “perfection”, I immediately reject it. Any notion of completely eliminating poverty, or any other social ill is an impossibility. “Perfection” can never be a goal. This is why I reject “social duty” philosophy: it is all hellbent on completely eradicating, for example, racism, sexism, poverty, etc. “Perfection” is not something humans can achieve. Thankfully, I know this intrinsically. Any attempt at “perfection” is a waste of time. Any goal regarding “social good” must be approached from a different “perspective”: the doer of the “social good” must derive some pleasure from the good he is doing. On an individual basis, it does feel good to help other people. This is why good should be done. It increases the “social happiness” of everyone involved. Of course, the receiver of the charity is, more than likely (and that’s an understatement), going to be happy at receiving the charity, and the betterment of his lot. But, and this is something that isn’t sold enough, in my opinion, the giver of the charity also receives a psychological benefit from the giving. That needs to be stressed. There certainly is a “good” in giving to those that are in need, but doing so without receiving a psychological benefit from doing so is to give in vain. There’s a very crucial piece to the puzzle missing. Some may ignorantly claim that “giving is about more than yourself.” I clearly said the same: it’s not just about you benefiting. Very obviously, the receiver is benefiting as well. But we must accept that we feel good when we give, and we must be able to experience that goodness in full. We must, once again, “be able to stop and smell the roses every once in a while.” Those opportunities are not a constant state of being. Without being able to recognize and experience them, we are cheating ourselves terribly. When we are able to naturally accept good for ourselves, we will naturally want to spread that good to others, and this will be our perspective of the world. It will not be tainted with fear of God, and a fear of Hell. It will be the natural love and goodness that, ironically, God desires. That’s the tragic irony about religious conservatism: is that it misses the point of “religiosity” altogether.
“Happiness” as an end goal is condemned on many fronts, and that’s a damn shame. Truly evil people have contaminated the idea of “happiness”. “Isn’t the rapist happy when he rapes?” Admittedly, that’s a pertinent question. I, personally, don’t think that evil can make one happy. I think that evil just makes one more miserable, and that makes evil all the more tragic. “Why would someone do evil if they didn’t gain something from it? Did you not say, earlier in this piece, that everyone performs actions in an attempt to better themselves? Are not the murderer and the rapist doing this?” Sure. In the case of a rapist, it is easy to see what they “gain” by raping. Very clearly, it should be condemned. But, and this is more controversial, it should be stated that the rapist is, very clearly, missing out on something very important by raping. He is missing out on emotional intimacy, romance, and love. This, of course, is not to downplay the fact that the victim of rape is being cheated of even more than this, and to a horrifically higher degree. The idea of feeling pity on evil people is not a common idea, and I truly understand that position. But I do feel a sympathy for evil people, because they are truly missing out on a lot of life. Having a desire to kill cheats you of healthy relationships. Of course, it cheats the one killed of their very life, which should be vehemently condemned. But to neglect the fact that the perpetrator is cheating himself is disingenuous. It should be said. Of course, more attention should be given to his heinousness, and empathy should be given to the loved ones, with mourning occurring for the victims. None of this is debatable. But evil people are cheating themselves, and this needs to be said. It may fall on deaf ears, and I believe there are truly people beyond rehabilitation, but when discussing serious matters such as these, it is important to recognize all realities of the situation. Very obviously, focus more attention on the victims of heinous crimes, but understand that all involved are cheated, albeit to vastly different degrees. So while it is still true that people try to satisfy their desires, and some of these desires are going to include murder and rape, we must understand that ultimately everyone is getting cheated in these situations, and that, very clearly, there are ideals that we should herald and conditions that we must strive for through our actions. But we must have an effective philosophical perspective about this all.
I suppose that I am very blessed. I am very good at introspection. I’m, typically, good at figuring out why I think or feel the way that I do. I have a high ability to observe myself, and analyze myself. This, of course, makes writing about myself easier to do. And while, rightly so, many will dismiss me as just some young jackass that can’t stop talking about himself as if the world cares, I think there’s value in what I say. Maybe not to you, or to “successful” people, but I’m sure there are people out there that will say “Huh. That’s pretty good. I never thought of it that way. I like that.”
It is tragic that I could not fully understand my past perspectives as I was experiencing them for the first time. It makes me sad that I couldn’t recognize the worthlessness of my past religious philosophies. It has affected me for the worst. I am thankful that I can see it now, but I can’t help but wonder what might have been. Once again, injustices eat me alive, and I can’t help but think how much better my life would be today if I would’ve never been introduced to religious conservatism. I’m no longer “as”, I suppose I’ll phrase it, religiously conservative as I used to be. But I still remember what it was like, and I lament at the fact that I, as a child, thought the things I did. It pains me to a great degree. I’ll never get those years back. No one that is cheated in their youth, in a variety of “cheats”, ranging in degrees, do. That’s very sad. This never-ending conflict between good and evil is exhausting.
I still see religious conservatism in my perspectives today. My rational mind will ask “Why am I doing this?” And then, I’ll realize it is because of a past religious belief, and think “Oh. This goes deeper than I thought. This is a whole can of worms here.” It’s hard to really know what to replace it with. I don’t want anything to do with it. I want it all gone. I want a new way of looking at the world. And that’s the hard part. Realizing that I’m doing it is now happening. But it is hard to find a new way of looking at things. My entire life has revolved around avoiding “pleasure” in order to obtain “Heaven”. “Pleasure” makes me emotionally uncomfortable. But that attitude has always made me fucking miserable, so I want it gone. I want to learn how to value pleasure. And that’s hard to do when you have years and years of crippling emotional baggage of sadness and anxiety. It really is hard to teach and old dog new tricks (thankfully, I’m changing at a relatively young age. I wasn’t “conservative” for 50 years, or so).
I’m constantly looking for new things. I’m always trying to learn. Frequently, I learn a little about many different things, but they don’t interest me enough to continue really learning about them in any detail. My mind is too consumed with philosophy to care about much else. I don’t care about zoology, or whatever. I learn a little bit here and there, but there’s always something missing. Besides attempting to pursue my interest in philosophy, the thing that has satisfied me most to-date from an educational standpoint has been economics. The subject has taken over my life for the past several years, and I am very thankful for it. It truly has made me see the world in an entirely new way. It is a very satisfying way. (It only depresses me when I realize the way so many others view economics. Education is an uphill battle, but how do you “educate” people out of wanting to rule the world? How do you “educate” people out of envy? It seems as if many problems are insurmountable, even if they are deadly problems).
My perspective is now one of valuing my personal individual happiness. I am always looking for something to make me happy. Ultimately, I think everyone does this. But I don’t think they understand the value of what they are doing. It is very easy to tell yourself that other things matter more than your happiness. But I think this is a superficial understanding of happiness. As I said, it is important to recognize that giving not only helps out the receiver, but it gives the giver satisfaction as well. This is not stressed enough, in my opinion. This is valuable. Giving increases the happiness of the giver and the receiver.
