Tag Archives: lessons

does it matter how you will be remembered?

On the semi-collaboration-social network that is run by the global company I work for, a few of us try to take the time to discuss philosophy. A topic that triggered a number of synaptic storms was the question someone posted titled: “How would you like to be remembered?”

The discussion was triggered with the poem:

One hundred years from now,
It won’t matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better
Because I was important in the life of a child.

– Unknown

Now many would make references such as citing Mark Twain who once said, “So live that when you die, even the undertaker will be sorry” whilst Douglas MacArthur is remembered for saying, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away”. In fact a few did. I’m sure that if I threw the question at google or at the quotations database, a thousand easily referencable and enlightening quotations could be used here.

However, here’s the crunch – Does it matter?

Hero, villain, famous or infamous – it seems it can all change with a stroke of a pen and circumstance.

Imelda Marcos will probably remain remembered by her people as a tyrant whilst the rest of the western world tends to immediately recall her hundreds of pairs of shoes first. Columbus taught as the great explorer rather than focus on the fact that he was a living new world angel of death modelled tyrant. Even today we see history in the making and the re-telling of it warping the reality in all areas of the world – Ferguson, Hong Kong and North Korea.

So, once again I ask, does it matter how you will be remembered?

Are you living your life for the history books? Or for someone else’s story? Because with a couple of quick strokes, you can go from hero to villain in the telling.

So I wonder if we wouldn’t be better served asking the question of ourselves – how will I remember my life?

What I have always found interesting in asking this question to people, whether in forums or in person, is that once you strip away cultural, religious or subjective language there seems to only be a single fundamental difference in the responses and that was the focal point of the underlying philosophy. There seems to only be two divisions. There are those who uphold an external perspective – the view and judgement of an outside element, be it deity  society, friends, loved ones or writers of obituaries – and those that uphold the internal perspective – the view and judgement of their own internal elements.

Does it fundamentally matter if the end result is the same? Perhaps not. But I do find it interesting – watching those that “do” for reasons beyond themselves versus those who “do” for reasons within themselves. The motivation (i.e. why?), mind you, is what I’m discussing here – the reason, the purpose – is most often external.

That difference is something I noted with social experiments such as http://wakeupproject.com.au/ where participants are requested to perform random acts of kindness for and to others. I am amused by the amount of people who need to ensure that the kindness is recognised, if not applauded. That element of an external validation.

Common responses to these conversations may contain elements of the following:

  • I do not want to coast through life just existing
  • I do not want to waste my potential
  • I want to live a life of purpose.
  • I would like to be remembered as someone that made a difference
  • Someone that stood up for the underdog and fought for justice on all levels
  • Volunteered at not-for-profit groups to support causes,
  • Performed random acts of kindness
  • Mindful of and active in reducing the global footprint
  • Recognised when a person needed help and helped
  • Developed knowledge to increase awareness and education
  • Controlled negative emotions so as not to inflict on others
  • Practised patience, tolerance and forgiveness.
  • Community minded and compassionate.
  • I do believe one person can make a difference
  • I’d like to inspire others to be more
  • If I have made a difference to just one being then my life has been purposeful.

I often agree with the sentiments of each and every one of those points, but I always challenge them by wrapping my previous question and ask if these activities are only worth achieving if some form of recognition is provided?

I reiterate, does it fundamentally matter if the end result is the same?

There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—
God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

— Kurt Vonnegut via God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

I wonder if that external element, which I admit to the perception that all religious “reward” systems come under, is what drives people?

If that external reward system was all gone – if it was proven that the universe is nothing but random chaos, colliding matter and an eternal Nietzschean darkness thereafter – would the simple knowledge of doing good – of being a change for the better, of improving the lives around you, beyond you or your community – would these still be worthwhile ventures?

Now, if the answer is yes, well, then I return to the question: Does it matter if no one is aware of your part and thus no one remembers it?

For better or for worse, the reality is that most of our societal, cultural and theistic structures are based around external validation and judgement.

