Hahah. What’s come in handy is my propensity to make up stupid little games for my own amusement. Still, I’m bored in what feels like an unprecedented way. It makes me wonder if I’ve overrated my ability to thrive “alone.” This is not to say my preference ever has been infinite bachelorhood, just that I feel I’d never need to desperately settle for a woman since the alternative (i.e., being alone) is more than fine. Though, hopefully, life alone/coupled will not ever again be lived in a 40-degree apartment w/o electricity or food, and so any conclusions drawn from such an experience are probably none too relevant for 21st-century living. TBD.
It will not “solve” it, but it will reduce the suffering. For the energized self is often the best self, the one most likely to charge into laughter instead of anger, creativity instead of frustration, and compassion instead of egocentricity. It’s these probabilities, far more than any long-term health benefits, that should motivate us to *actually* prioritize sleep instead of merely rehearsing incantations about blue light, caffeine, and bedtime consistency without ever enacting the required dramatic behavior changes.
“Does this mean I can’t …?” YES, that’s exactly what “dramatic” means. You thought you could transform into your best self without some serious sacrifices?
“Well, how about I just drink some Red Bull and obviate these unpleasant sounding ‘dramatic’ changes?” Because you might end up powerless in the blistering cold with no plausible access to Red Bull. Having trained your body to rely so heavily on a foreign substance that now may as well be discontinued forever, your FML quotient will be 4x your peers’. Which maybe you think doesn’t matter much, “I mean, it’s only, like, four days,” but once in it, that time will be indistinguishable from eternity.
tl;dr No, Red Bull will not solve this problem.
The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know everybody’s always going around all the time with something wrong and believing they’re exerting great willpower and control to keep other people, for whom they think nothing’s ever wrong, from seeing it. This is the way of people. Suddenly ask what’s wrong and whether they open up and spill their guts or deny it and pretend you’re off, they’ll think you’re perceptive and understanding. They’ll either be grateful, or they’ll be frightened and avoid you from then on. Both reactions have their uses, as we’ll get to. You can play it either way. This works over 90 percent of the time.
- From David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King”
I think this is completely true. Furthermore, I think the willingness to respond to such an inquiry honestly is a sign of great confidence.
But what about “manhood” and “toughness” and “a stiff upper lip”? These traits should not be dismissed as anachronisms worth evolving beyond. They should, though, be correctly defined so as to maximize flourishing.
Imagine a restless six-year-old named Jimmy. Think of how his shirt always seems stained by an amalgamation of peanut butter, dirt, and blood. Picture him earnestly working through his math test with his knee bouncing at 200bpm. Jimmy jumps off swings. Jimmy jumps off beds. Jimmy touches everything in the check-out aisle. Jimmy is chaos in a tiny package. And when Jimmy’s speed outpaces his balance, he sometimes crashes. “Don’t cry, Jimmy. Come on, boys don’t cry,” his All-American father, Christian, utters.
Society is often quite bad at telling the complete story. What we are here to do is complete the story so Jimmy isn’t left stranded with only part of a valuable lesson.
Bad ideas: good
Good ideas: terrific
No ideas: terrible
As previously stated, King World XVIII is a thinking man. He is also a man of action. Sometimes, these two traits can seem at odds. For if one stays too mired in thought, one never acts, and if one remains too consumed by action, one never thinks. But for anyone who actually makes consequential decisions, there is no onerous tension at all. You simply parry the insatiable desire to learn just a tad more by accepting imperfect information and choosing a path forward. Sometimes that path proves golden. Sometimes it doesn’t. Both outcomes are far preferable to a situation devoid of ideas wherein paralysis ensues.
Pre-4.15.20 Rule HJ8945, you would have been afforded understanding and sympathy when the world’s winds blew against you. While it’s true that there are always people worse off, it’s just as true that there are always people better off. In moments of challenge, it’s easier to default to the latter perspective – I’m not as smart as person X, I’m not as healthy as person Y, I’m not as charismatic as person Z, etc. – to make failure palatable. And we, the rest of the world, were okay with this arrangement. Key word there is “were.” Please notice that it is in past tense, for the world’s okayness officially expired with the passage of 4.15.20 Rule HJ8945 and your excuses, however legitimate, will no longer be tolerated.
