[Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

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[Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:09 am

Lots of well-meaning advice out there about proper mindsets, behaviors, self-image, whatever. Lots of it sounds like the way I would have described my own attitude between two and three years ago. If they're right, I had my chances back then, but it's too late for me now; I can no more go back to that mindset than convert back to Christianity. I've seen too much, heard too much, thought too much.

I've joked about being dead, not 24, but maybe it isn't a joke. Perhaps I've already been the "best" I'll ever be, at least in that context, and all that's left is to find a different one. Perhaps my life as it is now is the "best". There is obviously room and potential for me to improve myself, but can life improve for me? That is an entirely different question.

And another is: does that matter? Why should it? How selfish, to wish for happiness instead of improvement! How shortsighted, to crave satisfaction, which only begets complacency! How spiteful, to squander my time pining for fleeting experiences, instead of finding ways to truly contribute! How foolish, to imagine such things can simply be bartered against each other, especially for an embittered atheist!

Yet spiteful I shall be. Whether this train crashes tonight or I live another century, I will leave no meaningful legacy. I will spend my foreseeable future helping salesmen model their profits and snoop on potential customers. For my efforts, I'll be given pizzas and entertainment, and with these I'll kill time while time kills me. I will create nothing, except what brings further profit to rich white men.

Such is my nature. This is no apology, nor "Twinkie defense" for hedonism. It is, of course, a Rant; it is what I am and what I hate.

Have I had long, involved conversations with people that fascinated all involved? Yes, but obviously not on a date or in any context that would lead to one. Have I tried seeing dating as an activity that is meant to be fun, even whimsical? I have. But today I cannot, and tomorrow I cannot, and in the unknown days to come I cannot conceive of a time when I will again. The Way is shut.

Today I saw a man walk away, literally walk away, from people who cared about him and people who needed him, just because someone else had given him a better offer. He is disloyal. Duplicitous. Detestable. And he wants back that Xbox he lent my coworker, so his girlfriend can play it.




To clarify: I have no illusions that I could ever be great, or do anything of notable significance. I only mean to say that I could be better than I am. Anyone and everyone has potential to influence things. Small advancements, discoveries, contributions. Tiny things that eventually will affect others. I just...don't really want to now. I'd rather live like a house-pet, mindlessly living and consuming until one day I just stop.


Last edited by nearly_takuan on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:27 am

Thanks for taking this to a separate post. I'm sorry you're having a rough night.
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:57 am

Gonna thank you in turn; new spins on standing rhetoric are pretty much always welcome, from my point of view. Wink

Guess it is kind of the latest Paging content that's been getting to me, yeah. Lots of self-improvement and self-perception stuff in this week's zeitgeist, and all I can think is I'm only getting worse, and I don't know if I even want to change that anymore.

You're probably also right that there may be options I either haven't given due consideration or don't yet know enough to judge. Most of the time, and tonight especially, I have trouble seeing any choices beyond what's immediately ahead of me, so I don't really have a more concrete answer.

And yeah, some unrelated recent events do complicate things somewhat further. The full scope of that is difficult to adequately express, but I guess it mostly comes back to wondering what it is I'm missing.

Just typing things out has helped a bit, which I guess means the "rant" concept is serving its purpose. It's also maybe reinforcing some ideas that could rightly be called toxic, so YMMV on whether one is worth the other. Thanks anyway, though. And sorry if my failure to add a "disc" tag scared you into redacting your thoughts.
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by eselle28 on Wed Mar 04, 2015 3:30 am

Uh, yeah, sorry about that. I had a response, but it felt uncomfortable because I modded you over here and then participated so quickly. The concern wasn't labeling so much as not being too much of a jackass. I really didn't mean to be, in either the typing out or the deleting. I am sorry for that. I also sometimes process emotions as I type. I'll maybe think a bit more about some of this, generally, between now and whenever tomorrow, and maybe I'll actually have something useful to say.
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by reboot on Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:09 pm

Sorry you are having a rough spot. It sounds like an almost existential crisis?

As for making a positive mark on the world, it is an admirable goal and one that can be accomplished through being an ethical, kind person. It does not have to be active achievement. I mean, house pets, even in their purely passive, consuming role still provide people much pleasure and happiness just by being present.
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by Dan_Brodribb on Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:05 pm

nearly_takuan wrote:
And another is: does that matter? Why should it? How selfish, to wish for happiness instead of improvement! How shortsighted, to crave satisfaction, which only begets complacency! How spiteful, to squander my time pining for fleeting experiences, instead of finding ways to truly contribute! How foolish, to imagine such things can simply be bartered against each other, especially for an embittered atheist!

Yet spiteful I shall be. Whether this train crashes tonight or I live another century, I will leave no meaningful legacy. I will spend my foreseeable future helping salesmen model their profits and snoop on potential customers. For my efforts, I'll be given pizzas and entertainment, and with these I'll kill time while time kills me. I will create nothing, except what brings further profit to rich white men.

