Until Something Works
We remember Thomas Edison for the one time he succeeded -- and not the thousand times he failed -- but each failure was different until he succeeded, and not just failing the same way every time. The more different ways one fails, leads them eventually to success -- and not just failing the same way over and over again, ensuring their failure. That is the difference between success and failure -- and not that one never makes mistakes, or fails to try.
One learns from failure -- until something works. And then when something works, one merely repeats that -- and moves on to learn something else, something new and different. In this way, energy is released and refocused to something else, the next challenge that stands in the way of ever-improving life.
That is what evolution is about -- finding a way to win, and not merely resigning oneself that it doesn't make a difference, and nothing matters. Yet some people regard that as the height of intellectual sophistication -- that they can no longer discern the difference in anything -- the true from the false, up and down, left and right, the authentic from the inauthentic,
It all averages out they proudly proclaim. So why try harder -- when the least amount of effort will do, and better yet, why do anything at all, if the reward will be the same for all -- regardless of merit and effort. In fact, such people think that the more useless they become, that they have won the game of life -- because then everybody else will have to do everything for them, and they no longer have to do anything for themselves.
Naturally such a life is a self-fulfilling prophecy -- and they become more useless to themselves, more dependent on others, less free and independent -- which means doing for oneself, as much as possible. There is a certain joy in being able to do things for oneself -- as well as survive and thrive under many challenging conditions from which many others might perish.
It might be as simple as being able to cross the street by oneself -- with some assurance of safety -- rather than just stepping into traffic regardless of what others might be doing. The safest person in such an event, is one who is aware of what everybody else is doing -- and not merely preoccupied with what they want to do -- thinking that everybody else's responsibility is to look out for them.
The world, and life, does not work very well that way. Every individual has to be their own first line of defense -- being aware of what their unique vantage/perspective can provide to the larger community and culture. Early on in life, that is mostly provided by the larger to the individual -- but at some point it is hoped, the best individuals will greatly reward that investment into those formative years.
A few don't get there as fully "mature" people -- at any point in their lives, which should be a great concern for those responsible for that function and learning. But in order to do so, they have to be able to tell the difference -- and not despair that no matter what they do, nothing makes a difference. It won't as long as they keep doing the same thing -- hoping for a different result. Nothing works that way.
Instead, they have to do something different -- and notice the differences that result -- good or bad, because both are equally important in providing information that gets them closer to the results they want. The mistake is to persist only in believing in the outcome they want -- rather than the actual results, that they will deny as being valid.
Their beliefs (ideology) prevail over everything their actual experiences are telling them. The actual may even be derided as "anecdotal" -- or having no scientific basis because the properly designated "experts" have not discovered or thought of it first, and gotten funding for their studies.
Science is not about a hierarchy of experts but the access to the truth by anybody, and particularly those not indoctrinated by the current thinking which oversees this problem only getting worse without end. Obviously, that current thinking, is what doesn't work, and one should be free, to explore other solutions that might -- confident that there is nothing to lose by maintaining the status quo, and accepting the dismal prognosis as a certain fate. It's not surprising then, that many people find their own "cures."
Very often, it is one of a kind -- at the right time, place and circumstances -- when nothing less will do. And if it works, one stays with it -- until it doesn't, and then one has to discover again, what works. And failing that, not proclaiming proudly to all, that nothing works, and nothing can make a difference.
You Have to Change to Get Better
Getting better is change. That's why doing the same things over and over -- expecting a different result, is the very definition of insanity. Yet many live their lives hoping to disprove this age old observation -- thinking maybe, that they can be "first" at something for the first time in their lives. Well-meaning advisers may even encourage them to persist -- at what they are doing unsuccessfully -- thinking that if they persist at it long enough, they are bound to be successful -- misunderstanding that is the reason for their failures.
The most commonplace in most lives, is this experience of aging -- badly, and hopelessly, and thinking that things can never get better again, and there is nothing they can do about it -- so justifiably, they do nothing about it. They simply want to get better -- without changing, and of course, that is the definition of absurdity.
Yet that is the conversation one will have with everyone who does not get better -- because that is their core belief -- and life expectancy -- that predetermines their outcomes and everything they do, and experience in life. So it is not a matter of doing more or less -- of what they already do -- with unfavorable results, but adjusting the understanding before doing anything further.
It's not a bad idea to question everything one does -- and paring down to the essentials, and the known qualities in that life, and beginning all over again from that solid base. Over the course of time and one's life and dealings, one has often come to accept errors as the truth -- therefore leading them astray and off the fruitful path. Periodically, all that has to be weeded out -- retaining only the pearls of wisdom, and getting rid of the clutter that now overgrows and overwhelms their lives. That is invariably the lifestyle of the acquisitive and accumulative personalities who think that is the goal and objective in life -- and therefore think that the answer to everything, is simply "More" -- without end.
Eventually, they just run out of space to store everything, and nowhere is that more true than in the finite space of their memories -- even with the latest devices available. At that point, memory fails to serve them well -- because they need a better method of distinguishing the most essential from the superfluous -- and mistaking that, never get around to the essential and critical -- no matter how much they do.
That means asking all the right questions from the very beginning -- instead of assuming all continues to be valid. The fact that things aren't working out satisfactorily -- should tell one otherwise. They may have worked before, but they no longer work now -- which may be the first realization that what one thought worked before, may not have before either -- and the real reason for their previous success, was for another, greater reason -- that reveals itself in time and age.
That is particularly true, obviously, in the realm of conditioning and athletics -- where frequently champion athletes, succumb prematurely, a few short years after their previous success, and apparent invulnerability. The frequent cause of death, is heart attack and/or failure, exacerbated by overexertion, enlargement of the heart, and thus the weakening of it. Usually once such people are in recovery, they are advised not to participate in activities that overstrain the heart again -- but rather than do nothing, could devise movements that do not strain the heart at all excessively, but shifts the demand onto all the other muscles to enhance the circulatory effect, since that is a basic function of all the muscles as well.
That is how one directs prodigious development to a certain area -- in priority to every other. Understanding that, one should think long and hard at what one now wants that to be -- and not thoughtlessly, how they can simply burn more calories, as though that wastage was a good use of the human body, or any valuable resource, for that matter.
That means rethinking all one's activities and expenditures as frequently as one is inspired -- as well as when they are absolutely forced to -- when their continued existence depends on it. This forethought beforehand, allows a margin of reserve, when the margin for error is critical, and makes the difference between survival and extinction -- and before that, a neverending downward spiral of getting worse, and feeling there is nothing they can do about it themselves.
At that point, life is usually not considered viable -- which means meaningful. Even plants respond to light and nourishment, and move in that direction -- and continue to do so, until there comes a time it does not respond so. But before then, the gardener does everything they can, to see if they can change those conditions t get better. They don''t just hope for a change in the outcome without doing anything different.
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.