Get over yourself …

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Take one more selfie and we’ll have to shoot you.

The earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, and there was no life on it for the first 2 billion years.  Man has been around for a mere 50,000 of those 4.5 billion years – that’s about 800 generations.  The first 650 generations were spent as cave dwellers, and nearly all the manufactured products and technology that we use today were produced by the last 5-7 generations.  We humans are but a speck.

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I write because it helps me think.  I imagine I have endless meetings for the same reason.  In most cases, I choose the appropriate audience for my meandering, and sometimes they even feign interest.  I write my blog for a specific audience as well – my children’s children.

I often wish that I had a journal or notes from my father.  I wish I knew what he was thinking.  He wrote very little down, and most of that was on the back of envelopes or napkins.  He was a brilliant and instinctive merchant.

Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience deceptive, judgment difficult. – Hippocrates.

I’m hoping that somewhere down the line, one of my grandchildren will gather in my perspective and enjoy it.  If nothing else, I want them to know just how much I enjoyed the journey, and that every day was a challenge and a delight.  I don’t think I’ll need to alert them of all the pain and suffering we all encounter, that will come their way as fate chooses.  I write to them simply to illuminate and elucidate [my life].

I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best. – Benjamin Disraeli

The gift of life is about all that is good and all that is bad, and fate is a capricious bastard at best.  But, for me, fate has been kind, so I best not tempt it.  Like an angry woman, it can be relentless in its retribution.

I receive 4 newspapers every morning, at least I’m scheduled to, but I have a fickle delivery service, so every morning is a crapshoot.  This morning I found the NY Times, Naples Daily News, and USA Today at the end of my driveway waiting for me, but the Wall Street Journal was not to be found.  So it goes.  I subscribe to these four papers for perspective, even if it just the perusal of their front page.  It’s just not a perspective you can gain online.

“We live,” Carl Sagan once said, “on a hunk of rock and metal that circles a humdrum star that is one of 400 billion other stars that make up the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of billions of other galaxies. … That is a perspective on human life and our culture that’s well worth pondering.”

Mr. Sagan certainly recognized how important it was to step back every once in a while and chuckle at our vanity and folly.  We comically aggrandize all that we do, placing significance on the most bizarre beliefs and pursuits.  How many Twitter followers do you have?  How tall are you?  How big is your … ?  [You can fill in anything you want from your house to your bank account to your car to your audience to your business to your dick to your …]

The stars tell a story that help to put our insignificant little lives in perspective, but they also never fail to reenforce the magic that the gift of life truly is.  It’s a dichotomy that pervades every part of our lives from good to evil, love to hate, courage to fear, building to destroying, generosity to greed, success to failure, joy to pain, and life to death.

At sixty, I know little more about wisdom than I did at thirty, but I know a great deal more about folly. – Mason Cooley

I see people praying to a dead man on a cross while dutifully filling up the coffers of his marketers with hard-earned money to pay off seemingly endless pedophile claims.  Absurd?  Only to a certain degree, but when you consider people’s loneliness, ignorance, and fear, it becomes almost reasonable.  I see people killing because they were told to.  “This is today’s enemy.”  They get the memo, and then they go out and kill with some of the most sophisticated, resourceful, and imaginative means one could imagine.  Absurd?  Only to a certain degree, but when you consider how crazy the enemy actually is, it becomes a necessity.  I get it.  You’d think we could get beyond kill or be killed, but we haven’t.  We are animals, and it is survival of the fittest.  Deal with it.

But it is the folly of it all that I am measuring my day by today.  It’s just one of those days.

So, for those of you that revel in your wealth, power, notoriety, popularity, undeniable beauty, wit, style, talent, impeccable taste, or intelligence – get over yourself.  You’ll be dead and forgotten soon enough.  And for those of you that are worried about that pimple on your face this morning – get a life.  Your worries are but a trifle.  Go live your life.

This morning I got up at 6:30AM and started filling in the dash on my tombstone, as I have every day for 60 years now.  One of these days, I won’t.  That will be that.  The point is that every day we fill in that dash between being born and being dead, and every day we need to make it count.  And it better count to you.  It’s your life.  Don’t let them fool you into believing it’s their life.  We all need to find what makes that dash significant to us.  For me, it is simply building.  But, in the end, it is all folly …

… but it’s the best of all possible worlds.

Wikipedia:  The phrase “the best of all possible worlds” was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil.  The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz’s theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil.

Among his many philosophical interests and concerns, Leibniz took on this question of theodicy: If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, how do we account for the suffering and injustice that exist in the world?  Historically, attempts to answer the question have been made using various arguments, for example, by explaining away evil or reconciling evil with good.

For Leibniz, an additional central concern is the matter of reconciling human freedom [indeed, God’s own freedom] with the determinism inherent in his own theory of the universe.  Leibniz’ solution casts God as a kind of “optimizer” of the collection of all original possibilities: Since He is good and omnipotent, and since He chose this world out of all possibilities, this world must be good—in fact, this world is the best of all possible worlds.

On the one hand, this view might help us rationalize some of what we experience: Imagine that all the world is made of good and evil.  The best possible world would have the most good and the least evil.  Courage is better than no courage.  It might be observed, then, that without evil to challenge us, there can be no courage.  Since evil brings out the best aspects of humanity, evil is regarded as necessary.  So in creating this world God made some evil to make the best of all possible worlds.  On the other hand, the theory explains evil not by denying it or even rationalizing it—but simply by declaring it to be part of the optimum combination of elements that comprise the best possible Godly choice.  Leibniz thus does not claim that the world is overall very good, but that because of the necessary interconnections of goods and evils, God, though omnipotent, could not improve it in one way without making it worse in some other way.

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For those of you that need a little inspiration to reach for the stars, there’s always what that little Italian, Napoleon, had to say about his personal folly: “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”

– The future is uncertain and the end is always near. Let it roll.
– Show me a man who never had a chance, and I’ll show you a man who never took a chance.
– Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.
– Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
– And she said, with a tear in her eye, “Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow.”
– I’ve been around the world and every man bleeds the same.

I take credit for the things I’ve done, but when the lights are dim, I’m not the only guilty one.

One thought on “Get over yourself …

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