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Thread: What does it mean to live the good life?

  1. Top | #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    That sounds diametrically opposed to the advice of Hunter S. Thompson:
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
    Well for a long time I enjoyed being healthy and most of my interests were pretty in line with living a healthy life. I read a lot, I enjoyed exercise, got tired of drugs, enjoyed a good nights sleep and all that. Nowadays I want to ease up on taking my health so seriously, but really.. even if I did want to get to the end of my life without a well preserved body, my question is what would that even look like?

    Not to make the thread about me, but my issue now is that I don't find many things overly engaging. I don't want to get fall down drunk because it's 'fun', jump out of an airplane, trek through Asia for three months, or any of what the naive adventurer would do to live their life to the fullest. The very issue is that I've done all that stuff already, so how do I fill the rest of my life in a way that is appealing to me? I'm not too concerned with my health any more, but don't have much of an inclination to damage it either.

    Honestly, all that really comes to mind is trying to find that elusive 'fun', and to make things as painless as possible from here on out.
    I don't think he was necessarily referring to 'fun' but to a wide range of experiences that broaden our appreciation of life. During my life I have been through hurricanes. That certainly wasn't 'fun' but the experience was unforgettable and broadened my experience of and appreciation for life. I was also drafted during the Viet Nam war and served in the infantry. It isn't something I would have chosen to do but the experience changed and certainly increased my appreciation for life. I can look back on several other life changing experiences that a safe nine to five rut job and evenings of watching TV could not offer.
    That's the thing, at what point has a person had enough of that? There are certainly many things I haven't done or experienced, but at 34 I've lived in Europe, studied at three universities and a college, tried an array of drugs, worked for many successful companies, made money, played instruments, played sports, written poetry, studied most of the world's history, studied most of the world's religions, gotten married, dated, and so on.

    I think some people, myself included, just rifle through experiences much faster than the average person, and end up in a situation where they're very young and the thrill is gone, so to speak. Personally, I don't crave excitement in the classic sense of the term. I have no inclination to travel the world anymore, to become famous, to become fabulously wealthy. I've done enough now that I'm content being able to sleep in, drink good coffee, and eat well. I don't crave many experiences, because it feels like I've already done that.

    The only thing I haven't done is have kids, which I'll be rectifying shortly. But even then, I suspect that's going to feel like a continuation of my pre-existing life, rather than something offering some sort of mind-altering revelation.

  2. Top | #12
    Veteran Member Tharmas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Honestly, all that really comes to mind is trying to find that elusive 'fun', and to make things as painless as possible from here on out.
    There's a lot to be said for that. I was married and a parent way too young (18) and spent many years financially impoverished. I've often thought my life since then followed no plan - just do the next thing that came along that didn't seem totally unreasonable, and somehow I got where I am. My kids were grown and gone before I was too old to enjoy having a little more money to spend, and now I'm retired, comfortably. You could do worse than simply being comfortable.

    So I amuse myself writing a novel about my "wasted" years. It's a good life. It's even, as well as I can do it, an examined life, which is a claim I think that many if not most on this board can make... It's what I enjoy about these conversations we all have here; most of us think about our place in the scheme of things and have some self awareness, if that makes sense.

    Both my parents were go-getters, who achieved quite a few worldly accomplishments. Yes they missed a lot of life by being focused in that way, but they enjoyed what they were doing and what they created. Sure their parenting skills got neglected, but I (no longer) hold that against them. In many ways I had a wonderfully rich childhood.

  3. Top | #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tharmas View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Honestly, all that really comes to mind is trying to find that elusive 'fun', and to make things as painless as possible from here on out.
    There's a lot to be said for that. I was married and a parent way too young (18) and spent many years financially impoverished. I've often thought my life since then followed no plan - just do the next thing that came along that didn't seem totally unreasonable, and somehow I got where I am. My kids were grown and gone before I was too old to enjoy having a little more money to spend, and now I'm retired, comfortably. You could do worse than simply being comfortable.

    So I amuse myself writing a novel about my "wasted" years. It's a good life. It's even, as well as I can do it, an examined life, which is a claim I think that many if not most on this board can make... It's what I enjoy about these conversations we all have here; most of us think about our place in the scheme of things and have some self awareness, if that makes sense.

    Both my parents were go-getters, who achieved quite a few worldly accomplishments. Yes they missed a lot of life by being focused in that way, but they enjoyed what they were doing and what they created. Sure their parenting skills got neglected, but I (no longer) hold that against them. In many ways I had a wonderfully rich childhood.
    I find myself in an odd situation now. For one, golden handcuffs. I'm faced with the choice of either continuing to work as a software developer at my current company, or facing a life and future of insecurity, where I will likely never retire comfortably. It's not so bad, I like my job, what I do, and the people I work with, but it would be nice to have a change. I miss moving my body, I miss being outside, I miss variety in my life. As it stands I've spent the past 5 years in virtually the same routine, week in and week out, year after year.