My “happiness perspective” affects me constantly. I remember, being a child, and having certain ways of viewing the world. You adopt the prejudices and attitudes of your superiors, whether they be parents, teachers, or whatever. I remember, very early on, acting like my father, and having people not respond well to it. My father wasn’t a “bad” man, but he was incredibly sarcastic. “Stubborn”, “opinionated”, what have you. Clearly, these traits were passed on to me. But (and this is quite humorous to say), I learned, quite early on, that not everybody liked me. Not everybody enjoyed sarcasm as much as me. People just thought differently than me. I certainly changed my mind about many different things over time. Changed the way I acted around people, and what I said. (And this has, quite obviously, “corrected” itself over time to a more “normal” and “natural” way of being for me (where I settled to a level of sarcasm and stubbornness that I’m content with, even if others deplore it)). But I never had a sense that I mattered. In a metaphysical sense. I was insignificant “in the grand scheme of things”. First, God didn’t care about my happiness. Then, my happiness didn’t matter because I needed to make money. And that was it. “Your life shall be making money until you die and go to Heaven.” That was an awfully depressing outlook of the world: especially considering the fact that almost everyone I knew hated their job. Their had to be something more: there had to be a deeper perspective than this. I’m glad to say that, for me, there was a deeper perspective. I’m not particularly proud of everything I did to lead me up to adopting this perspective, but I don’t see how I can live without it now. My outlook from my teenage years to now is drastically different. Now, I think this is true for almost everyone. But, in my opinion, I think many adults are missing out on an effective perspective about life. I still interpret adults as miserable people. I know there are countless exemptions to this rule: many are parents, whose kids bring them the ultimate joy. Some are optimists, who are able to stay positive regardless of what happens around them. Many find joy in the countless ways they distract themselves from the mundane. Once again, there’s countless exemptions to my “rule”, but I still get a sense that many adults don’t think that happiness matters in a “universal” sense. I still think there’s many adults that say “God doesn’t care about the happiness of man”, and I’m not just talking about atheists saying that. I’m talking conservatives. Once again, I reject that wholeheartedly. There are, of course, “realistic constraints” in the world. I’ve spent several years learning about these “constraints” (and I think my education is better than the way the “average person” sees these constraints). But they are missing very obvious pieces to the puzzle.
Reality truly is terrifying at times, and it is easy to ignore the writing on the wall. But that’s dangerous. Most people live in ignorant denial about what their governments are capable of. And this is how Holocausts happen. Through my own personal education, I can see countless people trying to ring the warning bells to the American public. In some ways, I think history is still on our side, particularly in the South. As much as I hate the religious conservatism of Southern culture (as well as other things I dislike about the culture), I think there still exists a vibrant skepticism of government that is crucial and healthy to the survival of freedom. They ain’t takin’ our guns without a fight. I want to believe that’s still an attitude that runs through Southerners, but I sometimes doubt that when I see how often they worship the politicians of whatever political party they “belong” to (for whatever reason; or, more often, police officers and soldiers) no matter what they do. It is hard to tell what the future will bring, but I am hopeful. Sadly, evil people will always attempt to encroach, and it takes a brave people to retaliate: a sense of justice isn’t enough. Many in the past have known that what they were doing was wrong, but they didn’t have the courage to confront it. I worry about that today, based on certain trends that I see regarding worship of the American State, but hopefully, our history is still alive and well. Hopefully, our history of revolting from Britain still remains. Sadly, I think the revolution of the South is all but dead, except for very small pockets. I think it is growing, but the growth is so small as to seem impossible to amount to any change in the status quo. But that’s just my personal opinion (it’s hard to accurately gauge any “trend”). It is hard to tell how “the Left” views government. Clearly, they are against cronyism and war. But their assault on capitalism itself is worrisome. Communism isn’t a viable solution to capitalism. “Capitalism” isn’t the problem. But an education can’t really “solve” envy. And it can’t really “solve” evil. These facts are always worrisome. I’m not saying that a communist can’t “convert”. But, inevitably, there are aspects of human nature that can’t be completely “eradicated”: there will always be another murderer, etc.
But, I am an introspective, driven person. I know what my goals are. I am beginning to learn not to state what those goals are, because the main thing that is going to happen is that other people are going to tell me how “unrealistic” they are, how I’m “wasting my time”, etc. I think it is time that I make a choice: a choice that I just don’t even tell anyone what my goals are. It, more than likely, isn’t going to benefit me in any way. More than likely, it’s just going to create more hurdles. I think it’s best to keep my goals private (even though I’ve already written them a billion times on this blog), and focus on myself, and not so much what other people have to say to me.
I look forward to, as I live, writing about all of the different ways in which religious conservatism has affected my perspective. I’ve already done that to a large degree, but I hope there will come a day when it feels like it has disappeared altogether. When it becomes a distant memory instead of a subconscious reality. I don’t know how to rid myself of it: I think it is just going to take time.
Life is a constant ebb and flow. “[We] get knocked down, but [we] get up again.” I want to have as much fun as I possibly can, and I want to learn as much as I possibly can. If I think I have learned something valuable, I want to share it. I want to keep off the boredom and misery as much as possible, even though they have already taken up significant amounts of my life. I guess I’m just like everyone else.
I’m very blessed to have ever been rid of my past conservatism to any degree. The fact that I’m able to criticize it at all is a miracle. I’m extremely pleased with my overall perspective regarding life. I’m looking forward to learning more, and writing more, but the uncertainty of many aspects of the future, including the prospect of negativity, in all of the various forms that it could exist, will always keep me up at night. I’m looking forward to analyzing myself throughout the entire journey, and writing about it.
I’m looking forward to seeing where my perspective goes from here. I know there will be pain involved in the process, but I’m hopeful that the end result will be something that I’m happy with.
I think the most important aspect of my perspective to-date is about my own personal will. As I’ve already stated, in the past, I viewed my will as something to completely ignore. But my interest in politics has lead me to believe in freedom. It truly is just an idea that rings out: people are free. Who wouldn’t want that? I know many don’t, but I still it is still an intrinsic idea to many of us. We have wills, and to not be able to exercise these is an injustice. We need the freedom to be able to make mistakes. We should be reprimanded if we impede upon the freedoms of others. But I value the rights of others to be free. I enjoy learning about how the world works, sociology included. But I need to continue developing myself. My past failings still eat me alive, as I will always wonder “Why didn’t I know that back then?” I fear this will be a lifetime process. I will always look back and say “Why did I think that?” Lamentation will be frequent. But I want to develop values and find joy in what I do. I want to make myself as happy as I can possibly make myself, and that might not be a helluva lot. But I’m looking forward to continue developing and exercising my will, and I hope that nothing to catastrophic comes my way. Like most other people, I just want to be happy, and I’m going to continue practicing to get what I want, and exercise my own personal volition.
If Christ has forgiven a variety of sinners of all different kinds of sins, I have to believe that murder and rape are included in these sins that are forgiven. That’s a really deep statement. I don’t recall a provision where murder, or rape, or any sin was deemed “unforgivable”. Perhaps I’m missing one. I seem to recall something about “unbelief” being the only “unforgivable” sin. But the thought of murderers and rapists being in Heaven is quite a profound statement. Statements like that help one truly grasp the nature of God’s forgiveness through Christ.
Some may see that as weakness on the part of the Lord, but let’s not forget about Hell. Of course, there will be those that will be punished. But that suffering would affect us all if we went there, regardless of what our sins were. “How do you think we’d feel if we were murdered? Or if one of our loved ones were?” Believe me, I completely understand your point. But hear me out. According to the Bible, all deserve eternal suffering, whether or not one ever murders. That’s quite interesting, isn’t it? Surely a murderer deserves Hell more than, say, an atheist, correct? But aren’t both classified as “sins” according to the Bible? That’s interesting. Does Hell have “layers”, such as in “Dante’s Inferno”? I haven’t read enough on the Bible to develop an opinion regarding how Hell is structured. I’m sure someone could send me verses to enlighten me on that fact.
Does the fact that we all justly deserve Hell make our suffering more “manageable” to us if we were to go there? Surely it’s “Hell” for a reason. Surely “Hell” means something. It means eternal suffering, correct? Well, regardless of one’s sins, I have to feel some sympathy for anyone that ends up in Hell. I don’t see how one could truly not feel sympathy for that person. According to my clearly amateurish understanding of Hell, it’s too horrific for there to not be sympathy felt. It truly shows the tragedy of evil. We all end up losing because of it.
