Filosophy Friday

Or Philosophy Phriday, take your pick.

One day I’m going to write a time travel Click Your Poison book (I’m thinking it’ll be “next” after I finish up the murder mystery I’m working on now) and it’s got me thinking. Time travel has always fascinated me and this book would be an awesome challenge. I’ve often thought if I have one “gift” as a writer it’s an overactive imagination. Well, this ought to put that gift to the test.

Credit: “Time Warp” by Chuck Brittenham

Time travel is a hell of a lot of fun, but it’s also a larger look into who we are as a collective species. We get to see where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going, all in the space of a single adventure. Or, as will most likely be the case with CYP#3, three unique adventures within one book. I’ve thought about time travel a lot over the years and it’s always inspired creative thoughts. What if this? Oooh, but what about that? Now it’s time to let some of those marinated thoughts back out and to contribute something to this story universe. Like the other books in the series it will still be titled toward entertainment on the entertainment-to-art scale, I have the opportunity to, you know… say something profound.

For the “early future” I have a lot of room for social criticism. So many books have already done the Distopian thing, and I wonder if it might be more poignant to do a Utopian vision, perhaps to inspire rather than scare into change. As my brilliant friend Damon says,

We’ve scared ourselves into pessimism with dystopian
stories. Now we just assume the future is going to suck.” – Damon, smartypants

Consider this as one example: We’re reaching a point in our society where efficiency is eliminating more jobs while population growth is expanding the need for them. Something has to give. But why can’t there be a solution? Why not robot servants to do our dirty work, and then a leisure economy composed of artists, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs? You could get a stipend for food and living expenses, then your earnings as an artisan are used strictly for relaxation-based consumerism.

Robot farming is already in development.

I’m saying the rules have changed. There has been a cultural revolution. Perhaps, without the inherent need for “work”, we turn inside. That’s historically where most thinkers, philosophers and authors have come from — they were people who didn’t need to, or chose not to, work for a living. Could there be, would there be, a shift inward toward enlightenment and education?

This is by no means a set-in-stone plot element to the book. I may very well change it completely as I delve into the research; I’m just thinking out loud here. What do you think? What positive changes might the future hold? I’d love to hear some outside thoughts.

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I Will Be Happy, Damn It

I’m a former Air Force officer, I left that job and Montana about a year ago, so I’ve been doing some reflecting.

In the past year, aside from a ton of writing, my main goal has been to get happy again.  I was once a happy-go-lucky type and I’d slowly become bitter through my nine years in the military.  So I resolved to never have a bad day.  It’s all my time now, I told myself, it’s up to me to make sure I’m happy.  I can no longer blame anyone else.

And I did it!  A whole year without a bad day.  But here’s the thing–it’s not like I wasn’t frustrated and it’s not like everything has gone my way.  The difference, is that I chose to be happy.  And you can too.

If I had to put it succinctly, I’d say a good life is simply a collection of moments lived well.  So then the key to a good life is simply enjoying each moment.  There you have it, the secret to life.

I think one of the biggest dileneators between man and animal is that we can choose to be happy.  Hear me out.

Like me, my dog is happiest when she’s writing.

A dog can be happy.  I can see my dog is loving life when we’re playing or I’m giving her attention, and I can tell she’s sad when I put her in the crate, scold her or she’s feeling sick.  But none of those things are within her control.  She has no concept of what happiness is.  We, as humans, can actually outthink our bodies.  We can tell when outside forces are affecting us, and we can literally say, “No.”

It’s not easy, but we can.

If you get a flat tire on the way to a weekend out of town you can either get pissed and curse the tire, or you can say, “I’m going to enjoy my weekend and this won’t stop it,” fix the tire and move on.

They say life isn’t about the destination but the journey. What if the journey is so ridiculous and discouraging that you wonder if the destination is actually worth it?  I say the journey is the journey.  You can complain that your butt hurts and car travel makes you nauseous or you can get some snacks, plug in an audiobook, and enjoy the scenery.

I think we have to overcome our own cynicism, to some extent.  I have a friend on his way to becoming a professional pilot and he’s worried.  What if he hates it?  What if it’s true that pilots are only glorified bus drivers?  All that stuff is just in his head, I say.  He already knows he enjoys flying.  So if it’s, “I’m just a glorified bus driver” vs “I get to fly through the sky on a daily basis, a career that Da Vinci only dreamed of, like a Greek god blazing across the earth on gossamer wings”…which one do you think should he pick?

Comedian Louis C.K. provides some insight on the topic.

I’m not naive enough to say everything is your choice. Like you can get kicked in the balls on a daily basis and say, “I’m still happy!”  So control what you can and roll with the rest.  Get out of bad situations, do your best to enter good ones.  That’s what I did with the Air Force job.  I’m sad to say, it got me down in a major way.  I don’t hate the military or anything like that, but do I hate what I did?  Absolutely.  I was a nuclear missile officer–a Missilier, if you like made-up words–which I firmly believe is the worst job an officer can have.  I was frustrated, overtaxed, undervalued, and perpetually tired.

Beyond the pale
Feb, 2011. No, that’s not the flash. I was that pale; what do you expect? I worked underground. There were no tan lines on my body. And this is on a happy day, my birthday, yet still I look like a freshly exhumed corpse. Here’s what I look like now.

I’ll save that missile talk for another day.  Today’s about being happy.

I created this blog post while I was on a run, as a discussion in my head, after things were looking up.  I started off tired and feeling like crap, so I told myself to enjoy the sun, the breeze, and the way my body felt.  Then I grew happier.

That’s all it took.  Just outthink the negative and you too will be happy, damn it.

P.S. (If you want some awesome insight on feeling happy while running, I highly recommend Born to Run.  Maybe you can listen to it as an audiobook on your journey?)