Monday, September 13, 2010

Success of a sprout

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When did it become common practice to determine the course of your life, when life is just beginning to sprout?  Comparable to determining when to plant seeds before winter is half-way through. I am sympathetic with the modern-day-individual’s desire to succeed; though I highly question what exactly it means to succeed and how they came about said definition. Descartes’ methodological doubt comes to mind every time someone explains to me they’ve figured out what it means to succeed. “You’ve found a well-paying job, and you tell me you’ve succeeded? I’m afraid I must take a glance at this authorship of success, cross-reference your sources, examine your conclusions, and see if you haven’t plagiarized from the default scripture of societal values.” What your main association with success seems to be is money! “This can’t be,” I say, “for what of your thoughts, your wisdom, your children, relationships, and all that is related?” I believe a common retort would be that all of those things rely on being able to support yourself and those you’re responsible for, which, in modern society, is founded on your income. But, I say, what of the beggar on the street, does he not support himself, even if it is not in a house, or in a car? Does he not have friends; does he not contemplate his situation? He is supporting himself, so is he successful? But, you reply, “That isn’t support, that’s living by necessity and perhaps lack thereof!” Ah, so, if you are still in alliance with this train of thought, it is not simply enough to support the necessities of life, we must rise above it, and be “comfortable.” But, comfort itself is filled with idiosyncratic nuances of particulars and desires. So how are we to create a universal definition of success, if we must appeal to every individual’s wants?! We can’t of course, it would be contradictory of the term universal, and would run us into the ground. But then, what is universal comfort? We must look at what we require to maintain homeostasis (equilibrium) as an organism, to discover this. We must maintain internal heat, as Thoreau would maintain, through eating and having shelter; though it could be argued that shelter is only necessary during the cold seasons. So, we must have food, meaning our appetites must be quelled, so we need a steady supply of food. I would dare say that a beggar is alive, so they must have some source of food to maintain life. How much is enough? Must we eat twice, thrice times a day? “A man who eats hard, must work hard,” and then the cycle repeats as Thoreau would say. If we desire those luxurious things (e.g. soda, cake, meats, coffee) we must work hard to obtain them, but after working hard we eat hard the luxury we worked so hard for and must continue on another day! So support you say is in being comfortable, but your comfort only feeds your discomfort, and I must refuse it. I need only basic things, like my apartment, a can of beans, and the company of my cat and significant other to sedate me. Strip them away and I am for the worse, strip away my tv, my computer, and I am none the worse. Here is where comfort teeters on the edge of universality and that which society meticulously weaves into a stifling blanket of supposed necessity. Working so hard for the new tv, for the new computer, you’ve invested your very life in such things and thus, and if they disappear it is like taking the very life from you! So perhaps, living above physical­ ­ necessity is but a sham delivered to you directly from your abhorrent luxury. So, we cannot find comfort in expensive and frivolous things, for they cause us to work so hard there will be much discomfort! So food, we need food only enough to sedate and nourish us. Perhaps one to two meals a day, if we don’t work as hard as we do! Now, what of shelter? It should be obvious now that big houses, with multiple bedrooms and baths will make us work so hard as to not only fail to have any time to enjoy it, but when will we use it? “But everyone needs their own room.” Ha, I feel you are misinformed, all those rooms allow us to habitually isolate, and what good does that do? People need space, and justify multiple rooms with this need, yet they neglect Mother Nature who waits outside their doors with open arms and a warm smile. Whenever I am a guest in a large house I find it odd that these people work so hard, just to have so much empty space, and places to tell me not to go and not to look! Look at my wealth, they say, but do not explore it, for I must go work, and will not be here to maintain it. Ha, silly people, so much room for your small bodies, too bad you don’t spend more of your time filling up that air with your thoughts! Oh well, I believe it possible to possess only a couple of rooms and find there is more than enough space for multiple people. How much space do you really use in your living room, your kitchen, your bathroom? A habitual path, that utilizes so little room while all those things you worked so hard for take up the rest and look “pretty.” Add up all the cubic feet of space you actually utilize, and I’m sure it will equal less than a medium-sized room.  Besides, isn’t the basic premise of having shelter to maintain that internal heat? How exactly does a couch or a big tv contribute to that goal? So, to maintain comfort we need but two meals a day and a medium-sized room. Perhaps you disagree with me, but most likely that’s because you’re picturing your room full of items and frivolous belongings. Strip that schema of such eccentricities and visualize, what you need, not what you want. So, two meals and a room equates to universal physical comfort? So, if this truly is all you need, why do you work so hard for everything else, in order to support yourself? I know of no true friend who asks for anything more than the company of another friend. Children have needs as well, to maintain their heat, and thus it is necessary to work harder to support them, but I doubt that level of hardness necessitates a large house, a big tv, lots of toys, and the like. When we reminisce, how often do we think back to a big pay check? When we truly think of happy memories, do the faces of friends, or old presidents pop into your head? I’ll confess that if it’s the presidential lineage, I do not desire to be your friend. I would rather spend the evening taking shots of wit from a good friend than spending money on shots of cheap liquor. The point of course, is that the foundations of relationships, along with the structure and additions to it, are not built off of money and impressive furniture, but rather the words exchanged while wasting that money you worked so hard for or idly admiring said furniture. In regards to wisdom, and knowledge, how much more valuable is it to know yourself, than to know the clothes you are wearing are in style? Spend an hour contemplating what it actually means to succeed, instead of an hour shopping, and see which gains you more. Spend an hour exploring the neighborhood or local park, instead of watching that tv, and see which is more visually stimulating. The material, like the very skin you wear, will fade, decay, and cease to exist in the form it is in. Your thoughts on the other hand, can jump from person to person, generation to generation. The realization that thought is worth a million times more than the dollar, can be gifted much more easily and eagerly than a gift certificate to the mall. People can consume your wisdom, chug your wit, and rub your knowledge into their very character, but they cannot do such with a trivial gift of candy or a mp3 player. Success then, is not a measure of the money you earn, or the 12 hour work day, but rather the achievement of a simplistic physical life, allowing for mental and spiritual growth to spread like a wildfire or an air-borne pathogen. Success is not a purely physical thing, but rather is a state-of-mind, constantly evolving, extending away from the tangible towards universals and thoughts of the whole, not the self. To expand the self, you focus on everything but. The sprout does not wrap its roots around itself, but rather plunges them into the world around it, soaking up whatever it comes into contact with. Perhaps then, a sprout is more successful than the majority of us.