The Best of Times
Every species knows that to experience the best in life, they have to be at their best -- at all times, and especially so as they grow older -- otherwise, they just are not going to be around.
That doesn't necessarily mean being the Alpha Male -- which is necessarily a high risk occupation of constant challenges and endless responsibilities. But even alpha males know there comes a time when it is right to step aside to a lower profile niche position there is less competition for.-- thereby retaining their usefulness to the greater society. That is usually exhibited by the ability and willingness to take care of others -- or just to take care of themselves so as not to be a liability to the group but an asset when sheer numbers require as many able bodies as available.
That doesn't mean just being a warm body is sufficient. Frequently, all that is required is just to show up -- at the right time and moment. That mere presence is often enough to turn the tide of an outcome. Of course that is life on the grander scale -- than the pettiness most have come to accept as their lives.
Thus the quest for a greater sense of participation in the lives of all others, has become an integral part of contemporary lives we know as "entertainment," and distractions from our actual lives. Many come to prefer those fantasies over the possibilities of actualizing their own lives to the greatest extent possible. They in fact become incapable of distinguishing the fiction from the reality, the virtual over the actual.
The actual is how we manifest our own lives -- and not how much we identify with some other fictional or ideal -- wishing it was true for us. Many have lost this ability to distinguish between what they know to be true, from how they actually live that truth -- which then becomes a greaat problem in society. What they do may be the opposite of what they think they are doing -- or hope to convince others is what they are doing.
When that difference is pointed out to them, they will get angry and demand that one believe as they are instructed to, and not what their own senses are telling them. In fact, they are frequently told not to believe their own senses -- in favor of what the self-proclaimed authorities would have us believe were handed down directly from the Most High personally, to convey to the masses.
Invariably, that message is to abandon one's own judgment and capacity to judge and discern such matters for themselves -- in favor of what the experts proclaim them to be. As a result, very few come to know themselves well -- because they believe what others tell them they are, rather than finding that out for themselves -- as the ultimate quest of every meaningful life, and as Socrates said, "the only life worth living."
That is one's own -- and so why not the best? That's really the only thing that makes sense -- making the best of one's own life -- no matter what one has to work with. Very few begin with absolutely nothing, and very few begin with absolutely everything, and so the first task, is finding out what exactly one has -- and beyond that, their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Thus every wise advice, has consisted of the instruction, "to know oneself" -- instead of presuming to know everyone else. That is their business and order of the day. That is in fact, how one distinguishes the wise from the unwise -- how much they know themselves, and not how much they want others to think of them.
The latter will always be miserable -- because what they know is useless to themselves, because they cannot prove it on themselves. They are powerless to act on their own problems -- and can only project them on to others to solve. They can solve all the imaginary problems of the world, but never any real ones -- particularly in their own lives.
Those who can, are living in the best of times -- doing the best they can, and that's all that matters.
The Problem is Not the Answer
Many people's solution to a problem, is to create another problem instead -- rationalizing that it is the lesser of two evils, or at least a different problem -- as though that was the best of all worlds, rather than eliminating all problems as best they can foresee.
In this way, all the energy that should be freed by the preoccupation with the problem, is merely diverted to another, and so it seems, nothing ever changes -- as truly they have not. That is excellent job security -- for those who make a living off of those problems, that of course would be eliminated, by the elimination of the problem. And so they are vested in the perpetuation of those problems -- rather than the elimination of those underlying conditions -- all the while demanding, unlimited more money -- to "solve" a problem they have no intention of eliminating.
That ties up a lot of money -- as well as energy, and other resources -- and before one knows it, time and life are over, without making any progress from one generation to the next. Life frequently can go on for generations that way -- before there is a breakthrough, and the course of human history and evolution are transformed entirely. But surely that time will come again -- as it always has before. Nothing stays the same forever -- especially if it was ever alive. That is the quality of life -- that it is the process of change, and thus the possibility of improvement.