I didn’t catch it at first, but I now realize that something important was left unexplained from our last conversation. You, a man of high self-awareness, contended that your risk-aversion holds you back in matters of love. This didn’t strike me as true since an obvious manifestation of risk-aversion is settling for a “good enough” girl who checks many boxes and provides undeniable aid against loneliness – and you don’t do this. You, in fact, are likely to hear pleas from friends to be “less picky” and other such well-intentioned nonsense that risk-averse individuals utter to risk-lovers. I guess xxxxxxxxx simply had a blind spot in his self-model and risk-aversion isn’t plaguing him.
But that’s too easy a conclusion, right? You have thought about yourself and love a lot, and surely you considered that which I noticed in 60 seconds:
you changed my mind re: *ghosting*.
the key insight was you yourself taking control of the situation
and deciding that, no matter what, fuck this other person. (though i still wonder a bit how this attitude can exist with a desire for future friendship.)
if you can get to that place, a place no longer filled with wanting, it truly doesn’t matter what the other person does – his/her actions are now irrelevant.
i do think it can be hard to get to that place, especially in the inevitable messiness of a courting process.
but even if you don’t get there, it’s not like you would gain some great insight w/ the non-ghost, w/ the “sorry, this just isn’t right for me.” this is probably the area where i’m most incorrect: i do want other people’s truths about me because i want to close off blindspots and improve if i deem one’s evaluation of me correct, but ain’t nobody gonna really give me that type of truth. instead, you’ll just get a nondescript text response that carries the same value as ghosting.
if you absolutely require others for closure or peace or validation, you will forever be in a state of unrest.
still, i wouldn’t ghost anyone, but i now have a far more accepting attitude toward those that do.
“I want to give you money. Please let me do so. Hell, I’ll even mail you an envelope with the proper address and postage on it and all you’ll have to do is slip the gift certificate in and drop it in the mail.”
For however great Dan and his crew may be at crafting pizzas, they are quite terrible at business, because even with my desperate plea, Dan’s Pizza refused to let me purchase a gift certificate.
When Dan’s goes out of business,1 we can safely ignore pandemic-based excuses since we’ll know that horrendous management was the real reason for the Chapter 11.
But that filing remains a future event, so please enjoy the pizza while you still can. And please do so on my dollar. Just shoot me the total and I’ll take it from there.2
If Dan has any good sense left, he’ll try to hire you two the moment you step into his restaurant; anybody who can untotal a totaled car can surely figure out a simple system for collecting money from those who want to give it.
Thanks for the heroic effort getting the Miata safely back on the road.
While I don’t yet know you, I declare with great confidence that you will be someone who rebels. Even in your current state of innocence, your daily cries indicate an unwillingness to accept a world that doesn’t exactly conform to your wants and expectations. This proclivity to fight has a chance to be most productive, especially when your mental powers blossom and your frustrations can be directed at matters beyond lactose.
I warn you now, though, that as rebellion becomes increasingly intertwined with your identity – as it will in adolescence – it can turn downright counterproductive if you adopt the “rebel without a cause” posture. And make no mistake, many peers will turn toward RWC because it’s a seductive way to gain status. RWC is also foolishly simple to adopt: be anti-authority. Parents, school, teachers, priests, the system, the man, experts, and whatever else appears to be trusted is necessarily the opponent of RWC. Perhaps you already see the flaws in the philosophy, because while sure, OK, yea, authority need be challenged, one jams himself into an unnecessarily tight box when fully subscribed to a status quo where authority, by virtue solely of its authority, is always wrong. Still, no amount of illogic erases the aura of coolness awarded to outsiders (especially if that outsider has Jesusesque hair, a leather jacket, and ripped jeans), and thus RWC uptake persists – you wouldn’t be crazy to give it a try.
