Runs In Transit

Category: Philosophy

The Philosophy of Drake

You can never have it all. But you can always keep trying. And you can always be honest. And somehow that truth will prevail.

Drake is the voice of millennials. Ever since his first EP we were told it’s okay to open up. It’s okay to be misunderstood. And being in tune with those emotions garners the most respect.

Vulnerability is power. Braggadocio is smoke and mirrors. The Lil Wayne of ’07 lives a prehistoric existence.

Swing the pendulum and aggression is tripe. Cunning, manipulation, and coyness win. Drake is Machiavellian; in the modern age, this is crucial. The technology that links us creates confusion, and wars are now fought using strings and levers. Violence is petty. Turning your followers against you is the modern death.

Drake is a teacher we must interpret. What can we learn from him?

Happiness might be impossible. And that’s okay, but chasing it is a worthwhile purpose.

It’s okay to reflect on the past to the extent that it nurtures the present. Cutting ties can be necessary and mending them is not unacceptable.

Patience is a virtue. Good things come to those who work hard and do not give up. Pacing yourself is necessary.

Hedonism does not mean losing yourself. Awareness in all moments is critical to growth. Stopping to understand is an important part of the process.

Our generation can’t rely on the ethics of our parents. We need guidance from figures that normalize our disconnect with reality. Drake has struck this chord. He’s influenced listeners who will own a world more complicated than the one before it. Like it or not he’s here to stay, and like it or not, his influence transcends music. It’s too late to reject Drake.

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Broken Carousel

Life is a marathon and it doesn’t last forever. We need ethics to maximize its potential.

But what if we didn’t adopt the ethics of our parents? Then we need to create our own.

But there’s so many distractions. We have to experiment and inevitably fail. This is one curse of millennials.

Without religion we need something to keep us grounded, a core of beliefs. Philosophy offers that, even craft.

But neither is enough. Family is what we’re missing. We need to create one. Our parents won’t live forever, and we need help throughout life. We have to find, choose, and earn the support of others.

Easier said than done. Imagery surrounds us, full of antipathy and hedonism when we could use more empathy. Lack of vulnerability and communication seems to increase.

Being connected doesn’t always bring us closer. Real relationships take time and investment. They require bridging understanding and sometimes compromise.

You can’t win em all. But you can pick your battles and do them right. There’s room for error in social pursuits. Ask questions. Use the Socratic method. Tackle your own presumptions and biases.

There’s no quick answers to difficult questions. We can only keep trying and be open minded. Life goes on and there’s a stationary spot for each of us.Polomljeni-ringispil-na-pla++i-A-broken-carousel-on-the-beach.jpg

The Genius of Camus

Have you ever felt listless, like a shell of a person, floating through Earth like a ghost?

What about hopeless, like you’re grinding every day without a hint of progress or joy?

Then you might be Camus.

We are all Camus. Because we are all Mersault and we are all Sisyphus.

Why? Because life is meaningless, life is empty, and life can suck.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, these things are true. We are never given an objective purpose in life. Events are absurd. Times can be rough. Days can be downers.

But in the same token, life is funny. Life is happy. Life is not attached to a tangible thing. So why not laugh at life in the face?

Say your boss gives you a difficult assignment. You worry and try your best to do well. It’s frustrating and endless. But zoom out for a second. You are a human being sitting alone in an office room with no sunlight, typing buttons on a piece of plastic while the glow of artificial light shines on your face. Yes, doing well is important in your narrow perspective, but only because you established that meaning. By the same logic, the idea of you slaving away for something so inconsequential is ludicrous. Take it easy. Don’t hang yourself with the same rope that gives you life.

Camus knew these things very clearly. He lived life to the fullest with the knowledge that it didn’t matter. He died in a car accident when he was planning on taking the train, and in a sense, that was his life’s thesis. Throw away your plans every once in a while. Choose love, fun, and leisure when it’s freely available.