The greater life, is the measure of change -- but the meaningful question is, what changes? Is it simply running faster, jumping higher, or lifting more weights -- or would it more meaningfully be measured as the robustness and vitality of life in longevity -- as we've never witnessed before? That would be the great challenge of this age -- when increasingly more of the population ages with their well-known "problems" of aging. What if those problems were eliminated? How would human consciousness be transformed? -- without nearly half of life being consumed by the preoccupation with remaining robust and vital throughout whatever remaining years?
Those should be the thoughts of truly progressive people -- and not merely, how to achieve more of the same?
The defining aspect of every life, is not what a person does for work, as much as what they do for recreation -- which as the word says, re-creates their lives. Not surprisingly then, exercise frequently is a leading example of this recreational life -- and other activities one engages in -- not because somebody else pays or rewards them to, but because it is how an individual rewards themselves.
For some, that would largely entail eating as their favorite pastime -- naturally resulting in their overweight or obese condition -- invariably and unmistakably the result of what they do -- as their favorite activity in life, just as the lean and fit exhibit their preoccupation. And that word means as it says, "before all else."
Many others would claim they engage in no recreation or recreational activities -- because they are entirely preoccupied with making money -- in everything they do, and so have no such alternative universes to retreat to -- as that word implies, "take a break from." Implied in this, is that they have no time for anything else -- no time to revive themselves, no time to recreate themselves, no space for reconsidering and rethinking everything they do in life -- including complaining about how out of control their lives have become -- rather than reflecting for a moment, that it doesn't have to be that way -- but they themselves make it so.
They could just as well do everything in their lives very differently -- and that feeling -- and control of their lives and outcomes, is what determines their quality of life, which is the summation of everything they do and are in their own life. It's even difficult, for some people to realize that they "own" their own lives -- so much do they feel that they are merely pawns to everything, and everybody else -- which is the life in despair.
People get that way -- if they don't do anything else -- to re-create a different scenario and story of their lives. For some, it is as easy as rewriting that script -- to a happy ending -- as their favorite recreational activity. Nobody might pay them for such a work of literature -- but the great benefit is not that others pay them for it, as much as that is what the life they reward themselves with -- by envisioning and detailing it.
In this way, the distinctions of fiction and non-fiction comes to an end -- and one lives wholly and newly in the integrated world of their own making. That is how reality comes into being -- rather than remaining the division and fragmentation most experience as their lives -- thinking that is the world for everybody else also. Only if they think it so -- and their teachers might also, as what they were taught to -- by the many fragmented minds that is the only way reality can be.
Yet there have always been a few who have described a wholly other vision of life -- without the divisions and conflicts they engender -- as souls of these other planes of existence, that most feel they can merely admire -- but not live -- because they are living the lives they do live, with neither the time nor inclination for any other.
Some seasons of the year enforce a greater degree of inactivity that may allow this greater introspection of a less harried life of peace and contentment -- and the vow to do better at attaining it in the coming year. Their resolve grows greater even as the days grow darker and shorter. They promise to themselves to do anything -- if only the days will get brighter and longer again.
They've made it through one more cycle of their lives in that way -- but only in the survival mode. The bigger picture -- is whether they go further and beyond that -- as the foundation for subsequent years, and not just repeating the same old cycles and rituals year after year with diminishing vigor and conviction. That is obviously the "greater lives" the prophets and madmen speak of. Surely, that is "not of this world." Or could it be?
That is the question of our lives.
The Future is being created as we actually live it. It's always been that way. That should be the lesson for those who make it into old age. They have to continue to improve each day -- and failing to do so, will make them get worse, deteriorate and finally die. That is also true for people at every age. One either gets better, or one will get worse -- and that should be the lesson instilled from the earliest days. That is the significance of education.
Learning is for the purpose of improving -- and not just accumulating facts for no greater purpose than having it and flaunting it -- as a few still think. That is a useless education. It has to have a meaning and purpose to be worthwhile -- and life sustaining, revitalizing and recreating. Many lose that meaning and purpose somewhere in their lives -- and are cast adrift from that march of improvement, and even think it their purpose to resist all further change and improvement -- even when it makes life immeasurably easier and better for them.
