life, how to live it.

(*NOTE purpose, reason, meaning – three words whose meaning i use quite interchangeably when it comes to talking about big, vague concepts like life. they will abbreviated here as p.r.m *)

i’m old enough to stop being naive about the world and choose my life. but first the question of what the p.r.m. of life is?

what does life really boil down to? why do we want to keep breathing to survive? what is the reason for human life? i don’t think there is any reason for life. maybe we’re just part of a larger system, part of a game. But there is really no fundamental reason for life, or for the universe in fact.
there is no reason for life, so (surviving) living becomes the reason. not only to live longer, but also to enhance the process of living. The quality of the human experience comes from exploring the full range of human emotions and going to the extremes of the universe with human knowledge. A profound statement, “the universe essentially only exists as you perceive it through what you know; therefore, if you change your perception of the universe with new knowledge, you have essentially changed the universe itself.”

And that is what life should be, one that will give us choices to explore being human.

what does it mean to live in this world?
the purpose of all living organisms is to survive, the same for humans. How do we survive? Surviving used to mean nutritious food, clean water, safe housing. But in modern society, survival also requires education, housing, healthcare. Because of technological advancement, all of that is now provided by society and we need to pay for those services. The higher the price, the better the quality of the service. That’s why our world has arranged itself economically and disproportionately rewards those who can create the most economic value. This is achieved by creating value through artificial products, explaining our evolution from primary to tertiary industries. This explains why stock traders are high valued because they make money off fictitious financial instruments, options, derivatives. The greatest wealth separator is capital gain, because it’s gain that you need to work for. Average workers end up spending all their earnings by the time they die. The only way to accumulate wealth is to invest into things that will appreciate: property, financial instruments such as stock, bonds. It’s how the world ending up being for good or for bad. This is to say that money itself is not bad because it is only a means to an end, survival; it’s bad only when it becomes the purpose. To explore being human in today’s world, that requires us to delay gratification to maximize choices in the future with money or with knowledge.

what should my life be?
i don’t want to resign to a life of creating noise. what do I mean by creating noise? It’s a frustration that many jobs I am aware of create economic value by navigating this artificial society: accountants, lawyers, bureaucrats. Sure, many of their services are integral for the functioning of our society but none of these are relatable to the human experience.

I want to give.

if you think about it, the p.r.m of science as they say is to describe systematically the natural world. But we ultimately want to apply it to our benefit which will allow the human species flourish and live longer. The same applies to knowledge; knowledge is what we exploit to allow ourselves to live longer. i think the meaningfulness of the work you’re doing ultimately derives from the size of the group whose survivability you’re trying to enhance. Scientists, doctors, aid workers, have careers of giving, don’t you think?

Research is an option I’ve never considered before. I want to help people in some capacity but research seems so far removed from the actual helping sometimes. The other problem is that giving consumes economic value instead of creating it. Ideologies don’t buy bread. It’s a fear because as I said before life is about having choices. And not having money to do certain things is a restriction.

If i end up living a life chasing ideologies, I apologize. I apologize to my unborn son and my unmet wife sine I will not be able to provide them a life as good as the one provided to me by my parents.

And who is to say just living a life is easy in today’s world ideologically or not? finding a job that makes enough money to support your family and your own life. Finding a job doing what you like and also feeds you. How many have that. Scientific discoveries is also exploited to create wealth and cause destruction in some cases, weapons. There is noise regardless of what you do, and you cannot be naive about that.

I grew up having a comfortable life with no dire need to make money to survive, and i guess that gave me the chance to be naively idealistic. it also comes from an internal idealistic compass that my elementary school principal said i had. But even if that were not the case, as a reasonably informed human of our era, how can you not do anything when you see the poor, the famished and the ones in pain?

It’s all about choice. I would like to have the choice to live many human experiences, feel all the human emotions, explore the universe with human knowledge and engage in a life of giving. I discuss the full philosophical, emotional ramifications of living now but all of us have done a fair share of living already. Living starts the moment we are born. Regardless of what our lives end up being, it’s still precious because it’s the only thing we have. Even kids know that


next station is …

I was surprised to realize that my feelings changed dramatically from the start to end of today’s daily hour-long commute to work while I was reading a news magazine. I’m just using it as a gateway to things that I’ve been thinking about recently. I guess it’s also time to write my book report on social intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

I first read the feature article, an interview.
Magazine interviews are always written in the same way. Interviewees start with the past, then go into lessons learnt from the past, then their success today (or else why would they have been interviewed), and finally their views of the future. When an interviewee talk about the past, he always admits to mistakes made. As a reader, it is easy to say and believe that you can do better than that because it is much easier for an outsider to objectively look at the situation. It’s a bit like playing basketball and looking at people play basketball. When you’re off the court, you always see who is wide open for a nice shot or space for a layup. But when you’re playing, your field of vision shrinks to just the almost hundred or so degrees of effective vision. Similarly, it’s hard to understand the mistake in the context of the situation where it was made. When we’re far way, of course our brains are good at abstracting and rationalizing things.

I guess this ties back to Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, on its analysis of how we make decisions based on our prediction of our future happiness, which is never accurate. We can never “know” our future state just by imagining about it. I think magazines, blogs, twitter or history in general represent human’s desire for foresight. We believe that just by getting more information we can learn all the lessons we need to know before we take a single step. But i’m getting more and more accustomed to the idea that we won’t. This lesson is not learnt from reading someone else’s work. It’s from observing myself, reading my blog posts from three years ago and realize that I still talk about the same things and that they always contradict each other.
I guess life is always a cycle between, yes, no, why am i arguing with myself?

The last article of the magazine was a column on new academic insights into Chang Kei Shek’s personality. This is the way I look at it. The whole magazine contained stories about policies that were implemented, news that happened, and how people always say should’ve would’ve could’ve. If even the most objective, most analytical study, most “hindsight is twenty twenty” of human behavior, History, realizes that it makes interpretation mistakes, how are we to say that we will never make those same mistakes everyone else has committed before?
More and more I’m getting accustomed to the idea of living a life on focusing on making meaningful relationships with people.Who cares about flying high and far?
Social Intelligence, the book, says human beings benefit from deep,meaningful relationships. and part of that comes from just the length of it, of knowing someone so long and tracking his journey through life so that you’re also living his life.
the three properties of any relationship, amorous or not, are attachment, caregiving, sex. the sex part is a bit hard to realize for most relationships but i mean attachment and caregiving can come be shown and done with anyone.
Part of that comes from social intelligence. social intelligence is not just about social etiquette. a bigger part of that is attuning to someone’s emotional frequency. I think that’s related to, what I was saying previously, about listening to very little, maybe an interview, but being able to imagine that person’s emotional situation. It’s also a skill, a talent that some people have and others don’t. They say women are better at that at women and I realize a personal deficiency in this area.I will try better.

But the good news is prefrontal cortex keeps on developing until your early twenties. I agree that most of me is formed, but I can still change a bit.