I think it shows that we all share a common humanity as well. It shows empathy: we all deserve Hell, but none of us want to go there. I think that truly says something about humanity and love, even if some of us do murder. Clearly, murder should be dealt with. On Earth, it makes sense that murderers should be stopped when they murder, whether through imprisonment or death. An eye for an eye, afterall, is the ultimate sign of “justice“. It’s much harder to truly condemn someone to Hell in your mind when you realize that everyone justly deserves it. It makes you realize that God has forgiven you, and that even the perpetuators of the worst crimes imaginable can receive sympathy. They do deserve to come to justice, but there’s certainly a tragic element involved from multiple standpoints. The most obvious (and deserving) tragic elements are the people upon whom the crimes are committed. Then, it follows that their loved ones deserve sympathy (and even the loved ones of the criminal). But it is, understandably so, much harder to proclaim that the criminals deserve sympathy. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be overwhelmed with a desire to kill an innocent person, but I realize that people like that exist. It makes me sad. I just feel sad about the whole situation. It is hard for me to be angry at the murderer. I completely understand the justified anger that people feel, but I myself feel more sad than angry.
It would make more sense if, say, only murderers went to Hell. That would make the concept of “Hell” an easier pill to swallow. But even if Hell was occupied only by murderers, I’d still feel sad, and feel sympathy. I’d still ask “Why do they feel compelled to murder?” If one truly grows up in a violent household, it makes sense to lament at the entire situation (but, of course, not excuse the murder. It should still be dealt with). But if one grows up “normally”, but still murders, there is still a sympathy that I’d feel for the murderer. It’s the tragic “Why?” that we all have any time a situation like this occurs.
However, according to the Bible, it isn’t the case that Hell is occupied solely by murderers. It is hard to accept the scope of things that makes one a sinner in the eyes of God. Why should I be punished for Adam and Eve’s doing? I, admittedly, don’t understand the scope of God’s justice. It may be hard for people to understand why I’m saying this, but I can accept that God is, in fact, just. I don’t know how to convince anyone with “evidence”, and I’m not going to. Ridicule me as a “crazy conservative” if you must. Ultimately, I think the debate between “believers” and “non-believers” is pointless. I think “live and let live” is a much better alternative. The fact that Hell is not composed solely of murderers makes me question a lot of my views regarding ethics, justice, and forgiveness. I certainly think there is a place for justice and a place for forgiveness. It is not up to me to tell someone when they should be enraged or when they should forgive, but this is merely my perspective on the topic. I’m clearly not a “divine authority”. It’s just interesting. I’m not quite sure why I’m so sympathetic. I just always have been. It’s just who I am.
As I said, I just thought this was interesting. I’m not passing any judgment: just bringing up a point. One that I have not noticed brought up, is all.
This, of course, says a lot about religious conservatives, but that’s a topic for another time (and yes, I understand that even they can be forgiven. I used to be one of them).
I will conclude by saying, of course, murderers should not be free to murder. But the point is that God is infinite in His existence. His way of dealing with things such as murder transcends what we, as humans, are able to do. I think that is extraordinarily profound. And I thought this all worth mentioning, as evidenced by the fact that I wrote this.
I have always scoffed at the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” No doubt, as is the case with everything, this was influenced by being raised in religion. I was introduced to the idea that when I die, there is a perfect place I am going to if I do x (let’s not get into what exactly x is, as its far too complicated to elaborate here, for the purpose of this piece, in my opinion). I’ve always had a destination in mind (two, in fact). My every thought, action, and feeling was weighed against these two destinations. There was not a moment in my life where these two destinations did not have a direct, powerful influence over me. I believe this “destination-mindedness” has bled over into other areas.
“I’m in a hurry to get things done. I rush and rush until life’s no fun. All I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.” The truth that everyone is going to die someday, including me, has always made me aware of the sands of time ticking away. Anxiety has been my modus operandi for my entire life. Everything I do, I just want to get over with, and just get to the end. As I wish to write, this attitude starts to creep in. I ask myself: What is the final destination with regards to writing?
I love listening to successful people (especially artists). Over and over, I’ve always heard that they are never satisfied with what they’re doing. They always want more. They always strive to get better and better. I thought that was dumb as a child. Not only did I think that rich and famous successful people were the scourge of the earth, but I thought the idea of living life without a destination was ludicrous. Why would the ambiguity of “getting better” be a more valuable “destination” than an actual concrete destination? (Measured by what, God only knows).
My destination of choice is to make a living doing a job that I love. That is my main goal in life. But as I ponder what my life would be like if I had “enough money to last a lifetime”, I think: what would I do with the rest of my life then? If I, at age 25, were an infintillionaire tomorrow, what would I do? What would my emotional state be? I would certainly feel more secure, which is a gigantic motivating factor at this point in my life. But what would I do? It is so easy for people who are having a difficult time financially to think money is “the end”. But that thought depresses me. What do you mean “the end”? Surely you aren’t going to die immediately after making such-and-such amount of money, correct? What are you going to do? What are you going to spend your money on, and when? How much? How are you going to spend your time? It is very easy for people to enviously scoff at the rich, but it is a legitimate question. It is not a 100% guarantee that any amount of money will make someone a certain “level” of happy. Of course, it’s foolish to not acknowledge the obvious benefits of money. If I had a certain level of money (which I’m not quite sure what that would be), it would certainly alleviate many of the problems that I have currently. But I am quite sure that it would not touch others. It’s easy for me to say this now, but I do not anticipate that my life would change that much from how it is now. I would imagine that I would be happier as compared to thinking about working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day, at the alternatives where I live (it also depends on what I would be doing to make that amount of money, how much I enjoyed that work, etc.). But, for the moment, I have a great deal of financial security. I realize this is limited, so I obviously think about the future. If I were to have a significant amount more money than I have now, I think I’d still be doing the same things I’m doing today. I don’t like the idea of flaunting my wealth around with expensive cars and luxury items. I’d probably fix the house up a bit, and save the rest. Maybe take a couple of trips, which would be different than I’m doing currently. But I anticipate that I’d still have the desire to write and create comedy for myself. I don’t think money would change that fact, because I’d still need something to do. Of course, I’d have more money to spend, and, thus, more options. Perhaps I can’t even conceive of what those options could be. But I want to write, and I want to create comedy. I don’t see this changing, even if I had a quadrillion dollars in the bank. I would just need something to occupy my time, and there’s little I enjoy more (productively speaking) than writing and making myself laugh through creating various things.
This has led me to the conclusion that I finally understand (at least, in my opinion) the phrase “Life is not about the destination, but the journey.” I am starting to understand the profundity of that statement. I abhor the phrase “studies have shown”, but they have that there’s a certain amount of money which produces max happiness, and going above that (especially excessively) decreases that happiness. That makes sense to me. I can see that being the case. “Nice to see that your beliefs, whatever you base them on, matches up with science, Cody.” I’m glad I could please you.
