The Best of Times
Every species knows that to experience the best in life, they have to be at their best -- at all times, and especially so as they grow older -- otherwise, they just are not going to be around.
That doesn't necessarily mean being the Alpha Male -- which is necessarily a high risk occupation of constant challenges and endless responsibilities. But even alpha males know there comes a time when it is right to step aside to a lower profile niche position there is less competition for.-- thereby retaining their usefulness to the greater society. That is usually exhibited by the ability and willingness to take care of others -- or just to take care of themselves so as not to be a liability to the group but an asset when sheer numbers require as many able bodies as available.
That doesn't mean just being a warm body is sufficient. Frequently, all that is required is just to show up -- at the right time and moment. That mere presence is often enough to turn the tide of an outcome. Of course that is life on the grander scale -- than the pettiness most have come to accept as their lives.
Thus the quest for a greater sense of participation in the lives of all others, has become an integral part of contemporary lives we know as "entertainment," and distractions from our actual lives. Many come to prefer those fantasies over the possibilities of actualizing their own lives to the greatest extent possible. They in fact become incapable of distinguishing the fiction from the reality, the virtual over the actual.
The actual is how we manifest our own lives -- and not how much we identify with some other fictional or ideal -- wishing it was true for us. Many have lost this ability to distinguish between what they know to be true, from how they actually live that truth -- which then becomes a greaat problem in society. What they do may be the opposite of what they think they are doing -- or hope to convince others is what they are doing.
When that difference is pointed out to them, they will get angry and demand that one believe as they are instructed to, and not what their own senses are telling them. In fact, they are frequently told not to believe their own senses -- in favor of what the self-proclaimed authorities would have us believe were handed down directly from the Most High personally, to convey to the masses.
Invariably, that message is to abandon one's own judgment and capacity to judge and discern such matters for themselves -- in favor of what the experts proclaim them to be. As a result, very few come to know themselves well -- because they believe what others tell them they are, rather than finding that out for themselves -- as the ultimate quest of every meaningful life, and as Socrates said, "the only life worth living."
That is one's own -- and so why not the best? That's really the only thing that makes sense -- making the best of one's own life -- no matter what one has to work with. Very few begin with absolutely nothing, and very few begin with absolutely everything, and so the first task, is finding out what exactly one has -- and beyond that, their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Thus every wise advice, has consisted of the instruction, "to know oneself" -- instead of presuming to know everyone else. That is their business and order of the day. That is in fact, how one distinguishes the wise from the unwise -- how much they know themselves, and not how much they want others to think of them.
The latter will always be miserable -- because what they know is useless to themselves, because they cannot prove it on themselves. They are powerless to act on their own problems -- and can only project them on to others to solve. They can solve all the imaginary problems of the world, but never any real ones -- particularly in their own lives.
Those who can, are living in the best of times -- doing the best they can, and that's all that matters.
Exercise as a Daily Function of Life
That is the key to remaining healthy all one's life. What else more important does one have to do? This is particularly true the older one gets -- and has more time to do it. There is simply nothing better and more important to do.
The problem is that self-proclaimed experts will still insist that you have to do it their way -- or presumably, not at all. But one is no longer in kindergarten or high school, and can exercise anyway they like -- and particularly, in the way they like. Nothing makes more sense. Still many will insist that one has to run a marathon or bench press their bodyweight to qualify as "proper" exercise, when in fact, any movements one wishes to do and become proficient at, is fully acceptable -- if one enjoys it enough and sees the benefit of that movement, to want to do it every day.
But make no mistake -- it has to be a movement, and not just thinking about doing so. That is where many people fall short in their thinking about exercise. It goes no farther than their brain -- and so no actual movement is discernible. They think they can just will their way to health -- rather than actually doing something about it, and actually move.
However, movement does not have to mean moving the entire body at once; it is even more effective and productive, to be able to focus movement around a singe joint -- particularly the furthest joint possible, which are known as the fine motor control -- of the head, hands and feet, which contain the critical organs of sense and cognition -- that makes all the difference.
