Better Porn?

Trust me I am just as surprised as you. Porn is not a topic I ever planned to cover on this blog, ever. But then I became a little obsessed with The School of Life and the other day they posted a pretty interesting video on porn, it’s meaning in our lives, and how it could be made better.

I guess from the start I ought to say that for me personally the existence of porn does not break any moral rules. I think sex is a fundamental part of being human and nothing at all to be ashamed of. I regularly talk openly with friends about my views on sex and porn and none of us get squeamish or judgmental. I also support sex workers of all kinds and believe that those who work in porn (and prostitution) deserve respect and safe working conditions.

Basically I like to think I am pretty enlightened when it comes to issues surrounding porn. Even so, I was still a little surprised to see this pop up in my YouTube notifications:

Because of technology, pornography has become a major issue of our time – affecting relationships and adolescence.

For a video on porn I think this was done very well. It was honest, informative, and inoffensive. I agreed with just about every point they made. If I’m being honest I do have one very big issue with the porn industry:

I hate how far porn is from what sex is like in real life.

I think this gives men and women either some very unrealistic expectations or it makes them feel wholly inadequate. Sometimes I think that is why people watch so much porn anymore, because real life sex just doesn’t measure up to what you can see online, anywhere, any time, and for free. What people don’t see is the reason real life sex doesn’t add up is because it is so often devoid of the thing that makes it great, a sense of respect and intimacy.

I have always felt that the things that have gone wrong in the porn industry affect women much more then men in the real life. Sex work is no longer an easy way to make money for women, watch the documentary Hot Girls Wanted if you want a bit of info on that.* I think the porn industry is moving in a direction that is dangerous to our views of sex. Especially for young people.

A lot of porn is about men’s use and enjoyment of women which perpetuates the idea that that is all women are for. It also gives men the ideas that foreplay is unnecessary, that penetration alone is enough for a woman, and that women are willing to perform all kinds of sex acts and if she isn’t something is wrong with her. It’s hard sometimes for me to reconcile those issues and my feeling that banning porn outright will cause more problems than it solves.

But what if porn was just made better?

I was a bit surprised that an organization centered around philosophy was starting their own porn site but they made a good point, who else should work in porn but people who are both open-minded and concerned with what is good and right. Not from a religious perspective but from an understanding of what make a healthy human! Porn definitely doesn’t make us unhealthy. It’s what we do with it that is harmful.

Pornography has an important and dignified role to play within a good life. It can train and guide our desires and educate our excitements. At The School of Life, we believe that good pornography can be broadly therapeutic: helping us to resolve a variety of inner difficulties and contributing to wiser, more fulfilled lives.

pornastherapy.com

Now that is something you don’t hear very often, porn is important and dignified, and can lead us to wiser and more fulfilled lives. I can’t say whether or not that is true but I think it’s good someone is saying something different from all the other conversations we’ve had about sexual imagery up until now. Someone has taken the middle ground. Someone has said, don’t be ashamed, but also take responsibility, express your sexuality, but do so with self-awareness.

So whatever your views on porn are, or the sex industry as a whole, I think we can all take a moment and reevaluate our views. Maybe we hadn’t considered that there was another way to do things?

*Check out Vice’s interview with Rashida Jones on Her Porn Documentary ‘Hot Girls Wanted’

Original image via Guerretto

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A Few Thoughts on the Death Penalty

It’s been a hard week here in Aurora, Colorado. Last week the defendant in the Theater Shooting trail was found guilty on all 165 counts against him. I watched the entire live feed as the judge read each verdict. It took about an hour and the defendant never reacted once.

Tomorrow they jury will begin hearing arguments for the “sentencing phase”. They will decide whether or not the defendant will spend the rest of his life in jail or if he will die for his crimes.

After the verdict was read I made my way to the comment section of the story and was a bit surprised to find everyone stating without a shadow of a doubt that this man was not insane and that he deserved death. I remember feeling, as I have many times since this tragedy happened over three years ago, a deep sadness.

I am sad for the victims and their families. I am sad for my whole community. I am also sad for the defendants family. And I admit, I am sad for this poor man too.

I know what he did was wrong. I would never dispute that fact but I wonder if our definition for insanity might be a bit off. It seems legally he only had to know that what he was doing was wrong to face the possibility of death by the state. I have a strong feeling that this just isn’t the right way.

