Why do I, or you, need to make money?

Believe it or not, but there are people stupid enough to forget the answer every now and then, and then it falls to someone in the vicinity to explain.

I am one of these simple-minded people. Fortunately, I have enough complexity within me to awaken from my trance after a few minutes, and then I can usually manage to scrape together enough brain cells to formulate a response.

The explanation goes like this:

Reason number 1. You need to survive (if you don’t want to survive, none of this applies to you). To survive, you need money to buy food, pay rent, and pay for water and electricity. You also need to buy clothes and every now and then medicine. It will also help if you do something that will make it easier to survive a year from now, ten years from now, and when you are much older than you are now and probably cannot or wouldn’t want to work anymore. Your survival may also be closely linked to the survival of people close to you for whose survival you are responsible. This means more money for food, clothing, medicine and other items.

Reason number 2. If your survival has gathered enough momentum, it makes sense to make your survival worth the effort – otherwise, what’s the point? To make your survival worth it, you need to do things you enjoy. That means you’d need money to buy books or to play sports, or go to the movies, or cook for the fun of it, or dozens of other things that people do for pleasure, or because it makes them feel happy and generally positive about life.

Reason number 3. You might want to assist others in their struggle for survival (doing so might even be something that makes your own survival worthwhile). Odds are good that you will need money in your efforts to help others.

Reason number 4. You may also want to assist other people in their efforts to make their survival worth the effort. Again, it is not necessary to lay cash on the table, but it will probably ease the process.

So, there you have it – or perhaps rather, there I have it, once again. We need money to survive. We need money to make our survival worthwhile. We need money if we want to help others survive, and we need money to help other people change their opinion if they think their survival isn’t worth the effort.

How much money do you need? That’s an easier question to answer.

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A good and successful day is built layer by layer

WEDNESDAY, 28 DECEMBER 2016

Who begins their day with a manifesto on their lips, and a fine-worked blueprint in their heads?

The fact is, most people’s days start with necessity: you get up because you need to go to the bathroom, because you are hungry, and because you have made arrangements with people and businesses, and if you do not show up, you’re going be in trouble.

And so begins your day. Eventually, you shower and you brush your teeth, you get dressed, and you go somewhere to earn your bread and butter, or to otherwise be of value to the community.

Layer upon layer your day is built up. Here and there you make a mistake. Here and there you say something or you do something that embarrasses you, but after a few minutes or an hour or so you are in full swing again.

By the time the day is over, you will see perhaps look back on a good and relatively successful day. Did you start with slogans rolling over your lips, and a neatly printed plan waiting next to your bed for you to follow like an obedient robot? Most likely not, although you may have had a good idea of how you would like your day to progress.

So it is with other endeavours and projects that you undertake. You have a good idea of what you need to do to achieve reasonably good results. You have a good idea what you should do to stay out of trouble. You still make the occasional mistake, and every so often you slide on a banana peel. But successful results, like a good and successful day, is built up layer by layer – ten, twenty, a hundred big and small actions and steps following after another to produce a good result.

Slogans are good. Manifestoes have their place. Surely you have to know what you must do. But success is more often than not the result of layer upon layer upon layer of small, seemingly insignificant actions. Just like a good and successful day.

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Not exactly on the same subject, but in the same spirit nevertheless: Scott Adams: “The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary. You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together.” [Source]

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Where do you draw the line for murder?

WEDNESDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2016

On Friday, 5 October 2007 at 17:04 I wrote a note which began as follows: “Is self-denial – the denial of your values, of who you are – justifiable if the end result is good?”

I sketched a situation where someone who seems to be a good person commits an evil act, but for good reasons.

Long story short, I decided not to use the original text because I think when a “good person” commits an evil act – such as murder, for a good enough reason – like saving a hundred lives, he did not really act against his moral values, and he did not really sacrifice his “good conscience” in the same way as someone sacrificing his or her life or a limb to save someone else.

Nevertheless, I thought, surely one must draw a line somewhere:

I

Say someone saves a hundred lives by deceiving someone else and then killing them in the middle of the night – after winning that person’s confidence, or something like that. The person feels very guilty, but the world is a better place. Is this not also a case of a person sacrificing himself for other people?

II

Say someone ends up providing long-term shelter to two hundred homeless people by deceiving someone else and then killing them in the middle of the night – after winning that person’s confidence. The person feels very guilty, but the world is a better place – those two hundred people will have a warm place to sleep. Is this not also a case of a person sacrificing himself for other people?

III

Say someone saves a thousand people’s feelings by deceiving someone who insulted their religion and then killing them in the middle of the night. The person feels guilty, but the world, so he believes, is a better place because the community feels that justice was done. Is this not also a case of a person sacrificing himself for other people?