Camus enjoyed every moment of life but also thought deeply about its meaning.

“There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy.”

That’s a lot of burden to carry. But Camus detached himself from that thought, and was more human than most of us can aspire to be. He had love affairs, played football, danced in clubs, went to the beach, drank too much, and had a full and robust live in 46 years.

We can be more like Camus, because we are likely not Camus enough.albert-camus.jpg

Perfction

Is perfection real? Is it attainable? How do you define perfection? Is it even desirable?

These questions matter, because not knowing means living in an illusion. Every goal we chase can lead us down a rabbit hole of delusion.

My thesis is that perfection should be erased from human minds. Ignorance is bliss, and especially in this case.

I used to be a perfectionist in a strict sense. My goals were lofty, and not meeting them meant failure and anguish.

Today, I aim high, but only for the best I can do. To improve is a beautiful thing. amd an end result is not always necessary.

Relativity is a bane if not understood. You will never be the best at anything. There is always someone better, richer, prettier. We live in prosperity, but we all want more. The evil in wanting a perfect life can be greater than the joy in having a good life.

There’s shame in not remembering the things that make life beautiful. Be grateful for loved ones. Be thankful for generosity. Be in awe of nature’s inspiration. Failure to do these things, well, means failure. Abiding by them means success.

By many accounts I’ve failed. But by many I’ve also succeeded. Life isn’t linear, and many things are outside of our control. Free will might not truly exist. Don’t let that kill you inside. Sometimes it’s best to drift down the river and enjoy the scenery.

By all means, push yourself daily. Humans are capable of great things, and it’s thrilling to win. But there’s a thin line between motivation that extends outward and motivation that destroys inward.

Can you find the balance? I know I have trouble, so I forgot about perfection. 3094942649_448df35908.jpg

Oatmeal and Power

Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, and Hank Paulson regularly eat oatmeal for breakfast. They are perhaps some of the most power people in the world and could afford to eat anything, but are content with one of the cheapest food items in existence.

Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg, Obama, and Bill Gates famously wear the same clothes every day. It is always a simple, non-flashy outfit, including gray t-shirts, sweaters, and blue suits. Is there a correlation between simplicity and power? It might seem so, but this correlation is probably spurious. The kind of people who live simple lives might just be those who are more likely obtain the most powerful positions. Why is this?

If you know what you want in life, your perception of the quality of things doesn’t change with wealth. Oatmeal is nutritious, cheap, and easy to make. If you don’t care of the opinion of others, you will eat it at any level of wealth. Those who are easily influenced by social perceptions are the ones who flaunt their wealth with luxurious foods and material possessions.

The lifestyles of the powerful represent a conscious choice to focus on important things. Choosing to wear a t-shirt every day isn’t a fashion statement, it’s a choice to avoid choosing. When small decisions are mapped out for you, that is a small but significant portion of cognition you can use on big ideas. Obama doesn’t have the luxury of using his mental energy on clothes.

What can we take from the peculiar habits of the powerful? First, we can disconnect the idea that the rich and powerful have nicer things. Those who do are the most visible, but conservatism with money is equally present at high incomes. Secondly, we can try to be the type of person who would make similar decisions. We may never be in a position to create technological trends or save the world from crises, but we make decisions that allow us to focus on what matters in our own lives. We can eliminate clutter, organize our surroundings, and live a simple life in order to focus on friends, family, and our passions.

Eating oatmeal and wearing gray shirts won’t make you powerful (I wish it would). However, modeling the kind of person who does is a good way to gain some clarity.Steel-Cut-Oatmeal.jpg

Responding to the Frailty of Man

Hobbes was kind of right – we live pretty sad lives. If we’re lucky, we may live until we’re 80. But 1/3 of that will be spent sleeping and we’ll have to constantly feed and take care of ourselves, lest we die. Oh, and we have to avoid diseases, cars, guns, and things like brain aneurysms. And how many of those years will be quality years, where our brain can function enough to truly enjoy life?

