Monday, January 15, 2007

Choice?

How much choice or free will do we actually have? How much of our behavior and personality is determined by genetics and how much by environment? It's the whole nurture versus nature question and it's been going on forever I know. I just find it so frustrating.

The older I get the more I feel like I'm becoming my mother. As much as I have attempted to make different choices with my life and be consciously aware of why I'm doing what I'm doing, my life seems to still be moving in the same direction as hers. Same health problems. Same fears. Same hopes. And I wonder how much control I really have over this? Is choice just another illusion?

When I look around at my friends, as different as they may appear from their parents, there are some very core similarities. Many they'd be loathe to admit. With the 80 or so years we have on this planet, it seems unlikely we can "rise above" very much. Most days it feels like I'm just moving through cycles, the same ones my parents went through, and probably the same ones their parents went through.

Perhaps during each lifetime of these cycles, we manage to inject a small amount of higher consciousness for the next generation, to keep evolution moving along. But it would seem that it is relatively small, too small to be significant within our limited time frame.

I can see why people don't want to believe in evolution. It's slow and you only get to see a very small part of the picture. We'll never see how our bit of life contributed to the eventual evolution of the species, or its demise. It's much easier to believe that some deity is coming back to the earth in our lifetime and is going to make everything better and that our free will actions will determine whether we get to live forever. Wishful thinking is so much more fun than fact-based reality.

I miss my illusions.

tall penguin

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi EA!

Long time no talk. I spoke with Josh at some length this evening, and he mentioned the turmoil in which you find yourself, which is clearly evident in what I've read in your blog.

You and I clearly suffer a similar curse, the curse of hyper-introspection (good luck finding that in the dictionary!). Primary symptoms of the disease are an inescapable ability to see ourselves as possessors of ego and belief, even as we fault our entire species for those areas in which ego and belief handicap us. We see ourselves for what we are, and what we are is inescapable.

A related symptom is perspective. We see our efforts to create meaning from chaos as simultaneously pointless, pedestrian, and belittling to intellect, and yet essential to personal well-being. We know how infinitesimal and unimportant we are, but we insist upon our right to a secure place in a world of glaring insanity, corruption, arrogance, and tragedy.

We are recipients of brains that survived natural selection by becoming masterful pattern-recognition devices. The downside (unique to our species) is a gift for creating and embracing fiction, an ability to discern patterns in our environment which are personally, spiritually, and transcendent in a finite world, despite the fact that these blatant illusions no longer bear on the issue of survival.

Worse yet, at some point in our evolution, the human mind became emotionally dependent upon these very illusions. Is it any wonder that people of faith live longer and heal better? The human organism has become reliant on lies for good health! Egos require stroking, minds balk at disorder and senselessness, hearts quail at truths that contradict cherished falsehood. For the ego, objective truth is gruel, and self-aggrandizing lies are fillet mignon.

Is it any wonder that the very truth that set you free is now making you sick? You're starving! You've abandoned the structure upon which your very concept of "self" dependended, and you did it for a higher purpose than survival itself. Genuine truth. How unfair is that?!

I could patronize you with compliments and encourage you with trite motivational aphorisms, but would it change a damn thing? You 're so far down the rabbit-hole that there are basically two choices: hide from your internal all-seeing eye (drugs, booze, suicide), or create a new personal paradigm that offers you a purposeful existence and still meets the criterion of truthfulness.

Although a healthy ego will always desire carefully crafted and guarded illusions, and you will forever be caught in a catch-22 as your intellect refuses to accept stupidity in exchange for easy happiness, I believe (haha... wouldn't I just?) there is still hope.

You gave up the illusions that were handed (and force-fed) to you in youth, but creating new purpose from scratch is much harder than having someone hand it to you, isn't it? You're in the thick of reconstructing your world-view, searching for a reason to thrive (let alone live!), and there's a terrible shortage of magic in the world. Oh, if only there was a paradise ahead to reward us for being good little sheep!

On the other hand, there's a terrible shortage of people like you in the world. Your blog is like a breath of fresh air, and clearly a step in the direction of clear purpose and self-fulfillment. Does it help that I see you as valuable, that I'd take a world full of people like you over these other apes?

I can't tell you how to channel whatever drives you to write into lasting contentment, or even if that's possible. I can tell you that the only purpose worth having will come from within (we're all out of silver platters... :) ).

For me, the odyssey will begin with a very long trip on foot across two continents. I'm going to shake myself free of false comforts or die trying, but you'd be amazed how happy I've been since I began planning the trip in earnest. If there's anything worth finding, it will be out there among my own thoughts, on the road, away from the noise, the lights, the illusions.

Find your trip, ea. My ego want you to thrive, and it always eventually gets what it wants.

Loni

Anthony said...

Is it just me, or can you read my mind?

I hope that Loni was able to overcome her (his?) obvious issues with aggression towards you that were apparent in that rather wordy post.