Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

My new book is now available on Amazon Kindle.

People pursue three things during their time on earth: Life, Liberty and basically everything else.  This narrative nonfiction book provides a humorous view of society’s desire to pursue happiness and well-being. The book bursts with big ideas on happiness, ethics, thinking, nature, exercise, mindfulness and life. All of this and more can be found within its 81,000 words and no pictures. The footnotes are strictly for fun.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by [Goodwin, Gary]

 

 

The Close Horizon

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The horizon may be closer than you think. In the physical world, someone standing on a shore can see about 2.9 miles. But someone scanning the horizon of the future, well the future does not really exist. We only live moment to moment.

If you ask my golden retrievers, they exist completely in the moment. They may know pretty well when its dinner time, but I don’t think the live their lives anticipating it.

You know how you can walk into a room and completely forget why? Golden retrievers live like that all the time. No past, no future, just moment to moment. If they encounter someone in the room, well everything else is completely forgotten.

Mindfulness makes me appreciate the moment. I can only do that for short stretches of time. Being rational animals, we spent a lot of our time planning for the future or brooding over the past. But living in the moment brings out its fully glory.

Horizon

Photo by Lukas from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-background-beach-blue-296282/

Tree Static

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Nature never remains static as everything slides on a continuum. Humans have a choice. Mentally and spiritually they could remain static and refuse to grow. Physically they could choose to exercise and remain active, or choose to do little or nothing and slide down the continuum towards decrepitude.

Trees however exist to fulfill their potential. Being static would not be part of their life experience.

Humans are meant to grow mentally, spiritually and physically.

Be like a tree.

 

Photo by veeterzy from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/nature-forest-trees-park-38136/

Static

Evoked Emotions

scent-sticks-fragrance-aromatic-161599Smells evoke the strongest response. The “Proust phenomenon” occurs when a certain smell evokes a specific memory. Odor-evoked memories are more emotional than those elicited by the other senses because of the direct neural communication with the brain.

Certain disinfectant smells evoke memories of the junior high locker room. Not a pleasant memory even after 40 years.

I love the smell of low tide. This evokes happier memories of spending summers at the ocean when I was just a tyke.

Chocolate doesn’t seem to evoke a memory response. Chocolate is more of a to hell with delayed gratification eat me now type of response. The absolute best live in the moment approach to life.

Evoke

photo Pixabay

Carving a river

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Our lives appear so busy that we find it necessary to carve time out for ourselves. But if time is a river, how do you carve water out of a flowing stream? Once you have removed the water from a river, it truly is no longer a river. Just a few drops of water.

I believe you have to put yourself into the flow of the river instead and do the things that must be done to become human. Carving time becomes a travesty.

Carve

 

photo credit

Diane from Pexels

Happiness Pursuit-Cruising for Contentment

mountains-nature-sky-sunnyA lot can be said for contentment cruising. The condition of being satisfied with what you have. This condition seems more achievable than happiness which appears to be a transitory emotional condition state. I achieve a high level of happiness when consuming chocolate cake. I would not be happy in this constant emotional high all day since this would consist of continual cake consumption. And diabetes. I may consider an experiment sometime in the future, but I know that once the cake consumption stops, regret flows from all corners. Eventually you would lose all your corners while you became ball like.

Cruising around sounds more relaxing than actively pursuing something. Cruising even sounds cool and seems consistent with achieving a particular level condition and keeping it at that level. An even pace.

I recall the times that I felt absolutely content. Our cottage at the lake provides the proper environment. One time during the winter when the rest of the family was out of town, I ventured to the cottage by myself and the dogs. The neighboring cabins remain vacant this time of year. The entire area goes dark without street lights.

