Tuesday, August 30, 2016

progressive circles

When I was twenty, I could jog a mile, without breaking a sweat.  After ten years of a rather sedentary adult life, and fifteen years being off somatropin, I found that could barely run half a mile, without feeling like I might be dying.  Though the older grown-ups would laugh at me, for how I have no idea! Try 50, try 60, try 70..

Meh.  At thirty, I knew that old age was upon me.  I knew that it was only the beginning.  I don't want to be a hobbled old man by the age of fifty.  Given the current rate of increase for the average human lifespan, that could be well under half my life still ahead of me, by the year 2035.  On average.  I could even be well ahead of that curve, if I put more effort into it than most people do, just by getting some basic exercise, and eating a rational diet.

Why does that matter?  I've never met a 50 year old, let alone an 80 year old, who would pass up the chance at being physiologically 30 again. ..because they got to be young, already?  That was just plenty, when they had the chance?  That sounds nice and rational, and surely some people might be such paragons of good mental health, but it's not really how it usually pans out.  It doesn't even really make all that much sense.  We're not the same person we were.  What that young version of ourselves had, it's of little consequence to what we want now.  Might as well have been someone else's, but for these fading jumble of memories.

So, when I'm not pondering what it means for something to be mine, my experiences, my body, my mind, my life.. I've been trying.  I found that though I absolutely hate doing it, running seemed to provide the most bang for the buck.  As far as requiring the least amount of time, to get the most benefit to my circulatory system.  Which, in turn benefits every other system.  I'd love to be doing martial arts again too, but in the meantime, running should do the trick well, without requiring more time and attention than I'm willing to spare.  

I'm very busy doing nothing, you see, and my nothing time is very important to me.  Seriously, it is.  I can't help clinging to it, like it's life or death.  It's kind of weird.  I'm hoping I'll feel inclined to do more, as I start feeling better, and I'm doing everything I can to feel better.

I found running very difficult, though.  Everyone does, I know.. but, "everyone" isn't really everyone.  It's most people.  Some people are in great health, and can pick up running much more easily.  Other people, are not in good health, for any number of reasons.  From heart disease, to obesity, to an acute endocrine disorder that interferes with oxygenating the blood. or muscle healing rate.  So, for some people, it's especially difficult.

Anyhow, normal or not, not only did I have trouble making it half a mile, I also never seemed to get any better at it, despite diligently trying to keep doing it anyhow.  For years, I would just do these pathetic round the block runs, feeling like they were nearly killing me.  Only when I was on somatropin again, ten years later, did I find myself pushing that up to a mile.  Then, a mile and a half.  Then two miles.  Then two miles, while still feeling good and functional, afterwards.

Finally, to deciding that running two miles, every other day, should be about optimal for a healthy system, without wearing the parts out.  No reason to keep pushing it up, I had no reason to keep improving.  Just to keep doing what I was doing.  Why is that such a rare place to be?

Now that I'm back on GH, I'm running again, but where I live now is much more hilly. The best circuit I could put together starting at my house involves quite a bit of running up and down hills.  So, it's a bit more challenging, and difficult to compare in terms of distance.  I think I might actually be pushing myself harder than I was back in Montclair.  I'm having trouble making the full mile and a half, and collapsing when I get back.  I was able to do it ok when I first got here though.  Progress is slow.

I just want to get back to that point.  It was also about the cardiovascular benefit to mental health and acuity.  Sometimes that even more so. I could sure use some of that, too.  

twenty-first century tourism

I'm anxious and unsure of whether I'll really want to do any more than I have been doing, but I have been doing a whole lot of nothing.  That can't possibly be a good idea.

So, I am moving forward, in these comically lame baby steps.  Maybe that's just how it works.  Or, maybe this is just one of the many tricks my mind plays on me, to keep me doing nothing.  I don't know.  Tricks like that, and my love for pot and video games.

I'm not saying they destroy a person's motivation or anything, but let's just say, you probably do need a little extra to spare.  They are going to bite into some of it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

a dubious relationship with reality

I've always been an unyielding materialist.  As I understand it, there is a concrete physical reality, and it's absurd to suggest that it would bend to anyone's will, or even that any such concept as will would exist outside of it, in any way.  Everything comes down to physics.  Shouldn't this pretty much go without saying?

