If you have a moment, listen to the 20th-century philosopher Alan Watts tells the story of the Chinese farmer, to get a quick sense of what I am talking about. I think it is short enough to be worth your time, as who hates fables? https://youtu.be/byQrdnq7_H0
If you hate fables, you have to leave my page. Go on...BYE FELICIA. We love short stories here.
Thanks to the tool of reddit, I have discovered new music (Alt J), great books to read (Adrift), new artists and photographers (innumerable). A while back I came upon the recording of Alan Watts. It's quite possible I've heard him before, in the background. Likely from my grandparent's radio that sat on top of the fridge, it's tinny AM commentary adding color to dreary northern early mornings. Alan Watt's voice is ridiculously soothing, it's tone and cadence extraordinarily calming, even when it's saying something eternally frightening. He spoke of a universal basic income, of the organism that is a corporation, eliminating the need for an income tax and his thoughts on the concept of money...and this dude, Alan Watts, died decades ago. I admit to being ignorantly blown away, surprised, as though the cultural challenges of my generation are unique to us and couldn't possibly be predicted or explored so deeply by someone who breathed their last in the year I breathed my first.
I thought my generation was special.
Some of his stentorian explorations go in circles with no conclusion or distinct lesson I could find useful, most likely due to my lack of meaningful knowledge about eastern philosophy. He speaks a language wherein I have little fluency. But similar to trying to communicate with someone where neither of you understands the language of the other, it's astoundingly exciting when a connection of communication is finally made. My time listening to Alan is always calm and introspective and therefore a value to me.
In one of his lectures, he discussed the differenced between Hindu and Buddhism; cultural -v- practice. Thinking of it this way. Say there were rumors in the family that your ancestors in Europe were Jewish, specifically Ashkenazi. You do your genetic test, which shows a percentage of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Yet you, nor any person in your family have practiced Judaism. For generations, at least a full century. You know nothing of the traditions and practices. Are you still Jewish? What if you have zero identifiable ancestral Jewish blood in your body, yet you are immersed in and adhere to the rules of Judaism; you live as a Jew. Are you Jewish?
Is being Jewish blood or practice? Who is more Jewish? Does it matter?
Yes. You are what you do right now. Beyond the value of dna knowledge encoded in the blood, what cultural use/identification is any Jewish ancestry if you understand next to nothing about the meaningfulness of its celebrations and traditions? You have carried forth Jewish blood. It's just blood, it hasn't transferred any innate knowledge of Jewish practices to you. Or Neanderthal blood. What am I to do with knowledge of Neanderthal ancestry? Or Dutch ancestry? Or Balkan? It matters on a cultural level once you incorporate the practices of your ancestors into your life, and not until then. You are what you do.
Alan Watts was explaining the different ideas of reincarnations. Some adherents of eastern philosophy believe that reincarnation is the idea that when a person physically dies, the spirit/energy of you is reborn in the form of different physical entity. There is another school of thought that allows that reincarnation/death and rebirth happens to all of us, all the time, while we live. You are what you do right now. You are not your past, you are not your future. The reincarnated self is now.
I have a tendency to fall in love with ideas and this new idea (new to me) was no exception. I thought of the times, recently, while in the middle of an argument, I simply gave it up. I did not say I was right. I did not admit wrong. I simply recognized that time is finite and I certainly was not getting any of that argument time back. But I could reincarnate...or change...who I was at that moment, in that conversation. I could choose to forgive in that moment. I could choose to understand, in that moment. I could choose to listen, to empathize, in that moment. Just because I had never backed down in an argument prior doesn't mean I can't right now. I genuinely connect with the idea that any person can be a better person by simply choosing to behave in a better way, in a particular moment. You are what you do, right now.
At some point in the past few years, I have decided that time is more important than pride, more important than ego. Sometimes I can be right *and* I can be happy. But life doesn't always provide that option. Sometimes I have to choose. Positive energy makes me happy. Sometimes being wrong, or more correctly, letting someone think I am wrong, and being happy is better than fighting to be right and choosing to stay in that fight, stay in that state of negativity. I used to think being wrong and still happy was impossible. How in the hell can one be happy with being thought wrong? The thing is, it's only perception and it only matters if you want it to, if you *choose* for that perception to matter. Just because someone else thinks you are wrong doesn't mean you really are wrong. We don't passionately argue our point because we know we are right, we advocate because we want acknowledgment from another distinct human being, with different beliefs and experiences, to <i>say</i> we are right. Once you realize that you really don't need that particular validation for any valuable purpose, it's much easier to let it go. Does the universe drop a suitcase of dollars once your mate says you do indeed load the dishwasher the right way? Do you get a year added to your life if you speed up and make sure the asshole who cut you off in traffic sees your middle finger? Those damn kids opening the front door too much when the AC is on, is the five dollars added to the energy bill this summer worth the cumulative aggravation of bitching about it? Money has value, but so does time. Does an AlwaysRight fairy put ten bucks in my bank account every time someone nods and acknowledges I was correct?
There is a garden fairy. If a man chooses well, there is indeed a blowjob fairy. There are Traffic Gods (yes, I thank them often and yes they are real) and Weather Gods. Yet alas, there is no AlwaysRight fairy. Because I would know if there were.
I'm doing much better saving my expressions of anger and stridency -aka time- for the things that have a true identifiable impact on the quality of my life. I will. and have, argued for my safety (the importance of locked doors for instance) and the safety of my family. A large purchase needs to be agreed upon as that sum of money becomes worth the time to argue about it. The time thinking about how to be kinder and teaching children to be productive citizens has great value, and worth the time of those daily reminders and lessons.
So this means anyone can load my dishwasher any damn way they wish?
With reincarnation comes wisdom, I guess.