Which one is faster, a Fox or a Rabbit?
Surely a Fox can catch a Rabbit easily… No?
The Fox is a predator, he’s fast, smart, and he’s chasing his dinner, surely he will catch the Rabbit? The thing is, yes, the Fox is chasing his dinner but the Rabbit is running for his life – I argue that the Rabbit will run faster!
When we want something, even if we really want it and we are going full tilt to get it, at the end of the day, if our wants are in competition with needs then the wants will always lose.
We live in a transactional world now, even when we talk about morals, being rights respecting and emotional intelligence, it is all with a view to a gain. I doubt that there are any genuinely altruistic people in the world anymore – in modern, functioning society anyway. As a society we have confused wants with needs and entitlement with appreciation.
As a society we live a life that we think, romantically, is based on achieving the best for all, the realist seems to be very different. The world is run on obligatory reciprocity and debt. Think about it, if you met a friend and you bought them a drink and they then left without buying you a drink back, what would you be thinking?
It’s almost as though the onslaught over the last few years of emotional intelligence, mindfulness, work/life balance, self-appreciation, self acceptance etc. has given us a licence to look at world from an unashamed myopic viewpoint. I started this blog to help me with my understanding of the world, because I often feel out of sync, and to some extent it has been edulcorative to the point where I am now realising the importance not of being emotionally intelligent, a good listener, able to speak with clarity etc. but of having balance.
We are all so aware of emotions now, the issue is that we are mostly aware of our own. If a situation if difficult we think about our difficulty, we expect empathy but we are rarely empathetic. It seems to be a societal affectation, delusion on a grand scale that seems to have incrementally become part of our dialogue.
Humans crave happiness, the level of craving for happiness as an end is almost visceral. Utilitarianism talks about happiness being desirable and we can prove this because there only way to prove something is desirable is that is, actually desired and as humans we each crave their own happiness, this is evidenced in the same way that we can prove that an object is visible because people can see it, and a sound is audible because it can be heard.
A few years ago, I was fiercely competitive and obsessed with material gain – I sacrificed my 20’s to get into the 200k per year salary club; sacrificed my health to make sure I was out at the best parties, in the best holiday locations… I travelled the world and don’t recall half of the trips I went on… I firmly believe this is because I wasn’t being genuine, my behaviours were all superficial. I find myself now rebelling against extremes. Extremes terrify me, I think because I now understand what it means to be a slave to two masters… pleasure and pain.
I often think of a story I heard in school about a Father and Son in Ancient Greece; Daedalus, a famous artist of his time, built feathered wings for himself and his son so that they might escape the clutches of King Minos. Daedalus warns his beloved son whom he loved so much to “fly the middle course“, between the sea spray and the sun’s heat. Icarus did not heed his father; he flew up and up until the sun melted the wax off his wings. For not heeding the middle course, he fell into the sea and drowned.
Socrates (my favourite philosopher) also said that any kind of mixture that does not in some way or other possess measure of the nature of proportion will necessarily corrupt its ingredients and most of all itself. For there would be no blending in such a case at all but really an unconnected medley, the ruin of whatever happens to be contained in it.
For his thinking, Socrates was sentenced to death by 500 of his peers in 399 for not recognising the gods recognised by the state and for ‘corrupting’ the youth with his philosophy – but here’s what I take from it and why I am thinking about it.
Sometimes things don’t work together, it doesn’t mean that any of those things individually are better or worse than the others, the combination simply doesn’t blend and the parts and sum is ruined. I mean I absolutely adore both Nutella and Sun Dried Tomatoes and on the premise that I like both of those things, combining them should be better – clearly not! The same can be applied to human relationships, we’ve all had that experience when we’ve said ‘Oh I just don’t gel with that person’ that is exactly what Socrates was talking about.
So to circle back, the Fox wanted to catch the Rabbit, Icarus wanted to fly high in the sky and I wanted Nutella coated Sun Dried Tomatoes… The Rabbit needed to get away, Icarus needed to fly in the middle and I need to eat both Nutella and Sun Dried Tomatoes independently of one another.
We have the choice to pursue what we think will make us happy, but what we want isn’t always what we need.