They just think the value and strength is in resistance -- and deliberately condition themselves in that manner -- never realizing that the whole point in conditioning, is to make life easier and better for themselves. That is the only point -- in everything they do. Yet for whatever reason, some people think the whole point in life and their individual calling, is to make their own lives as difficult and hard as possible, and to make those they have contact with, also as hard and difficult as possible -- as though there was some great advantage and virtue in doing so.
Obviously, such people have learned all the wrong lessons in life -- and getting back on the right track, largely requires this reorientation to the right meaning and purpose for what they do. Otherwise, everything they do, only results in their own self-destruction -- until ultimately, they are no longer viable and vital as human beings -- and eventually no longer recognizable as human beings. They are just life -- but without the meaning and purpose -- of one doing their best to continue to improve and evolve.
For what? -- many will ask, thinking life is arbitrary in this and every other respect. It is as it has always been -- to express and enjoy the greatest life one is capable of, which undoubtedly, will be different for everyone but everyone's lifelong unique challenge. When that stops, one is obviously in deterioration, decline and hopelessness -- and drifting away from the river of life into their own stagnant pools of existence.
That is not how life invariably is -- but the beginning of the end for many. Those are the markers of simply heading the wrong way -- and not the inevitable result of living a long life. The mistakes pile up and become overwhelming -- until one realizes at any time, that one can simply let it all go, and begin life anew the right way. That is the importance of dying to the old, and being reborn in the new -- that conveys everlasting life,to those living in that flow.
That is no great mystery in life. That is what everything in life shouts -- but a few have grown weary of listening, and so they do not hear the voices encouraging them along the way -- guiding them to the right. They are convinced that others are there to thwart them at every turn, and so their lives are consumed in constant and endless battles -- to the end. That end comes as a relief -- as the ending of struggle, pain, misery and suffering, and finally the eternal rest of peace.
But life doesn't have to be that way, or end that way -- to those paying attention, and taking better care of themselves -- rather than neglecting and abusing themselves as the major activity of their lives. That can be done in so many ways -- one regards as their personal vices -- the failure to take good care of themselves, and so others have to take increasing care of them. That is always the rearguard of human society.
What is hoped for, is to remain in the vanguard of the future developments and evolution of human society -- in living the better way, which is always being perfected, not by anyone else, but individually, as we live and manifest them. It is not merely reliving history, refighting the previous battles, repeating life as its always been lived before -- but doing what hasn't been done before. That is the unthinkable -- where humanity has not gone before. That is the promised land of ever-evolving life.
All of life has been a preparation for this moment
People who are sadly mistaken, think that nothing is related to any other. So it comes as quite a shock to them, to learn that they may have had a hand in the outcome they are presently experiencing. It might be as obvious as their poor health and condition. What they did -- or didn't do -- is the reason they are in the shape they're in, and not that they had no part in it.
It is safe to say, that those who are the happiest and most content, are those who think they are mostly responsible for their own fate and outcomes -- and therefore do something about it, rather than lamenting how unfair life has been to them, and given them nothing they deserve. In all likelihood, they have gotten what they deserved -- and if they don't like it, it is time to look into their own actions and their consequences, and see the error of their ways and understanding.
For this, they don't need to begin with a perfect understanding and mastery, as though such a thing were possible -- and easy. They simply have to get better at what they are doing -- just a little bit each day, and of course, they have to start -- and not think of more excuses not to. All the excuses in the world, are no substitute for the tiniest bit of action -- in making a difference. That is especially true when asking why most people age badly, while only a few age well. Those latter, are those who have bettered their understanding of life -- and what it takes to be successful at it.
Not just to be successful at all the trivial ways people may become distracted at -- but deeply engaged in their own lives, so that it makes a difference -- in everything they do. It might be even what they don't do anymore -- realizing it is bad for them, and leads to disastrous results. That would include competing with others, and even oneself -- incessantly, as though it were good and a wise thing to do. The inevitable result is an unnecessary and avoidable injury -- that leads to a premature and permanent impairment and disability -- no matter how many blows one thinks they can absorb. It doesn't make them better and more impervious to damage.
