The single greatest lesson in athletics and sporting activities -- is learning to recover, or recovery ability. That enables one to deal with any situation, and in doing so, improving their subsequent ability.
When one no longer can, or even shows an interest in doing so anymore, than improvement is no longer possible -- and permanent, irreversible decline the only thing possible. This quality, more than any other, differentiates and distinguishes people into the thriving -- from the dying, the winners from the losers.
It doesn't have to be a competition -- but each individual's choice -- of whether to get better, or not to. That ability to improve to accommodate ever-greater challenges, is what we all hope to achieve -- implied or intentionally. If one runs a marathon, but never recovers from that effort and instead goes into irreversible injury and decline, or worse gets killed, that achievement is moot -- although admittedly, discovering one's ultimate limits. Obviously, that is the point of no return -- and the preference, is never to go past that point -- as long as one lives. Again, a moot point.
The only time one desires to "go there," is when there is no choice, and it is necessary for absolute survival. Those opportunities come frequently enough -- for one not to have to program them as a regular occurrence in their lives -- as the foolish think is necessary, often to "prove" themselves of continued viability. In that way, many bring about their own premature end -- rather than increasing and enhancing their survival chances. That also fairly describes what we call "aging," or decreasing fitness for continued survival -- let alone thriving in their environment, and getting better at it.
Recovery ability is what makes it possible -- and indicates the direction one wishes to continue -- and avoid the direction that diminishes those chances. And in whatever age, time and condition one is in, there is always that choice and action available to them. That is what life is. So to think otherwise, is already the beginning of the end -- when one claims they have little or no choice. They can change that.
That is the meaning and purpose of every life -- and if not, or it doesn't matter, then shortly one will be dead, and it will not matter. That is the division between the living and the dead -- to the extent that it matters, and one should be clear about that -- and then everything else arises from that. That is the basic assumption upon which one proceeds to do everything else.
The results of that thinking, is self-evident truth. One doesn't need to be convinced otherwise. Yet many seem to go to great lengths to persuade themselves and others, that what is obvious to everybody else, is not true. Frequently, that is to say that one is getting better, when one is obviously getting worse -- and then one is on the slippery slope where nothing is ever as it seems. That is Alice in Wonderland. But one doesn't have to go there -- or read the book -- to see those manifestations in everyday life and situations.
The trick is determining how accurately the perception matches and meshes with the reality -- which is to observe the true as the truth, and the false as the false, and to be able to tell that difference -- and not be dependent on someone else to tell them so, and correct them. That dependence, is always fatal.
The defining aspect of every life, is not what a person does for work, as much as what they do for recreation -- which as the word says, re-creates their lives. Not surprisingly then, exercise frequently is a leading example of this recreational life -- and other activities one engages in -- not because somebody else pays or rewards them to, but because it is how an individual rewards themselves.
For some, that would largely entail eating as their favorite pastime -- naturally resulting in their overweight or obese condition -- invariably and unmistakably the result of what they do -- as their favorite activity in life, just as the lean and fit exhibit their preoccupation. And that word means as it says, "before all else."
Many others would claim they engage in no recreation or recreational activities -- because they are entirely preoccupied with making money -- in everything they do, and so have no such alternative universes to retreat to -- as that word implies, "take a break from." Implied in this, is that they have no time for anything else -- no time to revive themselves, no time to recreate themselves, no space for reconsidering and rethinking everything they do in life -- including complaining about how out of control their lives have become -- rather than reflecting for a moment, that it doesn't have to be that way -- but they themselves make it so.
They could just as well do everything in their lives very differently -- and that feeling -- and control of their lives and outcomes, is what determines their quality of life, which is the summation of everything they do and are in their own life. It's even difficult, for some people to realize that they "own" their own lives -- so much do they feel that they are merely pawns to everything, and everybody else -- which is the life in despair.
People get that way -- if they don't do anything else -- to re-create a different scenario and story of their lives. For some, it is as easy as rewriting that script -- to a happy ending -- as their favorite recreational activity. Nobody might pay them for such a work of literature -- but the great benefit is not that others pay them for it, as much as that is what the life they reward themselves with -- by envisioning and detailing it.
