Sh*t I Believe

Aside from deciding what to have for breakfast, what to say to the Russian dishwasher repairman who is due at my house in twenty minutes; and in particular what I’ll say to him if, and when, he charges me the $90 service fee on top of the $500 hundred dollars for the new motor (which I strongly believe I’ll need) for my $600 dishwasher, I want to pass along some answers to what I believe are a few of life’s most pressing questions. I hope they help make your life better then it already is.

Let’s start with an easy one. 

Why do the years go by more quickly the older we get?

I’m sure you’ve noticed this phenomenon. The reason this is so, is due to something I call the Pie Time Theory or PTT.

Let’s use a rhubarb pie as an example (this was one of my favorites as a child although in fact, any kind of pie will work as effectively as any other to illustrate the idea.)

Imagine that when a one-year old child celebrates her first birthday she’s given one whole pie to represent her one year on earth. That’s a lot of pie. Then, skipping ahead a few years to say, her 14th birthday, that same girl gets a fourteenth of a pie to mark her fourteenth year. As you can see, her piece of pie is getting markedly smaller. When this young lady gets to be eighty years old she will receive a slice that’s just one eightieth of a pie! It’s such a small sliver that you’d need an Exacto Knife to cut the thing. And on it goes, God-willing, to a hundred and twenty.

So that’s why if you remain alive and sensate, time feels like it’s speeding up each year. Understood? Good, let’s move on.

Why, when we acquire more and more things, do they never make us happy for long? 

It never fails. We look around and we’re seduced by what we see: The Tesla, the super model, the Chateau in Monaco, and our hedge fund manager neighbor’s ever-expanding bank account. Spiritually-aware beings that we are, we know that these things aren’t what we should be striving for, and yet we can barely help ourselves. Our good sense is overruled by our primitive desires so often it seems futile to even try to change. Why is this? It’s because we are, all of us, walking dialectics, mismatches of opinions and concerns. It’s like we’ve got five feet, each walking in opposite directions.

To help better understand this, think of yourself as a combination of MeatTransport System and GracefulElectric Charge. Your body, the MeatTransport System or MTS, is brash and can be quite obnoxious. It has no qualms about making its needs known. Because it is a visceral, physical thing, it feels very at home in a visceral, physical world. And as such, it longs for the things of this world.

On the other hand, think of your consciousness (or your spirit if you prefer), as a GracefulElectric Charge or GEC. Because it has no concrete substance, your GEC can feel a bit lost and out of touch here in a world of plants and rocks, and waiters that take your dinner order on iPads. It is so lost in fact, that it can’t even move without assistance and needs to be carried from place to place by the MTS. However, unlike the MTS, when the GEC wants to assert its will (and the word assert when used in conjunction with the GEC is always an overstatement), it is restricted to using only the power of love. That is a subtle tool indeed, in a world so garish and seductive. The goal of life itself is for the GEC to take control, and to use the MTS as its tool.

Let me try to explain this a bit.

Metaphor alert!

Imagine a small but precocious ten-year old child; let’s call him Ivan. Very soon Ivan is going to suit up and head into a boxing ring to go up against a 6’4, 220 pound heavyweight. It’s not hard to guess the advantage of the, 220 pounder, but what is Ivan’s advantage in this metaphoric scenario? There is just one. Young Ivan knows the value of love. (I told you he was precocious!) He knows that in this area alone he has primacy. Because there is nothing tangible in love, nothing that is purely physical, there is also nothing that is subject to death or decay; love is inherently a link in a chain to eternity. This is how Ivan outlasts the heavyweight, not by playing the heavyweight’s game, but by being in communion with an immutable —Something— beyond himself.

 (For those literalists stuck wondering how Ivan actually used “love” to defend himself, know that in this instance, young Ivan just happens to have an uncle named Victor, {whom he loves and by whom he is loved in return} that is an even bigger fighter than the first guy. Just before his hands were wrapped for the fight, Ivan texted his Uncle Victor. Uncle Victor ran to the gym, took Ivan’s place in the ring, and summarily dropped the other guy in the first round.)

To use the subtle tool of love however, the GTS first needs to know that it is even possible to take the wheel as it were, of the MTS. It needs to understand that only through exerting its will to love, can it reach beyond its confines, forge true loving relationships with other GTS’s (past and present), and especially with the Main GTS UNIT (need I mention Who this is?). The GEC longs only to experience and to extend love —plain and simple. And by doing so, it brings fulfillment and happiness, not just to itself, but also paradoxically, to the MTS, who in the end; is happiest doing what it was designed for —carrying the GEC where it wants to go. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in reverse. The MTS cannot —no matter how seductive the prizes it accumulates—bring lasting happiness to itself, or the GEC.

What is the best way for a couple to raise children?

To answer this I need to make sure you understood what I was talking about in the last section. You’ve got to know at all times (and men this applies to you especially, because your MTS is, shall we say… more persuasive {I know you already knew that}), who’s driving whom. In other words, is your MTS being driven by your GEC, or is it driving itself? If it’s the latter and you know it, you’re doing ok, not necessarily great, but ok. If you’re aware that your MTS is driving itself, your very awareness means that you’ve already won the greater part of the battle. If you’ve never even noticed who’s in control, you’ve got a thing or two to experience and to learn. But here’s the good news: When the GEC is driving, everything changes for the better. The GEC isn’t concerned with quantity, its only concern is whether the other is being served and is being shown love.

Let me back up here for a minute because I’m quite sure you’re already wondering what this has to do with childrearing. Here’s how I see the connection: When the GEC is in charge, it’s like the Earth, with all its sweat, and blood, and pain (and waiters taking dinner orders on iPads) has been converted, however briefly, into something akin to heaven. And when you are concerned primarily, with the welfare of the other, in this case your most significant other, you are for the duration of your concern, bringing that piece of heaven into your relationship.

By constant bestowal, which is the GEC’s home-turf, as opposed to constant appropriation —the MTS’s home-turf— you are showing your child (who by the way, is ALWAYS watching) that there is something more than meets the eye going on. You are in effect saying, that while the physical world is apparent, and gives off the strong impression that it comprises reality — there is something deeper, something more sublime, and perhaps to some, more revolutionary going on, underneath the surface. That is, to say that a world that is not physical, but one that exists only through giving, can be even more real than a physical world.

When a child begins to see this kind of love and acceptance, these acts of loving kindness between her parents, being given over and over again, she slowly becomes able to see it for herself. And once she sees it, she is strengthened by it. It calms her and gives her confidence — and in turn, she shares this confidence with others. In other words, she becomes a mensch.

All of this of course is elusive; you can’t learn it from Netflix, or from a book. You must practice it everyday, and at every waking moment. It is an exercise of awareness. Phrased as a question it looks like this:

“Am I, the GracefulElectric Charge, steering the MeatTransport System, or is the MeatTransport System steering me?”