(summary to save you a click and because links die: “grandson, there are two wolves inside each of us, one good one and one evil one, fighting forever.” “which one wins, grandpa?” “the one you feed.") - when I first heard this story I dunno 20 years ago it felt trite, like “yeah ok there is good and bad, whatever.” If it came up ~10 years ago, it’d feel impossible - like, you don’t get to feed one or the other wolf; life just happens, and I hope you get lucky that the good wolf gets fed.
To me the wolves feel not like good and evil (because what are “good” and “evil” anyway, etc etc etc) but like hope and hopelessness. It’s really easy to see the universe as a cold uncaring (cosmicismic?) place. If life is pretty pleasant for you, then fine; if not, well… you can try to have a “meaningful” life. But there’s no god, which presents a problem; if you’re really good at compartmentalizing, maybe you can live a happy life by convincing yourself that there is a god. (But what a heck of a compartmentalization! Wow! Staring into just infinite unimaginable darkness, just madness-inducing complexity and horror of the universe, and being like “that one’s going in The Vault.” Props, I guess, if you can do that!)
Sometimes, though, occasionally, maybe twice in recent memory, it felt like “hmm, maybe there’s something pretty decent underneath all this; maybe we’re not wired to be miserable after all.”
I was a little hung up on “but, hope or hopelessness, which of these is truuuuue???” until someone pointed out, eh, probably neither, probably it depends on which wolf you feed. Today, it feels like, sometimes, I have a chance to choose to feed a wolf. Sometimes!
Related: on playing life on the easiest difficulty level
(save you a click: “being a straight white male is like playing life on the easiest difficulty level.") I heartily believe this! Especially when you add in also “able-bodied, reasonably wealthy, mostly neurotypical, cisgender, not very old or very young, living in the rich parts of the US, married, just happened to be interested in computers which means I’ll always have a cushy office job, reasonable multigenerational wealth and privilege, etc etc.” The trick my mind pulls, though, is to then say “therefore, because I’m not curing cancer, and because I feel bad a lot, I’m kind of a shit.” Like, “some people are able to enjoy life even on very hard difficulty levels - I must be just terribly weak and selfish if I’m suffering on the easy levels!”
I know I’m tying my mind into knots and just making things worse; shooting a second arrow at myself, if you will. I know the answer to this is “nobody’s judging you based on your life’s difficulty level; it just doesn’t work like that.” But my mind goes: “why not?” Why doesn’t it work like that? How do I get to say “I’m a decent human, even if I’m grumpy or worried or sad a lot, on difficulty level 1?”
I don’t know, but I’m trying it out. Trying to feel out, “what if it’s ok that I’m on difficulty level 1 and haven’t yet cured cancer?” Sometimes it feels all right. Again, sometimes. Baby steps, here!
“Reasons to dislike reasons”
This essay pulls together so many things that I like. I’m falling back to “hmm, X feels right” a lot. (with a probably-overdeveloped sense of ways that “feeling right” can steer me wrong, don’t worry!) It feels like being able to trust your feelings is part of a happy life.
“When you browse instagram and find former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s passport number” - I wish everything about security were written this way.
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