Thursday, August 11, 2011

Random Thoughts and Decisions

I get a kick out of doing nothing, or at least giving others the perception of doing nothing, in front of those who do something, Take people who must go to work every morning. I hear them say occasionally, usually in a fit of frustration and sometimes in my presence, that "he does nothing!" I have to tell you that hearing that just makes me do more of nothing. The fact is that I'm not doing nothing. I'm thinking, and I don't call thinking doing nothing. I've noticed that after I started doing more of nothing, that thinking is pretty productive. For example, when I retired and devoted more time to thinking, I felt more productive than when I held a job and didn't think so much. I read more. I listen better, I hope. I observe better. I now believe, much too late in life I think, that if we all did a little more thinking and a little less doing that our decisions would be a thousand times better for us. To tell you the truth, I don't see much thinking out there.

I know a guy who recently got a new job that requires a lot of physical labor and is a little farther from home. He grunts and moans and huffs and puffs every morning, at least in my presence, as he prepares to leave for the day's work. I know why he grunts, moans and huffs and puffs. He wants me to know and to notice that he's going off to a day of hard work and he wants me to feel sorry for him. I feel just the opposite and I've said so, "Damn! If you feel that bad, quit!" I suppose he isn't at all pleased because I don't get the point of all of the huffing and puffing. C'est la vie.

When I think back to my youth when I worked on a farm, which was hard work, I don't think I behaved in that manner. At least I hope I didn't. I actually enjoyed farm labor, even cleaning out the hog house, that was probably one of the dirtiest jobs I've ever done. I am not a neat and organized worker. I had hog shit all over me each time I cleaned that hog house. I was so filthy that my sister wouldn't allow me in close proximity to the house until she hosed me off, usually in the barn lot. As I recall, she had an appropriate and very effective description of my condition without using a single curse word. I've often marveled at her ability to do that using so few words because I was never able to describe such a sight that I obviously displayed without using a curse word. But, to my knowledge I've never huffed and puffed to be noticed and I've had a lot of jobs that I didn't particularly like and that required a little more physical effort than I personally cared for.

I just don't see a lot of thinking now days, and I have proof. I just minutes ago posted a comment on Facebook about the total lack of thought in reaction to S&P's downgrade of US credit. At 5:00pm Friday, everything was relatively calm, at least in regards to the stock market even though we were probably hyperventilating over something, that I've now forgotten, in the news. But, at 5:01pm after the downgrade, everyone shit in their pants. And, no thought was produced by Monday morning, because everyone was still crapping all over themselves and the market went down 600+ points. What was the point of all of that? Well, there is other proof but it is on an individual basis rather than world-wide.

Some people are always in a personal crisis of one kind or another. I see it all of the time and some peoples' personal crises are publicly exposed on television for, oh I dunno, personal embarrassment? Why would a person appear on Dr. Phil for public embarrassment? Why would a person watch Dr. Phil to see another person's personal embarrassment exposed on national television? Is there some sadistic satisfaction in that? Why would a person subject themselves to be crucified by Bill O'Reilly on public television? Why would someone like Bill O'Reilly when he publicly crucifies someone on a national stage? And everyone knows Kim Kardashian's and Lindsay Lohan's personal problems. They apparently make money by having their personal problems publicly broadcast. That's astonishing. I don't believe that a lot of thought goes into liking things like that. It's just more jumping on the band wagon.

I see a lot of band wagon jumping, especially by Christians now days, and it seems the more radical the idea, the more it is acceptable. Christians apparently like being sheep, following. You hardly ever hear of a person standing up to a preacher and say, "Hey, that ain't right! Where'd you get that bunch of crap?" Take Governor Rick Perry's prayer thingy in Texas the other day. Did you know that the Christian group who put that on is the most radical in the country? They call themselves the "New Apostolic Reformation" and they proclaim that Texas is "the Prophet state anointed by God." Good God! They believe that the Sun Goddess and the Emperor of Japan had unholy sex and that's the reason Japan's economy is in the dumps! I didn't know that a "Sun Goddess" existed in modern times, let alone one that's putting out. I have to say that there is not one iota of thought that went into that conclusion! I can't even guess what hole that idea came from. Wow! And, Gov Perry is apparently hooked up with that group and running for President! Of the U. S. of A.! What planet is he on? or from?

