Wednesday, September 11, 2013

it's all in the details

When I mention my awe of reality, I'm not talking about the obvious, not the pretty sunset, the good cup of coffee, nor even the billions of billions of stars.  Those things have their moments, but they're a bit cliche.  It would be a different sort of sad if I hadn't learned to appreciate them until now.

No, I'm talking about the minutiae, the details.  When the more I learn about something, the more I realize how little I understand it.  Or what a weak position I'm in to be condemning it.

Why was I such an idealist?  Why am I plagued by so much expectation of what everything should be, when honestly, I know so little about any of it? and the more I do learn, the more I realize how complex and nuanced it all is.  The more I realize how much I've been taking for granted aspects of life that I have only the most rudimentary mis/conception of.

Like people, for example, and their vast anthills, of social structures, education systems, entertainment, politics, and government.  Sure, on the one hand, we're a massive clusterfuck, rife with ignorance, selfishness, and blind raging allegiances to nonsense.  but on the other, compared to what?  Isn't it a little impressive that humanity has done this much?  That we've even built all this, as flawed as it may be?  Even as devastatingly prolific as it may be.

It's in our nature, as anything in nature.  We go where our genetic imperatives take us, and as such, we'll probably only change in any particular direction, when natural selection forces us to.  but if I move my baseline to thinking about how nature usually works.. we should count ourselves lucky, at least we're not proteins embedded in an asteroid, hurtling through space, unable to even find a planet to crash into?

More than that sort of forced optimism though, it's about just stepping back.  The glass isn't half empty, or half full.  There's so much more going on than that.  Stop worrying about the damn glass.  It's just a distraction.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

hello cruel world

Where do I begin?  and once I get started, how do I evade the incessant threats of distraction and exhaustion, so that I won't have to figure out how to get going all over again?  Sometimes it seems life is really more about getting from one moment to the next, than any sort of real direction or plan.  It's all about how the pieces just happen to fit together.

I used to maintain hope, with this subtle superstition of maybe there's some hidden rhyme or reason to it all, maybe an underlying or overarching organization that will ultimately work out for the best.  Agnosticism only makes sense, right?  Who knows what might be possible, or what science might yet discover?

Sure, but superstition can be insidious.  We never really know anything, but we can take some pretty good guesses.  Maybe there's a hidden purpose to all things, maybe our ancestors are watching over us, and maybe a great whale will fall from the heavens.1 Sure, it's important to keep an open mind, and we never really know, but seriously.  You probably don't want to bank on shit that doesn't make any damn sense.

I hate to admit it, but it's taken me most of my life to figure this out.  I've always leaned in this direction, yet not quite accepted it.  I wish someone had shown me how incredible reality actually is, when I was just a kid, way too young to be as disgusted by it as I was.  The world struck me as so cruel, life so boring, I've been inclined to chalk it up to the bad chemistry of imagination and depression, but in retrospect, I'm more inclined to call it misguided naivete and ignorance.  It is not knowing any better.

I saw all sorts of suffering, but I couldn't see the forest for the trees.  The world wasn't working out for me, the way I thought it should, but what does that really mean?  Who am I, for samsara to work for?  What do I know, to even begin to measure something so arbitrary?  What do we compare our very existence to, in a universe so immeasurably vast an complex?  A universe which seems to be pretty fucking amazing, when I can get over myself long enough to realize it.  It isn't about me.  It isn't about anyone, or any thing.. but it is pretty damn impressive.

We enjoy what we can, we suffer when we can't avoid it, we pretend we are more than a sum of circumstance, as we try to wrangle it all into a whole lot of egocentric nonsense.

1 Douglas Adams reference, see: Infinite Improbability Engine.