    About two years ago I also found a solid IQ test to finally figure out where I stand, and I clocked in at about 140, which is just shy of, if not a genius level IQ. I certainly have my issues, but in effect this means my fluid intelligence exceeds about the next ten thousand people next to me, the 99.98 percentile or something to that effect. Couple that with eight years of post-secondary education, about eight years of personal study, three years with free access to an academic library. Now try to find some friends you can see eye to eye with. In almost every respect this is why I'm nearing 20 thousand posts at this forum, and spend so much time on the internet. It's incredibly difficult to find real life people who I find engaging. In most cases I'm doling out advice to others, or offering someone my ear, very rarely do I ever feel heard or learn something new. I don't mind being alone, but the boredom gets old.

    Couple those two things together and my life can feel like a bit of a prison. I largely have no control over my future, who I spend time with, or what I do. From an outsider's perspective I'm living the dream - upper-middle class, great marriage, homeowner, live near family, comfortable city etc. And yet.. I find myself desperately seeking the next thrill.

    So with all that in mind I find myself coming back to acceptance and embracing the purposeless life a bit. Stop worrying about my legacy, about being perfect, about living as long as I can, and just find ways to enjoy the ride as I go along without worrying how I'm perceived.

  4. Top | #14
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    So with all that in mind I find myself coming back to acceptance and embracing the purposeless life a bit. Stop worrying about my legacy, about being perfect, about living as long as I can, and just find ways to enjoy the ride as I go along without worrying how I'm perceived.
    That sounds like you need to find a hobby or avocation on which to focus your energies, something that you enjoy and holds your interest that does not require meeting goals or time limits imposed by someone else. Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow your bliss", which he followed, turned his interest in mythology into a career where his avocation became his very successful vocation. In one of his books he said something like when your avocation is your vocation then it is not work.

    Personally, I became very interested in bonsai and could spend hours blissfully involved in training them. Unfortunately, someone stole the collection I had spent years working on and I never returned to the hobbly after that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    So with all that in mind I find myself coming back to acceptance and embracing the purposeless life a bit. Stop worrying about my legacy, about being perfect, about living as long as I can, and just find ways to enjoy the ride as I go along without worrying how I'm perceived.
    That sounds like you need to find a hobby or avocation on which to focus your energies, something that you enjoy and holds your interest that does not require meeting goals or time limits imposed by someone else. Joseph Campbell's advice to "follow your bliss", which he followed, turned his interest in mythology into a career where his avocation became his very successful vocation. In one of his books he said something like when your avocation is your vocation then it is not work.

    Personally, I became very interested in bonsai and could spend hours blissfully involved in training them. Unfortunately, someone stole the collection I had spent years working on and I never returned to the hobbly after that.
    My thing in the past number of years has been writing. Blogging for a while, but most of my energy has been spent on poetry.

    Problem being that can be a soul crushing hobby too. For a while I told myself I was doing it only for me, and I was, but eventually you start getting a hankering to share what you've expressed. My generation, however, only seems to have the attention span for internet memes. Ask anybody in 2020 to focus for more than ten seconds on something that wasn't explicitly made to be entertaining or valuable, and you've lost them.

    Outside of that my hobby's been non-fiction but I'm starting to reach my limits there. In the summer I enjoy gardening and am getting into tinkering around the house more and more.

  6. Top | #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    That sounds diametrically opposed to the advice of Hunter S. Thompson:
    “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
    Well for a long time I enjoyed being healthy and most of my interests were pretty in line with living a healthy life. I read a lot, I enjoyed exercise, got tired of drugs, enjoyed a good nights sleep and all that. Nowadays I want to ease up on taking my health so seriously, but really.. even if I did want to get to the end of my life without a well preserved body, my question is what would that even look like?

    Not to make the thread about me, but my issue now is that I don't find many things overly engaging. I don't want to get fall down drunk because it's 'fun', jump out of an airplane, trek through Asia for three months, or any of what the naive adventurer would do to live their life to the fullest. The very issue is that I've done all that stuff already, so how do I fill the rest of my life in a way that is appealing to me? I'm not too concerned with my health any more, but don't have much of an inclination to damage it either.

    Honestly, all that really comes to mind is trying to find that elusive 'fun', and to make things as painless as possible from here on out.
    I don't think he was necessarily referring to 'fun' but to a wide range of experiences that broaden our appreciation of life. During my life I have been through hurricanes. That certainly wasn't 'fun' but the experience was unforgettable and broadened my experience of and appreciation for life. I was also drafted during the Viet Nam war and served in the infantry. It isn't something I would have chosen to do but the experience changed and certainly increased my appreciation for life. I can look back on several other life changing experiences like, for instance, taking a job in the Bahamas for a few years that a safe nine to five rut job and evenings of watching TV could not offer.
    I would add that I largely agree with you, though, and actually sent this same quote to my wife after we got married. Originally I didn't want a wedding, but we ended up spending about 20 months, and tons of money, to throw a fantastic two day party. In the end I had no regrets and would rather get to the end of my life and have that memory than have played it safe. Similarly, this is why we're moving into parenthood. We don't want the safe, easy life.

