Best-Of Advice

On our next half decade

So grateful you’re able to do this right now – it’s comforting to so many people and we are not incognizant of how many other priorities you must have. I have an inkling this is a milestone year for you. I don’t know why… maybe I’m off by a year one way or the other but it just feels that way. Maybe because you moved five years ago and it felt like a tectonic shift at the time. It hardly matters. But I’d love to know whether you still hold by your advice for the ages for those of us moving into our next half decade.

This is a milestone year for everyone. We are experiencing a once-in-a-century pandemic while actively engaged in waves of civil and political unrest amplified by the single most important election in the history of the American experiment.

November is an inflection point, and regardless of how the tension is released, things are going to get worse before they get better. 2025 will be as foreign to us as 2015 feels now, and getting there will be brutal. It’s going to hurt, and as per usual, the people who deserve to feel pain will mostly go unscathed. Justice is rare, and peace is more expensive than war. That won’t change no matter how much we refine the system, because the human condition is inherently flawed.

Each of us comes with the original sin of an amygdala that is too large and a prefrontal cortex that is too small. We come pre-wired for brutality and irrational belief. We do our best, but we are painfully and permanently limited, and we are each and collectively destined to fail. Entropy is the only law, decay is the only certainty, and death is the only inevitability.

Still, we wake up every morning and fight our battles. Some days we might even win, but we should never let that be our purpose. Winning and losing — that is to say, any endeavor with a scorecard or an account balance — can be an occupation, perhaps even an obligation, but you will never know contentment if you allow winning to be your purpose.

Wherever you are in your stage of life, whatever battles you are fighting, I wish for you to find the gift of acceptance and the ability to let go. The point is to keep fighting as hard as you can while simultaneously embracing the concept of surrender. To be clear, I do not mean surrender to authority. Never surrender to authority, as that is where you will find war. What I mean is surrender to inevitability. That is where you will find peace.

The next five years are coming. Not all of us will make it, and that’s okay. Monsters will thrive and horrible shit will happen to good people, and still, it’s all okay. It’s not right, but that’s not the point, and besides, that’s just you keeping score. 

Just do your part. Find acceptance. Fight as hard as you can for as long as you can and then let go. I promise, it will be enough.

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6 thoughts on “On our next half decade

  1. me says:

    WTF.

    Peace is more costly than war? Only someone who craves war would say something so asinine, framing the dichotomy as a foregone eventuality, a line in the sand, anyone on the other side a complicit member of the status quo.

    That comment sure takes on a different light along side your twitter brag about the guns you own, you know, the signpost of your edgy progressive identity.

    Ouch.

  2. K says:

    I had an immediate reaction to this that I had to explore awhile before responding here. Because the core of it is the fundamental truth about the indifference of the universe and how we have to accept our infinite smallness amidst infinite vastness. And this is actually something that I will always credit CT with teaching me, and something that has been incredibly important to learn. But there are other, separate ideas here too which almost feel like being negative for the sake of being negative?

    “The human condition is inherently flawed [because] we each have the original sin of an amygdala that is too large and a prefrontal cortex that is too small…we are each and collectively destined to fail.’ My read of this is that our decisions are overly driven by emotion unmitigated by executive function and this is our ‘fatal flaw’. But the human brain is more complicated than that. Also, while I do understand your point, there is a lot of variation based on both nature and nurture in how any particular individual’s brain is wired, and even then our wiring constantly changes as we age. So too does this happen on a collective level. The very fact of human language, then written language, and then increasing literacy of the population shows that we are capable of developing skills that radically change the way we think about the world and ourselves. I guess what I take issue with is that this seems like an overly fatalistic and rigid view of humanity. Entropy isn’t the only law – change is a law too. Nothing stays the same, humans included. I think we are capable of becoming both better or worse, and since no one actually knows the future, we can’t know how this story ends. And even if everything in the end is destined for oblivion, that doesn’t mean we failed. It just means we ended. This may be wishful thinking but I believe we are capable of creating something a lot closer to utopia*, however impermanent, between now and the heat death of the universe. And of course, we are also certainly capable (and more likely) to wipe ourselves out with a nuclear holocaust or devastating climate change in the next 100 years. But as long as there’s a chance for creating a better and more just world, I’m going to fight for that, no matter how long it lasts. I refuse to believe it’s futile, because if that’s the case, we really should all just kill ourselves and give the next species a shot.

    *utopia, as in a world that minimizes suffering and injustice and promotes and nurtures the best endeavors of humanity

  3. VeryOn says:

    “ Justice is rare, and peace is more expensive than war.”
    Wow. Nice. Now if only the super rich would prioritize.

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