Monday, June 4, 2012

a few lame nostrums

Here are some insights that, I've found, can actually make life easier. For me, anyway. Probably not for everyone.

  • Nobody ever promised you anything. You don't get what you want in life. Life isn't fair.
  • Seriously: spend however much time and effort it takes to convince yourself that you aren't going to get what you want. 
  • Failure is always an option.
  • You cannot achieve all that you believe. In fact you can likely achieve only a very small fraction of what you believe.
  • One more thing will not make your life perfect. I know, banality on top of banality. But: true.
  • When you have the job but need the apartment, sometimes you get it. When you have the apartment but need the car, sometimes you get the car. And then when you need the guy/girl sometimes you get that. And sometimes you get the better job. But then the apartment doesn't do it for you anymore. Again, I know, it's cliche. But: true.
  • Gadgets do less than 33% of what you expect them to do for your life. If you think your life is shitty, your life plus that iPad still leaves you with your shitty life.
  • Erasing the petty annoyances helps but the feeling doesn't last long.
  • Your dreams are important but reality is indifferent to them and so you must be willing to hold them at a remove, to look at them with a kind of caustic, patient, critical compassion. Learn to think of the life you want like historical fiction: find sympathetic distance.
  • You're not going to write that novel, sell that screenplay, win the lottery, beat the casino, or get discovered in a shopping mall, so it's best to figure out a plan that you can follow and live with.
  • OK, there's a chance you might do those things. But the odds are so long, and the perception of the chance can be so corrosive, that perhaps it's best to think as if you simply won't.
  • The rich are not like you.
  • Never avoid perceiving the obvious because it's a cliche. There really is such a thing as the system, and frequently it is out to get you. There really is such a thing as the man, and he really does try and keep you down. The other guy probably did get the job you wanted because he knew a guy or was somebody's cousin.
  • But you can endure, and you can enjoy it, if you let yourself. Fuck 'em.
  • Quitting is nothing to be ashamed of, when quitting is rational. The cruelest advice ever given is "never give up." Perseverance is not a guarantor of anything and many people who never quit slowly die, every day, from not quitting. True surrender is one of the most beautiful things in the world. Remember: they never give the mic to the people who never quit and had their lives ruined for it.
  • Few efforts involve more work for less payoff than the effort to not be pretentious. Belief in the self and the importance of art, ethics, aesthetics, ideology, and philosophy can save your life, or at least convince you to save your own life. Achieve not being pretentious and you're still just sitting in your room alone in the dark. It's got nothing to offer you.
  • Perhaps this is as good as it gets.
  • For those of us who have our most basic physical needs consistently met, self-injurious thinking tends to be so much harder on us than circumstance. 
  • So you've got to forgive yourself, a little bit more, every day.
  • Nobody ever promised you anything. You don't get what you want in life. Life isn't fair.
  • But it gets easier. 


jcapan said...

A few I've earned the hard way:

Like an ipad, living in California or Asia doesn't make your life better either--trust me. It's deeply annoying how your baggage accompanies you. You have no choice but to claim it.

A dream achieved is no longer a dream--once reality, you start searching for something else.

And a variation that is also often true:

"Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of."

CORMAC MCCARTHY, Cities of the Plain

Brendan said...

Anyone who thinks caring about art, ethics, aesthetics, ideology, and philosophy is "pretentious" is just wrong. Ignore 'em.

Frankel said...

One of these things is not like the others. 99% of the world population need to exert no effort to avoid appearing pretentious.

Paul Sherrard said...

WTF is up with iPads? I know so many people who complain of being broke but have fancy phones. A smart phone is a tremendous luxury, and a super-indulgent one---it is not in any way a necessity, and it's very odd to live in a world where this even needs to be pointed out.

Anonymous said...

The bit on pretentiousness nicely sums up something I only recently came to understand. I fought my own pretentiousness for a long time. I've been much happier in the last couple of years, as I've come to accept it as part of my identity. I have more interesting and more authentic conversations with people, and have made more close friendships in these couple of years than in the preceding 10.

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