Still, that's not to say that I've always valued said concrete reality, the same way.  The concept of value, of what's important and what isn't - this is all just illusive fabrication, anyhow.  Which in turn, is not to say that nothing has value.  More that, value whatever you want.  It's what you're going to do, anyhow.

As such, I grew up thinking that reality was a terrible bore.  I read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi.  I watched a lot of movies.  It all seemed so much more impressive than what I'd experienced of living.  That is pretty much the point, right?  Who would want to read a book about the mundane day-to-day statistically standardized snapshot of your average person's uneventful life?  So we come up with all sorts of stories that appeal to our bored and discontented natures.  Imagination is part of how we can always see how things could be different.  How they could be better.  Imagination drives us to try to make it so.. or to just pretend.  We come up with new technologies, religions, epic stories, and everything in between.

In recent years, I have moved away from that worldly disinterest.  I lost se sen of engagement with books and movies, I even found gaming difficult to get into.  Favoring a game like Civilization the most, for being the complete opposite of immersive.  I didn't want to be pulled out of reality.  I wanted to think about everything from politics to cosmology.  I'd wondered why no one pointed out to me how much more impressive the world could be, if you really pay attention to it.  I thought about how differently my life might have gone, if I'd figured that out a long time ago.

Course, it's not that simple.  I speak in past tense, because my mood seems different lately.  I need a break from it all.  Now, I'm wondering what other factors play into it.  That concrete reality stuff, from the biochemistry of neurotransmitters and hormones, to the ways in which that might be effected by endogenous environmental sensitivity, to the ways in which such factors might have been impacted by what was going on in said environment.  I wonder if it changed because I thought about it differently, or if just maybe, I thought about it differently, because something had changed.

Does it have to be one or the other?  Maybe not, but it's easy to attribute elements of causality to both, and one or the other might be ruled out entirely.  I lean towards thinking it's thought that's more of irrelevant end result of a process that's already happened by the time we think it.  Which could have some pretty important consequences on how we understand this reality we're trying to get by in, here.

I'm back on 0.4mg of Omnitrope, and that should be swinging into effect soon.  I've been gaming almost all day, but I've also been exercising, and looking forward to a new grocery that's supposed to be opening nearby, so that I can eat healthier.  I'm doing these things, as if harboring some optimism that while I just need to crawl back into my cave for a while, I don't expect to stay here, long.

I just need to rest, after many long years of doing nothing.  Then I can properly pull myself together, and resume doing nothing.  I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  I go round and round trying to figure it out, but I'm not sure any of it really matters.  Might as well focus on trying to afford a new spaceship for a while.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

avidyā sukha

It is easier to sell a solution to people when they feel they have a problem, but in Plato's iconic allegory of the cave, it's not well-being that is being peddled, but truth.  Leaving the cave is even described as painful.  One might imagine the denizens of the cave are largely so accustomed to it, that many are actually quite happy there.

The mind is very adaptive.  Unburdened by the chemical imbalances of depression, skewing a person's baseline, people can be happy despite all sorts of damp and fetid darkness.  Is this a reason to justify staying in the cave, though?

That depends.  I've always been wary of the truth.  How much it really matters.  How attainable it really is.  How trustworthy anyone is, to claim they even know which direction it might be found.  These all seem like reasonable questions, but it's interesting that I find myself taking it so far as to forget to consider it's value at all.  Such an ambiguous abstraction as to be entirely irrelevant.

What good is it, if people are happy without it?  Who am I, or anyone else, to even claim the cave is any less true than the unmitigated sky?  If an ant happily believes that his pile of sand is the most important work in the universe, is there any value inherent to believing him wrong?  If another ant wanders lost and confused in its search for something more, can we really defend that as the wiser path?   Just for being closer to some concept of truth?  A truth that taken in any direction, seems further from someone else's truth?

If that someone else's truth clearly undermines well-being, this suddenly becomes a much easier question.  If that person's truth justifies the infliction of suffering on others, we might not care about the philosophical relativism of defending their way as being no less objectively true.  If someone only immiserates themselves, we might let it go.  Or we might try to sell them on our version of the truth instead.  We might even sell them on things we believe to be patently untrue.