    Beyond that, though, I just don't have many genuine interests anymore besides sitting in my backyard with a coffee.

  7. Top | #17
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    ya gotta keep developing habits. When you arrive at old you'll understand why.
    That's what I was doing between ought, 15' - 19'. Now trying to reconcile working on my future health with the fact that I don't find my life that interesting in the present, and that overly healthy habits contribute to the tedium.

    But still I don't want to be a hot mess when I'm 60+. Trying to reach a middle ground now where I let more fun and irresponsibility seep into my life, but still make generally good decisions.
    The view of the present from the present is not a very good way of viewing what is going on.

    Are you basically curious or no?
    How have your goals changed since you became aware that you had and needed goals?
    Can you say you are satisfied with what those earlier set goals.
    Does marriage change you in fundamental ways or does it justify what you have been until now?

    Get the drift?

    Your life is a marathon. what you need to take into account is how the world has changed your approach to running it from where you are now.

    Reinvention is a pipe dream. So concentrate on fiddling with how you improve being who you are.

    Swami retires from the scene. No puff of smoke.

  8. Top | #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    ya gotta keep developing habits. When you arrive at old you'll understand why.
    That's what I was doing between ought, 15' - 19'. Now trying to reconcile working on my future health with the fact that I don't find my life that interesting in the present, and that overly healthy habits contribute to the tedium.

    But still I don't want to be a hot mess when I'm 60+. Trying to reach a middle ground now where I let more fun and irresponsibility seep into my life, but still make generally good decisions.
    The view of the present from the present is not a very good way of viewing what is going on.

    Are you basically curious or no?
    How have your goals changed since you became aware that you had and needed goals?
    Can you say you are satisfied with what those earlier set goals.
    Does marriage change you in fundamental ways or does it justify what you have been until now?

    Get the drift?

    Your life is a marathon. what you need to take into account is how the world has changed your approach to running it from where you are now.

    Reinvention is a pipe dream. So concentrate on fiddling with how you improve being who you are.

    Swami retires from the scene. No puff of smoke.
    I hesitate to reply as what was meant to be a discussion thread is turning into personal counseling. Good advice, though, thanks.

    My partner and I have been discussing the contrast between 19th and 21st century living a lot lately. Her family grew up in the country and there were constant 'to dos', and not just to dos but physical activity meaning that at the end of the day you would come inside, grab yourself a tall glass of milk, and feel a thorough feeling of vitality and satisfaction at a hard days work. Similarly, in the 19th century for many families work meant physical work, exertion, exhaustion, they had to move all day to survive. What we were meant to do.

    Counter-intuitively, since then we've made our lives more comfortable, opulent, and convenient, and yet we seem to be more depressed and anxious. These lives of sitting on our ass typing, or on phones, or sitting in cars, or other forms of sedentary activity cause a kind of unease that only physical activity can really relieve. Not more thinking, goal-setting, fiddling, but plain old hard work and the right hormones hitting the right spot.

    I'm with you on your advice, although I think any true angst in my life boils down to being trapped in an office job, and limited means/time to get the physical exertion I need. I have an exercise bike in my basement that increasingly feels like a rat wheel. I have a gym membership that feels like a rat wheel. Everything feels like a damn rat wheel, and no I don't want to play soccer and go out for nachos afterward with a bunch of twenty year olds.

    Whenever I find an excuse to work very physically hard, or get into a streak of jogging for a few months, it doesn't matter how much I hate everyone, or that I have an intricate understanding of African politics, I'm just happy and content regardless of what's going on around me. But damn is it ever like pulling teeth dragging myself out for a three mile walk after sitting all day. Truthfully I just want to smoke some pot and do some landscaping for a few years, but the government of Ontario is giving me far too much money to be a typist.

  9. Top | #19
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Amazing how many options you have on your 'typewriter'. If you can position it so the screen points toward the back wall, not the entrance, I'd do that. Amazing how facing passers by helps. IOW do anything that reduces feelings of isolation and aloneness. If flex time is available maybe you can get your walk/run in during the post wanna sleep period after lunch. These things made my life better in the world of cubicles. Find work that requires you get up and interact with people a couple times an hour. Don't choose smoking like I did. Bad later result guaranteed. Professional friends at work are diamonds. Effort usually required. Lunch out if possible once or twice a week with others.

    You read a lot like a lonesome dove. It hurts being such. I was a hermit for years.

    Good luck.

  10. Top | #20
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    This is usually a very controversial subject, what is the "objective" or "purpose" of life etc.
    I can only quote Jacob Bronowski ...
    "We are a scientific civilization. That means a civilization in which knowledge and its integrity are crucial. Science is only a Latin word for knowledge ... Knowledge is our destiny." Bronowski

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