Talk Hard #3

Mikael Covey
Eat Sleep Breathe and Reproduce

The capacity to speak, to say something, is a great privilege. Not that we can’t say whatever we want, or spout off about anything whenever we feel like it. But the assumption that there is someone listening, or reading this. That they are paying for this with their time. Our limited mortality being the most precious thing we have, and to give some of that over to reading this – it better be worth it. I would have to tell you the most important thing I can. Otherwise I’m wasting your time, a part of your life.

So I’ll tell you about life and how to live. Right off you say “you’re full of shit. Nobody tells me how to live my life.” And that’s absolutely correct. I’ve no authority to tell you what to do; anymore than you have to tell me. But we can share our ideas. Maybe you’ll know what’s wrong with me, and have some suggestions that’ll help. I’ll try to do the same. That’s one of the reasons we write, why we talk to each other. To help each other out, share our ideas and what we know.

Start off by reiterating that no one can tell you what to do. Not schools, churches, governments, bosses, nobody. But what does that leave us with? Just ourselves. Explaining and understanding the world, our lives, everything; with just our own knowledge, our own intellect. Pretty scary shit, or not. Depends on the individual. Seems like most people comfort in having someone else think for them – the aforementioned schools, churches, governments, etc. And that’d be fine, but it isn’t.

If our institutions knew all the answers, the right answers, that’d be fine. But they don’t. And of course, they’d have to have our best interests at heart, want only what’s absolutely the best for us; and they don’t. How do I know that? Well, it’s pretty obvious. Governments want hard working, docile, obedient little citizens who’ll do what they’re told and die for the flag if called upon. Clearly it’s not our self-fulfilment to simply work and die for the state. That’s their interest, not ours.

The same for churches and employers. They want what they can get out of us, not what they can give us. Imagine going to church, the collection basket comes around and the preacher says “y’all reach in, take whatever you need.” Ain’t gonna happen. Maybe your church can fill you up with spiritual comfort or moral guidance. Make you feel safe, secure, and good about everything. I dunno, but I don’t trust them. Too much of their stock lies in the ‘afterlife’ and in having faith. What Kierkegaard calls an unquestioning belief in the absurd.

Me, I’m more concerned about the present life than what comes after. And I want answers, not blind faith. Like the pact we make with our employer – an honest day’s wage for an honest day’s work. But that’s it, just a job, something that pays the bills and lets me buy what I want. Don’t try to pretend it’s my life’s work. Like I’m a part of this great and wonderful company and that’s the be all, end all to everything. ‘Cause it isn’t. Just a job, no more than that.

The be all, end all is ourselves (en soir – por soir, as Sartre puts it). And why is that so? Why would self be the ultimate thing there is? Well, because it’s what we have. Friends, family, jobs – come and go. No matter how much we want them to be with us forever, they can up and leave at a moment’s notice. Why? Because they’re not intrinsic to ourselves, no matter how much we want them to be. The only definite thing we have, is us – the self – that’s it. And yeah, I know, it’s not much, but that’s the way it is.

Then the question becomes, what does the self do? What’s the point to anything. We can all answer that for ourselves, but my view is a fairly simple one, akin to Heidegger’s idea of natural becoming (physis, is the word he uses). His model for this is nature – plants and animals. Things are born (come into being), then they flower (reach their fullest potential), then wither and die. But before that, they produce seeds that will continue the process. Thus our function is to flower, then to reproduce, and finally to nurture our offspring so that they may flower to their fullest extent.

That works, I think.

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