Fortunate or Unfortunate?

Subtitle: the meaning of life

Once upon a time (now), there were (are) two girls. The girls are sisters. We shall call them Girl 1 and Girl A, G1 and GA respectively. Looking through the Generation scope, it is apparent that both G1 and GA must be somebody's daughters. Regressing backward one generation, it is apparent that G1 and GA are somebody's granddaughters. Etc.

Why G1 and not G2? Because by so labelling G2 becomes inferior and secondary by definition. Why GA? Because GA, as related as she is to G1, is her own self, unique and independent; just as is G1.

G1, as the name may suggest, is more left-brained than right-brained, but both sides of her cerebrum are functioning quite well.

GA, as the name may suggest, is more right-brained than left-brained, although both sides of GA's cerebrum are functioning well.

With that brief introduction, let us now proceed to the subject of this essay:

Fortunate or Unfortunate?

This game was invented by G1 and has provided hours of fun commingled with consternation with other members of the family.

The game, set up somewhat like Monopoly and other like board games, has a number of squares leading to "Home", which is the desired end-point. Just like monopoly, landing certain spaces earns you a card--even if you don't want one. The card of course gives the player a command, which must be followed. One card may say "go forward 6 spaces" and the next card might command "go back 7 spaces". No discernible purpose can be grasped in the sequence or aims of the cards. So with each move, the question arises: was the command fortunate or unfortunate. Remember the object is to "get Home".

So an apparently regressive move may yield a far better advancement the next time. But will that advance lead to true progress, when progress is defined as getting Home? The outcome is unpredictable. G1's game, while frustrating, is brilliant. Delving in philosophy, we come across the conjunction of epistemology (the study of knowledge) with ethics/morality (the study of ultimate truth or purpose).

One can put any title on any square but it doesn't change the outcome. You still have to draw a card and you still have to go Home. But how much, if any control has the player on the Commands issued by the cards? Therefore how much direction or intentionality can any player exert on the game, rather than being totally responsive involuntarily to senseless commands?

Skipping the above concept of control, we come to the question of home. What is Home? Is it something imprinted in us at birth or conception? Is Home defined in terms of current situations? Such a conditional home is therefore largely unchosen, yet somewhat affected by self-generated choices. Is Home an idealized future state of being? Do the desired endpoints change with time or are they immutable, based upon a prior condition?

If desired endpoints change with time, why does it happen and how does it happen? If desired endpoints for "Home" become immutable, what fixes the conception at which the choice of desire freezes, i.e., becomes immutable?

Fortunate or Unfortunate does not answer these questions but raises them, perhaps for the first time in a person's life. Life solutions, whether desired or achieved, are unique to each living, sentient being, even alligators. But what lessons do we learn as we proceed down the pre-ordained path? I think the lessons of life are both thrust upon us and explicitly chosen by us, in an unpredictable fashion. This is why life-paths are unique.

Where is the truth? Define Truth. Is the definition of truth universal, personal, unknowable? Using the Existential philosopher's definition of authenticity as being "true to oneself", does that involve self-delusion? Yes! Most certainly it does.

Remember the adage: "Be careful what you wish for, You might just get it".

Is life a crap shoot or a game of bridge? It is both and it is neither.

With grateful acknowledgement to G1 and GA and their HOME

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Comments

dkmich's picture

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*donate *follow us on Twitter *like us on Facebook *dump Google

thanatokephaloides's picture

I think the lessons of life are both thrust upon us and explicitly chosen by us, in an unpredictable fashion. This is why life-paths are unique.

And it's why the typical right-wing crap game of blame the victim is pure bullshit, too. We make the best choices we can at the time we are presented with them. But Cat alone knows what those "cards" will bring us. (If She even does!) And a certain amount of the "Cards" bring total, catastrophic shit, too; as Guru said, "Shit Happens!"

An excellent antidote for the crap that passes for comments on sites like ZeroHedge, Alligator Ed!

Smile

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"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

Alligator Ed's picture

@thanatokephaloides It is funny how some circumstances can trigger eloquent thoughts, unanticipatedly. Serendipity is a great force in life, unconsidered, unanticipated, but yet seized upon by the aware to find a deeper meaning or value.

Pathways though life are usually neither straight nor obvious, strewn with unmarked forks in the road. All life is subject to such vicissitude. Those born, through no credit of their own, into wealthy families cannot then assume credit for their starting point or future directions in life.