Over the three years that I have had this horrible event and trial in my mind I have reevaluated my feelings on the death penalty and I think I have come out of this knowing that it just isn’t right. More than that, I don’t even believe it is useful.

The first thing that gave me pause was the permanence of death. Once we decide to kill someone we can’t go back. What if we are wrong? In this case we know he committed the crime but there have been others where we executed the wrong one. How can we live with that possibility? I would rather the guilty ones live so we don’t kill any more innocents.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.

– Exodus 21:24

Historically capital punishment seems to me to only have been used as a means of revenge and possibly a deterrent. Revenge serves little purpose other than the possibility of closer for the families but I would argue that letting the perpetrator live, studying him, and finding the underlying causes so that we could recognize the warning signs in others and prevent further tragedy would be a much more satisfying conclusion then simple execution.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Clearly the death penalty doesn’t work as a deterrent because, it seems, this country is dealing with a rise in mass shootings. In fact a simple Google search showed me there was “still no evidence that executions deter criminals” and that the F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000. I mean it seems obvious that if people feared death they would not commit such crimes but they do, time and time again. It seems almost….insane?

People laugh at me when I tell them the thing that finally changed my mind completely on the idea of capital punishment. IT was a quote from Gandalf the wizard in Lord of the Rings. In the books Frodo believes that if only Gollum had been killed he would have been safe. Gandalf in turn lectures him about what should be for him to decide and what shouldn’t:

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

This touches on my first point about the permanence of death and the possibility of killing an innocent. I just don’t think we should be dealing out death to the ones who we believe deserve it when we can’t give life to the ones who deserve that too.

So what do we do instead? How do we punish those who commit the most heinous crimes. Well, I think we should start by taking a look at the ways in which society contributes to it’s members feeling like this is the only way to get what they need, and we should look at the state of our mental health care.

People who commit theses crimes are deeply disturbed and probably hurting very badly inside. Wouldn’t we be a better more just society if instead of killing them we actually rehabilitated them? Maybe even learned something from them? Then need to shed blood for blood feels so primitive, but helping those who need our help the most feels a bit more enlightened. It feels like a step forward for us all.

I’m not saying this man should ever be released from prison. I don’t know enough about him to know if he could ever be deemed anything less than a threat to society. There is a possibility that he can come to understand what he did and feel real regret and sadness for his actions. I believe he could also find some redemption in helping us prevent future deaths. Why not go that route instead?

Why the need to “fry his ass” or “kill him by firing squad”. I know we are all angry but we cannot let anger make us do something we can never come back from. We can never undo what was done and another death doesn’t ease the pain of the losses we have suffered. We should all stop and think about what is right and why.

We might find out that there could be a better way after all.

P.S. This was written with all due respect for the victims, their families, and the community. The views expressed are my own opinion and were voiced with no ill intent.

Radical Doubt

I often get a little obsessed with things I read, especially when it’s related to philosophy. For awhile now I have been thinking a lot about Descartes’ Method of Radical Doubt and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

The Method of Radical Doubt is a process where a person doubts their own beliefs to test whether those beliefs are actually true. It’s a means of defeating skepticism on it own ground. I was drawn to the idea because I tend to be the type of person who doubts everything unless shown absolute proof or I’m presented with well thought out logic behind an argument.

I like to audit my own beliefs every so often to just make sure I haven’t fallen into the trap of blindly following another’s beliefs or prejudices.

The first rule was never to accept anything as true unless I recognized it to be evidently such: that is, carefully to avoid precipitation and prejudgment, and to include nothing in my conclusions unless it presented itself so clearly and distinctly to my mind that there was no occasion to doubt it.

– René Descartes, “Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truth in the Field of Science”; translated by Laurence J. Lafl

Descartes himself tried to establish doubt in three areas:

The first is Perceptual Illusion. What if everything we perceive is wrong? The idea that I cannot trust my own senses is a hard pill to swallow, but an interesting one none the less. How can we be sure that we are seeing, or hearing, or feeling, things as they really are. Descartes argues that it is wise to, at least at first, doubt every bit of sensory knowledge we take in until we can be sure that our perceptions are correct. Remember, things may not always be as they seem.

The next is the Dream Problem. This is the one that really messed with my head! The Dream Problem is related to the Perceptual Illusion in that, if my own dreams feel real, how can I be sure that the world I am experiencing (perceiving, sensing) is real. How do I know that everything around me isn’t just a fabrication of my own imagination?

