I like it when we play 1950
Her: I’m sorry about your wife.
Me: So am I. All my gods look like her.
Her: What does that mean?
Me: Nuthin. (brightening) Let’s play a game…
It’s the first day of 2023.
I’m writing this on a computer that I first built when Alison was still alive and upgraded repeatedly, such that there’s nuthin left of the original computer, just like I talked about in my Ship of Theseus.
One thing that I did after the hack was to upgrade the operating system of that computer from Windows 10 to Windows 11, something I did with great reluctance.
Still working through the pros and cons of that, but I note that I went through Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 on this machine before finally arriving here.
Just like the philosophical exercise of the Ship of Theseus, the question remains if there’s anything left of the original computer that I originally built all those years ago.
Speaking of philsophy, this blog has, more than anything, been my own personal repository of how I see the world, kinda like Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations.
Suppose my operating system has always been based on German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who was introduced to me in my 20s by the Devil.
One of my earliest blog entries spoke about a quote that served me well my entire life: With increased intelligence comes increased capacity for pain.
When Alison, my dad, and another relative got sick – all at the same time – and I essentially gave up my career(s) to try (and fail) to save them, then lost Gradgirl and Mouse, I think that the truth of that statement is why I’m here writing you now.
Schopenhauer’s worldview was that life is, at its core, suffering.
Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom. – Arthur Schopenhauer
At no point in this blog – through all the highs and lows – did my baseline OS change; it was always run on some variant of Schopenhauer.
And you know my feeling about those who’s worldview never changes. I can’t be a hypocrite.
All this, despite the fact that some baseline beliefs of his contradicted directly with my own heart’s desire.
For example, I’ve always wanted family and family, by definition, requires children. Yet Schopenhauer, like my billionaire buddy, feels that “Bearing children into this world is like carrying wood into a burning house.”
Schopenhauer, as the base operating system of my life, was ill-equipped to deal with the overwhelming sadness and despair of it all, for various reasons.
For example, Schopenhauer’s world view of Wille zum Leben respected love like one respects a dangerous animal, but it doesn’t deal with love, which I both respect and submit to.
To Schopenhauer, love is an illogical means to an important end: The extension of our very species.
I understand that but, having loved and lost in the profound ways I have, I think it’s an idealized version of what humans are actually capable of.
While it’d be nice to live a life purely pragmatically, the way humans are designed, it’s not practical. Because emotions exist and aren’t going away.
I need an OS that reflects that reality.
The Devil’s gone from my life and, while I appreciate all that he’s shown me in the world, the OS he helped build for me doesn’t work with who I am now, especially given all that’s happened.
Moreover, I want more for my son. Assuming that Schopenhauer was correct, and our universe is only what we experience through our mental facilities – our operating system – then I plan on giving my son the best one I can.
After close to 30 years of working on myself, I think that answer lies in Stoicism. Not “stoicism” with a lower-case “s,” rather the full philosophy of Zeno, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius
I don’t think, at all, that Schopenhauer was wrong, or that the last three decades of my life were wasted. Rather, I think that it’s served its purpose for what I needed for that time and that version of me. Now, I have a new purpose – the boy – and that requires a new way of thinking.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality. – Seneca
It’s still early yet in all this. Just like it’s early in the new year.
But I spent the last month reexamining my life and need to discard the things that aren’t working for me anymore, if they ever did, and find things that do work.
Don’t think you’ll notice any drastic changes here, per se. Just little things for myself as I try to give myself and – by extension, the boy – the tools I’ll need to be the best version of myself.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself. – Zeno
I’m still me, but I wonder how much of who and what I am/was is still there or if I’m a completely new being altogether, just like this computer I type alla this out on.
On that note, let’s start the new year off with a song.
This is by a young woman named King Princess that my brother introduced to me a little while ago.
Can’t put my finger on it, but it always makes me dream that my life might be better than it is.
Maybe it’s the line that goes, “I will keep on waiting for your love,” which goes directly against Schopenhauer’s distant respect of the concept of love.
Because love’s not only something I respect, but also something I want – to both give and receive – so it’s worthy of patience and time.
Even if it never comes my way again.
Here’s to 2023 and changing for the better.
Her: (surprised) Why did you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Her: (laughing) OK. (pause) You can do it again.
Location: in the first hours of 2023, on W 97, wondering if we should sell our apartments and move to NJ
Music: I love it when you try to save me
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