Reinvention

Sometimes you have to get lost before you could find your way. If you reframe your thinking and stop believing that being lost is bad, then you’d stop the self-judgments. You’d stop worrying. You’d cease wanting. Then you could enjoy what is. You don’t have to reinvent yourself. Rather, you’d stop being something you’re not. You’d stop trying to be perfect and realize:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Space

(Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash)

The gap between inhale and exhale is the space of perfection. It is the space that separates receiving and releasing, where you go from acknowledgement to resolve, from knowing to doing. Inhale, exhale: in between is the seed of thought and the impulse of action. That space is divine. Even though that subtle gap is normally measured in milliseconds, time does not factor in that space. It is timeless. It is perfect and perfectly brimming with contentment, acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness. This rarely thought of thing—this gap that binds the cycles of inhalation and exhalation—is where the essence of being is unfettered, void of judgment and attachment. What if this gap is not an afterthought? What if we cultivate that space? It is available to us in every breath we take, tens of thousands of time a day.

Words

I am reminded to not be too attached to words and their meanings. People use the same words to describe different things and different words to express the same things. Words have fluidity. 

Selling Confusion

This is a great post by Seth Godin about the campaign of confusion that has caused social upheaval across the world. He addresses three subjects: evolution, vaccines, and climate change.

“Over the last few decades, there’s been a consistent campaign to sow confusion around evolution, vaccines and climate change.

In all three areas, we all have access to far more data, far more certainty and endless amounts of proof that the original theories have held up. The data is more accurate than it’s ever been. Evolution is the best way to explain and predict the origin and change of species. Vaccines are not the cause of autism and save millions of kids’ (and parents’) lives. And the world is, in fact, getting dangerously warmer.

And yet…

Poll after poll in many parts of the world show that people are equivocating or outright denying all three. Unlike the increasingly asymptotic consistency in scientific explanations, the deniers have an endless list of reasons for their confusion, many of which contradict each other. Confusion doesn’t need to be right to be confusing.

Worth noting that this response doesn’t happen around things that are far more complicated or scientifically controversial (like gravity and dark matter). It’s the combination of visceral impact and tribal cohesion that drives the desire to deny.”

That last point is salient. While dubious of certain science, deniers readily accept other things, like cellular phones, solar eclipses, nautical navigation, airplanes, radar, sonar, etc. All these things are results of the methods and tools of science–just like evolution, vaccines, and climate change.

Further:

“Cigarette companies were among the original denialists (they claimed that cigarettes were unrelated to lung cancer, but that didn’t work out very well for them), and much of their confusion playbook is being used on these new topics.”

The confusion playbook now has a powerful weapon: social media. So effective is the reach of social media that adversarial nations (Russia) are using it to effect disruptions in our social, political, and perhaps even economical systems.

Godin asks the one question that I don’t think gets asked enough:

“To what end? Confusion might help some industries or causes in the short run, but where does it lead? Working to turn facts into political issues doesn’t make them any less true.

If this growing cohort ‘wins’, what do they get? In a post-science world, where physics and testable facts are always open to the layman’s opinion in the moment, how are things better? How does one develop a new antibiotic without an understanding of speciation and disease resistance?”

Alexander Hamilton

To prepare for the stage musical, Hamilton–which I have tickets to at the end of August–I have begun reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The paperback version that I have has 731 pages, which means I need to read 24.4 pages per day in order to finish it before I see the show. It’s doable. I think.

It’s a fitting time to study Hamilton, whose singular vision of a world bustling in trade, industry, stock markets and banking is fully expressed in modern America. Indeed, it was Hamilton’s work that shaped our military, banks, and financial institutions. Furthermore, it was Hamilton who envisioned the magnitude of the federal government’s powers. Over two centuries later, we are still living in Hamilton’s America. The interplay between capitalism and government is indisputably Hamiltonian.

From a personal viewpoint, I have lately begun to question whether capitalism is a good fit for our world going forward. In simplistic terms, capitalism values private ownership and profits. In today’s 7-billion-plus populated world, those ideas of competition as an engine of wealth begin to harshly chafe against all-too-real issues of poverty, stagnating wages, limited natural resources, shrinking habitable land, not to mention a polluted environment. While capitalism undoubtedly pushed societal progress in the form of the Industrial Revolution and brought on the Internet Economy, it accentuates very primal traits in humans: that of the urge for mass consumption and the need to win. We now live in a world where there is enough for everyone, truly. There is no good reason why there should be anyone in poverty. But there is. We come into the world with nothing and we will die without being able to take anything with us. Yet, we spend our entire lifetime trying to amass property.

Of course, the world is complicate. Solutions are not easy. And truth be told, not everyone is motivated to live in a world where everyone does well.

Sarcasm is not wit

Sarcasm is not wit. Snark is not profundity. Sometimes we let baseness color our actions, thoughts, and speech. We let cynicism affect us while professing optimism. We react to what happens to us. What if we are impervious to all things external? What if we decide how to feel, what to think, and how and what to say? We would be masters of ourselves. What is better than that?