It’s sort of like the movie “The Matrix”. Every one could be hooked up to a machine that is stimulating your brain in such a way as to make you think you are in a real world. The brain is where all of our perceptions come from, right? So it would be possible to get a person to see, taste, hear, feel, or smell something that isn’t really there. I do believe that I am really doing the things I am doing and that the world around me is real, but thinking about this problem has made me realize that I can’t actually prove that belief to be true. Freaky!

Lastly, the Deceiving God. Descartes raises more doubts by asking us to entertain a radical belief different from one of our own treasured beliefs. The example given is a religious one and because I am not religious it was hard for me to understand at first. What if there is an omnipotent god, but that deity devotes its full attention to deceiving me?

He doesn’t mean that God would force me to believe something that was false, which I find a more interesting prospect, but that anytime I think I believe something for sure, God could choose to change the world in such a way that my belief becomes false. He seems to suggest that even if we could distinguish dream from reality we could experience reality as if it were a dream. If that is true then it is possible to doubt everything you come to believe.

Descartes did offer alternative versions for those religious devout who couldn’t stomach the idea that God would do such a thing. One was that there is a sort of demon who relentlessly tortures you with your own error, or, and more interesting, I actually deceive myself. The latter is interesting because I believe that our own mind’s often work against us in was we can’t perceive and I imagine it is possible for your own brain to deceive you.

In the alternatives the point is still the same, that it is possible for every belief you hold to be false.

After reading all that it might seem like nothing can ever be thought to be true and you might be ready to panic but Descartes was able to assert one fact, one truth, though all of this doubting. He concluded that the very act of doubting, and thinking about doubt, meant he was a thinking thing, and if he was a thing, that meant that he existed.

Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am.

So whenever I get weirded out by these thoughts that every thing I think I know about the world, and about myself, might be nothing but a dream or clever deception, I hold on to the one thing I know to be true.

I know that I am real.

Living Philosophy – A Short Self Interview

Totally stole this interview idea from New Philosopher magazine. We are all philosophers are we not? Therefore, I am interviewing myself with their questions.

Top five books:

PicMonkey Collage

Each of these books has made me think about what it means to be a human being and how we ought to live as a society. I recommend you read every one of them, twice.

Favorite philosopher:

I have to go with Cornel West, I don’t always agree with everything he says but the man has courage, he speaks well, and he makes me think.

Favorite Quote:

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan

Documentary to Recommend:

Particle Fever

Favorite Art Work:

There are so many and it changes from one day to the next but right now my favorite is anything by Chiara Bautista, especially the ones featuring the girl and the sky wolf.

Favorite Piece of Classical Music:

Why is philosophy important?

Philosophy is the means by which we humans can get to know ourselves better and shape our would into one we can flourish in. Philosophy encourages us to think and gives us a set of tools to think logically, argue effectively, and figure out what the point of all of this is.

What is the biggest problem we face in contemporary society?

Extremism. Extreme conservatives, extreme liberals, extreme feminists and men’s right activists. Extreme religious groups and extreme atheists. Extremists do not listen or care to hear others out and seek only to have their own way by any means necessary.

What do you hope to achieve by “doing” philosophy?

Well, I hope to learn something, and to teach something, and to make the world a better place in my own small way.

What is the meaning of life?

I do not know, but my instinct tells me there is no intrinsic meaning. I think we all must find the meaning for ourselves and part of that is treasuring and protecting each other and and this planet. As far as we know we are a rarity in this universe and that could mean something.

About Lisa:

Lisa is a high school drop-out who leads a pretty boring life but is plagued with thoughts about life and the human condition. She currently resides in a suburb of Denver, Colorado which she both loves and hates. You can find her on her blog and everywhere else on the internet.

Eudaimonia, or When Human Beings Flourish

I have recently developed an intense interest in philosophy and through listening to old episodes of The Partially Examined Life I’ve come across the concept of eudaimonia, or human flourishing. I was drawn to the idea of it because flourishing is not the same as happiness. They are related concepts but to flourish is, to me, something greater than happiness. To me happiness is too temporary of a concept. People who are flourishing are happy, but not all people who are happy are flourishing. Learning about eudaimonia has given me the words to express exactly what it is I am trying to achieve in my life.

Eudaimonia is the good life, or well-being. Eudaimonia is living the good life, an ideal human life. I often wonder what would constitute that ideal human life, how do we achieve it, and how that would differ from a concept of happiness. Human flourishing is something that is innate in all of us, something each of us both want and can achieve, but how? Happiness surely is part of that but so is health, and intelligence, and love, and compassion, right?. These are all things each human can achieve naturally, this is the human condition allowed to express itself without judgment or disturbance.

