09 February 2012

Things no one ever says when they are dying

It is typical for a person's thirties to be a period of labor and careerism. A period where the curse of Adam is experienced in full before mellowing into the more comfortable or less hope-full decade that follows. I am not atypical in that regard. What I have done differently is to try to live on the wisdom of my elders - not as advised but as collated and perceived.I have, over the years, internalized the aphorism: No one ever says, on their deathbed, "I wish I had spent more time at the office." Rather they say, "I wish I had spent more time with my family." Aside from the occasional exception, who can argue with that?

I have tried to take this deathbed wisdom and live my life accordingly. As in so many other things, it turns out I am a bit naive. Life is showing me that yes, I must prioritize labor and earning and collecting, as this serves my family who need the security and stability that I personally do not value so much.

So what gives with all those dying utterances? I don't doubt their veracity.

What has me pondering is the idea that you cannot learn a lesson early or without experience (my own idea or if not copyright, then independently arrived at). I have had this idea gnawing at me in the other direction as I have mourned the carefree young adulthood I did not experience as I set about early in family-making. That I know the vapid pleasures of the immediate, of the passion, of the appetite and of flesh will prove empty in their unsustainability and narcissism. That the short goals of the young and independent pale to the long goals of the more experienced who have wrapped their lives in the comfortable difficulties of a family. That art is the dull and impotent imitation of the recreation of self in a living lambent lineage (please don't attempt to convince otherwise - a lot of personal scaffolding rests on those assumptions). Though I know these things, it is knowledge without experience driving it, form without substance. Feels like paper knowledge.

So this wisdom from the future. Can I not live on this wisdom without the experience that drives it?

Well I spooled this thought out and wound it back in and then suddenly a new gold thread. Though the conditions of this statement are universal, the statement itself is not. Yes, folks do have to work more than they would like and spend time they would rather spend with their loved ones at tasks often mundane and in dull unnecessary competition. Yes economics is the dismal science, the study of the mud in the menial system we were born into. The people who speak of it are as dull as brick layers to me, but it is the system we are born into and good luck extricating yourself.
So work, labor, the indenture to capital is really just a vulgar tool for the actual job at hand, which is the taking care of and nurturing human life. Everyone must use this tool and with a family the more so. The lesson is already lived and therefore the pill not be taken less the bitterness proceed it. The bitterness and then the lesson are reserved for the people who follow certain worldly cues and supplant the motivation with undue ambition. The phrase is not for the person who must work when they would rather mete that time to the people they love. The phrase is for the people who confuse the tool with the task.
This is an aphorism I would have to experience to learn, because i have not yet created a need for the lesson, and hopefully never will.

note: I am not averse to working or careers, but the maintenance of certain comforts above what I require for the sake of normalcy, and also I resist systems I have no choice but to be a subject of (except physics).

Finally some quotes on work and money:

"Eating can be wonderful, but you also must digest and you must shit. There is nothing glamorous about shitting but good luck eating without it" - Me

"To desire money is much nobler than to desire success. Desiring money may mean desiring to return to your country, or marry the woman you love, or ransom your father from brigands. But desiring success must mean that you take an abstract pleasure in the unbrotherly act of distancing and disgracing other men." -G. K. Chesterton