In this way, the distinctions of fiction and non-fiction comes to an end -- and one lives wholly and newly in the integrated world of their own making. That is how reality comes into being -- rather than remaining the division and fragmentation most experience as their lives -- thinking that is the world for everybody else also. Only if they think it so -- and their teachers might also, as what they were taught to -- by the many fragmented minds that is the only way reality can be.
Yet there have always been a few who have described a wholly other vision of life -- without the divisions and conflicts they engender -- as souls of these other planes of existence, that most feel they can merely admire -- but not live -- because they are living the lives they do live, with neither the time nor inclination for any other.
Some seasons of the year enforce a greater degree of inactivity that may allow this greater introspection of a less harried life of peace and contentment -- and the vow to do better at attaining it in the coming year. Their resolve grows greater even as the days grow darker and shorter. They promise to themselves to do anything -- if only the days will get brighter and longer again.
They've made it through one more cycle of their lives in that way -- but only in the survival mode. The bigger picture -- is whether they go further and beyond that -- as the foundation for subsequent years, and not just repeating the same old cycles and rituals year after year with diminishing vigor and conviction. That is obviously the "greater lives" the prophets and madmen speak of. Surely, that is "not of this world." Or could it be?
That is the question of our lives.
Learning All the Wrong Things
It's not so much that people never learn -- as much as it is that they learn all the wrong things, and are convinced (persuaded) that it doesn't make any difference -- as long as one is learning. But usually, along with such "learning," is the resistance to learning the difference between the "right" thing, and the "wrong" thing -- for which the self-designated "teachers" insist, is never necessary because they'll do that for them -- rather than the most important thing to learn, and the whole point of learning.
Those who cannot make such distinctions (discriminations), are of course incapable of distinguishing right from wrong -- in virtually everything they do, and others have to do that for them -- often than not, forcefully and definitively. Those who are uncertain, or incapable of making those distinctions themselves, invariably become drawn into the chaos and confusion of the utterly lost.
So one of the great achievements in every life, is this ability to distinguish right from wrong -- and not fall into the despair that nothing matters, and the spoils go to the most ruthless in taking them. That is the most primitive understanding of things -- and proof of learning the wrong lessons. It may seem to work initially, but soon, everyone catches on to that manner of being and doing, and learns to avoid them, thus such people, are always on the prowl for fresh victims -- who are not yet "on" to them. Invariably, they are the easiest people to run into -- because they have to go through many to find the few who are worse than they do -- wreaking havoc and mischief in their wake.
That could range from domestic to international affairs and treaties. What is common in every case and matter, is the belief that anything one can get another to believe, is reality -- and not that reality is not just their agreement to see whatever they want to. Such like-minded people are capable of convincing themselves of anything -- until they run out of other people's money, patience and goodwill. That is the world of delusion and wishful-thinking -- over the sorry truth.
So when things go wrong, they have no way of making them right, or even knowing something is wrong in the first place. To them, that is just the way things work -- and not that it could ever be better. That is particularly true with age -- and what they think is "normal." There is simply nothing they can do to alter that fact -- and so they do nothing, despite the fact they have all the time in the world to do anything they really wanted to do. Instead, they dwell and ruminate over all the things they cannot do -- as the only thing they do anymore.
Naturally, the world for such people, collapses and grows smaller with each passing day -- because they are not expanding that world, as every meaningful life has to do. It doesn't matter what they did fifty years ago -- or even ten. It's the same advice we give to the young, yet think somehow, the old are immune from it. The whole trick to staying young, is not plastic surgery and other advanced procedures, but approaching each moment as though learning it for the first time, with no preconceived notions of the possible and impossible -- but just "finding out," never presuming to know.
The one who says, "I know," is invariably the person who has learned all the wrong things -- thinking it is everything there is to know.
The Future is being created as we actually live it. It's always been that way. That should be the lesson for those who make it into old age. They have to continue to improve each day -- and failing to do so, will make them get worse, deteriorate and finally die. That is also true for people at every age. One either gets better, or one will get worse -- and that should be the lesson instilled from the earliest days. That is the significance of education.
