Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life on Your Toes

Tonight I watched Interview With the Vampire for my first and last time. At the end I remarked to my girlfriend that I can't get into vampire movies because I don't care about the characters. Vampires lack many of the limits humans face which seems attractive. Who doesn't want to live forever and experience everything in the world? But that's the beauty of being human - limits are part of what makes the experience. Our limits propel us to be our greatest because we have a hound feverishly trying to catch us called Time. If everything was easy or there were no time limits, life would get extremely boring very quickly. It's the fact that Kilimanjaro is difficult to climb that makes it attractive to all who desire to assault it's barriers, feeling pride at the summit because of the struggles they overcame. This is why I find it offensive to a degree when they pave roads into national parks or ameliorate a rough hiking path by carving steps etc.: when everything is special, nothing is.

While it may just be my personality, I think if I were like John Travolta in Phenomenon or Bradley Cooper in Limitless, it would only serve to drive me insane. As it stands now, I feel that I am capable of way more than I am accomplishing and it can be maddening trying to figure out how to be the best person I can be. Now imagine compounding that knowledge, skills and insight but being limited by 24 hours in a day (to be practical 20 because I've never heard of anyone who could live off less than 4 hours sleep consistently). From my perspective it would be tormenting to have that capacity yet be restricted by time. So you go back to the vampire argument - live forever - but again, you lose the challenge of it eventually and boredom rushes in like a tsunami. You can't permanently satiate desire or lust because our bodies release dopamine when you have accomplished something that was a challenge. Without adversity it doesn't seem really necessary to survival therefore becoming unfulfilling. I certainly am not attempting to glamorize the "good old days" because people had lots of problems then; however, you would think that with all the advancements and comforts we now have in our modern world that people would be much happier than they are. Instead the opposite is the case with more and more folks being prescribed a plethora of drugs for depression, anxiety, etc.

We fantasize about escaping the constraints of our mortal bodies and human emotions but without them life would really suck. I heard a story about a man who after an operation was no longer able to make "gut decisions" but instead used mental flow chart but with a critical flaw. The problem with absolute logic is that there are very few absolutes in our world which renders making decisions on that basis actually very difficult. This dude's life was ruined because he lost the intuitive and the emotional component of his decision making ability. He would, for instance, spend inordinate lengths of time in the cereal aisle trying to choose between the 5000 varieties on the shelf or take forever to sign a check because he had to sort out which writing implement was best for this application (or maybe he needed to save that black pen in hand for later because he might fill out a form requiring extensive writing in black ink). It's almost exhausting thinking about the back and forth and trying to convey it through writing so I can't imagine doing that on a constant basis.

They say "xyz keeps you on your toes" usually as a jovial way of saying something is kind of a pain in the ass but it makes life interesting. My girlfriend pointed out that good dancers live on their toes which I think is poignant because life is one giant dance. Dancing is one of the most soulful expressions there is and while I haven't done a scientific poll, all the dancers I have ever met were vivacious people. You need very good balance to flow in dance and being on your toes further challenges the forces of gravity trying to drag you down and limits your points of contact with the earth. It's a weird dichotomy, adversity is unpleasant but you have to embrace it to be successful and happy while at the same time trying to flee it because otherwise it will hold you in place.

My life has had numerous obstacles that I have hated because it feels like I'm always fighting a battle and it gets tiring. Today for instance I filled out a form to see what kind of mortgage payment an average bank would loan to me with my current income and expenses. Because I have 4 children that I pay child support for, the amount I would be approved for is so low that I would be hard pressed to buy a house in the ghetto of my city. This was extremely disheartening and I really felt fucked for a few minutes with anger towards my parents for teaching me so many fallacies and towards myself for believing them. After a few minutes I realized that this roadblock is simply going to push me to work harder developing strength and success that I probably never would have kniwn before.

I don't want to be a vampire, unbound, immortal, tormented by the eventual futility - I want to live on my toes, challenged and accomplished. There is something poetic knowing that the more I resist gravity, the more mass I will develop, in turn, causing gravity to pull on me just a little bit more creating a perpetual cycle that will keep life interesting till my days are over.

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