Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birthdays and wisdom

As I reach another revolution around the sun, it becomes even clearer that age has little to do with wisdom. Similar to how the number of pirates has to do with global warming, age is correlated but it is not the cause of wisdom. Wisdom is about learning from life experiences, wisdom is understanding, it is managing to put life experience into a context in which it makes sense. Wisdom is acquired by making mistakes, by trial and error. It is quite hard to achieve wisdom via someone else's eyes. We call it learning, and it cannot be done for you.

May you live in interesting times is a mixed blessing (not really Chinese, as I would not agree with: better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man in times of trouble), but interesting, challenging, troubling times are the best way to acquire wisdom. Assuming you manage to get out of them alive, not bitter, nor resentful. Use challenges to rise to the occasion, not to let the ocassion pile-up on top of you.

I have to say that this last year has been particularly enlightening. It has provided with a large number of opportunities for understanding and personal growth. I have taken nearly all of them, and a few of them took me by the horns. This post is a top-hits personal recollection of wisdom acquired in just 365 days past. At least those that I remember off the top of my head, and that part of acquired wisdom that I am willing to share.
  1. Normality is overrated. Normal is just another word for middling, mediocre, average. I have never been normal, I don't want to be normal. I just need to act normal-enough within a very abnormal, self-centered, and anti-social, society. If I was normal I would just be as crazy as the rest.
  2. Religions are the repository of wisdom for humanity. Regardless of how good or bad they are, regardless of their many bad deeds, the core of a religion will always contain a few pearls of wisdom that are worth preserving. Let's not throw away the baby with the flaming and stinky bath water. But the whole thing is not a baby to be preserved either.
  3. I am a Buddhist. I have always been a Buddhist, and probably so are you. I was one even before I knew that the term existed. My philosophy of life has always matched the precepts of Buddhism. It has taken me this long to realize there was a name for it. Aren't we all special?
  4. Conspiracy theories are nothing but deductive constructs that fit some available data. The set of minimalistic deductive constructs that fit most historical data is what we call history. It is rather easy to be caught in a conspiracy theory, even be the mastermind in one.
  5. Governments can only survive by compartmentalizing information. The press must have restricted access. Seeing sausages being made can bring any government down. Transparency without delay is overrated, it only serves to inflate conspiracy theories. Transparency must be left for historians. Parenting is family government. In some areas you will know more than your kids, in others your kids must know more than you, make sure that you share information that matters. Transparency is for family reunions, bring closure to history. Blame is the way that the brain has to stop thinking and feel good about itself. Regret is its evil twin.
  6. Regardless of how much effort you have put into a project, there comes a time that you must let it go. It has to acquire new blood, new ideas. It is the only way that progress can be made, no matter how progressive your own ideas are.
  7. Anger must be displayed in this maddening environment. Regardless of how you feel, without a display of anger you will not be taken seriously by the ravenously mad members of society. Anger is normal. You don't have to feel it, it is better if you don't feel it, just learn to display it when needed. Make sure it is worth it.
  8. Being Politically Correct is crazy. It assumes that you know what can be offensive to everyone around you and forces you to not communicate what is needed. I can't care less if the truth offends you, I should only care if your offense will get in my way. If you are easily offended, don't leave your house or touch the internet, it is simply not my problem. That said, being offended is how we set our own boundaries. Act offended, act angry, when your boundaries are blatantly crossed. Make sure you can explain exactly why. Being easily offended would take way too much work, check where you set your boundaries.
  9. Medical doctors believe they know a lot, when in reality they know very little. They are just like mechanics that do not know how the system works, do not have the schematics or repair manuals, do not know all of the functions of a part, and do not have spare parts. We would not trust our cars to a mechanic like that, but we have to trust our life to medical doctors every day. Be your own health advocate, be scientific about it. Leadership and respect come from the same place. An MD must earn your respect, always remember that.
  10. Aerobics, exercise, stretching, meditation, and mantras, are all part of healthy living. That which we do not use, do, or think, will get adapted away by our bodies and brains. Death unavoidably comes when there is nothing else left to adapt out. Trust your body, but keep in mind that pain is the body's way of whining. Teach your body to not be so easily offended.
  11. Life is about balance. Every good thing has a bad side, every bad thing has a good side. The silver-lining and lighting come together on the same cloud. Yin and yang. What we see is simply a matter of perspective. Always keep that in mind. Perspective is not reality, only reality is.
Knowledge is nothing but socially verified belief, these are my beliefs obtained from my experience, I call it knowledge but only you can determine that. For that you will need the experience of living it, or simply try to learn from somebody that has. At the core of knowledge lies reality being real and shared information among peers. No wonder the word Science is simply Latin for knowledge. Philosophers, you can stop that millennial fight now.

And many more things, but this list is extensive enough. Some might make their way into blog posts, some already have. It has been a very interesting year. © Edgar Brown, just because it was my year. I am glad I shared it with you ;^)
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