Learning is for the purpose of improving -- and not just accumulating facts for no greater purpose than having it and flaunting it -- as a few still think. That is a useless education. It has to have a meaning and purpose to be worthwhile -- and life sustaining, revitalizing and recreating. Many lose that meaning and purpose somewhere in their lives -- and are cast adrift from that march of improvement, and even think it their purpose to resist all further change and improvement -- even when it makes life immeasurably easier and better for them.
They just think the value and strength is in resistance -- and deliberately condition themselves in that manner -- never realizing that the whole point in conditioning, is to make life easier and better for themselves. That is the only point -- in everything they do. Yet for whatever reason, some people think the whole point in life and their individual calling, is to make their own lives as difficult and hard as possible, and to make those they have contact with, also as hard and difficult as possible -- as though there was some great advantage and virtue in doing so.
Obviously, such people have learned all the wrong lessons in life -- and getting back on the right track, largely requires this reorientation to the right meaning and purpose for what they do. Otherwise, everything they do, only results in their own self-destruction -- until ultimately, they are no longer viable and vital as human beings -- and eventually no longer recognizable as human beings. They are just life -- but without the meaning and purpose -- of one doing their best to continue to improve and evolve.
For what? -- many will ask, thinking life is arbitrary in this and every other respect. It is as it has always been -- to express and enjoy the greatest life one is capable of, which undoubtedly, will be different for everyone but everyone's lifelong unique challenge. When that stops, one is obviously in deterioration, decline and hopelessness -- and drifting away from the river of life into their own stagnant pools of existence.
That is not how life invariably is -- but the beginning of the end for many. Those are the markers of simply heading the wrong way -- and not the inevitable result of living a long life. The mistakes pile up and become overwhelming -- until one realizes at any time, that one can simply let it all go, and begin life anew the right way. That is the importance of dying to the old, and being reborn in the new -- that conveys everlasting life,to those living in that flow.
That is no great mystery in life. That is what everything in life shouts -- but a few have grown weary of listening, and so they do not hear the voices encouraging them along the way -- guiding them to the right. They are convinced that others are there to thwart them at every turn, and so their lives are consumed in constant and endless battles -- to the end. That end comes as a relief -- as the ending of struggle, pain, misery and suffering, and finally the eternal rest of peace.
But life doesn't have to be that way, or end that way -- to those paying attention, and taking better care of themselves -- rather than neglecting and abusing themselves as the major activity of their lives. That can be done in so many ways -- one regards as their personal vices -- the failure to take good care of themselves, and so others have to take increasing care of them. That is always the rearguard of human society.
What is hoped for, is to remain in the vanguard of the future developments and evolution of human society -- in living the better way, which is always being perfected, not by anyone else, but individually, as we live and manifest them. It is not merely reliving history, refighting the previous battles, repeating life as its always been lived before -- but doing what hasn't been done before. That is the unthinkable -- where humanity has not gone before. That is the promised land of ever-evolving life.
The Critical Path
People who think that everything is going wrong, are often surprised to realize that everything going wrong is the result of only one fatal error that makes everything else go wrong, and that correcting the one, would make all the others go right -- and not that one has to redo and reinvent the wheel in everything one does.
That is the surprising but hopeful news -- that one has to find the key to everything going right, and not the key to every door -- as though somehow, they are not connected and related to every other. That is the critical path -- that determines the success or failure of every other. It is the assumption that all the others are based upon -- that should have been examined critically and not presumed that one had perfect knowledge to proceed.
It is always the simplest and most basic assumption -- that one has gotten wrong -- that threatens the most elaborate of theories and explanations resulting in confusion and disaster, in even the simplest of activities and executions. Often, it is attention to the beginning and the end, while paying no attention to the process in between -- and whether that made a real difference. That is frequently the case when one thinks the mere passage of time is sufficient to make a difference -- while not inquiring whether any processing actually took place in that interim. The most familiar of this occurrence, is when a machine one has used reliably for quite some time, no longer works -- yet one is not aware of that passing.