Inside the cottage, pine covers the walls and ceiling. I activate the Bluetooth speakers to stream some nice subtle coffeehouse type music. All the lamps use LED bulbs, so of course I feel virtuous and turn a lot of them on. By 5:00 pm darkness settles in and I consider what to make for dinner. Th e weather makes other plans for me and knocks out the electricity. We keep a very nice antique candelabra up the cottage to carry around the candles. I scuttle around and can’t find any. Or a flashlight. So the atmosphere could have been very romantic with some candles and my spouse. But I digress.

The atmosphere turned pitch black instead. I did find the Coleman lantern and attempted to turn it on. The lantern took a few turns to get it going and by the time it did light, the excess propane fuel gave it a nice pop. The lamp made a sound louder than a pop but less than an explosion. [1] After checking the thesaurus, detonated seems to cover it. And of course, any unanticipated sound gives me whiplash of the neck and spine. And this sound was one of them.

The power can go out for a few hours, so I hunkered down and put a few more logs on the fire. Closing the glass door on the high efficiency fireplace produces a very unique fire. The flames seem to dance in the area above the logs instead of emanating right from the logs. I find it quite entrancing. The heat just radiates from the fireplace with minimal sound.

I turned off the Coleman and instead laid down on the couch in front of the fireplace. The dogs knew the routine and found their own favorite places. The flames provided the only light. I thought of this book I purchased 30 years ago, describing a world lit only by fire. I really have to read that someday. I admonish myself occasionally for things that shoulda, oughta, coulda been done.

I thought I might be in for the long haul. The temperature fell below freezing outside, so I did not know how long the furnace might be off. The fireplace can heat the cabin fairly well. I grabbed a blanket and closed my eyes. I felt contentment during this time. Nothing more could be done, and I desired nothing else to be done. I wondered about the dogs. Are they constantly happy or constantly content? Another time perhaps. I dozed off.

The period of contentment ended precisely at 6:31. I literally flew off the couch as every electrical device in the cottage announced its presence in a very happy way when it got its electricity back. The LEDs merely came back on, but they were emanating their own radiation, so I think the verb emanating requires the word happiness beside it.

The microwave produces a very loud squeal to announce that once again it is ready to radiate our food items to perfection. It produces a reverse type of squeal when it loses power. Sort of like a minor character in a movie that has a major task to allow the main hero or heroine to accomplish the main goal, but the minor character always gets killed off. ‘I’m sorry. I can’t heat up your leftovers. I tried.’ And then they express their last dying sounds. Very depressing. But when the power comes back on, the minor character revives and never died in the first place. The movie producer manage to squeeze another emotion out of you, but you feel better that the minor character did not die in the first place.

The oven however surprises you. Like a large black cat, the oven merely goes dark and sleeps. I suppose the manufacturers decided that you already knew that the power went off so no need to advise you by a warning squeal. The same manufacturers apparently decided that they had to grab your attention, perhaps more violently than required, that the stove got its power back. The sound emanating from the reactivated stove does not deserve the word happy beside it. I suppose sound horn covers it more accurately along with blasted. So, the stove blasted its sound horn to warn everyone that it was ready once more.

The Bluetooth speaker came alive. I place it in the center of the room so that the sound evenly distributes around the entire cottage. Of course, the center is where we keep the couch too. Beside my head. Sound increases logarithmically the closer you are to source. So the result is loud, even it is coffeehouse music.

The brain should include some type of surge protection. All of this radiation from various gadgets covering multiple wavelengths overloaded my system. This turned into a tanning bed for the brain when you wake up after accidently dozing off. And as I mentioned, I startle easily even at the subtlest surprises. Even more so when they aren’t subtle.

During that 30 minutes between searching for candles and falling asleep on the couch, I felt that sense of contentment. I did not search for it. The contentment just seeped in from all areas. And for a brief moment I did feel happily content.

Happiness appears then to be more leprechaun like. You cannot look directly at a leprechaun, but rather you can only perceive it from the corner of your eye. The same thing applies to happiness perhaps. You can only let it come to you and actively pursuing it drives it further away. Perhaps like a unicorn in the forest. Or perhaps a leprechaun riding a unicorn in the forest. Now that would go viral.