It obviously predisposes one to injury -- and with that, a loss of that exercise, articulation and expression -- as happens to so many thinking to retain the recklessness of their youth by indulging in it as long as they can -- until they can't. That is textbook denial -- rather than an understanding and acceptance of its consequences -- before it is too late.
The signs along the way are obvious -- and obviously trying to tell one something important -- but one has to be listening, or it falls on deaf ears. That's why it is so important to want to learn. If a person is not disposed in that way, no amount of teaching is going to make a difference. One will simply resist it all the more -- thinking that is the proper function of their role in life -- to resist the efforts of every other. Such a person can never benefit from the efforts of others; they reflexively try to undermine and undo it. That's what they've been conditioned to do all their lives.
And ultimately, the person they undermine most, is themselves -- because they cannot help themselves. That's the way they are -- and have no way of being otherwise. Such persons are beyond help. Shit happens, and there's nothing they -- or anybody else, can do about it! That's just the way the world is -- according to their understanding.
So thinking it does make a difference -- makes the biggest difference, which is understanding before any further effort is applied. Lacking this proper understanding, makes all further effort arbitrary, futile and counterproductive. Then once the understanding is valid, the effort naturally follows -- but never does before then.
So, many people's efforts seem to be in vain, and the belief that it can't make a difference, no matter what -- because they don't have this understanding leading to proper effort. And there, they do not inquire further -- but accept their dismal fates, as what must be -- and many will agree with them, and encourage them along the way. They say they wish it could be otherwise, but they do nothing to prevent it. Nothing will change, as long as people keep doing what they've always done before. That is the reason it happens.
All the Time in the World
It never fails to amaze (amuse) me to hear people who need to do something important and necessary, say they don't have the time -- because they are doing everything unnecessary and unimportant. Of course the most important and necessary thing to do is tend to their health -- which is the basis for everything else they do in life, and determines the quality of their lives. That's nearly indisputable -- but then after that briefest second of clarity, resume the busyness that is responsible for their poor health, condition and quality of life.
Undoubtedly, they have been conditioned for self-destructiveness, rather than self-actualiztion of their own greatest well-being and good -- both intentionally, as well as thoughtlessly by those with their own self-aggrandizing agendas.
Even those one would think have all the time in the world to do anything they could hope for or imagine, often are trapped in their own self-destructive tendencies and inclinations -- rather than simply letting them go, which would already put them way ahead in the game. It could even be that they have to push themselves to the breaking point each time as the only way they know how to be, or were conditioned to think is necessary.
Nowhere is that mindset more damaging than those mistaking needless competition and competitive strategies, for actualizing their best health and well-being. In the former, one may have to sacrifice their health and well-being, to outshine all the others -- especially if one is not genetically-gifted for that battle.
Everyone I know who thinks they have to go-all out every day of their lives until they drop dead of a heart attack or congestive heart failure, will succumb to their own self-inflicted injuries -- in that way. Most former super-athletes, go out that way -- because they cannot overcome that previous conditioning and mindset that would have allowed them to live many more years merely enjoying the gifts they were blessed with, instead of pushing their luck and limits to the breaking point -- sooner or later.
What is instructive to see is how the many "world champions," are able to make that adjustment to simply long lives in good health, rather than the all too typical story of their premature fall from grace, and many years of infamous poor health before their shockingly young end. That is particularly true, for many of the strongest, largest and fastest people who ever lived.
There has to be a lesson for less gifted people -- as well, because those genetically predisposed, often cannot help themselves -- being the way they are. They are so highly specialized and programmed, than they cannot be any other than they are. So while they are young and competitive, those attributes may be what gains them that advantage, but once they retire and still think that is the winning formula, may experience nothing but injury, pain and torment -- with very little of the benefits -- yet persist for the no longer can recall and related "benefits."
That is simply how they think they ought to do things -- and the "only" way they know how to do anything -- all out, or not at all, when the solution more often than not, lies somewhere in between. More often than not, a little goes a long way -- while of course, zero will remain zero, no matter how good one's intentions. Regardless, the valuable and instructive exercise, is simply "finding out." That is what most "too busy" people, never have the time for. And that more than anything, is the key to well-being and happiness.