The ultimate end of human acts is eudaimonia, happiness in the sense of living well, which all men desire; all acts are but different means chosen to arrive at it.

Hannah Arendt

Obviously, to start, our basic animal needs must be met, we are animals aren’t we? We need proper food, exercise, and sleep. We are also social animals so we need a group or society to belong to. Within that group we need trust, respect, an order. We have emotional needs too. We need comfort and understanding and we need to express ourselves. And finally, we need to be able to use our brains. We are intelligent and curious creatures and we like to learn and teach. We like to explore, and categorize, and build, and think about things. Any human denied these things will not flourish, period.

So what other parts of our lives must come in to alignment in order for us to achieve eudaimonia?

If we look to the Ancient Greeks we must start with Socrates who thought that virtue, meaning things like self-control, courage, justice, piety, wisdom were all that was required for eudaimonia. Not honor, not riches, just pure virtue. To him the virtues guaranteed eudaimonia. It seems he was a bit frustrated with the people around him fighting and clamoring for riches and honors and caring nothing for obtaining virtue and wisdom.

The obvious argument against all of this is that often times humans want to, and take great pleasure, in being the opposite of virtuous. We want to be selfish and chase power so how can we be happy when we have to control ourselves so much? Well Plato thought that a virtuous persons soul was harmonious and that the the soul of a person who was not virtuous was not. So by being virtuous the soul does not become chaotic and thus a person feels at peace and can achieve eudaimonia.

I think this has a lot to do with moderation. Anything, any human quality, taken to an extreme can cause harm to your inner self. Bravery can become rashness, a conscientious person can become too shameful, and the seeking of pleasures can easily make you selfish and interfere with our basic needs, particularly the social needs. No one would want to be around a person who only seeks pleasure, we all know life is about more than that. We must not deny our own pleasures all the time because doing so would cause us to go to the other end of the spectrum and, again, interfere with our basic needs, but we do have to seek more than easy pleasures and we do have to consider other people.

But then how do we know when to seek pure pleasure and when to seek virtue? Well that brings us to Aristotle who said that part of flourishing is to be fully human and being fully human means is to use the gift unique to humans. One of those gifts is reason and rationality. Aristotle also believed that doing is a requirement for eudaimonia. We must do what is virtuous and excellent and we must do the things that demonstrate our reason and virtue too.

There are more philosophers who touched on eudaimonia but most are long dead now and the world is a different place so what do us modern people have to say about human flourishing? I myself prefer to hear arguments rooted in science or logic rather than religion so while I do not discount that some would believe that The Bible hold the secrets to how a human being might flourish I would have to dismiss it on the grounds that I do not recognize the authority of God. I do however recognize the authority of psychologists. The modern term for eudaimonia could be something like “psychological well-being” the components of which are:

  • Autonomy
  • Personal Growth
  • Self acceptance
  • Purpose in life
  • Environmental mastery
  • Positive relations with others

So all of this was quite a long way to say that flourishing means to have the things you need to be able to be the best person you can be and more than that having the emotional and mental facilities to discern what that means and what you ought to do to keep yourself happy and healthy and in harmony with those around you.

Of course it is not that easy, or else we would all be flourishing along happily side by side in a grand utopia, so what is getting in the way? Sometimes the inability for us to flourish, in a traditional sense, comes from reasons outside of our own control. The most obvious reasons are abuse, neglect, or trauma in childhood which leave us emotionally stunted and unable to exercise reason or interact with people around us in meaningful ways. BUT I would argue that through self-awareness and professional help even those people could flourish too.

The tree might have been planted in poor conditions but that does not mean nothing can be done to help and lead the tree to growing big and strong despite its beginnings.

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on any of this, I’ve only just started learning about all of it, and I don’t think there is any one way for all humans to flourish, but I do think that we are all more alike than we think and there could be some basic ways in which all of us could begin to find a way toward eudaimonia. I think it is possible for every human to live a happier life but it comes from gaining wisdom, accepting and loving yourself, and doing things that make your soul* feel good. Find the good and find the moderation and you will find the path.

Happiness might be money and wealth and success but eudaimonia is something inside you.

Original image via http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkas:Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpg

*Considering that I am not religious the use of the word soul here is not based in the traditional sense but instead used to mean your “inner you”.