The next post shall deal with a number of other paths for happiness.

[1] In ascending order backfire, bang, blast, burst, detonated, ignited, report, rumbled, salvo, thundered

A Wandering Mind

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This is not the same as losing one’s mind since I roughly know where it is when it managed to untether itself. I get texts from it every now and then, and its credit card statements keep appearing. If I arranged a personal line of credit for it, then who knows where it might end up. I doubt I would see it again.

A wandering spirit sounds like a good thing to have. If you have a wandering mind, then that suggests you have a lack of concentration. Or perhaps better, the whatever is going on in front of me does not require that much concentration.

Any particular thought can bring in a range of associative thoughts. A good analogy may be a mind like the holiday tree decorations. The entire tree may be completely dark, but the moment you flick a switch, then everything comes alive. So I seem to focus away from the finger flipping the switch, being what everyone else is focusing on, over instead to the various lights illuminating the tree.

The connection may not be immediately obvious to anyone else, but I can see the holiday tree being lit up in my mind continually.

Happy Holidays!

 

That’s torn it!

pexels-photo-14303That’s torn it would be the polite english verision of FUBAR (F**ked up beyond all repair).

These sayings mainly apply to things outside of ourselves. Fortunately, we have physical, mental and spirtual healing powers.

We are never completely Torn.

 

 

 

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/torn/”>Torn</a&gt;

Ethical Dementia-the drifting moral compass, some guidelines and aliens.

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Sometimes people encounter a dilemma and they pretend to have dementia. They forget about the right thing to do.

Decades ago, we had this negotiation seminar held with another company. We split into six groups and did this prisoner’s dilemma test involving a share purchase. If all the groups co-operated in this fictitious share purchase, then we would all partially benefit in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. But if only one group acted in opposition, then all of the benefit would go to that group and they would be unjustly enriched by hundreds of thousands of dollars. The other groups would get nothing. So of course the first five groups all co-operated, but by the time the six group revealed their decision, they went in opposition to the other five groups. The sixth group won the challenge and went home with all of the bragging rights and the fake money.

Now, this seems all fine and dandy if they actually had won millions and could retire from life. But they didn’t, and they couldn’t. We all returned to our work the following week. Unfortunately, and not my proudest moment, this colored my interaction with this one manager on the sixth team that had done me wrong, along with the rest of people. So, apparently, once people show me who they are, I tend to believe them.

A number of times when speaking to accountants, in a more relaxed setting, they tsk tsk the poor lawyer or accountant that got nabbed for stealing $40,000 or $50,000.  They always boast they would never steal that amount of money. They would wait for the big deal, and go for a few million.  Not to generalize, but it always the guys that seem to say this, but my sample size is small. Is this just bravado, financial locker room talk so to speak? “When you are a star lawyer, you can do whatever you want. Grab em by their proxies” for example?

Do you have a figure (financial, not body) that would tempt you? If so, you may wish to rethink the value statement that holds you together.

As for myself, I seem to have developed an unusual value statement for situations like this. I could never see myself taking anything from an employer or trusting client. I value my freedom far too much. I would never trade my right to go into any fast food joint of my choosing at any time. If I feared being apprehended at any time, that potential joy would be lost.

This always seems odd to me since I have not voluntarily gone to any fast food place for at least 40 years. There were the times I had to when  my kids were growing up. Then you have no choice since any opium den will do. Society frowns on you when you feed your children cough syrup so you can rest. But if you take them for a greasy flat burger and sodden fries, well then you are the greatest dad in the world according to your kids and the commercials.

The first ethical problem for most people appears to be recognizing there is a problem. You should ask yourself if a situation or decision could be damaging to someone or to some group. Is there a choice between a good and a bad alternative such as you see in the plot of a superficial science fiction movie? Or perhaps you have a choice between two bads such as you find in one of your darker dramatic comedies perhaps?