Such is my nature. This is no apology, nor "Twinkie defense" for hedonism. It is, of course, a Rant; it is what I am and what I hate.

Have I had long, involved conversations with people that fascinated all involved? Yes, but obviously not on a date or in any context that would lead to one. Have I tried seeing dating as an activity that is meant to be fun, even whimsical? I have. But today I cannot, and tomorrow I cannot, and in the unknown days to come I cannot conceive of a time when I will again. The Way is shut.

Today I saw a man walk away, literally walk away, from people who cared about him and people who needed him, just because someone else had given him a better offer. He is disloyal. Duplicitous. Detestable. And he wants back that Xbox he lent my coworker, so his girlfriend can play it.

Rant or not, it's beautifully written. I've felt much like what you've described, and I love how you were able to put it into words. Even the rhythm of it feels...truthful.

nearly_takuan wrote: Anyone and everyone has potential to influence things. Small advancements, discoveries, contributions. Tiny things that eventually will affect others. I just...don't really want to now. I'd rather live like a house-pet, mindlessly living and consuming until one day I just stop

From my perspective, you're already making those contributions. I get a lot from reading and thinking about your posts or interacting with you. I clarify my own thoughts, see the world from a different perspective, and learn new ways of interacting with the world both online, but also spilling into my offline life.

Yes, it's possible to do more, but in my experience that 'more' is always going to be there. No matter how much or little I take on there's always more 'more' whether I'm actively seeking it or not. So we can take up as much or as little as we're ready to handle at any given moment.

What you're doing is fine. There's more there if you want to take it on, but if you don't, what you're doing is still making a positive difference.

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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by Werel on Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:21 pm

I've been searching for the words to reply to this post, but I think Dan said nearly exactly what I wanted to say. Reading your thoughts here has given me new perspectives that have made small but real differences in my interaction with the world.

And you've made me take a good hard look at my comfort levels re: being a house-pet. I think my younger self might be angry with me for that, if she could know, and she might say some things very similar to what you're saying here. Thank you for keeping me honest, in an indirect way.


Last edited by Werel on Wed Mar 04, 2015 8:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammer & speeling)
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by kath on Thu Mar 05, 2015 12:32 pm

Sorry you're having a dark night, Takuan.

And I'm not sure there's much to say that can help that feeling (though I agree with others that you do have impact in meaningful ways!).

But even though it might not help much to hear it, so many of the people most famous for making a difference in the lives of others - from poets and artists to people working for the poor - have these crises too.
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:44 am

Thanks for the kind words.

It's been a strange week and there's been a modest pile of things making me reevaluate kind of everything. Some came in big obvious shocking ways, but not all.

One of the things that's been weird and hard to recognize or process is the feeling of...guilt? In an odd way, I once again stand to possibly gain a lot from what has overall been a stressful and unfortunate event for a lot of people, and it's...easy for me to see how, even though (brain says) if I really cared I'd be either too panicked or too busy to notice such things, like everyone else is. It's difficult to put into words why that leads to guilt. It does.

The easier one to identify was how I kept finding myself in close proximity to married or committed couples (just randomly on the way to work, or at work, or at an event that had nothing to do with that) without an available exit, and generally upsetting myself in stupid ways. Gonna have to figure a way to stop doing at least one of those things.

I appreciate the intent behind what you're saying, kath, but that thought as it's recently been represented in my head tends to grow into either "Van Gogh's entire life sucked, and no posthumous award or commemorative honor or popular song is ever going to change that," or "yeah, but I'm not Stephen Hawking smart or Stephen Hawking good with women, and I don't even have a degenerative medical condition to blame for it," and any feeble rebuttal I try to dig up gets shot down by one of those two types of observations. And it's set up that way by design, I know that. It's cherry-picking a response just to shoot down every conceivable role-model: they were great, but miserable, and I don't care about being great if I have to be miserable; or they were great, and successful, and happy, and all those things are unreachable for me anyway so what's the point. It's also... seemingly airtight. :/

Yet another separate thing is that I feel like lately I've heard and read more than I usually do of the claim that ${religion} causes tangible change in a person's life, allows a Presence to be felt, or something along those lines. And I kind of wish that instead of shrugging and pondering how other things, such as having a community around you that shares many of your own ideas and weekly greets you and smiles and sings and exchanges handshakes or hugs, would probably produce the same effect regardless of any Higher Power's existence, I could manage to just go once a week to that kind of place anyway and...pretend? I don't believe. I don't predict that I ever can. I just also can't argue with results.

And I've got some pretty great friends and several of them have lately been really understanding (about my lack of time) and generous (with work/scheduling-related advice and support) and overall friendly (with invites to shindigs); but because of the choices I've made I still actually see them pretty infrequently, and (very understandably!) they each have far more important people in their lives anyway.