In that condition, one is always improving, and life is getting better -- and if not, their condition is what it is. There is no denying the facts -- that what they are doing, is not working, and in fact, working to undermine them. Yet they go on in that way, ignoring and denying the obvious -- which are the problems of their lives, invariably thinking there is nothing they can do about it -- when in fact, they are primarily and ultimately responsible for everything happening in their lives.
How do people get that way? Unquestionably, there are a few things one cannot seem to help or hinder, but it is far from most, or everything one does in life -- or in most cases, does not do -- even if one has all the time in the world, to do anything one could possibly imagine doing.
Thus, it is very important first, to just stop whatever it is one is doing and thinking -- which is the quality of mind called "meditation," and just be aware. In that state of mind, all things are possible, and all the time in the world to do it. It doesn't have to be perfect at first -- especially the first time one does anything. But only doing in this consciousness and attention, makes possible this improvement -- and no amount of doing thoughtlessly and compulsively what one has always done before. No amount of doing that, will ever make a difference -- and effect the desirable change and outcome. In fact, and quite probably, that is the cause of one's problems and difficulties.
For all the truly important things in life, there is all the time in the world to do it -- even if it takes one's entire life doing it. For the unimportant things in life, there is little or no time for it -- and that is why one never has enough time for it, despite all one does -- first.
That's not the same as doing the right thing -- even just to find out. That makes all the difference in the world. Problems and difficulties do not arise DESPITE all we do; problems and difficulties arise BECAUSE of all we do. That is the key to understanding what we are actually doing -- and the condition we are in.
To A Better Place (Survival of the Fitness)
The lesson in life is that one must constantly improve -- or be left behind, to perish with those who can no longer move on. But that fitness is not only about strength and agility, or any other one thing -- but about everything, and how they work together -- to create more than the sum of its parts. That is the synergy of life -- making it more than just the little details -- but altogether, take on a life and intelligence of its own, and creates marvelous new things and possibilities one could never have imagined before.
The new, is not merely the old reinvented, and improved. It is something different entirely. There's a reason it never happened before -- because it took time to come into being. And then when it does, people wonder why they never thought of it before -- because it is so obvious, simple, and straightforward. Life does not move to greater complexity but towards greater simplicity. That is the genius of it.
But many confused and confusing people, think the object of life, is to make everything more difficult and complicated -- so we need them to understand and explain what is going on. There is permanent job security in that -- or so they think, until people catch on, and realize they don't have to be dependent on them to interpret life for them. Of course, some people never achieve that clarity -- or think it possible -- but it is always there for the taking.
First, one has to let go of one's previous conditioning -- that what they know, is all that can be known -- and look with fresh eyes unprejudiced by their own knowledge. That is a great handicap who those who pride themselves on their knowledge -- and want to hold on to that as long as possible -- thinking it conveys great advantage.
The advantage is always that of an inquiring mind that presumes it knows nothing -- and thus, is willing to learn everything. Such a mind, is a formidable mind -- because it knows and recognizes no limits, and so is free to observe only what is, as the only reality it knows. The truth is out there -- and not in the words, thoughts, culture and traditions of an imperfect time and understanding -- that its adherents and devotees insist must be for all time.
Reality and truth is not like that; it is in every moment -- in its own time. It is the best we know at any time. And time changes everything. So the solutions of our youth, are not the solutions of our maturity and seniority -- that we now have to rise to. The life of one time, is not the life for all time, and thinking so, will keep us answering to the wrong challenges of our lives -- despite all we do. It is simply the wrong thing, at the wrong time and place -- though many knowledgeable people, will insist that one can never properly and successfully time life, and what must be good, must be good for all time, and every occasion -- which is why they are often so disastrously out of step.
And they grow more so each day, with each passing year -- until the final isolation, which is to be cut off completely from life and apart from it. That is the obvious. So our challenge is simply, how do we not get that way? The real tragedy is that many young people get that way and so don't even make it to adulthood -- let alone the golden years of senior citizenship.
Survival is the fitness. That is the reality of the matter. That which is dying, disabled or dead, is not fit -- and one has to change. Life is not an entitlement -- no matter what you do.