One might argue that the process of the self examination, of questioning and the aim of overcoming is the driving force of an authentic existence. Thus, self-overcoming is, by nature if not by definition, an internal standard that most people set themselves along the path to improvement.

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people.
But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.
It needs people who live well in their places.
It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane.
And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.

— David W. Orr, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

So, be honest and ask yourself what what would the response be if you had to chose only one of the two following scenarios for your life?

  1. To have lived a life making significant positive differences to the world and in the lives of people, but nobody remembered; or
  2. To have lived your life without an aim to do so, but were mistakenly credited as having done so?

Are you happy with that response?

Regardless of your beliefs, assume you have one life, make it one you are proud of. Remember no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had finished one more ten hour shift! Do you know what they do regret? They regret that they did not have the courage to live a life true to themselves, to express their feelings and to have let themselves be happier. So, do yourself a favour – lie down, imagine it’s your deathbed, and start reciting the story of your life … What is your story? What are the highlights? Who are you reciting it to? Now, work back from there … what do you need to make your life meet that story half way and continue from there?


What are you going to do about it?


The “creating your reality” truth and myth


  • Reality has not, does not, and (perhaps most importantly) will not alter for you.
  • You cannot choose your emotions, but you can choose your perception
  • Your perception alters your view of reality
  • Your view of reality can alter your interaction with it
  • The way you interact with reality determines your experience
  • So, shine.

Continue reading The “creating your reality” truth and myth

On morality …

Over the last few months, I have been involved in a number of colourful and rigorous discourses on a range of topics. In more than a few of those recent spates of discussions, I have found protagonists claiming justification for their argument on claims based on moral grounds.

This got me thinking, can one actually argue morality without fear of rebuttal? Perhaps the rules of morality are not vaporous but can not only be defined, but systematically tested?

So, let us begin with a conjecture : the biggest misconceptions about morals and morality is that they are anything more than a mental illusion.

Continue reading On morality …

On Life Lessons: End of those Mayan Zombie Apocolypse Days Edition

So, I have had this semi-irregular thing over the last few years where I have tried to capture my ever evolving actions, practices, thinking and the many lessons they provide into a form of determined, eclectic and somewhat sesquipedalian life lessons. Mostly, I write these for me, as a reminder and intellectual anchor. If they prove to be useful to others, then all the better.

So, you know, I keep harking back on my lessons and thinking about them and trying, if needed, to address aspects and be a better, more balanced and (perhaps most importantly) confident person. This, funnily enough, brings me to this new iteration. How would my lessons cope in a walking dead world? Can I keep my humanity? Can I be proud of my actions? Will I still be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who stares back at me?
It’s a difficult question to answer. In an apocalyptic world of extreme Darwinist survivability is there room for improvement? Can we still be civilised? Can we still learn to be better people? Does this hypothetical scenario offer us any insights that are useful today?
I went back and re-read my lessons, and I’m proud to say that most of them would still hold – assuming one wanted to – in a post-apocalyptic world.
The 11 lessons, whilst (admittedly) taking on a far more practical and immediate nature, would still hold in the world of the walking dead:
  1. Actively try and lessen the suffering of others
  2. The power of knowledge is the illumination it brings
  3. Make an effort to know more about the world  today than you knew yesterday
  4. Remember: Work Hard, but Play Harder
  5. Recognise the gold that is in friendship
  6. Breath deep and take courage – express your feelings and share your thoughts
  7. Health brings a freedom you do not realise you possess … until you no longer have it
  8. The promise of an external reward – current, belated or in some eternal afterlife – is no reason to commit an act – good or otherwise
  9. Do well by doing good
  10. Be honest with yourself about how you feel about someone
  11. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself – not the life others expect of you.
The lessons and attitudes I listed in the 8 lessons and Mortality thoughts are, within the context of the apocolypse, more guidelines and ways to deal with the inner turmoil … but may be harder to keep in our sights in such an environment.
But How about being “nice”, “liked” or “popular”?
I don’t think this will matter to the zombies, and the reality is that the group of survivalists you end up with are not going to keep you around because of your charm alone – especially if you are becoming a burden. No one cares if you’re “nice” if you have nothing else to offer.
So I should get all nasty and be”Alpha” focused on ensuring i survive and getting what’s mine?
Sure, as long as you want to do it all yourself, because no matter how useful you might be as an army of one, it will never be enough to make others want you to be anywhere but the front-line. The reality is that people will want you around during the peaceful times as much as the “nice” one around during the conflicts.
Does this mean you need to change yourself? Should you become nicer or nastier? Should you become something others want you to be?
You should be you.
But no one likes extreme aggressiveness – neither the active nor passive variety.
Being nice is nice, but if that’s all you have (or are willing) to offer, then that’s not enough.
The answer? Be someone you are happy to be … and be someone who has something to offer others. In fact, you might find that having something to offer will make you feel wanted.
This is not a bad thing – as long as you don’t allow yourself to be used.
All relationships – platonic or amorous – rely on the seat of trust that rests above the three stool legs of communication, compromise and respect.
You need to offer something to others for them to find value in you as you indeed would seek something of value in them.
Would you accept nothing in exchange for something? Stating that you have the absence of something does not value make.
So, yeah … the 11 lessons still hold. The order may change, and the other lessons will help you focus on the inside and dealing with that, because who you are inside is everything in that it is what makes you do what you do and can help you be who you want to be … now and into the apocalypse.

