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marnixR
Post  Post subject: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:03 pm
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by which i mean that getting rid of your illusions about the world isn't always a bad thing, but could be character-building

like when the message finally started to sink that life isn't fair, however much you want it to be - there's always people who can be more successful than you at a variety of things without having to put in the same amount of effort - what's the point in comparing yourself with the unattainable and make yourself unhappy as a result ?

or when you come to the conclusion that you never will be a astronaut, or a surgeon, or a world-class pianist - isn't it liberating to know that from now on you can concentrate on the things that you are good at instead of chasing an impossible dream?

or when you start realising that life may come to an end, not in some immeasurably distant future, but say in the next 10 to 20 years (if you're lucky) - all the more reason to make the most of whatever time you have left in this life

i've posted a similar post in Philosophorum (now gone forever), but it was brought back to mind when i read the following rules of life by Charles J Sykes

50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School

a selection below, in a slightly altered form :

Quote:
Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain that it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome.


P.S. the rumour that the above rules once were part of a speech made by Bill Gates turn out to be false :

Some Rules Kids Won't Learn in School

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"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:26 pm
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However, that dissonance between what you are and what you want to be serves as an "agitator." It's something that stirs you to action... to grow and to be better. Much like your feelings of hunger move you to find food, your feeling of "I'm not who I want to be yet" is there to move you to grow and to prosper... To find better shelter... to seek out mates when you are alone or single... to start that research effort or seek funding... to open that business or strive for a raise... to improve the lives of those around you.

The dissonance is important, IMO. Coming to accept yourself as who you are is one thing, and it can be liberating (and very buddhist) to let go of much of that feeling, but I would probably argue that this dissonance does more good than harm and that without it humans would have long since perished.

On another note, I am not sure I can accept rule #13. I am the frakkin highlander! 8-)

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:16 pm
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granted you need some flux to move you forward, which probably wouldn't happen if you were totally contented
but in the end life is all about choices, and if you make one choice chances are that you exclude other competing options

also, at some point you come to the realisation that you're not up to scratch or don't have the inclination to become, say, a leading light in maths or physics

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"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:17 pm

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Realism is probably the healthiest option overall. Optimism leaves one vulnerable to continual disappointment, whilst pessimism results in a chronic lack of drive to improve life's situations. Personally, I have experienced this transition from optimism to realism - at one time I wished to substantially rid the world of suffering, almost single-handedly. Now, having experienced how implicit promises ('complete tertiary education and desirable employment opportunities will abound') and explicit promises (personal relationships) are so often left unfulfilled, that I have learned not to trust anyone or anything - except myself. This position is incredibly freeing and empowering - I feel safe with and within myself, and require nothing more for a meaningful life, except to serve others in a more humble way (though no less noble) than aforementioned. The added benefit is that I don't go crazy trying to save everything - not harming others at least, leaving the world at least neutral in the balance-sheets of good* and evil** - is enough.

*Good being defined as maintaining or increasing the physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing of fellow organisms
**Evil being defined as the exact opposite of 'good'.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:37 pm
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what many people don't seem to get is that being able to look at the world as it is and not as you wish it to be does not have to mean you're utterly miserable

working in the steel industry in the UK i can only be glad that i'm not that far away from retirement, and it will either last my time or i get made redundant while i'm still young enough to find other things to do
but i wouldn't recommend my children to consider a career in steel (which fortunately there's no danger of) - when i say things like that to people in the office they seem to think i'm a miserable old so-and-so, but at least i'm prepared and won't be caught napping should i turn out to be one of the 500 casualties out of 2000 white-collar workers that are due to leave the business in the next few months

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"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:47 pm

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Quote:
marnixR wrote:
working in the steel industry in the UK i can only be glad that i'm not that far away from retirement, and it will either last my time or i get made redundant while i'm still young enough to find other things to do
but i wouldn't recommend my children to consider a career in steel (which fortunately there's no danger of) - when i say things like that to people in the office they seem to think i'm a miserable old so-and-so, but at least i'm prepared and won't be caught napping should i turn out to be one of the 500 casualties out of 2000 white-collar workers that are due to leave the business in the next few months


Hm, what would you really like to do?

You deserve to be doing whatever brings you intellectual and emotional satisfaction.

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bunbury
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:30 pm
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Quote:
You deserve to be doing whatever brings you intellectual and emotional satisfaction.


Yes, indeed! That, and being able to pay the mortgage.


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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:51 am
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tridimity wrote:
Hm, what would you really like to do?


i like my job, building web sites and handling data, but whether my job will still be there is in a few months another matter

i don't know whether there's IT jobs for 57-year olds, otherwise i might see if i can do some unpaid work for charities, or become more involved in the local branch of the Geologists' Association

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"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
"Someone is WRONG on the internet" (xkcd)


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tridimity
Post  Post subject: Re: disillusionment as a way of life  |  Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 3:40 pm

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Ah, it's more to do with stability - I thought you meant it was a fulfillment thing

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