It is difficult to make the case that well-being should ever really come second.  That facing the reality of what we're dealing with seems at times self-evident, and yet the interplay between reason and well-being is interesting, one alternately obscuring the other, as I consider their relative value.

How can we honestly expect to deal any better, with much of anything life throws at us, if we're in denial, mired in delusion, ignorant of the very walls that entomb us?  Fair enough, but anyone dealing even worse, with whatever they're dealing with, is going to find it difficult to make much of a case for having found a better way.  We might assume the happier person is choosing the wiser path to have attained their happiness.  It's easy to forget, difficult to compare, and impossible to quantify, the vastly different places from which we all start.

Monday, August 8, 2016

vibhava taṇhā

When I say that we struggle to be what we already are, maybe it would help to take this down to a basic example.  Animals foraging for food.  This is not an imperative to have food.  It is an imperative to action.  It is the struggle to acquire food.  That feeling of wanting is a part of the already doing.

This does not assuage the physical hunger that might also be a significant factor, but that is not the source of what we feel.  Craving, desire, discontent.. these are not the feelings of not having.  These are the feelings our minds generate, as part of what we are.  In many instances not so easily satiated as mere hunger.  We can go through our entire lives craving and discontent.  It isn't really about what we don't have, but a process of the mind.  Part of what makes us human.  Alive.. but it's also a mirage.

You might say that life is about the journey, not the destination.  Or that it's important to do things for their own sake, not for some eventual outcome.  These are variations on the same principle, but one that that can be taken into all the workings of consciousness, how all the machinery turns, every moment we're awake, and when we're dreaming.  When we want to upend our entire lives, or when we just want to do nothing.

Each step we take, we take because taking that step is what we are,  It isn't about where the steps take us, or where we're trying to go.  It's the myriad of circumstances that impel us to take each step.   By all means, keep walking.  Or don't.  You'll do whatever you're going to do.  Be mindful of the process therein.

Friday, August 5, 2016

stories we tell ourselves

I found myself in an all too familiar labyrinth, recently.  It's one I've desperately tried to navigate so many times before, but often upon first entering, I don't recognize it.  It's only as I follow the twists and turns, trying to make sense of one dead end after another that I think, oh for fucks sake.  I  know this place.

There's a study that's been done, which I've so far failed to dig up a reference to, that shows how people can be manipulated to make very predictable choices, by giving them subconscious cues.  Not only will people assume that they're making a rational choice of their own volition, but when asked, why did you make that choice?

They inevitably give answers that are demonstrably unrelated to the reasons the administrators of the study know to be the real reasons.  People not only lack free will, but lack the capacity to understand why their fettered will does what it does.  Rather, we have this process the ego goes through, as we attempt to explain why we do the things we do, after the fact.  This is the ultimate confirmation bias.

It's not impossible that we might somehow work out the right answer, or even stumble into it.  Surely, the stories we tell ourselves might occasionally be accurate.  The more intelligent we are, the more likely we should be to come up with a narrative that isn't utterly nonsensical.  We might also become adept at finding seemingly rational reasons for the irrational things we do.  Reasons that are still entirely wrong.  It's difficult to say for sure.  Maybe impossible.

So, why do we do the things we do? From neurological conditions to how circumstances influenced those conditions.  Even things we learned as infants that we couldn't possibly remember to explain ourselves, despite that these have been experiences which structured our predispositions for the rest of our lives.  The effort to understand ourselves isn't completely futile, but so much of it is bound to be beyond the scope of what we can be aware of.  We're forced to fill in countless gaps, as best we can.

At some point, it just seems to make more sense to say, you know what?  I have no idea why I am the way I am.  I have no idea what to do about it.  I'm just going to keep moving forward, as best I can.  A lot of my efforts to move forward won't make any more sense than the very missteps that got me here, but ah, fuck it.

I'm not entirely convinced that I have the freedom to do anything else, anyhow.  Rather, that we all fight tooth and nail, doing everything humanly possible, to become who we already are.