I’m guilty of it …

Sometimes people say or do things without thinking.

This can be due to a hundred different things … and for a hundred different reasons. It may come from a negative space … or from a positive space … but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t done without thinking.

I do it the most with my Mrs … but with a lot of friends in general, I find.

I jump in with kind words.

I offer a different view, pampering, protection, assistance … “solutions”

I forget that people need to work that out themselves and that they did not ask for any of that …

I need to remember to just listen and acknowledge them.

Only offering anything else after they ask**.

It’s harder to do than say.

Even if you just want everyone to truly happy … maybe we need to let them find the sunshine by walking out of their own fire swamps.

I wrote this on another blog about a week ago, but wanted to put it elsewhere for posterity and to remind myself

**As someone mentioned, “I would feel I wasn’t being there for them if I didn’t and yet most likely it is the wrong thing”.

They say there is always 3 sides to a story …

That of one side, that of the other side … and then there is the truth.

I look at it a lot like looking at a maths problem.

We can gather the values of p(A) and the values of p(B) and we can then try to determine the probability of truth or p(T).

Now, sometimes you add 2 and 2 and get 5 … if you look closely, it may be because one or both were very large values of 2 … so, perhaps the p(T) is correct …

but it’s impossible for 2 and 2 to equal three because regardless of the smallness of the values of 2, it just cannot be computed that way.

So, while it may be true that we may never know the truth, with a little logic, we can spot the lies.

Never stop trying to spot the lies as you aim towards the truth.

[Reposted from xntrek]

Facing Mortality and the thoughts of the lessons it offers.

As some of you may know, my wife’s sister passed away suddenly last month. We weren’t terribly close – and perhaps therein is one of the great tragedies of it all, that at 44 years young, she left this plane of existence and in her place the vacuum of her existence highlighted the myriad of small things that left her estranged with her parents and distant from us and yet, in preparing to cremate her, we learned more about her and her life of the last 15 years in a few short days than in the actual 15 years of passed time.

My thanatophobia kicked in well and true – yet i managed to (mostly) hold it together for Ingrid and be there for her. However the whole event, along with my fears, depression and over analytical mind has brought out a few thoughts about how we live.

One of the many rules of life posts and posters I see are attributed to the Dalai Lama, and reading through them, some struck a chord.

The Dalai Lama is said to have stated that we should follow the Three Rs: Continue reading Facing Mortality and the thoughts of the lessons it offers.