Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion) (montecristo) wrote,
Robert (Bro. Pepper-spray of Reasoned Discussion)

On March 3, I will have been here in Livermore for ten years.

It's been off and on rain here for the past two days, and chilly — in the mid fifties during the day. Yesterday afternoon, the clouds cleared out and the sunshine returned. Apparently, according to the radio, a high pressure system is moving into the area. It is to be hoped that this means things will be warming up soon. On the way back onto the highway, after visiting The Clown for breakfast, I noticed that Mt. Diablo has a snow cap. It's funny how I didn't notice all the way from Livermore. Sometimes, it's easy to be oblivious. Perhaps I have other things on my mind, pushing out my awareness of the things around me.

I decided, at the start of this month, to forgo logging onto FaceBook for at least this month, just to see if I would miss it. Surprisingly enough, I haven't missed it much, although there are some times when I wanted to log on, because it is an easy way to find out what people are doing. I am also infrequently possessed of a perverse urge to speak my mind and tell people to whom it may concern what I am thinking, or just relate the fact that I noticed the snow on Diablo this morning. Do they really care? Since I took my "vacation" from FaceBook, only two people I know have actually taken the trouble to seek me out. One of them was my elder daughter, who called to see how I was doing. The other, surprisingly enough, was a lady I met on FaceBook and with whom I have spoken and exchanged text messages a few times, but never met in person.

I've been re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I realize that I have been allowing my life to coast, or drift, almost purposelessly. Part of me is disturbed to consider that this is true. Another part is wondering about the seriousness of "having a purpose." There are so many problematical, even evil purposes, out there. Can it really be so morally evil not to have a grand plan for conquering the world or saving it? Am I missing something? Anything? Sometimes I wonder how I can feel so content not to be driven by burning ambitions. At other times, I wonder if there is more I should be pursuing. What if we have a natural level of ambition? What if we have a capacity, like a machine? Is it wrong to be satisfied with a lower comfort-zone that does not challenge one all that much? Rand would claim that it is a "sin," in her moral code. I'm not so sure. I sometimes experience dissatisfaction, with where I am, what I am, and my estate, but I'm just not a fundamentally unhappy person, and I don't wish to be an unhappy person. Those who seek and strive often find disaster, instead of... what? It is all well and good to say "values," but the concept describes a term that is mostly a label for a list of accomplishments and possessions to which one attaches some reasons for attaining, obtaining, and keeping. What does my list look like? At forty nine years of age, it's still pretty "Spartan" to use a generous and flattering, if not downright disingenuous, term. Perhaps Thoreau would disagree, being an advocate of simplicity.

Thoreau and Rand — there's an odd couple for you. I'm certain that, to the extent that Ms. Rand was aware of him, she disdained his philosophy, given what little I know of Thoreau's. Nevertheless, isn't that what her own heroes did, in Atlas? They radically and drastically shrank their own participation in the division of labor network, not to mention drastically reducing their own respective and collective capital bases, and they did it to remove themselves from a society and culture whose moral code disdained them. Maybe Rand and Thoreau would have copulated like rabbits, had they been contemporaries and had circumstances arisen to put them into close enough proximity for long enough to have exchanged ideas and philosophical premises. Maybe not. I don't know enough specifics of what Thoreau advocated to speculate effectively. Maybe I ought to check him out.

Michael Miller's Leisure Theory of Value upholds the Aristotelian concept that we labor in order to have leisure — the universal means, the universal capital good. Leisure is in the sense of having more time for whatever else we desire to accomplish. Suppose we produce more wealth, more leisure, than we could ever use in the time remaining in our lives? What then? Certainly, my leisure is nowhere near so "secure." At my present level of production and consumption, I am doing not much more than "earning my living" day to day. I am trying to improve that, if for no other reason than improving my own peace of mind.

I can do that. I have been working toward that end, slowly. What then? I honestly don't know, and haven't for some time. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for companionship — intimate companionship, but even that is not something to which I can remain committed. It's not even so much fear of making another mistake. As problematical as it often was I still can't regard my marriage as a mistake, per se. I don't want to be some woman's problem though. That I could certainly live without. Even so, if I could be reasonably certain of finding someone who would not come to regard her association with me as a burden or a trap I still wonder about all of the tiresome logistics of maintaining a relationship: all of the negotiation and compromise and adaptation...and work...for a reward that so often appears to me as nothing more than an abstraction right now. I'm not moved enough by anyone to consider chasing her. I don't know all that many people, in total, and the ones who have inspired me are people about whom I have come to consider and decide that while they may be worthy of admiration and be wonderful people and hold my affections I still can't see myself involved in a committed, intimate relationship with them and any prior beliefs or suppositions to the contrary were more delusions or projections or idealizations than actuality.

So, I feel complacent, and I feel I should not be, but I don't know how to shake it off, or even if I should. Pondering this issue doesn't seem to take me anywhere but in circles. Something would need to change, to change that course. I'm not sure what. Where do I want to go?
Tags: introspection, values

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