Man’s life is as a point… ever flowing

The time of a man’s life is as a point; the substance of it ever flowing, the sense obscure; and the whole composition of the body tending to corruption. His soul is restless, fortune uncertain, and fame doubtful; to be brief, as a stream so are all things belonging to the body; as a dream, or as a smoke, so are all that belong unto the soul.

Marcus Aurelius

This is an interesting quote. I haven’t finished reading The Meditations or much about Aurelius’s life, so I don’t think I understand it fully, but it seems as though he’s saying that who we are physically and mentally changes from moment to moment and that we are all moving inexorably towards death.

I think it’s important to remember that people change over time and that the total time we have is fleeting. I’m not the same person I was 25 years ago and I won’t be the person I am today in 25 years, or even tomorrow. I do wonder if we should be struggling to make sure that every little thing we do is incredibly meaningful, though. I don’t know if that would make life more meaningful or just stressful. Sometimes it’s good to relax and enjoy frivolous things.

This art called life…

True understanding is to see the events of life in this way: ‘You are here for my benefit, though rumor paints you otherwise.’ And everything is turned to one’s advantage when he greets a situation like this: You are the very thing I was looking for. Truly whatever arises in life is the right material to bring about your growth and the growth of those around you. This, in a word, is art– and this art called ‘life’ is a practice suitable to both men and gods. Everything contains some special purpose and a hidden blessing; what then could be strange or arduous when all of life is here to greet you like an old and faithful friend.

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher

This is a really cool and healthy way of looking at life. As much as possible, I’d like to cultivate this attitude in myself.

Traveling in the Time of COVID-19

I was just thinking to myself that I’d like to go to Georgia to visit family. Especially some of my family members that are starting to get a bit older. I’d like to see them while I still have the chance. I’ve been meaning to go see them for a while now.

I looked up the cost of a bus ticket. $106 one-way. Then I checked the price of an airline ticket. $126 round-trip. Wow. What a deal! But then I remembered that I’d heard about needing a COVID-19 test to be able to travel. I wonder how much that costs?

And then I realized that I’ve probably been exposed to the virus and that my desire to see my relatives before it’s too late really isn’t in their best interests, health-wise.

Plus, there are quarantine requirements there and here if I remember correctly.

The ability of the average person to freely travel is really being locked down. How much of these precautions are legitimate? How much is government overreach? Why was there never a huge bump in numbers after the closely packed protests and riots? When do things go back to normal? Next year? Next month? It’s really amazing and fascinating how questionable reality has become in the last 4-5 years.

It’s a testament to the power of the media to shape our understanding of the world. And probably a testament to the dangers of building profitability for a “news” site around ad revenue rather than subscriptions. Things probably went truly wrong with Facebook and Twitter, though. It became too easy to boost misleading and untrue narratives into the national consciousness.

Anyway, I’ll have to put off my travel for a bit longer. Until I’m sure I’m not going to ride into my relative’s homes on a white horse.

Cabin in the Woods

I used to think that needing a cabin in the woods to do any serious writing was over-dramatic and a little elitist. I’m thinking of people who have a summer cottage or any separate dwelling that they can go to for weeks at a time to tune out the world and just focus on writing.

I still think it’s elitist. I mean, how many people can really afford a second place to live? Or in this case, a second residence to just have on call for when you want a little solitude? I imagine most people are lucky if they even have a separate room where they can lock the door and be alone for a while and that doesn’t really, fully separate you mentally from the day-to-day because you can always be interrupted.

I feel like a person needs some space to be creative. A place to truly relax and let their mind run wild, where there are no pets, family, routines, or chores insistently tugging at the edges of one’s consciousness.

My wife was pretty good about giving me space when she saw I was trying to complete writing assignments, but I sometimes wonder how I managed to get through college with such good grades on the papers I turned in.

The next time we move, I’d like to try to find a place with an extra room. Or, if it’s outside of New York City, a place with a garage or shed that I can convert into a study. That way, when I have time, it’s easier to focus.