They merely expect that after 30 minutes, the clothes will be washed, or the food cooked or chilled, and the clock will still tell the right time -- unfailingly. So in using any machine, or relying on another, one also has to maintain the possibility, that something could go wrong -- even if it hasn't before -- and provide for a backup and failsafe in such an event. The reason for multiple smoke detectors is so that they never all go out at the same time, or are disabled in the same manner -- to use their batteries in a less critical capacity, such as entertainment and recreation. That is a critical failure in judgment -- that leads to no further other.
Yet a few people do such things -- as ride a bicycle on a dark road, wearing dark clothes and no lighting -- and expecting somebody else to see them, and assure their safety. Such people are disasters waiting to happen -- but way before then, are the many signals along the way before the final rupture. They'll take care of it -- after it happens, and so it invariably does, and all their hopes and dreams that it never does, are shattered in that instance.
There is no failsafe provision against things going wrong. It is merely hoped that they never do. Time after time, such people are disappointed -- that there is just one critical factor missing that would have changed everything -- and they are just that one missing link from perfect understanding and execution, getting from here to there. That is the critical path -- that makes all the difference, while everything else, makes much less of a difference.
That is what they have to determine -- as the most important thing to do. Failing to make that discrimination, will keep them wandering in the wilderness for all their days. Many even pride themselves that they are incapable of making any discrimination -- as though that was a badge of distinguished accomplishment. That means they are totally dependent on others to tell them what to think -- because they have never been thought how to think -- for themselves.
They are merely rewarded for the correctness of their answers -- and knowing the right people to follow in this respect -- as though knowing that, was truth itself. So one asks, how do I know, what I think I do? Was it just a falsehood planted in my memory that is beyond my asking? That is the root of all one's difficulties and problems. That is the critical path one dare not trod.
But asking that one question, is the key to life -- and all its answers.
All of life has been a preparation for this moment
People who are sadly mistaken, think that nothing is related to any other. So it comes as quite a shock to them, to learn that they may have had a hand in the outcome they are presently experiencing. It might be as obvious as their poor health and condition. What they did -- or didn't do -- is the reason they are in the shape they're in, and not that they had no part in it.
It is safe to say, that those who are the happiest and most content, are those who think they are mostly responsible for their own fate and outcomes -- and therefore do something about it, rather than lamenting how unfair life has been to them, and given them nothing they deserve. In all likelihood, they have gotten what they deserved -- and if they don't like it, it is time to look into their own actions and their consequences, and see the error of their ways and understanding.
For this, they don't need to begin with a perfect understanding and mastery, as though such a thing were possible -- and easy. They simply have to get better at what they are doing -- just a little bit each day, and of course, they have to start -- and not think of more excuses not to. All the excuses in the world, are no substitute for the tiniest bit of action -- in making a difference. That is especially true when asking why most people age badly, while only a few age well. Those latter, are those who have bettered their understanding of life -- and what it takes to be successful at it.
Not just to be successful at all the trivial ways people may become distracted at -- but deeply engaged in their own lives, so that it makes a difference -- in everything they do. It might be even what they don't do anymore -- realizing it is bad for them, and leads to disastrous results. That would include competing with others, and even oneself -- incessantly, as though it were good and a wise thing to do. The inevitable result is an unnecessary and avoidable injury -- that leads to a premature and permanent impairment and disability -- no matter how many blows one thinks they can absorb. It doesn't make them better and more impervious to damage.
It obviously predisposes one to injury -- and with that, a loss of that exercise, articulation and expression -- as happens to so many thinking to retain the recklessness of their youth by indulging in it as long as they can -- until they can't. That is textbook denial -- rather than an understanding and acceptance of its consequences -- before it is too late.
The signs along the way are obvious -- and obviously trying to tell one something important -- but one has to be listening, or it falls on deaf ears. That's why it is so important to want to learn. If a person is not disposed in that way, no amount of teaching is going to make a difference. One will simply resist it all the more -- thinking that is the proper function of their role in life -- to resist the efforts of every other. Such a person can never benefit from the efforts of others; they reflexively try to undermine and undo it. That's what they've been conditioned to do all their lives.
And ultimately, the person they undermine most, is themselves -- because they cannot help themselves. That's the way they are -- and have no way of being otherwise. Such persons are beyond help. Shit happens, and there's nothing they -- or anybody else, can do about it! That's just the way the world is -- according to their understanding.
