The Good Life / by Andreas Kopriva

Good morning everyone and welcome to today's post.

I've been considering a large number of things lately, including the possibility of daily sculpts which I'll probably be doing should I finally manage to organize and manage my time in anything resembling a sustainable and useful schedule. But ultimately I think I will try it, despite the unavoidable possibility that it will probably end up being a concept sketch per week instead of per day,

Another thing on my mind for the past few years is what is the point of this all. Now this is something that started bothering me back in those lovely teenage years, listening to broody black metal, reading Nietzsche and Cioran and whining about the futility of existence to noone in particular. Almost twenty years later that core feeling is peculiarly still there, though at this point it is no longer expressed in any form of violent rebellion or an outcry as to the unjust nature of society and/or the universe in general, instead being manifest as an endlessly rolling frozen plane in the back of my mind.

So I've been doing some reading and listening, in an effort to understand what drives people, what ultimately matters in life and have stumbled across the following presentations :

 

What is Good in Life

The above presentation by psychiatrist Robert Waldinger is based on the longest study undertaken regarding adult development. A massive longitudinal study, spanning 75 years following individuals, practically from cradle to grave, yielded certain common observations regarding the concept of well-being as applied to humans.

It essentially ends up providing an experimental and scientifically sound backbone to what, for many, could be considered as common sense and knowledge. It appears that what sustains our wellness is the sense of socialising and community; the bonds of friendship and love that we appear to neglect as we're fixated on procuring more and more material wealth and or recognition.

It's pretty tough to come to terms with that, especially in more consumer driven societies, considering the consistent focus on fostering a more competitive mindset as opposed to a more collaborative one. Pretty much everything appears to be based on that mindset, from our education (grades, standardized tests, classifications) to the general quantitative methodologies of 'grading' one's performance in a company (size of one's portfolio for example).

Yet that leads to ephemeral joy, especially taking into consideration Diminishing Returns when taking joy and time as variables. You get a new car and are super excited with this purchase, the prospect of an open highway being considered as the pinnacle of existence. As time progresses, one tends to get less and less excited with using the product, until ultimately it's just your car. 

Compare that to a purchasing an experience, specifically one shared with others and in all likelihood you'll be happier for longer as those experiences create memories which can be recalled over time. The ephemeral nature of those experiences, their very finite nature, allows us to be more in them, to absorb them more and to hold unto them dearly for it is pretty much what we're made of- stories and memories, shared and retold until we are no more.

Speaking of being no more - here's a lovely talk regarding death :

The particular talk was one of the most beautifully structured and shared narratives I have had the privilege of hearing. Discussing the aspect of palliative care and bringing to the forefront what actually matters at the end of the line, Miller manages to put things into perspective and guide one to consider things that are not often considered.

Such as the joy of a gesture of kindness from one of the nurses who brought a snowball to the, at-the-time, bed-ridden Miller, allowing him to experience a part of the exterior world beyond just the sense of sight. Again, importance is given on that social aspect, that connection between two people framed through a shared activity, whether that is a conversation or the simple provision of a soothing gift - something which provides just a tiny bit of comfort to someone who is not very well indeed.

These are primarily the things which I find myself thinking about more and more as time progresses, and maybe it's how I'm noticing the effects of time on my own meat shell, where I'm living through what I had been warned about decades earlier. I find myself drifting away from focusing on tangible assets, things, ultimately toys which provide brief respite and joy and enjoying those shared social experiences. Of holding a loved one, having a conversation with someone, being in a social situation, witnessing events in the company of others. These are ultimately more satisfying, especially the more you grow and notice the paradoxical nature of tangible assets. How their permanence fosters the sense of taking them for granted and thus not caring or how their planned obsolescence strips away their usefulness.

On the other hand one can always take heed of Conan's life purpose and be done with it.