Joseph Ratliff Writer, Researcher, Thinker

Some Brief Mid-Life Lessons

I’m 43 years old, so I thought I would take a moment and share some life-lessons that might help someone out…

Money is a means to an end, and nothing more than that.

Think of your life first, because if you don’t … there’s a good chance you’ll “suddenly” be 65 and wishing that you did.

You have around 75 – 80 trips around the Sun (average) to ponder the absolute awe of existence. Same amount of time to meet cool people and laugh, love, and play.

Meet your obligations, but don’t create unnecessary ones.

Do what you’ll say you will do.

Be on time, even a little bit early to any commitments you make.

Realize that no one is perfect, no matter what image they project.

Realize that because we are all imperfect in different ways, what others think of you doesn’t really matter if those thoughts come from a place where they are trying to impose some form of control your life.

Even if you think you are, you aren’t a “failure.”

In fact, failure and success are cultural stigmas, and for the most part, those stigmas are falsely imposed on you. You are who you are, with all the good “stuff” and the faults.

But do as best you can to try and have a positive impact on other people, especially with those you emotionally hold close to your heart.

Welcome to the Age of “Overmedia”

me·di·a1

ˈmēdēə/

noun

  1. plural form of medium.
  2. the main means of mass communication (especially television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet) regarded collectively.

“the campaign won media attention”

Some form of media is everywhere you look.

We are now beyond saturation, and media is taking over our lives. From mainstream news, to brands that “place” themselves in our art, to our willingness to submit to those brands and become their spokesperson.

But it doesn’t stop there…

Our best ideas are eventually ruined by brands, over-commercialized to the point of no return. Our best music is thinned out by T.V. commercials.

Our human desire for attention puts us (and our private lives) in media’s watchful eye.

Make a human mistake (that quite frankly most people make) and you could get crucified by the public court of opinion.

Fail to be useful to the “media” and your 15 minutes are up. But like a drug, you’ll seek to reclaim that fame at any expense.

The media seeks out those who are willing to cater to the story of the minute, of the week, or of the year. Sure you’ll get your 15 minutes of fame, maybe a little bit more, but at what expense?

We get “scored” by media, give up our private information to media, and even have a sick worship of so-called media heroes.

We are living in The Age of Overmedia.

Media drives you to the store to take advantage of “unbeatable limited-time deals” that will actually repeat themselves over and over. You pull out your credit card and go into even more debt. Or you’ll pay cash for it, save the interest, but have another “thing” to maintain, replace, or repair.

There are ads in almost every corner of our lives, yet we want this “Internet of Things” that will complete the task.

You can’t even pump gas without media being shoved down your throat, to manufacture more of your consent. The media are used to influence first your opinion, then your actions, but worse … to manipulate your emotions.

And no matter how highly you think of yourself, you aren’t immune to it.

Because even in trying to ignore media, you’re conforming to it.

(Think about that).

The N.S.A. spies on you (and don’t be so naive to think you’ve got nothing to hide), ad companies are tracking you in the most creepy ways, and media wants to drive you…

  • It wants to drive your fear.
  • It wants to make everything appear alright.
  • It wants to create illusions of a life you could not possibly have, so you’ll buy more and more useless stuff.
  • Etc…

Heck, what you’re reading right now is media.

Media filters what you’re actually looking for, because it wants to be in control of what you find. And you fall for it, over and over again. We all do.

Because we live in The Age of Overmedia. We are beyond the saturation point, and into the infiltration point.

Soon, we might not be able to function normally without it.

So what are you going to do about that in your own life?

(Sadly, the most common answer is probably … nothing).

The Absolute Horror of Yin and Yang

Shouting into the shadows at the dark pessimist…

A recent Twitter encounter with a dark pessimist inspired this post.  Not to try to debate him, nor to prove him “wrong,” but to expand the conversation a little.

Let’s continue…

The idea of Yin and yang is a powerful one.  Light must exist inseparably with darkness, AND are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.

This idea is horrible for some people to contemplate.  Why?

The incurable optimist must acknowledge the reality that evil and horror exist.  If they do not, they are denying part of reality.

Even a nihilist must acknowledge that humans can choose to add meaning to their lives, even in the face of meaninglessness.

And while this act might seem to lack all meaning to the nihilist … in reality each of us can keep metaphorically pushing our rock up the hill of life, and find meaning in that activity.

For the nihilist, even if they don’t acknowledge this choice as meaningful … it is for some people.  That is the sum total of human reality.

The nihilist effectively chooses (or perhaps their life circumstances choose for them) meaninglessness over meaning.  So they forever remain trapped in an eternal loop of meaning and meaninglessness that always returns to absolute zero (for them).

(To me, our ability to examine reality IS the meaning of human life.  Those two ideas forever co-mingle in a cosmic dance that makes our lives play out.  But that idea is better suited for another post).

The dark pessimist can have an entirely (or mostly) pessimistic view of the world, and even back it up by showing points of the most horrible reality.

But the Universe is a tricky place, and optimism co-exists inseparably with pessimism.

The darkest parts of the Universe would not exist if there were not points of starlight (however small on a cosmic scale) shining through the dark.

How could you know what “darkness” is unless light existed?

Based on this analogy, the madness of human nature that was explicated in a thoughtful rant also co-exists with sanity, calmness, insight, etc. because you would not be able to know “madness” without the opposite.

So the absolute horror and darkness in Yin and yang co-exists with beauty, light, and delight within the sum total of reality.

A dark pessimist may not choose to see that.  They might be blinded to the reality by the most horrible parts of human nature from our history on this planet (which I don’t deny exist, either).  But that said…

Reality is the absolute total, and not just the parts of it that we choose to see.

And as I commented on your post, I fear you might be right, with time as the ultimate arbiter…

But I will always hold hope for the brightest and most beautiful parts of human nature to shine through the darkness long enough to slow or stop the madness you thoughtfully alluded to.

I can see those small points of metaphorical human light, and in fact, I will choose to look for them during my short existence on this planet.  But I’m also not blind to the worst of our nature, nor our violent and our disgusting history.

With misery, comes loving company … after all.

And I can also understand how that might appear to be “ultra-optimistic” from your perspective. 😉

As a principle that I stand behind, a shallow person tries to “win” an argument or debate.  A reasonable person tries to deepen their knowledge of the world.

I thank my dark and pessimistic interlocutor for deepening mine.