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The meaning of life - Phil's Rambling Rants
April 20th, 2008
10:59 pm

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The meaning of life
Sorry for being Posty McPostalot this evening, but I have one more entry.

The 7:00 To the Best of Our Knowledge was a show that really got me thinking.  It was ostensibly about "green" lifestyles, but it had a lot of stuff that really resonated with me.  I feel too tired for coherence so I'll try to just blurt out some thoughts.  Hopefully when I read this, I'll actually remember more than I can put into words now.

It talked about how actually living according to the principles one believes in is very important for feeling happy.  I make the effort, when I have a fairly easy choice, to minimize packaging and throwaway things.  I feel uncomfortable using paper plates and plastic silverware.  I'm not willing to go as far as the guy they profiled who lived in New York.  He refused to use electricity or carbon-powered transportation (even the elevators in his building) and wouldn't use anything that created trash.  He supposedly didn't use toilet paper.  I wish they'd actually pressed him on how he cleans himself after he takes a dump.  But I wish I could find the courage and fortitude to say to friends when I'm visiting "instead of putting out paper plates and forks, please use real plates and silverware, and let me help with the dishes".

They talk about how our lifestyle has us rushing and stressed all the time.  I wish I could simplify my life so that I didn't have to do the things that force me onto a schedule where I'm always feeling rushed and I never have time, but it seems like modern life is a package that's all stuck together, and I can't see how to cut out one piece without that meaning that I also have to cut out the next.  I think I could give up a lot of my stuff; I could probably handle having just a room in a shared space.  And if I didn't have to have a house that's a big part of the reason I have to have a regular job.  But the one piece that really scares me about trying to break out of the rat race is health care.  I have to have a real job or I get to find out experimentally if my asthma is cured or just in long term remission, by dying if I stop the Flovent and it does come back.  Without a real health plan, that one prescription costs more than I spend on food.

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From:singlemaltsilk
Date:April 21st, 2008 05:04 am (UTC)
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But I wish I could find the courage and fortitude to say to friends when I'm visiting "instead of putting out paper plates and forks, please use real plates and silverware, and let me help with the dishes".

A better approach would be to lead by example. Use 'real' dishes/flatware when hosting your friends in your own home.
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From:tigertoy
Date:April 21st, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
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If I ever hosted events at my own house, it goes without saying that I would. But I live in a location that is so inconvenient for people to attend that when I did host things (in the far distant past when the place was fit for company) it was very hard to get anyone to agree to go there.
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From:billroper
Date:April 21st, 2008 05:07 am (UTC)
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There's something to be said for trying to reduce one's stress, but it's not necessarily clear to me that the best way for everyone to do that is by moving to a "simpler" lifestyle. I'm fortunate in that I have a job that I generally like -- if I didn't have the job that I have which produces the income that allows me to do the things that I want to do, I suspect I'd be a lot more stressed.

Like anything else, there are good days and bad days, but there are more good days than not. That's not always been true, admittedly.

But knowing that I could get another job if I really wanted to certainly helps reduce stress too. It's not necessarily the stress of the job; it's feeling trapped that's bad.

The trick is to examine the set of feasible choices and see what's out there that would help you to be happier. (And I stress feasible. There are days when I think I'd really like to try to be a comic actor. Then I consider that I'd also like to eat regularly and support my wife and child... :) )
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From:singlemaltsilk
Date:April 21st, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
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But you are a comic actor -- you just don't do it for a living.
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From:billroper
Date:April 21st, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for reminding me of that. And there are some definite advantages to doing it as a hobby. :)
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From:tigertoy
Date:April 21st, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
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I'm not trying to tell other people what they must do to be happy. There is a lot of talk going around that a whole lot of people are not happy with modern life and that people in general would be a lot better off if life were "simpler". And like most subjects where there's a lot of talk going around, the talk is a mixture of some real crap and some real wisdom.

But the reason I posted was not to try to change anyone else's lifestyle, it's to try to figure out how I could change my own.
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From:billroper
Date:April 21st, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Makes sense. And you need to decide whether simpler would necessarily make you happier. It's certainly possible to get by on less income, depending on what things you want to remove from your life and which ones you want to keep.
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From:tigertoy
Date:April 21st, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
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The problem is trying to find a way to give up the parts that I don't need or in some cases even want but keep the parts I need. I want a health plan, and I don't see a way to get it except by holding down a real job, which means living on a schedule.
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From:billroper
Date:April 21st, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
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Depends on the state too. I know that Tom's on some kind of special health plan that Michigan has, but I don't know if that sort of thing is available in Illinois or not.
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From:msminlr
Date:April 21st, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
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I've just bought Sara Susanka's latest book The Not-so-Big Life. She usually writes about home building and remodeling, but this one is about remodeling one's life. In the introduction she describes herself as being in about the same strssed-out condition you describe in the third paragraph above. See if your local library has a copy and see if it gives you any useful ideas?
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From:starstraf
Date:April 28th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
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yeah it is scarry that so many life choices are based on health care coverage
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