Philosophy

There is currently a cruise ship docked in Fremantle.

On board are a number of people suffering from COVID-19. Also aboard the ship are people who wish to return to their homes and families.

Naturally, many West Australians aren’t stoked about this. The interests of the ship’s inhabitants pose a serious health risk to our community, and a plan needs to be developed to address it.

The point where I stop understanding this conflict is the point at which rational concern turns into vehement hatred.

It’s when the front cover of our newspaper displays a man on board, middle finger extended to the helicopter filming him from the sky.

Why is it that as soon as we have a team, a side, or a line in the sand it becomes acceptable to discard our humanity?

The people on that boat are fighting the same thing we’re fighting; the enemy of our enemy is our friend.

We ought to act accordingly.

When circumstance unites those who would prefer not to cross paths, the least that can be offered is respect.

It’s likely that if you don’t want to be somewhere with someone else, they don’t want to be there either.

Pride belongs to the kind, to the humble, to those with the courage to muster decency.

There are reasons to explain every strange happening or anomaly we encounter. Of this we can be certain.

Whether we become aware of those reasons is less certain.

Some blind spots will walk beside us for our entire lives without ever introducing themselves.

Becoming aware of this is necessary, but becoming comfortable with it is essential.

We are as fragile as the structures we depend on. Only once those structures are taken away can we measure our honest readiness for the world.

It seems likely that the governments, electricity companies, and supermarkets, which we are so used to relying on, will continue to function – our reliance is a safe bet.

But it’s still a bet. Businesses fail and countries fall. They always have, perhaps they always will.

How ready are we, so comfy and warmed by the heaters in our houses, for a life without the support of systems we’ve worked so hard to build?

It’s a bad time to be poking fun at country folk; a better time to learn how to garden, or how to hunt… Just in case.

It starts with us asking ourselves where we are.

Then we consider why we’re there.

Followed by us asking, “Where could we be?”

We consider how we could get there.

We act (hopefully).

We analyse whether or not we’re getting there.

Then we ask ourselves where we are…

If to enjoy even an enjoyable present we must have the assurance of a happy future, we are “crying for the moon.” We have no such assurance. The best predictions are still matters of probability rather than certainty, and to the best of our knowledge every one of us is going to suffer and die. If, then, we cannot live happily without an assured future, we are certainly not adapted to living in a finite world where, despite the best plans, accidents will happen, and where death comes at the end.

Alan Watts

Death comes to us all, so it’s nothing worth being too afraid of. One day, it will become as effortless as breathing.

Until that day, planning too far ahead in the finite game of life is a fool’s errand. Milk every day you get for what it’s worth.

The fact that we never know the day we’ll die should riddle us with inspiration, not fear. Each day we get comes with a new opportunity to make the most of it.

“All finite play is play against itself.”

James P Carse

To play to win is to play with the hope that the game will be completed (and that you will emerge victorious.

But our likelihood of winning finite games is dependant upon how adept we are at playing infinite ones.

There’s no point winning a game in such dramatic fashion that your competitors will be unable to play again.

It isn’t worth fighting so hard that you injure a valuable training partner in the same way it isn’t worth hoarding so much that your neighbour cannot afford to play games with or alongside you.

While some competition keeps games lively, competitiveness at its extreme is counterproductive to play.

Strive to play for the sake of play. And, if you must seek victory, do so with a humility, respect and honour which ensures your play, and the pay of others, will carry on.

Grief knocks like a door-to-door salesman who is excellent at his job, but doesn’t find much joy in it.

He shows up, stirs some emotion and offers an opportunity to buy back into the pain.

The pitch is convincing. So convincing that it might even warrant some reflection.

How badly do I need to feel this?

It’s up to us how long we chat with the salesman, whether or not we let him in to set up his demonstration, and ultimately it’s up to us to whether we decide to buy what he’s selling.

The question becomes: is he offering us an opportunity to grow, or just a path to further suffering?

Do we need the pain? Or can we thank him for his time and kindly send him on his way?

The number zero, like all other human constructions, hasn’t always existed. For millennia, beings roamed the earth who had not yet invented God, taxes, or rights of any kind to be violated.

What was, was. What happened, happened. And that was all.

It seems that we are beginning to realise just how much we take for granted. Perhaps the upshot of COVID-19 is that those of us who make it through will live in a world where we question the longevity of the systems we’ve come to rely on. And we might all just be a little less quick to lean on them too heavily once the status quo stabilises.

Even if only for a while.

If someone knows your name, you have a brand.

What people think and, more importantly, how people feel when they hear your name is that brand.

It’s got nothing to do with who we think we are and everything to do with who we actually are to other people.

Are we reliable? Trustworthy?Charming? Funny?

Not unless someone else thinks so. Self belief might inspire our action, but it’s our actions which inspire our reputations. Which, in turn, define us.

We are responsible for cultivating our reputation, but we don’t get the privilege of disagreeing with it once it’s out there.

We can seek to improve our reputation, but there is no sense in refuting it.

It just is.

If who we think we are doesn’t matter, then perhaps we should do less thinking about who we are today or who we were ten years ago, and more thinking about who we might aspire to be for someone else tomorrow.