So thinking it does make a difference -- makes the biggest difference, which is understanding before any further effort is applied. Lacking this proper understanding, makes all further effort arbitrary, futile and counterproductive. Then once the understanding is valid, the effort naturally follows -- but never does before then.
So, many people's efforts seem to be in vain, and the belief that it can't make a difference, no matter what -- because they don't have this understanding leading to proper effort. And there, they do not inquire further -- but accept their dismal fates, as what must be -- and many will agree with them, and encourage them along the way. They say they wish it could be otherwise, but they do nothing to prevent it. Nothing will change, as long as people keep doing what they've always done before. That is the reason it happens.
Always Be Changing
The characteristic that most distinguishes those living badly -- is their resistance to changing -- particularly when everything in life is demanding that they do, and rather than flowing with that intelligence (information), they choose to deny it -- thinking in that manner, that they can get everything else in the world, to conform to their demands and expectations for it.
And so life beats them down -- relentlessly and unmercifully until they either relent or succumb. There just is no way of denying reality -- which is the sum total of intelligence, and not just one's own thinking to prevail over it. That is the critical failure of life -- inevitably resulting in death, but even before that, destruction and injury along the way -- until that final moment. But before that end becomes manifest, there is much that one can do to improve their chances of prolonging and enhancing their lives -- no matter what.
Life is always the choice between better or worse. One need not know all the answers at first. One simply can choose between better or worse -- in that particular moment, and that results in the next, and not that starting from zero, one has to choose the perfect solution from the many choices available -- while thinking that it doesn't matter, and that they are all the same, and will get them to the same place, despite all they do.
To their way of thinking, nothing makes a difference -- and so "shit just happens," and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Of course such a perspective and outlook, will ensure many disasters in that life -- thinking that nothing they can do, makes any difference in their lives -- instead of the more prudent realization, that everything they do, makes a difference. And because it does, they also have to allow and provide for a margin of error -- as well, not just from others, but also from oneself. In that way, they leave very little to chance and error -- and more often than not, realize their desired outcomes.
That is often the difference between winning and losing -- in mere games, which is the conditioning we think to obtain in our play and games. We are practicing and conditioning ourselves for that success -- of achieving that well-being and good fortune -- and moving beyond to the next level of challenge that ensures that response. Not to rise to the next challenge, is the beginning of the end.
And so how does one condition themselves for that responsiveness? That is too always be changing -- especially when in doubt as to the proper course. One has to retain that ability to change -- no matter what. Because even if one chooses poorly, one can choose and change again. Conversely, even if one chooses wisely but then never changes again -- life will eventually pass them by, and leave them behind -- stuck in their ways, that while appropriate and advantageous in another time, no longer serves that purpose.
The great shift from the last century to this, is from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance -- and how one deals with it. If one continues to consume as much as they can, that will be one's undoing -- in a world of plenty, when the advantage than goes to those who master restraint and discipline. They will not clutter every inch of their living space so that there is no room to enjoy it. That is the disease of the acquisitive and accumulative (possessive) personalities in times of scarcity -- that literally bury them when all manner of things are too abundant and accessible -- giving way to the excesses of the present in consumption for its own sake.
Sure, one can, but is it wise to do so? When is enough, enough? Even for the good things? Even medicine abused, can be too much of a good thing. Those were the excesses warned of even in the ancient times -- when assuredly, things were much scarcer -- even in the most prosperous civilizations. But then, usually all the abundance could be had by only one --for their exclusive enjoyment, and so there was great striving to be that One. Such a mentality now, is destructive and ruinous. There is plenty to go around -- if nobody hoards it.
Hoarding is wanting things just for the sake of having them -- and not using them wisely, if at all. In fact, that is a great part of the hoarder's joy -- that they never use it, or can enjoy doing so. Eventually they hoard so much stuff that they just get buried in it -- thinking they can take it all with them into the afterlife. And in that way, they sacrifice their present life -- not making the most of it, and the present time -- taking only what they truly need, and letting go of all the rest.
In that way, there is plenty to go around. But not if they think they need to have it all -- and be that way for all eternity.