I would say that St. Augustine and Descartes were right; life and living requires thought. We are not likely to learn the truth unless we think. Augustine was quite a guy. Did you know that in his youth he was quite a carouser and rebel rouser? He sewed his wild oats! But, he became a preeminent philosopher and a Catholic Saint. Ha! I think that says something about life. It certainly makes me feel better about my own youth. He said, in order to find the truth, "Don't go out. Go inside. There you will find the truth." Which is to say that you won't find the truth outside of yourself. So, if you've hooked up to some band wagon of certainty, regardless of what it is, anti-abortion, anti-gay, apocalypse or Jesus is coming soon or God anoints this or that, you're likely wrong. That's like outsourcing your soul. The fact is that belief is all inside, personal and a personal relationship and anyone outside of that cannot know about it and has no business sticking their nose in your personal relationship, whatever that relationship is.

Descartes said every man and woman has the ability to think for themselves and to come to conclusions of truth - universal truth. That may seem obvious to you, but when he said it, back in 1600, give or take, that was a novel idea. Some, like the Catholic Pope at the time, thought it was an outrageous idea. But, Descartes saying that eventually lead to the accepted idea that women were as smart as (and equal to) men. There's proof of that too. Even proof that women are smarter than men. I heard only yesterday that women generally do better in the stock market than men. Why is that? The theory is that an over abundance of testosterone gets us men in trouble more often than not and we trade stocks based on emotion more often than women. And then there has always been the idea that women are less likely to go to war than men. So, yeah, I'd say they're smarter.

Oh, before you get carried away, however, and think you will know everything just by thinking, both Augustine and Descartes suggested that we "read up" and "study up" on things. So, if you've stopped reading as soon as you graduated from Sunday school or high school, well then you don't have much to go on. Keep on reading and learning. Something never comes from nothing, and until you read up and gain better knowledge on any specific issue, you ain't got anything to think about - or to say for that matter. The other irony is, when comparing modern times with the time of Descartes, is that only four hundred years ago the world thought women couldn't think or decide for themselves, including the women themselves! And, four hundred years later, we are still making those kind of judgments about groups and genders! That deserves another exclamation point, or several!!!

I gave a lot... well, I don't know if it was a "lot," of thought to retiring - in order to do nothing. The questions back in December of 2007 were: 1) how long would I live, 2) how much money would I need in retirement. The other consideration was not a question: I haven't been overly kind to my body - it can't possibly last long. The answer came down to the decision on whether I wanted the extra $500 in retirement, that I would get by waiting until I was sixty-six, more than I wanted the few years I have left to do nothing. I chose to do nothing quicker, hoping to do it longer. I must have given it enough thought because each time I reflect on the decision, I'm happy with it.

Now, I'm faced with another decision, maybe the most important of my life: What do I want the end of my life to be? To tell the truth, I don't look forward to being disabled, invalid, crippled with old age or somebody else's responsibility or to suffer the indignity of someone changing my diaper. That seems to me to be a waste of time and the money my kids could use better than I can. I heard a discussion this morning on NPR radio with an author in England who is in the first stages of Alzheimer disease and, at some point in time in the future, he won't be able to make his own decisions. Hell, he won't even know his own name. He wants to travel to Sweden (or was it Switzerland) where he can have doctors assist in his death before he loses his mind but, at the same time, he wants to wait until he's no longer productive... whenever that is. That doesn't sound too bad to me. Oregon allows it.

It's all a matter of timing - and thought. I've thought about it and I've read about it and I've listened to witnesses and personal reasons. I think I have enough information to come to an honest decision; the truth. It takes thought. Or, I could do like I suggested to a friend recently. I could take a few nuts out with me, sort of go out in a blaze of glory. A few less nuts in the world, it seems, would be a good thing. One last sacrifice for God, country and mankind.

I'll think about it, even if some think I'm doing nothing. The truth is that I haven't been happier or more productive than these past few years of doing nothing... or whatever else I wanted to do.


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