The Unexamined Life is Not Fully Lived

I recently listened to an old podcast on the Partially Examined Life regarding Plato’s The Apology of Socrates. The Apology is basically Plato’s version of the speech Socrates gave when he was on trial for “corrupting the young, and by not believing in the gods in whom the city believes”. Long story short, Socrates decides to defend his actions and stand his ground rather than repent and so is convicted, to death. I haven’t read the speech, although I plan to, but the podcast was interesting to listen to anyway.

The part I found particularly interesting was Socrates’ idea that the “unexamined life was not worth living”. I have had this idea in my own head for a long time but when it was presented to me in this quote I had to examine the statement and determine whether I believe it is true or not, and in what way, and why.

To examine life is to take a step back and to think about why you do what you do and why. It is to think about what you think and what your life means. And it means to pose those questions about the whole of humanity too. It is to live a life of questions and skepticism, to find the truth of things, and to come to your own conclusions for your own reasons. It’s self-knowledge and self-critique.

The ability to do this is, as far as we know, a purely human trait. We can not only question our own motives but we can change our own minds and better ourselves purely through thinking about why we do what we do. To not do this is to deny a fundamental part of being a human being. You could argue that by not examining your life you are not being human and rather are acting more like an animal, running on only instinct and reaction to outside stimuli.

But while self-knowledge can be valuable the question is whether a lack of self-knowledge make a life less worthy. I would have to say no, all lives are worth living. I also believe that practicing philosophy and introspection is an activity of the privileged, there are people in this world for whom their chief concern is to just survive. Is their life worthless? Of course not.

I think Socrates must not have meant this statement in a literal sense. I choose to believe that he could not think that there were lives that are worthless simply because the go unexamined. I think he made a bold statement to illustrate a point but he only means that reflecting and questioning is something that all humans should try to do. Through this pursuit of the truth within ourselves we can change what we believe and do and if we do it as a whole species we could “do better”.

There is an undeniable logic to the idea that if you know who you are and what you believe and why you are more likely to make choices that move you towards a happier life. A person who has self-knowledge and asses themselves regularly is less likely to be a reactionary person. This person is less likely to make choices that are detrimental to themselves and others. I believe we all ought to try to regularly sit ourselves down and have an internal conversation with ourselves about our beliefs and goals and adjust ourselves accordingly.

I still think that even the unexamined life is worth living, considering the rareness of any life at all, but I do think that the examined life is a more fully lived one. Not that Socrates or I could ever decide whether or not any life was worth living or not. Each of us must decide for ourselves whether our lives are worth living or not, but by merely asking the question you are engaging in the very examination that makes your life worth living! And once that door is opened you cannot help but to step all the way through. Don’t worry though, once you do everything can change for the better.

Know thyself.

I Only Want To Do Things That Are Useless

Clearly at some point along the path of human evolution, having a bigger brain became a better adaptions than bigger muscles. I have a theory that it has a lot to do with the fact that being the leader of the group gave you a better chance at finding mates and passing on your genes. At some point the guys with the bigger muscles were outwitted by the smaller, but more clever, guys. Over time we all had to develop bigger and bigger brains in order to outsmart each other.

There was more to it of course. Being clever also helped us outsmart the climates and survive in harsher lands. But I imagine those things had a more direct effects on our survival. How did we get to the point where we were we are inventing things like ballet and calculus? What does that have to do with survival? This brings me to my second theory, that maybe at some point the genetics that contributed to bigger brains and cleverness got a little out of control. Our brains got incredibly big and we started to experience some side effects. Ballet and calculus are symptoms of the condition known as intelligence caused by the uncontrolled growth of the hungry, tumor like, brain.

I’m kind of talking out of my ass here but these are the things that I wonder about when I think about why we humans do the things we do. The things that seem to have nothing at all to do with our survival. I think about these things the most when I wonder about my own urges to do things that are useless. Scratch that, my passion for doing useless things!

What do I mean by useless? I mean things like writing and having a blog, for one. I mean the way I have to make time to learn math I’ll never use. I mean the urge I have to doodle in notebooks. I mean the fact that I spend a substantial amount of my time wondering what is outside of the universe and what the Lisa’s in alternate universes are doing right now. I mean talking to people about whether God exists and if he does what is his nature. I mean reading essays and articles about why we have beliefs, intents, desires, and imagination. Why do I do these things?