We are constantly reminded of the frailty of man, and it’s a wonder humans have accomplished so much despite our limitations. Much of progress was done by a select few, the Einsteins and Teslas, but the majority of us just carry on the status quo. The same is true on the opposite end of the spectrum, where the world has almost been wiped out thanks to the Maos and Adolfs. Of course, all these pivotal people had glaring weaknesses.

Take your parents. When you were a kid you probably thought they knew and could do everything. As you grew older, you realized more and more how normal they are. No longer invincible, they even seem incapable and incompetent by the time you’re an adult. Naturally, we are destined to repeat the process until our miserable demise. Out of anything but pessimism, the reality is that of the few decades our minds are capable and our bodies productive, we spend them working 40-60 hour weeks upon reaching retirement where both slowly decay. It’s hard to find positivity in the roles we fill.

What can we do about the lucklessness of the human condition? Perhaps the only way we know how – by creating meaning. With the odds against us and facing constant obstacles, humans always find a way to prevail. In the modern world we must do the same, albeit in a different way. Our lives may be brutish, short, and possibly nasty, but they needn’t be unfun or meaningless. Finding joy in the present and giving life purpose through whatever cause, maybe helping people, is dignified and always will be. And to reach that point we need to continue searching for our individualistic meaning, through art, philosophy, and the people around us. In a way we can never overcome the facts of life, but we can always ascribe something greater to our existence, and that is a great motivator.

A Step Towards Curing Loneliness

“She’s so smart. When I sit next to her, I can just see her think.” My roommate just said this describing a girl in his class. It’s poignant, and although you can’t see what anyone thinks in a literal sense, the notion is analogous to an intense human curiosity for others.

It reminded me of the case of human existentialism. We can never fully understand what anyone else is thinking. Hence, we are always alone. But to desire to understand is a beautiful thing. Not only is it so rare to truly understand someones thoughts, those short moments where true understanding occurs are where human connections are formed.

In fact, these moments are so rare that the connections they create are stronger than any material thing. My roommate was entranced by his mere impression of his classmate’s thoughts. Her looks, clothes, and voice did not matter. In life, we will all age and die in a Hobbesian manner, but our ideas always grow. They may eventually die, but they also have the hope of being carried on. To love someone’s mind is lasting and true and does not betray a sense of passion.

We are all alone and we all have felt loneliness. Dealing with it can feel futile. Do we fix it by walking into a bar and talking to strangers; do we bury ourselves in a book and feel a sense of empathy? Maybe, but neither ever feels complete and is at best a temporary band-aid.

I have a friend who I have looked up to since I was 10. He has been my role model but I have never been able to figure out why. At his wedding people held him in great appraisal. He is not perfect, but he inspires others because of the positive energy he instills. Today, I know why this is the case: he is intensely curious about others and genuinely so. He may come off as facetious as he asks hundreds of questions, but he earnestly wants to know about you and understand your perspective. This is a necessary condition to cure loneliness, and especially for the introverted, because it is the only way to create opportunities to truly connect. To practice it is difficult, but to aim for it is noble and, I believe, deeply rewarding. May we all take steps towards bridging loneliness.ffrdeh8eqvwwams3ezaw.jpg

What Do You Want to be Remembered For?

This question is hard to answer because quite frankly, I don’t think I’ll be remembered, not after I die and for the most part, not during my life. An individual is insignificant in both in the world and the universe. Life is short and destitute, and having the contents of your life to be important enough to be remotely remembered by others is no small feat. What do you know about your great-grandfathers? Their lives will be erased when your grandparents die. Did you know 1 in 10,000 people have a Wikipedia page? Look up a random one. Chances are you’ve never heard of them. Even if you were famous, say Justin Bieber, you’re going to be forgotten. It’s just a matter of time.

