The sound of the car door closing should have woken them. In any case, he was too excited to care. Up the stairs he went. Listening first for what he hoped to never hear, he finally knocked on their door.
“What?” his mother asked.
“I’m home.” he replied opening the door.
“Good…” she acknowledged.
“‘THE MATRIX’ IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!!” he burst.
“That’s great. Tell me about it in the morning.”
“No, you don’t understand, I have to go see it again. You have to see it. Dad, what are you doing tomorrow night? I mean, I could feel my jeans shaking from the bass it was so loud.”
That was me. April 1999.
In the fall of 1999 I learned that the ancient Greek’s had mused that we could all really just be brains in jars being stimulated to believe life as we know it is happening. Wow. I cannot tell you how powerful that one fact was. That begged the question, “What else did people thousands of years ago think about that is being presented as new today?”
Around the same time, this knowledge became slightly depressing. If “The Matrix” was actually thousands of years old, what hope did we have for ever thinking something new?
A decade later, I stumbled upon Heidegger. Intense. Taken together, Heidegger and a plagiarized Matrix have revealed how wrong the famous “to remain ignorant of history is to remain forever a child” saying is.
Love history, study history, worship history; just don’t believe that you’re somehow better for it. More and more it is becoming clear to me that “life” is perfectly synonymous with “now.” Simply acknowledging this gives me all the hope I need. Anxiety disappears.
For the doubtful reader, the best argument I can muster is the following personal story.
I attended college from 1999-2003. I am back in college for kicks right now. If you’ll allow my other writings to qualify me to make an observation, it seems US universities are really only interested in one thing: “How to Prevent the Holocaust.” The Stanford Prison Experiment. The Milgram Experiment. Professors and students alike stand in awe of their revelations. Somehow they miss the elephant in the room. They miss that humans are totally capable of taking part in another holocaust. This direct attempt to prevent the holocaust will not work. To accomplish the goal, universities would be better served if they backed up a step and challenged students to accept responsibility for the present. As I’ve written before, this idea of building a [fill in the blank] future is fundamentally flawed.
The only way I see to prevent another holocaust is to live for right now. I’m not talking about “immediate gratification.” I’m talking about an idea I first heard from Peter Drucker. In his book “Management,” he discusses that the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t apply only to the medical field. In his book, he makes the case that managers in any business have to live by it as well. I’d go a step further and say everyone should use it as a guide. Drucker paraphrases the oath down to, “Do no knowing harm.” Implied is you can’t “do” the future. You can only “do” the present.
By way of example, while deployed I hung on my wall some of the Samurai’s Bushido-type sayings. One was, “Courage is living when it is right to live, and dying when it is right to die.” I can tell you I have put a lot of though into it, and if the situation presents the “my life or me taking another’s life” dichotomy, I’m choosing the bullet. The German people chose poorly. They seem to have thought, “Even though this is wrong, if I do it now, at least I’ll make it to the future.” Wrong. No way am I making the same choice. Only someone avoiding “the now” could murder on command. Personal story turned rant over.
To recap, (“The Matrix” + Ancient Greek Philosophy + Martin Heidegger – Cicero + (Two x College) + Peter Drucker + Bushido) x Me^Infinity = Philosophy or interpreting existence is fascinating to me. What’s your story?
(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)
Because it is time, that’s why. Someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and reveal the secret to accomplishing anything. The following few paragraphs are going to give you the tips you need to do anything you can conceive.
In the recent Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, T.C. and his female counterpart are two-weeks away from completing their mission on the ‘remote site’ that is Planet Earth. After the two weeks, they will return to the new human settlement with those who survived the war. Granted, the work they were doing was not in itself particularly difficult or boring. Loneliness seemed to be the biggest negative. And the dream of how life would be like in two weeks’ time kept them going.
How many of us ever thought we’d spend as much time and energy as we have to accomplish so little? How did we do it? Where did we get the strength from? Were we born with it? Even if we were born with it, we must fight the desire to victimize ourselves. Instead, as a group we need to accept total responsibility for our lives.
Where did the strength to put up with a life we never conceived come from? The strength came from believing a lie. The lie that there will be more time in the future. Break down the concept of the future a little and you’ll see why this is a lie. The future has not happened. The present is happening. The future “is not”. The present “is”. What do you gain if when you trade what “is” for what “is not”?
The future will never be. Can you understand this? The future will never “exist.” It will never “be.” That’s it’s definition. If you believe that the future is something that “will be”, then you’re no longer describing the same abstract idea that’s being discussed here, and is commonly labeled “the future.” There is no catching-up. There is no getting ahead. These are impossibilities.
I have been nearly exclusively reading the classics for almost a decade now, and a common theme is best summed up by Jon J. Muth in his children’s book, “The Three Questions”, based on Leo Tolstoy’s ideas. “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world.”
The choice is always yours. If you want to do the inconceivable follow the instructions below. If you want to exist in reality, stick with living in the present.
Instructions for How to Do The Inconceivable:
Step 1 – Believe that after you’ve accomplished it, you’ll have time to do what you really want.
Step 2 – Understand that there is only one step.