The conflict along the journey bugs me: the fact that we all naturally go from being happy to sad to angry; that our life circumstances change; that we’re stuck doing the same necessary, mundane things from day to day. These things bore me, infuriate me, and I haven’t committed myself to focusing on anything else. I think that I have not committed myself to anything else largely due to the fact that I have believed that life is about the destination, and my destination was of a religious origin (and, of course, you can’t expect a child to have his entire life planned out for himself. I’m still young). I’ve ran away from “the world” in favor of “spirituality”, but now, I’m, very slowly, learning to appreciate the world. Learning to appreciate now. Life used to be this thing that just “got in the way” of me going to Heaven. Living here on Earth, through time, was a nuisance. Not only that, but it was actively preventing me from going to Heaven. Not only in the obvious sense that being alive means that I haven’t “died” and gone to the afterlife, but life here on Earth was affecting what was going to happen to me after I died. My entire life structure was based on certain beliefs regarding what it took to go to Heaven. Most of this involved hating the Earth. But I don’t believe that anymore. Thank God.
It is going to take a lifetime to develop a philosophy regarding my life here on Earth. Undergoing a very significant change in religious philosophy starts off with getting rid of the old ideas, and replacing them with new. I have a general sense of what the new will be, and I’m working on getting rid of the old, but there’s still a lot of unknowns regarding how I feel about the journey. That is part of the journey: figuring it out, and writing about it. That feels pretty good.
Introspection helps me with a lot of problems. Many personality traits remain the same over time, but my philosophies have certainly changed over time, and I look forward to seeing what “peak” happiness is going to look like for me. At what point in my life am I going to be the “happiest”? Is it currently? What will my life circumstances be? My job? My financial situation? My hobbies? It is very interesting to me. Once again, I have an intrinsic desire to “hurry up and get there”, but “the grass could be greener on the other side” or whatever. There’s so many variables that it doesn’t really do me any good to think about the future in that regard. Although goals are definitely important, I want to relax. I want to have more of a “journey” approach than a “destination” approach. Ignoring people is very hard for me: especially if they speak confidently about something I haven’t given much thought. This is certainly the case when I hear, in my head, all of those that will tell me how the fact I’m not preparing for the future now is going to make my life suck in the future, I’m going to be saddled with an immeasurable guilt, that could’ve been avoided if I would’ve only taken step x right now-look. We both know that we don’t know shit about the future. Yeah yeah, I know. Experience. “Odds”. Blah blah blah. I have my own philosophies that I want to develop, for my own reasons. I am done uncritically accepting the “advice” of others to the detriment of myself.
The “destination” stress of a religious variety that plagued me in my youth was also of the “future here on earth” variety. I’ve written about that before.
I have always been susceptible to abandoning myself to do what others advise me to do. It is traditionally been hard for me to tell myself “No” with regards to taking actions that are suggested to me. A problem is that I haven’t been able to explain to myself the problems that I had with their suggestions. That just changes over time, with age, in my case. I feel stress when others tell me that I need to change what I’m doing, and even more stress when I try to take their advice. Something has to give. My wants matter. I’m currently not thick-skinned enough for my taste. It has been a work in progress for a long time now.
Of course, the destination that I have in mind is the same one a lot of people share: being wealthy, and relaxing in a gigantic house. Having a “permanent vacation”. Filling time with the same things I’m doing currently, but without financial anxiety. I’m not going to let anyone convince me to have a different goal. Write about the problems that you have with my philosophies among yourselves: don’t tell me, because I don’t fucking care.
I want to see how my writing develops over time. How my use of language changes, how my tone changes. I’m happy with my non-fiction up to this point, but I want to write a lot more of it. I want to get crazier, smarter, more sarcastic, and more organized with it. As my best friend has said, you have to get better at something if you do it enough. You won’t remain stagnant. I’m banking on that as far as writing is concerned. I also need to read a lot more, but that’s a whole nother story for another day. I still have a sense of hopelessness that things aren’t going to matter, anyway. No matter how many times people write about, say, how unnecessary nuclear weapons are, they’ll still be developed, and still threaten us all. I personally find it pointless to write from a “change-the-world” standpoint, because I don’t think it is going to work. That isn’t to say that words don’t have a profound impact. But, from my point of view, I accept that there are always going to be shitheads that try to fuck everything up for the rest of us, and there ain’t much I can do about it. I can whine and complain, but other than that, not much is going to happen. If someone is willing to twist my arm off, say, for something I wrote, I don’t think any amount of screaming in pain is going to change their mind. There’s certainly a certain amount of inevitability when it comes to evil, regardless of how depressing that fact is. The goal is to avoid the arm-twisting for as long as possible by as many people as possible disseminating the fact that arm-twisting is evil to as many as possible, and then, we just have to hope for the best. A fucking miracle, as it were. I don’t know if that will be enough while I’m here, but I suppose this is one instance where I think it works to be “destination-minded” as far as the afterlife is concerned. When I die, none of what happened here on Earth is going to matter to me. There’s no telling how long I’m going to have to wait to reach that point, but whenever it happens, it will last forever, so I guess there’s one thing to look forward to. The only problem is figuring out what exactly to do along the journey to getting there. It truly does take a lifetime to find out, for better or worse. That feels like such a long time to figure something out. I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to it. I guess it all depends on what happens within it.
My overall approach to my journey is to coast. This attitude was developed over the course of my childhood, when things were beyond my control, and no matter what I did, I could not alleviate the bad. My actions did not help the circumstances surrounding me one bit. I had to accept the circumstances, and become depressed. That helped foster my apathetic attitude, which, regardless of your beliefs, really did help me out. Of course, it is tragic that it came to that, but “it is what it is”. I frequently found that the harder I tried at something, the worse I got. I didn’t have an overall philosophy that I was longing for. I was confused, and that made me miserable. Apathy helped me disconnect from negative external circumstances, and that helped me develop intrinsically as well. When I failed and failed and failed, no matter how hard I tried to succeed, I finally developed apathy. In this “moralistic cliche” world in which we live, that’s outright blasphemy. But it helped me out more than I can say. “Apathy” has been my modus operandi for a long time now, and it has helped me out tremendously. I’ve coasted, and been very lucky. But, as I’ve written about before, I’ve uncritically listened to people enough in my lifetime. It’s time to be more stubborn and judicious.
There is something about freedom that just produces happiness within oneself. Freedom just produces this happiness. This good feeling. Success, of course, produces yet more good feelings and happiness. But even separate from success, there is a happiness that just naturally comes from independence. It is so intrinsic to our very existence; makes up our core. It is the “will”, and the exercise of that will produces a natural happiness. Of course, we make mistakes, feel miserable about it, beat ourselves up about our stupidity, etc. But, still yet, there is a happiness that comes from the exercising of one’s own will. Because, as I’ve elaborated on before, who cares more about my happiness than me? Who cares about one’s happiness more so than oneself? This is where “do-gooders” will pipe up and say “Some people don’t know what is best for them”, etc. etc. And it is certainly the case that many with self-destructive lives are happy after someone intervenes. But the point is that every action taken is an attempt to achieve a greater state of happiness, even if it doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean that mistakes will not happen, but every person is always attempting to make himself happier than he is currently. When he’s hungry, he eats in an attempt to satisfy himself, even if what he eats leads him to get food poisoning, and he’s worse off than he was before he ate. The point is that every person attempts to increase their satisfaction, even if they ultimately don’t. How can anyone argue against the good of that? Not successfully, I would argue. The nature of man is to have a will and exercise it.