Where does one draw the line?

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The spoken word – and football

WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE 2016

On a different note. On 22 June 1986 Argentina defeated England 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Both Argentine goals were scored by Diego Maradona. The first was the infamous “Hand of God” goal. The second, a few minutes later, is described as one of the best goals ever.

Here is how Víctor Hugo Morales, a journalist from Uruguay, described the “Goal of the Century” in his commentary (translated from Spanish):

“He’s going to pass it to Diego, there’s Maradona with it, two men on him, Maradona steps on the ball, there goes down the right flank the genius of world football, he leaves the wing and he’s going to pass it to Burruchaga … Always Maradona! Genius! Genius! Genius! There, there, there, there, there, there! Goaaaaaaaal! Goaaaaaaal! I want to cry, oh holy God, long live football! What a goal! Die-goal! Maradona! It’s to cry, excuse me! Maradona, in a memorable run, in the best play of all times! Little cosmic comet, which planet did you come from, to leave so many Englishmen behind, so that the country becomes a clenched fist crying for Argentina? Argentina 2, England 0! Die-goal, Die-goal, Diego Armando Maradona! Thank you, God, for football, for Maradona, for these tears, for this Argentina 2, England 0.”

The spoken word.

I reckon if someone writes with so much rhythm, so much passion, emotion laden with so much joy and happiness and hope and even sadness, they should be an instant candidate to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

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What I believe in, and a few other points

THURSDAY, 14 APRIL 2016

1. It is difficult to say what I believe.

2. It is difficult for me to commit to anything, because I would have to believe in it 100% (see point 1), and I would have to constantly sell that commitment to myself.

3. I sometimes think when you think of a topic, or if you have an idea for a book, that a book has probably already been written about it. 50 years ago people thought along similar lines, and of course it wasn’t true, but now with Facebook and YouTube and Medium and Reddit and Digg emails with highlights from all over the internet it is hard to believe if you have an idea for a book that no one else in the whole wide world has thought about writing such a book. And maybe you do think of something that is more or less unique, but then another author or publisher with more resources see it and think they can do something similar, only better, or more interesting, or funnier. What I do wish I could see more of from other people is cosmic report type writing: I am aware of my existence; I have learned to read and write; I have developed identity; I survive (how?); I function (how?); I write about what I think and how I feel and how I experience things. If I do discover such a long-term writing project from someone else, I wouldn’t compare it to my own literary efforts. I will rejoice. I will eagerly read what that person thinks, how he or she feels, and how he or she experiences life.

4. Ten years ago or so I believed that I could write something, and someone will read it and think, “This guy is right. It needs to be so. I will act differently from now on.”

5. On Tuesday, 2 June 2015 at 17:26 I wrote the following: [Perhaps my life is not so different] from the next person’s after all, and I am indeed wasting my time with my so-called writing. On the other hand, I believe there is a slim possibility that I have lived my adult life so far in a way that has given me a unique view of human existence, and the life we live, and that a combination of personality and tertiary education could make it possible for me to write something that would make someone else say, “I like the wording of this. It’s not really something that I haven’t thought of myself, but the way the guy talks about it, makes it easier for me to organize my own thoughts.”

6. On Friday, 31 July 2015 at 10:06 I rolled the drum for an important insight: We often say, “But someone else has already said that,” or “Someone else is already doing that.” Fact is, not everyone heard when that other person said whatever they had said; not everyone has seen that particular movie, or has read that specific book. And even if people have heard what that man or woman had said, or if they have seen a certain movie or read a particular book, they may have forgotten the lights that had come on in their heads! We all forget things! This, at the end of the day, is why important things need to be repeated.

7. On Thursday, 28 January 2016 at 13:26 I wrote: Perhaps the best novel that would ever be written in any language has already been written. But still we have to continue writing. Perhaps the most generous man who will ever walk this earth has been dead for decades or centuries. But still we need to continue being generous.

MONDAY, 18 APRIL 2016

I have been thinking about this thing that I don’t really know what I believe in for a long time.

Then it hit me like a thunderbolt this afternoon: I believe in trees.

Think about it: trees are beautiful; they provide shelter to people and animals and birds; trees provide food for humans and animals and birds, and insects; trees house ecological systems in which some creatures live out their entire life cycles; trees clean polluted air and make it easier for people to breathe; trees provide wood for houses and huts and other shelters, and for furniture; trees provide wood for heat; trees provide paper for books; a person can become an activist for the cause of trees – in fact, many people are already devoting their lives to this cause; trees can keep growing for hundreds of years; and lastly but not least, if you suddenly find yourself walking naked outside one day, you can simply walk over to the nearest tree, gently break off a sprig of leaves and cover your face.

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