It was unjust of me to say that my work only lines the pockets of rich men; a political debate with an American "conservative" the other day resulted in me describing some of the effects of my company's product that I hadn't fully considered. It was kind of an auxiliary and half-baked complaint in the first place, not really part of the Existential Crisis, but it still kind of helps to have more reasons to like my job, and feel extra motivated to do it.

And holy shit, I have had a load of reasons to work hard this week!
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by Autumnflame on Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:05 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
Yet another separate thing is that I feel like lately I've heard and read more than I usually do of the claim that ${religion} causes tangible change in a person's life, allows a Presence to be felt, or something along those lines. And I kind of wish that instead of shrugging and pondering how other things, such as having a community around you that shares many of your own ideas and weekly greets you and smiles and sings and exchanges handshakes or hugs, would probably produce the same effect regardless of any Higher Power's existence, I could manage to just go once a week to that kind of place anyway and...pretend? I don't believe. I don't predict that I ever can. I just also can't argue with results.

There are tons of nominal Christians who pretty much stopped believing long ago, but keep going for the community (and/or because it's just What You Do).

I know there are also denominations that are pretty accepting of anybody, regardless of faith or lack thereof (Unitarian Universalist is the one that springs to mind immediately). Hell, in Atlanta there was an agnostic church, that was basically a place for anybody interested in joining a community of possibly-spiritual (or possibly-not) people to meet once a week. (I never ended up going to it, mostly because getting up early on a weekend is against my creed. Wink ) If I recall correctly, you're in the Pacific Northwest and fairly urban, right? I should think there'd be a UU church or association around, at least, if you were interested.

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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by Guest on Fri Mar 06, 2015 10:05 am

I'm going to second Autumnflame's suggestion to check out UU churches, if you're looking for the community. One of my friends is attending seminary right now, and there's a UU student in one of his classes -- moving towards becoming ordained -- who is open about the fact that she doesn't believe in god. Believing in god is not a prerequisite.

In fact, I'd say that not believing in god isn't necessarily a prerequisite to attending my church, either, although openness to belief probably is. There are a lot of days when I don't know how much I believe.

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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by kleenestar on Fri Mar 06, 2015 7:18 pm

Judaism is very much about "practice first, believe second ... if at all." If you are okay looking outside the Christian tradition, you could stop by your local synagogue and see what you think. No need to pretend about God, though you'd probably be asked whether you're planning to convert and when you can come over for lunch. Smile
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by kath on Sat Mar 07, 2015 1:31 am

I hope this doesn't read as too harsh, but uh ....

Rationalizing why life is meaningless is pretty airtight, which is actually one of the things I meant but citing "successful" and "important" types of people who have them. Whether the people who had those well-known existential crises were amazingly selfless, or not (I'm not sure how Selfless and Noble some of the artists who recorded their existential crises for posterity were, and I don't have much of a stake in making a judgement call on it), they still had those dark nights. Whether or not they made a difference in the world. And those are just the people who made notes on the crises that are widely known. Like, actually, tons of people have these crises, and it doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with how their lives might "objectively compare" to yours, to whatever extent objectively comparing lives is a thing (not much, IMO). So that doesn't mean don't have one, or that yours should feel better, or get over it. It just means you aren't actually alone, either in the crises, or in experiencing an uncanny ability to rationalize your life into meaninglessness and futility (and people are great at that in ways that fly in the face of the apparent objective reality, hindsight being 20/20 and all).

To be more useful, if you like music, community music groups might also be a way to get that community and making music in a group is very ... uplifting? Somewhat religious-ish? Like it feels unreasonably good, and quite transcendent. And it's something that could be easily worked into a Volunteering to Help the World in a Concrete Way type setup easily, if doing that would be rewarding. You don't need to be good at music, or necessarily able to carry a tune, to have a good time singing or jamming in a circle with a bunch of other people.

(I was in band all through junior high, and in high school I quit because I was doing a lot of stuff and I wanted to decrease my stress. Then I realized that not being in band actually made me quite depressed, so I had to go to the band teacher and beg her to let me have the privilege of getting to school for 7:15am 3 days a week. And it totally was a privilege, and I was unreasonable hyper and flying high by the time I actually started class ... )
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Re: [Rant, disc] Futility, etc.

Post by nearly_takuan on Sat Mar 07, 2015 2:42 am

I don't see what's harsh about that; I know I'm not anything special. Razz

I mean, I was (am) feeling pretty strongly discouraged and baffled by the challenges ahead of me, especially the ones I've made no progress on or worse (hence rant) but I am aware that this is a thing that happens to a lot of people a lot of the time. We cope.

I wasn't even initially intending for this to be a big fussy thread. Razz But I could kinda see how the OP meandered through addressing stuff that people might want to comment on or clarify, 'cause it wasn't all entirely unrelated to stuff other DNL users have said. So, new thread.

Thanks for the recommendations on religious institutions. Judaism sounds more appealing every time you bring it up, kleenestar! I'm slowly getting over the feeling that it's weird and "wrong" to join a religious institution solely for the schedule/structure/community; with luck I'll be up for it in a couple of weeks.
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