As I’m getting older, it’s becoming increasingly important for me to have a philosophy to guide my life, a “job description” for my time here on earth, so to speak.
At various points in my past, I’ve subscribed to many different ideas about what makes a good life. Now, I realize that I no longer believe any of them.
Here are a few of these ideas:
- Reproduce! — From Dawkins and Judaism
- Never be wrong and always look good — From medicine, and school bullies
- Have a chill, predictable, financially secure life — From my Grandpa
- Marry Jewish! — From 1,000 relatives, Birthright, the State of Israel, Rabbis
- Achieve immortality — From my ego
- Be popular! — Social media, school conditioning and my ego
- Seek power! — Trump, Putin and my ego
At this point in my development, I clearly see that my job here on earth is not the achievement of any specific objective, immortality project, or predefined story. Rather my job is the continual alignment and re-alignment with that which is the most true for me, following my medicine way, growing the tendril of my life in the most Dan-like direction.
Realizing the finitude of my life’s tendril, and my lack of ability to control the future after I die, is humbling. My major immortality project might crumble (I’ve seen this happen to folks). Or, while driving home from the dealership in a brand new car, I could get a call that I have incurable cancer (I’ve seen this happen too). Life all around me is showing me its true colors. Insecurity is a feature, not a bug, of being in human form.
Vlad Putin might be playing the empire game, and winning, for a time. But his empire will fall one day, as all such things do. Ozymandias all around!
My fundamental beliefs:
- I will die.
- I don’t know when.
- I can’t ultimately control the ripples my life will leave for the future.
- The best way I can be of service is to make the tendril of my life in the shape of the truest me.
These beliefs echo stoicism: worry about what I can control (the shape of my life), not what I can’t (what happens after I die, my lifespan).
This post was a major philosophical breakthrough for me. The above words summarize my “job” here on earth as I see it, my minimal viable philosophy, the root vow of my life.
All I can control is the shape of my remaining life’s tendril. This gives me hope and a feeling of empowerment.
A little mantra for myself: I vow to make today Dan-like to the max (DLTTM)!