I’m ready for another 4 years of more of the same

After 5 years of constant exposure, I think I’ve developed a tolerance for the hyper-sensationalized BS that passes for news now. Even with everything that’s going on this year, it doesn’t seem as bad as 2016 and I started wondering why. This year, we’ve had a global pandemic, an economic crash, and riots, but in a way it just feels like normal. And I wonder if it’s because I’ve just stopped trusting the news and I’ve stopped taking things at face value?

In the run-up to the election in 2016, the media crafted a narrative out of whole cloth and sold the idea that Trump was a walking catastrophe that would fundamentally alter the nation. When he won despite these dire and apocalyptic predictions, it was shocking because it was so contrary to the reality that had been constructed by the media and social elites. It really felt like something meaningful had happened and like something terrible was going to befall us all.

Four years later, the US really hasn’t altered course in any dramatic way. In fact, I imagine that Trump is more establishment than even the establishment could have predicted. He went pro-Israel in a decisive way by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. He’s stayed strong on stopping illegal immigration at the southern US border. He has been pro-military, but has also done troop draw-downs when it made sense. He put real effort into solving the North Korea problem. Everything we would expect from a US administration.

I personally don’t give AF that he’s in tight with Putin. To me, it makes sense to let go of the Cold War McCarthyism and shore up our relationship with Russia, especially considering China’s rise as a global superpower. It would be great if Russia didn’t interfere with our elections, but I see that more as a failing of Obama’s administration in terms of not putting measures in place to hold companies like Facebook and Twitter accountable for the ads they run.

I also don’t see Trump as completely responsible for the number of COVID-19 deaths. The biggest reason we’re seeing this many deaths is because Obama and the Democrats (when they had a majority in both houses of Congress) failed to pass real universal healthcare. Additionally, the Federal government only has so much power over the States and when States do something stupid, like not enforcing social distancing, that’s on the States, not the President. If the President rolled in with Federal troops unasked on US soil, that would be a bigger problem. So, blame where blame is due. That being said, Trump isn’t exactly out there promoting the benefits of a hyuge, beautiful, universal healthcare system, either.

I’m not really a Trump fan. I’d like to see universal healthcare and a UBI (or some law that limits the income inequality between corporate and actual workers). I’m not in favor of open borders or the lawlessness that Democrats are allowing and promoting either though. Or in paying reparations for something that I had no part in. Even more so than in 2016, there are no good choices when it comes to voting in 2020, but somehow I think things will be worse if Biden and Harris win.

Things really aren’t as bad this year as the media and Twitter would have people believe. Events are being overly sensationalized in the run-up to an election to try to unseat the incumbent. The amount of drama being concocted to try to get Biden in the White House is sort of worrying. It makes me want to reconsider conspiracy theories surrounding Hillary. To be clear, I’m not downplaying the wrongness of shooting unarmed people. I’m just thinking about how these events are suddenly being played up now, in 2020, an election year.

Trump is a blabber mouth on Twitter, but in reality he’s doing more of the same in terms of US policy. What the Democrats want to do is extremely radical. I just can’t get on board with open borders or reparations. I don’t believe in holding someone accountable for someone else’s actions. I just can’t see myself voting for Biden. I almost don’t even care.

Maybe I’d feel more strongly if I was still swallowing the media narrative, but I’ve gotten so tired of wading through heavy political bias that I’ve really slowed down the amount of news I watch. I’d rather read a good book or watch a fun show than tune in to get my outrage forecast for the day. When I can find a good show that isn’t making overt US political statements, anyway.

Anyway, November will be here before I know it. Unlike 2016, when I was madly posting on social media about how terrible things were going to be, I’m staying distanced from here on in. It’s not worth the stress. I’m working. I’m exercising. I’m gaming. I’m getting satisfaction from learning Japanese and Spanish and how to set up a web server. Maybe I just don’t care as much because I’m comfortable? Maybe. But I’d like to think that it’s because I learned from 2016, when I worked myself up just to see 4 years of more of the same.