As the complexity increases, unless you’re trained in ethics (like a lawyer), or unless you encounter more ethical   dilemmas than most people (a religious advisor) then you really need a framework to analyze these situations. Having a great framework does not help much if you simply don’t care. It seems that lawyers and religious advisors get into ethically tough (ie criminal) spots quite often. So knowing ethics is not the same thing as practicing ethics. I am sure that ethic professors in university get into trouble too, but the media simply does not care.

Getting all of the fact surrounding an issue would be the next thing to do, right after recognizing that you have something to do. This includes finding out who might be impacted by your decision. Consulting with this group may identify some creative options.

When dealing with an ethical issue, once you have all the facts, you should evaluate the alternative options. One way is the Utilitarian approach. Which option will produce the most good and the least harm?

Let’s take the example of a science fiction movie and a spaceship of aliens arrive in your yard. They look friendly enough. Big eyes, big tongues, long shaggy ears and a mouth that curves up in smile loaded with lots of white gleaming teeth. They all have black, cold noses. Very golden retriever looking. They say they can provide you with a new vaccine that could save thousands of people from a nasty influenza virus. But in exchange, they want your cat. Actually they want a lot of cats. At the mention of this the antennae on top of their helmet wags quickly side to side.

Usually a science fiction example is extremely forced to become unbelievable, but you are faced with a simple choice. The most good obviously means saving the most people, but that one evil act seems to taint everything. This always leaves the decision maker on the horns of a dilemma. There only seems to be two options. Both unpalatable. But in most science fiction stories we wait until the very end when a third option finally become available that saves the people and the cat(s). Just as well since no one really wants to see a negative for either option. The non-cat people may have a different opinion mind you, but that’s another discussion.

The Rights approach looks for the option that best respects the rights of all those who have a stake. Here we are looking at a more complex situation where a number of groups have a say, and ultimately everyone is going to have to give a bit in order to get along. Here the drama becomes so subtle that it doesn’t make for good movie material. Not even the straight to video downgrade. Back when straight to video actually meant something. We would have to ask the cats their opinion on the topic. There only seems to be a downside for them. The Aliens don’t really have any rights to speak of and the other people do not necessarily a have a right to a vaccine which does not yet exist. So the no-go solution seems to be obvious.

The justice approach treats people equally or at least proportionally. Now here, a lot more people would be relieved in not getting sick at a cost of only a few cats. But the cats are seemingly paying a higher price. So they are given a higher weighting when it comes to balancing off the two groups. Once again, the price remains too high from the cat perspective. And again, the Aliens do not have any rights in this approach.

The Common good approach looks at the option that best serves the community as a whole and not just some members. Once again, the community would likely be aghast at giving away a community of cats for the benefit of a smaller group that may have gotten ill. So again, we have a no-go situation.

Finally, you could examine the virtue approach which leads you to act as the sort of person you want to be. Now, this does leave room for someone to be a complete jerk, and this seems to happen more than what you would think. Personally, I could not see myself making anything suffer just so others may benefit. So we could say that the cats are saved, but the default approach should be that they would not be at risk in the first place.

You tell the Aliens that they can’t have your cat or any others. The Aliens might be sad, but their faces have this perpetual golden retriever smile. You aren’t sure how they feel, except that their antennae looks droopy.

Finally, you should examine the results of your ethical solution, and you should examine yourself. An unexamined life means that you just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

 

 

 

 

Is your true life calling?

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There is nothing outside of yourself that calls to you. (except your mother, and you should call her back).

Otherwise, if you believe you are a blank slate to begin with, then everything you sense builds upon each new sensory experience.

At some point in time, you will project beyond yourself and perceive this as a calling. It might be life, a profession or a moral epiphany . But all of this comes from within.

This means that you have to do a bit of work to discover this calling. It might come to you as any wild animal might, but otherwise any experience worth having requires effort.

If you answer this call to yourself, then you are also following your bliss. Therein lies the happiness you are seeking.

Calling