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Something Greater than Yourself

Posted on 2013.11.14 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
Tags: , , ,

Much of the personal growth rhetoric concludes with the highlight, "contributing to something greater than yourself" and often provides examples limited to volunteerism or helping others. This is one I have struggled with for some time. Admittedly, I limit my "giving" to generous monetary tips - just about everything else denigrates into a racket, even tithes were I so possessed given the overwhelming supporting evidence of televangelism - but much like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I see giving, belonging, and contributing as a trinity of mythological beasts; a hypostasis of distinct yet one - the latter of which I now believe being wholly inclusive of, while simultaneously superseding, the former two.

To contribute to something [greater than yourself] is going to require giving more than just time, money or ineffective membership. More than satisfying the instinctual sociological desire to belong - the raw visceral appeal of political parties, organized religion, sports affiliation or violent gang membership - contributing is much more of an investment, requiring an almost sacrifice of self, a rebirth or self-starting intrinsic motivation. We're all familiar with working harder at doing better on projects which interest us - a gazillion job satisfaction surveys tell us so. Think then of that level of contribution to something greater than yourself as a life project, something which pays us back far more than we could ever put in it through simple vocal or monetary alignment. Something which pays us back in unwavering, universal happiness.

To what then, do those who eschew such dichotomous associations vis-à-vis the Two-Party Swindle seek out to contribute? This is what has plagued me. Until I found the answer in the most unsuspecting of places - my past. Looking back, while almost always marred by our own idealized projections, can still provide a unique comparison to our present selves. A veritable built-in time machine function which, if utilized with the understanding that our filters will likely misinterpret the results (The Blindfold and the Chestnuts), can be used to give us a fairly accurate glimpse into one possible future.

As an empiricism junkie, I was authoring a carefully constructed piece detailing flaws in a broad assumption which I admitted I would have made myself had I not experienced it first hand. In trying to be as correct as possible in debunking some very specific (and awkwardly erroneous myths), I settled upon anecdotal troubleshooting.

[Having assumed a position] every problem I encountered proved an exciting challenge to overcome; deep philosophical issues that could touch on every aspect of societal existence. Most people complain about the same three things THEIR ENTIRE LIFE: time, money, and sex. Finding the opportunity to be faced with so much more and joyfully accepting the challenge gave purpose to my life. I wonder how many of my doe-eyed neighbors feel their life is full of purpose? Maybe they each have a story about it happening once. I found myself having created a life-purpose generator which was running full-tilt all day, every day. Life wasn't just very, very exciting - it had purpose.

A fascinating aspect of that experience was how little I focused on time, money, or sex as anything disquieting - the bane of existence for most fell to the wayside. I'm now fairly convinced only those without purpose use those three things as their focus. Hence so much unhappiness in the world.

Contributing to the purpose-filled life may very well be the apex of self-actualization, and I'm the amateur who got a peek behind the curtain. There is a world of difference between "impossible" and "hard to imagine." The first is about it while the second spotlights our own limitation.

For all others, I hear yoga is nice.

Comments:


Michelle1963
michelle1963 at 2013-11-15 13:02 (UTC) (Link)
I had to mull this topic for a bit. You mentioned personal growth. And that is key. The question arises: what constitutes "something greater than yourself?" For many it is a cause or religion. Not to denigrate the importance of such, I wonder how many experience personal growth with these venues? Often a person joins a cause because the cause represents something for which s/he already deeply believes. Religion is often in the same. People are often brought up with certain religious ideas and affiliations. I would say the exception to this lies in someone who wasn't brought up already immersed in religion and finds true purpose through adopting and learning about a certain religion. However, so often it is more as you said, joining in order to satisfy a craving to be part of group.

So again, what constitutes something bigger than ourselves? I have come to the conclusion that it is something that has the power to change us; something that has the power to upset our underlying worldview. An experience to embrace with both fascination and a little trepidation. It has the power to swallow us, to remake us.

And it ain't for sissies. :p
dentin
dentin at 2013-11-19 20:05 (UTC) (Link)
In true male fashion, I offer not an analysis of your feelings, but rather a solution to one of your stated problems: giving effectively without having to pay a lot of attention to it.

SENS - http://sens.org

I've donated a fair few thousands to the SENS project this year, for a handful of reasons, but the rough overview is:

- A lot of it is high risk, high reward, with a focus on bang for the buck.
- A lot of it is infrastructure that can be done now, before there's pressure to get it done in a hurry.
- It's near to my heart. I don't want to die of old age, and I don't want my parents to die of old age.
- They need cold hard cash more than they need people doing slave labor.

Frankly most other charities I've looked at pale in comparison. Sending food to starving children in africa is low on my priority list, because it doesn't attack the problem of bad governance. Greenpeace is a joke because, well, they're fucking idiots. Saving the species of the day seems a lot less important when we consider the 100000 people who die every day because they got old, doubly so when we can save a species by deep freezing its dna if necessary, or just build new species when we get bored.

The ultimate goal of SENS is to open new fields in aging research, fields which have largely been ignored because there's not currently money in them. They're trying to do this by showing that investing in those fields matters, and that there's low hanging fruit available to those willing to pick it.

It's pretty easy to justify spending more money on 'stem cell research', because everyone is already doing it and it's fairly well understood. It's a lot harder to justify spending money on 7KC clearing or glucosephane cleavage because nobody has shown that there's a theraputic benefit, which means very few people are trying to show that there's a theraputic benefit, even though all the evidence available screams 'yes you idiots'.
ehowton
ehowton at 2013-11-19 23:33 (UTC) (Link)

I LIKE THE WAY HE THINKS

dentin
dentin at 2013-11-20 02:13 (UTC) (Link)

Re: I LIKE THE WAY HE THINKS

Heh, neat. I'm on board with that, except for the exercise part. Really, really wish I didn't have to do that.
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