The entire design, structure and intent of the human musculature, is to move these areas and faculties for most effective use. So it is not running, jumping, lifting, or any one thing; the usefulness is in being able to do all things -- as needed. As such, one can become skilled and efficient at those movements, with very little practice -- as little as a minute each movement, each day.
There's relatively little gain with more -- and many athletic events are actually over in a second -- but that second is focused around
one movement. That movement is not about more or less, but the quality and range -- which is really the objective of any practice. One wishes to become better, and not simply do more of a poor performance or nothing -- which the undiscriminating mind, can't tell the difference -- and is thus perpetually wondering why they don't obtain the same satisfactory results.
It never matters how much one does poorly and thoughtlessly; all that matters is what one does to the best of their ability -- and the only way to find that out, is by actually doing something. Just thinking one can, is not enough or sufficient, to obtain the best results.
Unfortunately in a world of mediated experiences and knowledge, many are convinced there is no difference. Many have even lost their ability to distinguish when they have done something, and only thought about doing it. But the results don't lie. Some become good at what they do -- because of what they actually do, while others become good at doing nothing, because that is what they actually do.
It's not necessary to throw the javelin or pole vault -- as much as it is to maintain one's functioning of the sensory and cognitive organs at the extremities of the human body -- throughout one's entire life, and not only until one reaches retirement age when many think they never want to do anything again. At that point in their life, it is more important than ever, to exercise daily, the faculties they wish to keep, maintain, and continue to improve.
But they can let go of all the extraneous and arbitrary requirements of doing it for anybody else -- and replace them with their own fundaments of intelligent living. That's what they have to get better at -- all the days of their lives. That is the measure and meaning of their lives. Without that, they implode as many do at this critical juncture of their lives. It doesn't just happen. It is a lifetime in the making.
That is what we are all called to account for -- for there is no roll call to have to answer to. That is what their whole lives has been a preparation for -- the truly independent life, that each creates for themselves. It's not just about the money, or other accomplishments or attainments, but about how it all comes together in a fully integrated life. Then everything makes sense -- and there is no thinking apart from the doing -- and one's doing, is one's being.
That is the wholeness of life -- and as healthy as one can be.
The Problem is Not the Answer
Many people's solution to a problem, is to create another problem instead -- rationalizing that it is the lesser of two evils, or at least a different problem -- as though that was the best of all worlds, rather than eliminating all problems as best they can foresee.
In this way, all the energy that should be freed by the preoccupation with the problem, is merely diverted to another, and so it seems, nothing ever changes -- as truly they have not. That is excellent job security -- for those who make a living off of those problems, that of course would be eliminated, by the elimination of the problem. And so they are vested in the perpetuation of those problems -- rather than the elimination of those underlying conditions -- all the while demanding, unlimited more money -- to "solve" a problem they have no intention of eliminating.
That ties up a lot of money -- as well as energy, and other resources -- and before one knows it, time and life are over, without making any progress from one generation to the next. Life frequently can go on for generations that way -- before there is a breakthrough, and the course of human history and evolution are transformed entirely. But surely that time will come again -- as it always has before. Nothing stays the same forever -- especially if it was ever alive. That is the quality of life -- that it is the process of change, and thus the possibility of improvement.
The greater life, is the measure of change -- but the meaningful question is, what changes? Is it simply running faster, jumping higher, or lifting more weights -- or would it more meaningfully be measured as the robustness and vitality of life in longevity -- as we've never witnessed before? That would be the great challenge of this age -- when increasingly more of the population ages with their well-known "problems" of aging. What if those problems were eliminated? How would human consciousness be transformed? -- without nearly half of life being consumed by the preoccupation with remaining robust and vital throughout whatever remaining years?
Those should be the thoughts of truly progressive people -- and not merely, how to achieve more of the same?
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.