Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Fortune Cookie Philosophy
Last night, my wife and I were out walking, and she asked me about finding the meaning of life. As someone who feels he has ran into two major satoris (the decision to be a teacher and the decision to advocate / educate for Parkinson's) and other divine intervention, it seems like I know how to get there, but the truth is that I just know it when it's happening. I know enough not to turn it down (like my friend's son did when he was released from jail and he was offered a ride home from a priest who offered him a job, an apartment, and life coaching - how do you miss that sign or reject that opportunity?). However, I don't always know how to pull it in when its asking me if I appreciate its personal favorite qualities. Then again, sometimes the things we regret never obtaining are bullets we dodged (i.e. the job I applied for where the boss said, "I'll never be satisfied with what you do. Do you still want to work here?" The right answer was no, but I said yes. The interview was horrible. Now, I'm thankful since A) I would have loathed him and B) the for profit school is out of business).
This made me think about my attitude toward life's hardship as an opportunity as opposed to a problem. That made me think about a graduation card I received almost 2 decades ago with this quote from Soren Kierkegaard, who is the bee's knees of existentialism for me (although Nietzsche has his one liners and Sarte has a couple good hits, I never thought much of Heidegger - then again, who thinks about these things other than some oddball like me or an egghead in a lecture hall? That said, The Simpsons had "Camus can do, but Sartre is smarter" and there was a Kierkegaard quote / joke in the first Wayne's World - see below).
Here, I stated how I believe that living a good life and a genuine life will lead to opportunities, but it has to be altruistic - not to get rewards. I'd like to think I have examples, but they may just be coincidences. Who knows? What can possibly go wrong with being a better person, spreading kindness, and not giving in to the negative? In the meantime, I'm also going to go on living a good life and offering Fortune Cookie Philosophy and Kierkegaard quotes.
If you contemplate life and the meaning thereof, then what makes you sure you can figure out who we are or how to find the meaning of life? Have you learned a strategy? Have you found a truth? Is it some grand win, a random series of aligned paths that will take us to where we were meant to go and make us who we are meant to become? If so, what's the difference between relying on playing the i-Ching (which Steve Jobs had nothing to do with) and the one-armed bandits at the casino?
Like tarot cards for the Tao te Ching sect, everything comes down to a chance.to determine the future with hexagrams and lines. Just like palm reading, the interpretation of the future is only a pattern away. Whether it's on turtle shells, hands, or the well-lighted path of the wisp's in Disney's Brave, it's there.
Just like with Monty Hall on Let's Make a Deal, we are left with a choice. Which door will it be ? 1, 2, or 3? Do we win the car, vacation, or booby prize?
Is the answer one of free will or determinism? Can we ever go back for the doors that we missed? Is there a trick to answering this question?
What do I do? Do I dare disturb the universe (T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Afred Prufrock" - goll dang, if that isn't one of the 5 best poems ever)?
With a kiss on the lips and the fingertips, we make our choice on the machine. What option and possibility are we led to? Does a number that looks bigger when it comes to multiple chances actually mean more than a lower number, whose one opportunity to come up big does? Is the possibility really infinite and left to mathematical randomness? Does chaos play a role in how we bring the machine of change to its knees or in how it empties our reserves and leaves us hopeless? Then again, is it all able to be based on a system to trick or manipulate the possibilities with confidence guiding the way?
Are our pre-game and in the midst of the contest routines able to determine our outcome based on what we do and don't do? Must we adjust our batting gloves every time we face a new pitch?
There are so many opportunities and so many advisers. Perhaps all we need to do is believe. Then again, maybe it's about knowing someone. However, it could all be done with regard to where the planets align. Nevertheless, I can't fail to acknowledge that many "true believers" feel there is no prosperity gospel, so just fall into line with Jonathan Edwards' plans for "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" or else. All things will be as they are meant to be in the next life. This fortune game we are attempting to play here on earth is rooted and evil, when we are meant to be about obedience or a life of damnation.
What outlook is best for you? Would you rather be to led to the Promised Land or seek it out, knowing only stories of the gold of the fabled lost city of El Dorado? After all, without evidence, it is only legend. Step forward in a leap of faith. Your fortune is waiting for you, or maybe not, Indy. What can you do except give in to the baddies to save your daddy?
With that, there are jungle snakes and predators looking to devour you. It's one or the other, but unless you pay to play, you never had a chance for winning everything, let alone getting a bit of anything. You might be safe, but you'll never know what it was worth to feel the exhilaration of taking a chance to win it all.
Besides, if it's there, it's meant to be discovered. Perhaps it's waiting for you to make your move. Wouldn't you like to see the gold with your own eyes as you feel it in your hands?
Then again, maybe there's another choice, and perhaps it's as simple as a few typed words. If a horoscope or a fortune cookie could offer us a future, then should we take it? Should we thrust ourselves into its meaning and its possibility, or should we just pass it off as a quirky way to celebrate the end of an Asian dining experience?
Not to sound like Eminem, but "if you had one chance," would you pursue the words that you received in a message that came at the end of a choice that was divided out at the table after one that was divided out to the table after one that was divided out to the restaurant. Of course, someone wrote these random missives in the first place, and a company printed them out. Nevertheless, this arrangement of random words was meant for you or is it all just gibberish that means nothing? You'll never know unless you flow into it to find out for sure.
Do you have the courage to take a chance?
What do you have to lose?
Is it courage or false hope? Are my words the truth or lies? Am I here to send you to your doom and gloom? After all, to be tempted with prophecies of the future is evil, but what if this is part of a mission from God?
In the end, who knows what the truth is? There is no one-size answer, but there is the feeling of being compelled to jump or to halt. To go the wrong way is to ignore the fail safe, but to ignore the opportunity is to squander your chance.
Do what you will in accordance of what you know of the universe's great truth, but be aware that some of these are subtle calls. They're not always a priest in a car or moment of clarity in the Toiyabe Mountains. Then again, sometimes, they are.