Now what I want to be remembered for, that’s a different story. First off, I would like to be remembered. I’d like to think I could live a life that had a meaningful impact on at least one other person. If I passed away tomorrow, I’d hope I had a positive impact on them. I’d hope my life would have contributed more to humanity than it detracted. I’d hope I helped people more than I received. I’d hope I made someone’s life easier, more comfortable, or inch closer towards a goal. I’d hope I taught someone something, gave them a new perspective, or planted an idea that improved their life. I’d hope I paid off all my debts, not just monetary like the thousands my parents spent raising me, but the emotional ones as well. I’d hope I could write off all my wrongs. I’d hope I could raise a child who was a better version of me, someone without my flaws and could learn from my mistakes.

I’d like to be remembered as someone who never asked for much, worked hard at what he did, and brought joy into the lives of people he cared about. Now whether I’m remembered for these reasons is up to me. I’m glad I wrote this because I know I have a long way to go, and now I’m reminded I have to work on it every day.

Living Life as a Stoic

As a child, I wanted to be an inventor, architect, or engineer. I am no closer to any.

Freud, Hitler, and Stalin accomplished goals that utilized their strengths despite of their weaknesses. As students in Vienna, they were in similar positions to mine, drinking coffee, reading books in coffeehouses, and looking for answers. Yet at some point, something changed, they became set on a path, and today we look at them as paragons of a specific ideal. How do intelligent people discover their life’s purpose and go about it with such confidence?

Well, maybe they never do, maybe they pretend, or maybe it’s luck. As a young adult, I hope it’s not too late or futile for me to do the same.

You see, there’s reason to be doubtful. Our lives are short. Even if we live to 80, many of those years won’t be spent living. Mental and physical ailments destroy our faculties and freedom. And if we do live long and healthily, it will likely be an extraordinarily lonely existence. How does one cope with this prospect and live a fulfilling life?

Maybe Hobbes was right – life is abject. We’re ill-reminded of this each time we succumb to hunger, thirst, and cold. We’re animals trying to survive, but yet, we’re also something more. Our minds give us tremendous capabilities and cognition. We may not know what to do with them, but to give up on life is preposterous. To make a better life and in the face of meaninglessness is a righteous cause, right?

I offer the advice of the stoics and Camus. You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of – you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

While this may seem contradictory, the idea is quite useful. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, very little do you have control over and you will die very soon. Accept this and give yourself up to the present. Suck up the marrow of whatever is thrown at you and love it. Acknowledge your life is determined but go after what you want with ferocity and conceive it lest it sits on the shelf. Allow yourself to change and improve yet realize that who you are is who you were meant to be. The meaning of life cannot be boiled down to words. All we can do is live in every moment knowing that life is absurd and insignificant, believe it is truly worth living, and live it deeply and wonderfully without distractions or regret. Life can be beautiful but only if we make it so.

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The Myth of Sysiphus

Confined to the underworld and faced with certain death, Sisyphus tries to escape and liberate himself from death. His plan fails and he is caught by the gods, who decide on his punishment. They decide that Sisyphus is to be condemned to the meaningless task of carrying a boulder up a mountain, only for the boulder to roll down the mountain when he reached the top, for the rest of eternity.

Philosopher Albert Camus once asked: when Sisyphus witnesses the boulder roll to the bottom of the mountain and marches down to start anew, what is he thinking? Surely it cannot be hope, because there is none. Yet it cannot be anger, because such emotion would be useless.

The truth is, we are Sisyphus. Our lives have no meaning and it is likely that they never will. Each day, we carry on begrudging activities like work or school. We, like Sisyphus, accept our fate and continue pushing. Yet there is one thing we can always do: give meaning to our actions.

When Sisyphus walks down the mountain, he is neither hopeful nor angry. He is content with his struggle and accepts that although his life is meaningless and even absurd, he will live it to the fullest.

Thus, Sisyphus is happy, and we can be as well.

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