Or maybe instead adopt the rebel path I believe is fundamentally superior to RWC. Instead of anti- being the guiding principle, truth is. That is to say you want to get it right, not be right, and that the surest path to fully understanding the complexities and nuances of any given issue is to fearlessly challenge everything, all while knowing that what you are being told may, indeed, be perfectly correct. In practice, the truth-seeker can seem like RWC. Twenty kids in a classroom all nod their heads in agreement, but, no, not you. Never you. You go 1 vs. 20 + the teacher and sniff out any loopholes, contradictions, and weak assumptions. This requires tremendous skill and self-confidence, attributes a careful observer will appreciate distinguishes you from RWC. As your abilities increase, you’ll notice that this rigorous probing reliably gains something, that there is always a question that reveals more, that large swaths of the population are regurgitating lines and truly have no idea what the hell they are talking about, and that, vitally, truth-seeking doesn’t require you to reach an alternate conclusion, but rather bestows a level of complete understanding that leaves you smarter, more empathetic, more creative, and way more interesting. So yea, you’ll gain prestige similar to RWC adherents, AND you’ll obtain a superior grasp of reality.
There was a time when I worked at a gas station. At that time, “energy drinks” (which will hopefully be extinct by the time you read this) were en vogue. My employer, being a pragmatic capitalist, decided to get in on the gold rush and undercut the prevailing price point with a knock-off version of the high-margin brand name product. Better still, the knock-off version was tastier to 7 out of 10 consumers. Better better still, as an employee of this gas station, I received a hefty discount on all merchandise. So, I did what seemed not-all-that-novel and sold the knock-offs to my football teammates at a price that allowed me to capitalize on the spread created by my employee discount (a.k.a. I profited off my friends). As unreliable as our memories may be, I remember having zero qualms about this. Your father, on the other hand, had maximal qualms once he discovered the scheme. Not only did I genuinely think he was wrong, but I also enjoyed arguing for the sake of arguing, which cast me dangerously close to RWC and the never-admit-defeat attitude it engenders. You should want your mind changed, because you should want to inch closer to truth. That’s hard to appreciate – just look at a country being run by people who never admit the other side may have even a sliver of a point – and I doubt that I did in any real sense during high school.
Your father lives by an ideal that one’s role in friendship is to always be there doing all you can to love, help, and support (never profit, obviously). For as busy as he may be, he’ll drop it all if you call him in need. Many people speak a similar noble ethos, but I’ve found few who actually live by it. After first rebelling against your father’s friendship ethic, he helped me appreciate the error in my ways, and I now try to be one of those elite few adhering to a higher standard in relationships.
So when you fight with your parents just try to remember that it is possible they may be right. In fact, given their collective wisdom, they will offer valuable lessons, I’d venture to guess, a large percentage of the time. Combine this inherited “wisdom” edge with a pure aim on truth and I think you’re set up quite nicely for an extraordinary life. Welcome!
If proper effort is committed, much of what we “want” will be achieved. Now, energy expenditure of course varies quite a bit based on both the want and the abilities of the wanter, but an input = output sense of order, of fairness exists regardless of want difficultly. And even if the want is never fully satisfied, one necessarily grows closer to the coveted outcome through proper inputs; you may not lose 100lbs, but if you cook every meal, you will lose something.
There exists, however, another category of wants (titled Courageous Wants) where the input = output formula cracks. The #1 CW is love. Almost everyone contests this judgement, because by placing love in CW, one’s agency is apparently swindled, because there are no “right things,” no “proper inputs,” no “blueprints” for CW, because more effort (however defined) does not necessarily get one any closer to the want. Sure, one can seemingly tilt probabilities – going on 100 dates instead of zero – but this is mostly an illusion. In non-CW, nobody “accidentally” loses 100lbs; in CW, people routinely “accidentally” fall in love. Hence the courageousness of wanting love: you are throwing your well-being into a grinder of luck that can’t be conquered by self-will.