Humanity is so complex that writing about it is a great chore. It truly takes a special mind to do so effectively. There’s so many different paths to choose from, so many varying lengths of the different paths, and the destination is so often unknown. One can go to medical school for many years, incurring great debts, and then regret it later on in life. Someone else can consider that experience the best decision they ever made. Newborns die all the time, while some live to be 10. Others, 20. Still yet others, 30, and some even make it to be 100. We desire to make sense of this. This inequality bugs many, if not most of us. It introduces us to tragedy, and unfairness. We seek to understand it. At least, for a little bit. Then, we find other things to cheer us up. If it makes one happy to continue to ponder these tragic inequalities of the world, I would say continue to do so. But if one does not enjoy doing so, but feels obligated to do so, I would urge that individual to move on. In my opinion, “Help” really helps when the helper feels some satisfaction to do so. If an individual has a gun pointed to his head, and is required to “help” another, there’s clearly something lost in that. If we should strive towards being more “loving” people, we can’t do that by pointing guns at each other’s heads to arrive at that point. Does that mean I dislike guns? No. Defense is different from aggression. We should not be initiating violence to achieve peaceful ends. But I, personally, do not believe that one who engages in violent defense is “unethical”. Life is a balance between evil, forgiveness, and justice. This is what we have. The evil is unavoidable in a complete sense. Evil consumes us all, even when we don’t want it to, from time to time. We will all wrong other people during our lifetimes. I think it is a blessing that the degree to which we wrong others can be less severe than others. Although we are all sinners, we are not all murderers. I consider that a blessing. But when it comes to love, forgiveness, and justice, we must accept our natural humanities. Fear is natural within us as humans, it is true. But it is also true that love is greater when freely given instead of being coerced. It is always better than aggressive violence.
The harder I try not to sin, the more I’m aware of my sin. It consumes me to the point of hopelessness and depression. And anger. Why is that what God would rather have me do than enjoy the good times as they naturally occur throughout the course of my life? If God cares about me, why would He want me to torture myself? Surely there are some similarities between humans and God, if we were “made in His image”? Why would our concept of caring for someone give us a feeling of compassion, whereas when God enters that equation, it leads to misery and fear? I don’t buy it. God does not torture us because He loves us. Therefore, we should not torture ourselves just because we love God. If God has forgiven us for our transgressions, as Christians believe happened through Christ, then why can’t we forgive ourselves?
I don’t know anything more about my journey through life currently, so I’m going to end this piece here. All I hope for currently is that my pieces continue to get better, and that I’ll be able to recognize it. That’s probably the biggest step along my “journey” thus far. Is this step leading to the destination? I have no idea. But the destination makes me happy, the journey is making me happy, so that’s what I’m going to do.
Ideological conflict is human nature. Us humans were given life on this planet, without a say so in the matter, and we live. Our very existence is a conflict. Within our existence, there exists “nature”. This “nature” provides us with things we need to live (air, water, etc.), and also things that can kill us (air, water, (hurricanes, etc.) etc.). This troubles me. It is often said that those things which one cannot change should not be the cause of stress, because there is nothing one can do about those things. But it is precisely the fact that I cannot do something about a thing which bothers me the most. Realizing the constant state of conflict in the world wears on my soul. It wears on all of our souls. It will always wear on all of our souls. We will be given breaks for indefinite amounts of time. But it will always wear on our souls. And that fact wears on mine.
I truly should be thankful for those times in which I live in the moment. In some ways, I think it is almost impossible not to be. Almost instinctively, we say the phrase “I am thankful.” There are often situations which are so great to us that we feel compelled to say thank you. The phrase “I am thankful” itself signifies gratitude, so there is an inherent gratitude that overwhelms us whenever we are thankful. It is in those exact moments that we are freed from the conflicts that we otherwise cannot escape.
I suppose this is a good time to bring up a specific conflict that I’ve had in mind. Quite simply, the conflict amounts to these two separate ideas: 1) that our wants do matter, and 2) that our wants do not matter. Among these, there, of course, branch off several different beliefs attached to each of these ideas.
I will approach the second idea first. The idea that our wants do not matter. This can be approached from several different standpoints. There is a religious standpoint (particularly self-defined as “Christian”) in which our wants do not matter because there is a “higher” purpose. This “higher purpose” is “God”. And I don’t want to discuss fully the idea of what “God” is in this sense, because that would take me forever to do so (and I probably would not be sufficient at doing so, anyway). The idea basically comes down to a few things: that we are sinners, and that we deserve to be punished. That we should punish ourselves for our own sin so that when we die, we may be rewarded. And it attempts to identify what is a sin (what should be avoided) and what isn’t, and, every single time, it creates anger, resentment, confusion, depression, guilt, and hopelessness upon the person weighing his own sins. His time is to be preoccupied with these emotions, and happiness just doesn’t fit into the equation. In fact, “happiness” means he is enjoying his sin. His flesh (including his mind that isn’t preoccupied with Heaven and Hell) will lead him to a path of eternal damnation; an eternal pain and suffering caused by an everlasting fire. But some mysterious spirituality residing in specific buildings will help him when he dies, say, 40 years from now. Constant guilt and beating oneself up for one’s whole life will show God that one is, in fact, holy, and worthy of being saved. The key to avoiding Hell when one dies is to not allow yourself to escape from thinking about it while here on Earth. That, in a nutshell, is the gist of the idea. It doesn’t make any sense to me (anymore), but that’s the idea.
There is also a standpoint with regards to the philosophy that our wants do not matter from a “depressed”, “defeatist” attitude. The idea that life itself does not care about our wants, because our wants are so often devastated, often horrifically, by things outside of our control. A lot of scientists and atheists take this approach. In the case of science, this “defeatist” attitude often comes from a lack of repeatable evidence. This isn’t always true, but it happens enough for there to be a noticeable “tendency”. The idea that life was an accident of nature. That everything was “just right” for life to come into existence, but without a purpose for coming into existence. The “Descartesian” approach: that reality is perceived through the senses, so all realities must be measurable by the senses in order for something to truly be a reality (even though he admits he’s a Christian in his writings. In college, my professor brought it up that he probably would’ve been tried for heresy if he hadn’t have admitted such, so that makes me “doubt” (haha) whether or not he truly identified as a Christian). “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
“Beliefs” cannot be seen, smelled, heard (from an outside source; they originate from “within”, and then can be talked (and, therefore, “heard”)), tasted, or touched. They are something separate from “the senses”. It is evident that beliefs are separate from the senses as someone can deny (through, say, shock) something that is seen in front of them, heard over the phone, etc. “Faith” is something that transcends the senses. It doesn’t have to be called “religious faith”.
Take, for instance, the case of a loved one dying in the hospital. No one wants to believe that the loved one is going to die. They know it is either possible or likely, but they still hope that the person lives. Knowing that they are likely to die is different than believing they are likely to die. Hope transcends the senses. Optimism, in this case, transcends the senses. The belief that the loved one will recover is an essential emotional tool. You can’t see, smell, taste, hear, or touch the recovery that you hope to happen, but truly believing that someone isn’t going to pull through is very difficult emotionally. People believe the loved one is going to make it through because it makes them feel better. There’s certainly a lot of scoffing at the idea that one would ignore a reality just because it makes one “feel” better. I’m included among these “scoffers”. But belief is an essential emotional tool for us humans. Optimism, hope, belief, and faith are essential. What makes one optimistic, or why one is hopeful, believes, etc., is up for debate. But the most obvious answer is that it makes one feel better, and this, by itself, does not disprove anything. The fact that one is hopeful that the loved one lives does not disprove that the loved one is going to live (of course, this goes without saying, that hope does not prove that the loved one will pull through, either). Hope, faith, etc. are things which cannot be measured, and are truths that exist separately from realities that are perceived through the senses. So, in conclusion, if the creation of life itself has no “purpose”, and our existence has no “purpose”, then why would our happiness have any “purpose”? If life was a happy accident, why can’t happiness be a happy accident? Why should we treat it as anything more than a “fortunate accident”? This, I think, explains, on at least some level, the noticeable depression among many “atheistic/scientific” types. This is one “atheistic/scientific” approach to “wants”. (There are, of course, atheists who believe that “purpose” is whatever we ascribe to our realities, and they aren’t particularly nihilistic. But the nihilistic atheists are worth mentioning). I should mention that I went through my own atheistic period, just to make sure the reader understands that I am not critiquing atheism because I was raised religiously and accept what I was taught uncritically.
