re re re thinking

I am back writing. Well, mainly. This essay is probably going to cover a whole host of topics. They are all at least somewhat related. Though, that may not be immediately obvious as to precisely how. This essay is long overdue. Long being probably something like 2 weeks. Because, well, for the past 2 weeks I was without my computer. Traveling. I had my phone but no laptop or ipad to type from. And so I didn’t publish. Though I generally like writing, and like thinking by writing, it was ~fine and at times nice to not be publishing. I was traveling to a third world country. Not sure if you can still call it that. But whatever — a poor country. Poor when it comes to GDP per capita or spending power or income or whatever sort of metric you would like to use to describe wealth. Though, perhaps, and as I was reinforced during this trip, there are other ways to look at wealth. Like happiness. Or presence. Or clarity. Perhaps if we looked at those other dimensions of progress, perhaps then we would think differently. Differently about seemingly everything.

While I was traveling, I was reading. The main book I was reading is called Mating. By Norman Rush. You can google it if you are curious but it’s related because in the book they talk a lot about development (and the pros and cons of developing nations and how they come to fruition).

The other thing I was thinking a lot about during this time was the tension between scarcity and abundance. And as you see, if you can squint a bit, this, too is related to my current headspace. The question I asked myself and am digesting now and spent a lot of time thinking about before is whether or not abundance is a good thing?

Default answer, in America, seems to be yes. America these days at least. Yes. More is more. Bigger is better. Build. Accelerate. Sapiens. Evolve. This is the future.

My default answer also seems to be yes. Do the harder thing. Do the bigger thing. Say yes more. This is how you make progress.

But is it the right answer? Is abundance going forward? Like is life better that way?

I notice that many of life’s so called points of progress these days – more technology etc. – are not actually better for people on an individual level. Well, maybe not so clearly better or worse but phrased another way: there are downsides to abundance.

People get fat! They eat too much, they get fat! Really fat. They are unhealthy. They get addicted to their screens. They stare at them all day. They become zombies. They become gluttonous. They cannot focus. They cannot get anything done. They get greedy. They cannot live in the moment. They are overwhelmed and anxious. Is this life? Is this what it means to be alive? Drowning in abundance? With no filters other that that what is decided by the “Feed gods” who control what content people see?

Scarcity perhaps can be a good thing. Scarcity can force you to appreciate the now. Or at least help. Smaller communities that are tighter knit may make you feel better. We move to cities today with tons and tons of people yet hide in our rooms and do not make any contact. Why? Why are we not content with scarcity? Why do we want bigger? Why is less not actually more? And when can we internalize that? Is it more ambitious to be bigger? To build a bigger city and organization and company? Or is perhaps less people…less products…less things actually the better sign of progress? Like wisdom was figured out many years ago, time and time again, and now we are just repeating this cycle of trying to combat what is already known. Like maybe we have fancier gadgets now. We do make people live longer harder to debate that. But perhaps that is all motion. Like what is the point of all of that if we cannot live in the now? Who lives in the now the most? The average new yorker or the average person in Kenya? This is hard for me to tell. Or is it? Like it surely is not the person in NY. You know that and so do I. So what is all this for? Why do we need so many pixels? So much power? If we are just going to turn into zombies? The average corporate meeting is lame. The word corporate is lame. We have to be able to find something better. More alive. Clearer. More energizing.

Lots of perahps-es in my language. I will add more. But they will be confusing. Perhaps abundance is the solution. We can all stop fighting. We have enough food. We can make friends because we have enough food. We can stop worrying about the one person because we now have abundant attention. And money. And resources. So many problems internally and externally stem from scarcity. If we just had more — more for all of us to go around — then we would not be arguing. So the solution, therefore, is just to create more abundant environments. Positive sum thinking can go a long way. We don’t have to fight. When I feel sad, I think about this. How just having more would solve the problem. And then the problem goes away. Because having more, I know, is just a matter of time. If I care that is.

The above is obviously not clear. And that’s fine. It’s in progress.

What is clear, though, is that something is here. Something big. For me.


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