A friend passed away this week. He was one of those people who did everything right. Until we evolve into transhumans, mortality will continue. Human or transhuman, rich or poor, young or old, a life is defined by how it is lived, and how its time was spent.
Joe was a certifiable genius. Every concept I could imagine, he could carry into and through a conversation. It would be a conversation because he would speak and listen. He would use his ears and his mouth, plus his head and his heart. He was the sort of guy that I wish had run for political office: honest, friendly, intelligent, wise, and a hard worker. He was also fluent in Arabic. I suspect he also held a high security clearance because one day I got a call from the FBI, or someone like them, as they did a background check. They asked lots of questions that were from a script. I was busy so I offered a shortcut. I told them he was like Clark Kent: mild-mannered and industrious, and when called to action was capable of heroic efforts like Superman. I hiked with him a few times and found that he was in much better shape than me, but he wasn’t the sort to show off or angrily compete. His church, his company, his friends, his union thank him for what he did. Maybe I interrupted their interview process, but I enjoyed finally telling someone what I thought of the man. Thanks for listening as I tell the world through this blog. He died in a well-deserved retirement.
Recently, someone else passed away two miles from my house. An accident, a falling tree branch, claimed a nine-year old’s life. She didn’t do anything wrong either.
Sorry for the somber tone, but I’ve had some things happen in my life that weren’t averted, despite attempts to do everything right.
Doing everything right does not produce a guarantee that everything will work out right. A higher self may have a different point of view of what was right, but we mortals may never get to understand the higher ramifications. Lots of unemployed people have looked for jobs, but haven’t found them. This week marks my fifth month of job searching. I know well-qualified others who have been searching longer.
It’s easy to imagine that part of the resentment against the self-serving portion of the 1% is that they are seen as having done something wrong yet benefiting from it; either something exploitive or even illegal that works well for them but no one else. The Occupy Movement is fueled with such emotion.
It is impossible, except through chance or divine manifestation, to do everything right. Humans are perfectly imperfect. Trying to maintain and measure against perfection can be painful and impossibly elusive.
Ray Kurweil’s Digital Singularity could happen, and it could give us the opportunity to become immortal transhumans, but his extrapolations require that everything go right. Last May I wrote about the upside and downside possibilities in Safe Tech Relations. Ray makes his case in his book, The Singularity Is Near. Bill Joy rebuts some of the concepts in a Wired magazine article from 2000. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle.
My personal finances aren’t healthy, measured against my personal criteria. Yet, reviewing my actions I think I’ve done as right as I could, considering what I knew at the time. Most of my estimates, analyses, and guesses were good enough, except that they aren’t reflected in the company stock prices. This is what the downside of risk looks like. Joe exercised regularly, lived reasonably, contributed greatly, cared deeply, and yet an end comes.
Balancing life and money in these tough economic times can make it too easy to focus on the money. It is hard to live in this society without money, so when money is hard to come by, it can be harder to live. Except that I know that is wrong. I do have money worries, and they do enter my thoughts throughout the day, but I recently have become better at putting them aside and appreciating what is alive and apparent in this moment. Most money problems are future issues. Regrets are reflections on the past. As I drive around on errands to manage various art exhibits, I pay attention to the road, but also the world I am driving through. Every tree is a marvel, and yes, that can sound trite, but the revelation is deep and valuable.
I write this in reflection on the recent passages, and also as I reflect on the stress I accumulated yesterday. My art is my business, and my business is a source of hope for financial support, so it is easy to elevate its issues. Yesterday I found myself in a cross-fire: competing interests placed me and my art in the center of a conflict. My attempts to find a yes-yes amidst two camps of no’s resulted in a headache and a cancelled evening with friends. The issue resolved around one piece of art, that if it sold, would pay at most a bill or two. The total profit would be less than what some people spend on dinner. The emotional cost didn’t justify the potential economic value. Trying to do everything right, trying to please everyone, hurt.
I think today I’ll try something different. Instead of trying to do everything right, I think I’ll try to do enough of the right things – and make a few apologies about the rest.
PS Quick note in that regard, I’d intended to blog a bit about passionate writers and the folks who help them, including Sandra Rodman and her Right Brain Aerobics. Stay tuned. Maybe I’ll get to that, if I get everything just right.
I’d love to have a conversation with you about this subject. I know it well.
I’m so sorry to hear about your friend Tom. No matter how deeply we accept that death is part of life, the loss of a child, or a good friend is never easy. (Nor do I think it should be.) Thank you for sharing a bit about them.