The temperatures of space and the sun can be measured. The infinite majority of the universe is uninhabitable. There are searches for hospitable planets in the depths of space, but for every chance there may be a planet where life could exist, there are countless examples of places in space where life almost certainly cannot exist. If you very deeply value the idea of there being life outside of Earth, this fact, of course, will produce depression inherently. If you don’t care about whether or not there exists life outside of the Earth, this will not bother you. It is a matter of differences in personal values.
There are other “types” that believe that our desires to not matter from a philosophical standpoint. Unfortunate life circumstances have a tendency to make one extremely pessimistic and depressed. This will, of course, make one believe that the world doesn’t care. And that perspective certainly makes sense. “If God loves us, why does He allow for war, famine, and disease to happen?” I personally find that to be a very poignant question. A lot of Christians run from that question, for fear of angering God and suffering His wrath. But how can anyone not ask that question? It’s a very valid question. When it comes to matters of spirituality, I believe that honesty is always the best policy. Opening up your soul to The Great Beyond is always important and therapeutic. It is important to believe that one is able to do this. You can’t have peace spiritually if you are afraid. Comfort requires peace, and quiet, and poignant honesty. Admitting that you have problems with something. We, as humans, should not avoid the nature of our brains when we discuss spirituality. We can’t run from ourselves. It only makes us more miserable than we were when we first started running. And if God loves us, as Christians preach, why can’t we ask Him tough questions? Why can’t we say we have problems with Him? Why can’t we be angry at Him? Jesus Christ is said to have been God in human form. Human. It is said that we were made in God’s image. We, as humans, were made in God’s image. What does “image” mean, exactly? Well, perhaps the way we look is a part of it. I don’t know what “God” looks like, but Jesus was a human. I think it’s more than just cosmetics, however. The Bible makes it clear that God can both love and hate. Can’t we also love and hate? Of course we can. I think this is also what is meant by being made in “His image”.
So if there is, according to Christian doctrine, a strong connection between humanity and God, let’s think about some specific instances of relationships between humans. Let’s take loved ones for example. Can we not get angry at loved ones? We still love our loved ones. But can’t we get angry? Can’t we forgive our loved ones when we believe they have wronged us? I have to believe that these are also what is meant by us being made in God’s image: sharing some of His characteristics. That He can get angry at us, but also forgive us. That makes sense to me. I can’t comprehend completely the level of, say, His anger, or His forgiveness, but I can accept that He can “experience” both.
The atheists and Christians come together in their resentment of human choice. Speaking broadly, of course, the atheists’ nihilism leads people to believe that their actions have no significant influence, and the Christians’ condemnation leads people to believe that their desires are evil. Both of these stifle action. And action, of course, is driven by desire. Both the atheists and the conservatives are about creating misery. The sad thing is that they spend so much time fighting each other that they can’t see that, in that respect, they’re the same. “It doesn’t matter what you want because God isn’t real and life has no meaning and we’re all going to die” is, of course, an extremely similar message to “It doesn’t matter what you want because what you want is going to lead you to an eternity of suffering after you die.” Notice the similarity? (Hint: it isn’t just the fact that “in the long run, we’re all dead”).
This attitude of “it doesn’t matter what you want” extends beyond any religious/spiritual spheres. It’s common even among non-religious discussions. Of course, the basic fact is “You can’t always get what you want.” But there’s a certain attitude that comes with this reality that I rather despise. It, similarly, amounts to “It doesn’t matter what you desire”, which is ridiculous. Much like the hospital example I gave earlier. Does the fact that a loved one is almost certain to die mean that I should just “Get over what I want”? This attitude is extremely pervasive; not about loved ones, but desire in general. You can be that way if you wish, but I find it disgusting and repulsive.
Once again, I think this largely has to do with unfortunate life circumstances. Perhaps there’s an underlying depression that manifests itself through anger among those that so proudly declare to dreamers that “It doesn’t matter what you want” when the listener of those words is deciding upon which course of action to take in the common course of his life. It’s usually very hateful, which is a red flag to me. I’m not against hate completely, as there are many things that I “hate”. But the way that I so often hear “It doesn’t matter what you want” raises a red flag to me. It has for a very long time. I had this attitude for most of my childhood simply by observing my parents. I watched them leave for work everyday, and complain about it every single day. Of course, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. But, to my child mind, I wanted something different (my parents certainly had a lot to do with planting this seed in my head in other, more intentional ways, as well). I grew up basically expecting that adulthood was going to suck, and that I’d never experience happiness again after childhood. It’s interesting, because that perspective influenced me in other regards as well. It basically became my overall demeanor for a long time.
It goes without saying, but several different things have affected my perspective. Religion affected my perspective; my mother abandoning me affected my perspective. The most embarrassing thing which affected my perspective in childhood was porn. I consumed porn as a child that affected my perspectives about women. Apparently, looking back on it, I must’ve been reading some dominatrix porn. At the time, I didn’t know anything about “kinks” or “normal human relationships”, so I thought this was just the way that women treated men. It made me resent them. Hey, it’s embarrassing. But honesty is therapeutic to me. (I must include that in addition to this porn, religion severely affected my perspectives about women. It made me hate the fact that they made me feel “sinful” things, and made me resent them because of it. Once again, it’s embarrassing. I already know what is going to be said: “Wow, sounds like Ed Gein.” Go ahead and get that out of your system. I know you’ll feel better for hating me). But the type of porn I discovered, along with religious guilt about sexuality in general, made me want to stay as far away from women as possible. Even to this day, I do not particularly desire women. It’s no surprise why. I realize that will make many readers angry, but hey. Therapy is good.
Also, as is the case with many, if not all people, you have crushes during your childhood that lead to absolutely nothing. And it continues through your teenage years. If it happens frequently enough, and you’re emotionally sensitive enough (as I was), you put your guard up. All of these facts lead up to why I don’t particularly enjoy dating, nor sex. I try to avoid attractive women because I don’t even want the thoughts to enter my mind. I’m developing a healthier attitude towards sex due to the way my life philosophies have changed regarding happiness, but the idea of being in a relationship does not interest me in the least. Casual sex doesn’t either, honestly. Friendships, of course, are fine: provided that I don’t get too physically or romantically attracted to the friend. Then, that just leads to more complicated feelings that I wish I could rid myself of. (I should also mention that my desire to be alone also originates just from my natural demeanor, without being influenced by “outside forces”. I just naturally enjoy my alone time).
It is quite unbelievable how long I spent trying to run away from my emotions about women. Trying to run away from physical attractiveness in particular. It doesn’t surprise me that it happened, but I can’t believe how long it has taken me to say “Uh, that’s just dumb.” I’m basically having to teach myself that sexuality is ok, and that’s a really bad thing to have to do. That should be taught from the beginning. I don’t recall exactly who “taught” me otherwise (I really don’t think it was my parents. I remember them speaking to me about condoms, and I was so overwhelmed with embarrassment that I tuned them out. I think it was pastors on the radio, or something. It’s crazy how one sermon can completely change your life forever. For the worse, even). Emotional sensitivity, shyness, dominatrix literature and conservative preaching have all been factors towards my feelings about women. I don’t hate women. Women are human beings. I know this. But I prefer to be alone and guarded. I know this will change with time, but it doesn’t really bother me that I am this way. It bothers me that people are going to think the worst of me based on what I’ve said, but it doesn’t matter what you do or say, you’re always going to have people that think you are an evil person. It’s just how it is. I’ll concede that I am a stupid person, but, hopefully, you understand why I’m a stupid person. I’m working on it, slowly but surely, and a large key to this is going to be my “happiness” philosophy. I’m having to retrain myself that my wants actually matter. That my wants aren’t “evil”. And I just don’t want romance. I’m also still hesitant about being sexually attracted to women, but there’s just some things that you can’t help. THERE TRULY ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU JUST HAVE TO “ACCEPT”. Once again, I know you’ll think I’m weird, and that’s acceptable. Because I am weird. I just hope you understand where I’m coming from, and can maybe empathize with me, is all.