Even as a society, why do we have comic book and Xbox’s? Why do we have podcasts and typography? Why do we want to watch the super bowl or the Grammy’s? Why do we study the stars and endlessly scroll Twitter? These things seem to not only have nothing to do with our survival, they seem to make our lives worse! We focus on the wrong things. Why aren’t we more like robots? That seems like it would be easier.

What I find particularly interesting when I examine my own reasons for doing what I do I find that I would always much rather be doing useless things. The useless things are the things that make life worth living. The useless things are things that make me feel alive!

I wonder if these useless activities are some kind of by-product of our brains developing in the way that they did. Like, it starts as self-awareness and gets out of hand. Cleverness and the ability to understand each other developed into culture, and story telling, and art, and music, and all the things that make us special. Then we developed a need for these things because the brain is hungry and craves information. We are driven to look beyond ourselves to learn more and more and then to teach others.

Whatever the reason, I am learning to balance useful and useless activities. Clearly I cannot learn to live like a robot no matter how much I know it would benefit my life and career. I’m trying not to think about these activities as useless either. At the very least they make me feel good, even though I may not understand why exactly. And anyway, what is useless to one person may not be useless to another. There may be a use for these activities after all, even though I can’t see it now.

Oh Look, It’s Time For My Yearly Existential Crisis

Ever since I can remember I have been obsessed with death and the meaninglessness of life. Every so often, about once a year, it gets really bad and I just stop caring about anything. I am going through that right now. I find myself, asking myself, why? What does it all mean? Why go on? Why keep trying? As I have gotten older I have come up with some answers. These answers are just my answers and they work for me.. I am not going to say I have it all figured out. I doubt I, or anyone else for that matter, will ever have it all figured out.

I am, and probably always will be an Existentialist. This means I believe that there is no inherent meaning to life. Not my life or “life”as a whole. There is no reason for us to be here or not to be here. There is no meaning in any of it, except for the meaning we create. There is no reason for living and breathing, for working and paying bills, for love or relationships, there are no reasons for any of it, except for the reasons we create. In short, the universe gives no fucks.

At first this sounds incredibly depressing, and a lot of the time it is. I am often paralyzed by the thought that nothing I do means a damn thing. I try to remember that that does afford me an incredible amount of freedom. If the universe doesn’t care what I do than I can do whatever I want! Now, that does not mean there aren’t consequences for my actions. What it means is I can do things that are pleasing for me to do as long as I am prepared to deal with whatever the consequences may be. This may come off sounding selfish but there are many acts of kindness that are pleasing too. I like to help people and make them smile. This makes me happy, so I do it. I also like to write and learn new things and then write about those things so other people can learn too. This makes me happy, so I do it.

Existentialism, to me, means letting go of what society says is right and good. It means taking a step back and deciding for myself what is right and good. I like it better this way because at least I know myself and my reasons for thinking and doing the things I think and do. I have a deeper understanding of my own mind and motivations.

Even though the universe doesn’t care about me, I care about me. I have decided that even though living or not living means nothing in the end, I want to live. After you decide to live you have to decide why and what to do. This can be overwhelming at first but take baby step. Start with deciding what gives you pleasure. Is it family, is it writing, is you you wife, what do you enjoy about life? After that go find more things that you enjoy about life, then spread the joy!

I have decided this is what works for me. A lot of that has come from learning more about Zen and what that means. To me Zen is a lot like Existentialism in that there is no one right way to live, there is an emphasis on letting go, and there is an acceptance of life and the world around you. You have to let go of everything in order to learn something about yourself and the world around you. Zen goes a little further and tell us to let go and look inside and find you true meaning and live it!

Both philosophies lead a person to view life from a more detached point of view. We can see the bigger picture without all of the emotional distraction and suffering. This may sound like a life filled with emptiness and meaninglessness but it doesn’t mean that at all. It means seeing the world differently and finding a bigger, deeper meaning. It means freedom and fulfillment! When the meaninglessness of life and death get me down, I remember that even though I will be forgotten one day, I will have lived, and that is wonderful and special. It will have been special for my friends and family and they are the ones who matter, fuck the universe!

So instead of trying to change the universe, which I believe is impossible, I try to just make an impact right now, where I can. I do this because it feels good to do so. I do this because I want to help everyone live a happier life. We only get so long on this planet and we have to make the most of it. Well, I guess you don’t have to because the universe doesn’t care either way, but I care and I want you to have joy and fulfillment.

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