“Only two things are truly infinite: the universe and human stupidity, though I’m not certain about the former…” (Albert Einstein)
Every new year in the world, millions (maybe billions) of people suddenly decide that the time is ripe to make radical improvements to their lives, on the spur of an inexplicable collective excitement that comes essentially from the fact that a brand new calendar is hanging on the wall. Steadfastly they see themselves off to the task of achieving what they think has always been lacking in their lives, and decide to pursue it with the utmost resolution.
This kind of elated insanity, thankfully, only ever lasts for a very brief time, after which ordinary insanity duly finds its way back into people’s lives, as those eagerly dreamed up resolutions start to lose momentum, and slowly fade into the background.
Seeing the same script unfold predictably year after year doesn’t seem to deter people from taking part in this recurring collective surge of madness. Everyone seems eager to swallow the fairy tale that the coming year will certainly be different from all those previous crappy years. Oh if it will! Because this time they’ve jotted down a cool list of goals that, for goodness’ sake, will be achieved, and will definitely change for the better their thus far not quite satisfactory life. By the time they’re done, life shall be a wholly different place.
Of course, this is all so preposterous. To the dispassionate onlooker the whole affair appears nothing more than an empty ritual that gets performed year after year, as though for the mere sake of some cherished tradition. Results, in fact, are usually just as questionable as the very goal-setting routine that they ought to spring from – to say the least.
So, what is going on here? Why is everyone engaging in this ridiculous and futile exercise of tug-of-will with themselves? Are most people really such a bunch of gullible, self-deluded fools? Well, from my point of view, the answer to this latter question would appear to be an unwavering, resounding YES.
I remember once hearing someone describe man as the ‘unfinished animal,’ by which he meant that the finishing touches to the naked ape were to be given by human culture rather than nature. Undoubtedly human culture does deliver in that sense. But I would argue, more often than not, what it delivers is a heap of mental junk.
What I see happening today, in our modern society, is an overt struggle between nature and culture, with the latter trying to gain the upper hand over the former. Our culture, namely what man thinks he knows, is today pushing its agenda with an ill-concealed contempt for the age-old wisdom of nature – the same nature that has successfully taken us through millions of years of evolution in an unforgiving natural environment. Yet, modern man thinks he knows better than nature. He also thinks he can even safely dispose of nature, any time he sees fit.
But the way I see it, if we were to plot the growth of our actual knowledge alongside that of our unbound arrogance, we would undoubtedly remark how the latter has been spiking through the roof, compared to the former. Today more than ever, we think we know all when in fact we know nothing.
Where do New Year’s resolutions fit in the above picture? Simple. Again, man thinks he knows what he needs, when he’s really only forcing some pointless artificial behaviour upon himself. Closer to the point, the average man thinks, often without ever questioning such belief, that he ought to do just as society says he should, under any circumstance.
So he sets goals, he plans ahead, and he feels either good or bad about himself according to common societal rules, all along never bothering to take any notice of his real, natural needs. In fact, he’s been taught to silence, and neglect, those needs since a very young age, so that he’s now become very good at it – which ultimately means very good at harming himself whilst not quite knowing it. That’s what our society relentlessly aims at making of its average citizen: a fairly tame social animal, easily malleable to its own needs. Come what it may of it.
Our goals are set according to society’s notions of virtue and vice. Therefore exercise is good but laying on the couch is bad; dieting is good but overindulging is bad, and so on and so forth. We want to acquire the virtues and give up the vices, just like we are told by our social environment – in fact, like the good, obedient toddlers that we are. The natural consequence of which are parks in January overfilled with scores of annoying, miserable-looking, once-a-year joggers on their imaginary path to virtue.
To me, this sad spectacle depicts human misery, and stupidity, at its utmost.
The true reason why people regularly fail at their resolutions is because those resolutions are meaningless in the first place. Their meaning is only cultural, not natural. New Year’s resolutions are usually no more than a reflection of society’s drivelling brainwash. As such, not only are they doomed to fail, but they ought to fail.
How about, then, giving up the most pernicious of vices – namely that ingrained habit of listening to society’s idiotic notions of good and bad – and do as we please instead? Did that idea ever cross your mind? Did you ever consider the possibility that there might be more virtue buried deep inside you than in all well-meaning, but useless, advice around you?
I’ll now make an educated guess at what may actually be lying untapped within you. It is also called ‘what you really want,’ as opposed to ‘what society wants from you.’
Reclaiming your life
The one thing that you want in the first place is a life that is real and not artificial, a life that feels like something. The lives we live today, in the rich advanced world, are nothing like that. They’re boring, pointless, artificial lives, and as such they feel like nothing. I’m pretty sure I’m touching an open wound with many of you here, albeit most people aren’t usually aware of what is actually crippling their lives. Most of us simply persevere, day in day out, on a path of self-delusion that only brings them farther and farther away from their true destination in life, which lies instead within themselves.
What is so artificial about our lives? Arguably everything. When you spend your average day sitting either in your car, at your desk in the office, or at home in front of the TV, and then believe that you can fix all that is wrong with such an artificial life by inflicting on yourself the drudgery of a twenty minutes jog that can’t be over soon enough – when you’re doing all that, you’re basically trying to fool yourself, with the blessing of society. People can be quite skilled at fooling themselves. It’s what I call the cunning of common stupidity.
The list of what’s wrong with our artificial lives could go on and on, but I’ve dealt with this matter before, and if you really care about your health and well-being, as opposed to playing silly games like putting up a cheap show for the benefit of the ever so gullible human mind, then you can find the subject dealt at some length here
Shortly before I posted this, I scrolled around a bit, and needless to say, people were already hellbent cranking out their useless lists of wants and goals. Madness pervades every nook. Even those who pledge not to take any resolutions are doing it for the most insane reasons – like because they’re afraid of failure (sometimes afraid of success), and they care deeply about safeguarding their precious self-image.
But ultimately, why are we so obsessed with achieving, achieving, achieving? Why do we so desperately crave to impress others and ourselves? Why do we constantly need to prove our worth to a world that frankly doesn’t give a shit? Why? What for?
I’m always bewildered by the propensity people show to waste their brief and precious time on earth on idiotic pursuits. We’re only around for a handful of years – years that go by fast enough. Why not just make the most of our time? By which I mean: why not love, tender, share, listen, marvel, dare, play, and laugh instead? Why aren’t we doing these things all the time? Why are we such irredeemable fools?
I guess because, like the unfinished animals that we are, we are being fed so much mental garbage over our entire lifetime that it ends up choking our brain, and clouding our ability to think straight.
The unnatural, artificial reality staged by society around us is like a wall of paper that keeps us trapped by simply making us believe that such wall is made of real substance. Why not, then, tear down that stupid, maddening wall?