So, slowly but surely, I’m learning that wants (especially sexual) are not inherently evil. Physical attraction is not evil. It makes me uncomfortable, but it isn’t evil. I can see how trust is important when it comes to relationships. Learning that trust, love, etc. are important to relationships does not occur in the way that learning to fear God through the Ten Commandments happens. A major problem I have had is hearing basic facts about the world and judging them through this “Ten Commandments” logic. “Is this sinful, or is this not? I’m going to judge this to the fullest extent of holiness to see if it stacks up to God’s plan.” Basically, it is the idea of treating, say, the fact that love is built on trust to mean that you must trust anyone you have any attraction to at any time or else you are an ethical failure with regards to trust, and I guess that means you’re going to be punished for not trusting. This, of course, is a result of being taught that lust (a.k.a., sexual desire) is unholy unless you are married to the person you sexually desire. So it isn’t surprising to believe that you must develop an intimate relationship with anyone you physically desire, but it’s excruciatingly tragic. You push your warped logic to its extreme end. Most of us are aware of “conservative crazies”, but sadly, too many of us are those “conservative crazies”. It’s really stupid and depressing. There’s many of us that understand what warped conservative ideologies say, and, thankfully, many people that are critical of it. The amount of times that I treated being attracted to a girl to mean that I had to date her is physically repulsive to me. Shitty conservative ideas: “lust” (looking at a woman with sexual attraction with no intention of “marrying” her) should be avoided at all costs, you should ask God for forgiveness, masturbating is a sin, yadda yadda yadda. It truly is emotional child torture. It is so weird how, over the course of your life, people can affect you for the worst. Some people make your life better, others make it worse. Just another inescapable fucking reality of being here on Earth.
Interestingly enough, in addition to me being a fucking retard about women, I’m also a doormat. When I was younger, I made sure not to step on anyone’s toes, and this came at the expense of me asserting myself pretty much at all. You want to date me? Sure, why not. It doesn’t matter what I want: I exist to make other people happy, because that’s a holy thing to do. Showing that I “care for others” as God commands. Jesus fucking Christ: when have I not been stupid? Time after time after time, I dated a girl simply because she wanted to, when I had no interest in doing so whatsoever. Because I’m just a pushover that couldn’t assert myself. Of course, I doubted myself because of perceived “peer pressure”: “Everyone else is fucking, man! Why don’t you care about dating?” Finally, after several years of emotionally tormenting myself, I accepted that I just wasn’t interested. I was still physically attracted (and emotionally attracted a few times), but not interested. That was a huge, great first step for me. Asserting myself. Defending myself is the next step I see, but there is a value in ignoring criticisms, whether they be just or not, and entering your own bubble. That’s blasphemous to those who aren’t being widely criticized, but privacy and solitude are beautiful blessings indeed.
The final step, at least thus far, towards my “accepting happiness as a valuable, worthy goal” philosophy was tackling religion on a different front. Not the religious ideas that I’ve already mentioned in this piece, but ideas that I’ve mentioned before in other pieces. I reached a breaking point as far as money and God were concerned. The conflict between making money on the one hand (thus, avoiding God, in my mind) or choosing God and remaining in poverty on the other proved to be my breaking point (the dichotomy, of course, existing because “this world is sinful”, etc.). By a miracle, I finally accepted that the two ideas were not mutually exclusive: they were not incompatible. The misery I experienced in my youth regarding my parents being miserable with their jobs was gone. I always ran from my desire for money by saying “Well, if my parents don’t like making it, why should I make it?” “If money is the root of all evil, why shouldn’t I avoid it?” “If CEOs are greedy, horrible people, why would I want money?” Then, of course, when I actually needed money, I faced a huge contradiction. Thankfully, this was resolved for me by realizing that I can choose both. A truly revolutionary idea that has basically zero traction in common discussion, which goes: Either we should focus on God and not care about money (because of “greed”) or we should abandon God altogether. I have not seen many connect the two dots. I have not seen many say that one can be wealthy and be a Christian. Often Biblical verses are cited to prove that one cannot be both simultaneously, but I’d have to be skeptical of this analysis from several points. On the one hand, why should poverty be something to be “helped” if wealth is also a bad thing? In other words, how can poverty and wealth both be conditions undesirable to God? What other “state” is there? Middle class? Is there a specific amount of money that God will allow? That seems ludicrous to me. Let’s say I start out at this “specific” amount of money that makes me “holy”. If I buy something, I’m “below” that monetary amount. Likewise, if I sell something, I’m “above” it. Is the amount which determines “holiness” dependent upon money, or materials? How exactly is this “value” to be measured? Once again, I consider the whole idea of God demanding a “specific” amount of money to be a Christian a ludicrous idea. I also consider the idea of there being a holy “range” of money to be just as ludicrous.
Many interpret the Bible to mean that Christ hated wealth itself. As I’ve been studying economics for quite some time now, I find this to be absurd. I have learned that wealth is created through common, beneficiary exchange. Why would God dislike humans working together to become happier? Still yet, others may say it is the wealth disparity that God hated. Once again, I don’t think this would be the case. On the free market, wealth is created through voluntary exchange, whereby individuals trade because they believe to be better off. Those that are wealthy have traded more valuable things to more people, and thus, have increased the happiness of all of those involved in the trading (of course, there is such a thing as “buyer’s remorse” and “seller’s remorse”, but one buys or sells when one believes one will be better off, more satisfied, when he or she buys or sells). Why would God be upset with the traders if they are benefiting the people around them more so than the poor? (Of course, many will say that, for example, those with disabilities can’t trade as much with others, if, in fact, at all, and thus, are at an economic advantage. Surely God cares about the disabled, correct? The argument I’m making isn’t that God hates the poor because they are poor, but that He doesn’t hate the wealthy just because they are wealthy. I don’t think He hates the wealthy simply because the poor exist. I don’t think God is a Socialist (I don’t think He has ever been accused of being an egalitarian in hardly any sense: He’s been condemned for being a “favoritist” more often)). Certainly I don’t think it is wealth that God has a problem with. I’m sure he has problems with how wealth is created (I don’t see how God can issue a commandment “Thou shalt not steal” but be ok with stealing from the rich to give to the poor (it is a commandment, afterall). But what about the murder commandment? What about “just holy wars” where people die? What about self-defense? All valid questions that I don’t have answers to), but I don’t think there is a problem with wealth per se. Wealth can do great things to people. One has to be wealthy in order to donate wealth to others. In other words, you can’t donate unless you have. Why would having be evil, while giving be praised? Once again, I think the whole idea is ludicrous. And even if a rich person spends their money “selfishly”, other people are still getting paid. Whatever the rich person buys is being given to the people involved in getting the product (or service) to the rich person, whether it be producing, distributing, storing, or whatever. The whole idea that God hates wealth is nonsense. Why would Heaven be described with “streets of gold” if gold (a symbol of wealth) is this inherently evil thing? I don’t think God is displeased with us humans because, within the past several centuries, wealth has been created for humanity on a scale never before created in humanity’s history. (This makes me think of conservatives, who lament at “the good old days”, back before people were “Godless”). I can’t believe that God has a problem with the free market, and that He has a problem with wealth. Of course, it is easy to compare the rich to the poor, but the fact that all money that is spent helps out somebody is a reality that should be understood. Whether a rich person gives it to another rich person that owns a business and employs people and gives customers goods and/or services, or gives it to a charity to help children born with life-threatening conditions, it should be understood that his wealth helps whomever he gives it to. (It should be noted that there would be no money to give to charities without profit). I do not think this means that God has a problem with saving (“hoarding”), because saving simply exists for future consumption. Everyone knows that it is dumb to, for example, be buried with your money after you die. I think that is part of the problem with wealth that God may have: stuff that is already obvious to us. I think the fact that it is obvious to us is evident that God would have a problem with it (the “human connection” between God and man).
My life changed forever on that day when I realized that God and money were not completely incompatible. I desired to learn about what money actually was, and I’ve been studying economics ever since. I’ve also, largely thanks to my best friend, been developing a “happiness” philosophy. I enjoy introspection, and unraveling why I am how I am. I’m always going to do this with my writing. This, typically, is done in retrospect. But now, I actually have a philosophy to anticipate developing in the future. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a time in my life where I actually looked forward to the future (pun unintended), at least long-term. It’s really overwhelming: I’m not quite sure what to do at times. I feel like a dog that has been abused, who, thanks to a very loving owner, wags his tail violently and jumps and runs around uncontrollably simply due to glee and relief. I love listening to my best friend talk about religion. He has taught me a lot, and I owe him a lot. His personal battles, past and present, are interesting to me, and I’m interested in seeing how God develops us over time. What will our similarities within the faith be, and what will be the differences, as I’m sure there will be? I’m very interested in finding that out.
I, also briefly, would like to mention something else regarding to my past sensitivities, morality, etc., and that is the idea of debating. I don’t really believe I was taught this, but it has just always been a natural disposition of mine. When I was younger, I never liked it when people “debated”. I hated arguments (even harmless ones), and I didn’t like loud noises. I never liked gregariousness (which explains why I spent so much time alone, away from, for example, my father). Of course, you learn, change, and grow over time. People help influence you, and I’m clearly different than I was as a child (God, I would hope so). But now, I dislike debating for other reasons. I won’t mention them all here: I’ll save them for other pieces. Change always makes me wonder why in the fuck I was ever the original way in the first place, but, at least if the change is clearly for the better, I can be thankful that it, at least, happened at all.
I’ve been influenced for the better; I’ve been influenced for the worse. I guess I’m just a human being.
I certainly understand the idea that “you can’t always get what you want”. But what I don’t understand about people who so proudly declare that “it doesn’t matter what you want” with so much sass is that everything we do is an attempt to satiate some desire that we have. What we desire drives our actions. I don’t understand why this isn’t widely believed, or, at the very least, why it isn’t widely disseminated. I am indebted to various economists I have read over the past several years for the revelation that “human beings use means to achieve ends”. This, of course, means that humans desire. Desire is what drives all economic activity: the desire to live, and to live how one wants to the best of his abilities, doing the best he can for himself because he desires what he considers to be in his best interest. So, in other words, all of those miserable people who, so proudly, declare that it doesn’t matter what you want, are, essentially, driven by their own wants. Once again, I don’t know why this isn’t widely accepted and disseminated. The conservatives want to go to Heaven, and the best way they can see to do this is by condemning the “sinful” world around them (sadly). Atheists, I suppose, want to learn sensible truths, or, at the very least, want to avoid the negativity that often comes with being religiously conservative, and want to call out those who make others purposefully feel like shit, even if for a “higher purpose”. Of course, there’s countless motivations and reasons for what people do, but the point is that they are driven by intrinsic desire to obtain their goals, and they take actions in an attempt to satisfy these goals for themselves. This, in the words of Mises’s magnum opus, is “Human Action”.
I personally refuse to accept that what I personally desire isn’t valuable: that it is a “waste of time”. I certainly reject the proposition from a Christian standpoint, which, ultimately, I believe, is the “life” standpoint. As a Christian, I refuse to believe that God loves and cares about me, but somehow doesn’t care about my happiness. Once again, if I said I care about, say, my best friend, but didn’t care about his level of happiness, can I really say that I care about him? Sure, I can rationalize and try to be “moral” and “preachy” and tell him all the reasons why what makes him happy is wrong. But the idea that being happy itself is wrong is, quite simply, just wrong to me. Incorrect.
Because, as I have said, I don’t desire debating, I’d rather not go into too much detail into what it is that I want. As I’ve said, I know I’ll get a billion different reasons as to why I shouldn’t want what I want, or why I’ll never get it, etc. etc. Of course, I write about what I want all the time, but I want to defend wanting itself in this piece.
Despite the fact it will always be the case that I will never be completely satisfied always, this does not mean that there is something wrong with wanting in general. I sincerely hope more people discuss this (I’m probably just looking in the wrong places) and understand that every thing we do is an attempt to satisfy some want. I hope more people will become more comfortable with expressing and accepting their honest feelings about wanting. While I certainly understand the phrase “You can’t always get what you want”, I reject the notion that what I want doesn’t matter. I implore everyone else to believe the same thing for themselves.
And people trying to tell you that what you want doesn’t matter or is impossible to achieve will only make the satisfaction of that desire all the more sweet. (Let’s say that what you want is impossible to achieve, and you finally realize this, and change course of action. …Who cares? Who should be the one to decide when one should change course of direction, and to which direction?) That’s a gigantic motivation for me, personally. I want to prove people wrong that say I’m never going to succeed at what I want to succeed at. More than anything. Almost more than the success itself. “What do you possibly have to offer to the world, Cody?” Let’s just wait and find out, shall we?
Life is a learning process because we aren’t omniscient. Our wills drive us. Our entire lives will be battles between satisfying our desires and the desires of others, and not satisfying our desires nor the desires of others. Human interrelations are so complex that it is seemingly impossible to discuss all of its nuances. Sometimes, we do good, and other times, we do evil. Sometimes, we helplessly make things worse, while other times, we do good accidentally. I don’t really have any good way of explaining why things are the way they are between us all. I’d be highly skeptical of the one that says he does have a good way of explaining it. When you get right down to it, ultimately, the answer to the question “Why?” does seem to come down to: “It just is.” But we should all ask “Why?” as often as we are comfortable with asking, and, for me, that’s quite a bit. Why are many people content with not doing so? Who knows. “They just are.” But if they proclaim, from a deeply philosophical sense, that my wants (or anyone else’s wants, for that matter) simply don’t matter, they are wrong from multiple standpoints. In my opinion, they are taking the easy way out because they themselves are miserable, and that’s the great tragedy behind all of this. I may not know why some men commit heinous evils while others do not, but I can be thankful that I don’t want to commit evil, and I can be thankful for the others that feel that way as well. I am thankful that we don’t all want to be evil, even though, inevitably, it will slip out from all of us, from time to time, to varying degrees. That’s the best I can hope for while I’m alive: that our evil doesn’t destroy us too much. That remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful. Of course, I’m not in a gulag, so that’s easy for me to say now. If I were, I probably wouldn’t be as hopeful. But, in the long run, maybe that’s all we have: hope. Because we want good, even when we create bad. (I reserve the right to be pessimistic, especially for comedic purposes).