The essential of humanism is recognizing that none of us are superpeople, übermensch. Has there ever been a single person that made life success solely on their own? No, never. While recognizing that competition is often beneficial, there are those unable to compete. Are we to throw them away? A humanistic response is to aid the less fortunate as well as all other groups. Whose life has intrinsically more value than another's. What criteria? Who decides? When value is inherent in all being, then such decisions are irrelevant and would not arise.

Take the battle for healthcare. Is money to be the arbiter of whom is worth saving or healing? Currently it is. Knowledge of the ultimate source of value is not a scientific truth but a relativistic one. In my Theory of Relativity, all human life has value. Can this be proven? No. Neither can the existence of God(s).

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thanatokephaloides's picture

@Alligator Ed

The essential of humanism is recognizing that none of us are superpeople, übermensch. Has there ever been a single person that made life success solely on their own? No, never. While recognizing that competition is often beneficial, there are those unable to compete. Are we to throw them away? A humanistic response is to aid the less fortunate as well as all other groups. Whose life has intrinsically more value than another's. What criteria? Who decides? When value is inherent in all being, then such decisions are irrelevant and would not arise.

Take the battle for healthcare. Is money to be the arbiter of whom is worth saving or healing? Currently it is. Knowledge of the ultimate source of value is not a scientific truth but a relativistic one. In my Theory of Relativity, all human life has value. Can this be proven? No. Neither can the existence of God(s).

And neither proposition can be disproven, either. (No simple negative can be prioven; you know that!)

But it's time and far overdue that we treat all human lives as if they had value, whether wealthy or not. In my humble opinion at least, this is axiomatic.

Smile

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"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

mimi's picture

@Alligator Ed

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

thanatokephaloides's picture

@mimi

best comment evaaahhhh ... /nt

I must confess to experiencing a certain warm fuzzy feeling when reading that wonderful Comment, and encountering c99p's "@thanatokephaloides" in the beginning of it!

Of course, that made responding to it somewhat of a moral mandate for this humble scribe....

Smile

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"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

lotlizard's picture

@Alligator Ed  
doing what I can to enrich the lives of two close friends (on two different continents) who have been totally blind from birth.

And, whaddayaknow, acting with that aim has had a marvelously enriching effect on my own life.

But isn’t life a competition? Doesn’t hanging back to help someone else hurt my own chances of winning the Great Race? Hmm, well, I guess I just don’t put much stock in that idea anymore.

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mimi's picture

ha, this essay is an excellent hit piece on my brain. you knocked at my mind's door, Alligator Ed. Because I never knew and too many folks seem to think they know it for me ... of where my home is.

I think the lessons of life are both thrust upon us and explicitly chosen by us, in an unpredictable fashion. This is why life-paths are unique.

Where is the truth? Define Truth. Is the definition of truth universal, personal, unknowable? Using the Existential philosopher's definition of authenticity as being "true to oneself", does that involve self-delusion? Yes! Most certainly it does.

Well, if it wouldn't be so cheezy I would say you deserve a huuuge, big hug and a disgusting kiss on both cheeks for that sentence.

Probably home is where you believe to understand the folks around you best and feel you know whom to trust and whom not. In that sense I never arrived at 'home'. My whole life was a succession of chosen and thrusted upon me "leaving" or "trying to make" homes szenarios.

Boy, how that didn't work ...

Recentely in my life people seemed to think that I 'came back home'. It turns out that I didn't thought so. Then in our beautiful German language they said, 'ah, Du bist noch nicht richtig angekommen. Nun komm erst einmal an" (you haven't really arrived yet, now - wait a bit - and arrive here). I thought that's "a Schmarren" (= guff). I arrived 'there' (supposedly my home) for utterly stupid and unpredictable reasons. Now I think I have "lost my supposed home". So, what the heck.

If the "wheel in the sky keeps turning and I don't know where I will be tomorrow" I just wonder if the heaven is a paradise or a hell... Smile

But then I do like the 'rising morning sun's kisses' and so I am a believer and go on...

Thank you so much for this wonderful essay and all it does to comfort me.
Give rose

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

Alligator Ed's picture

@mimi Thanks. Smile

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lotlizard's picture

@mimi  
Left side, right side, left side.

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mimi's picture

@lotlizard
they end up kissing the left side twice and then for good. Wink

How are you doing? I missed you. Glad to see you posting here. Be well.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

Steven D's picture

Not sure if that is because I am destined to like it or because I chose to do so, but who cares?

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

of a Chinese folk tale a teacher introduced our class to way back in the mid 60s. Even after all this time I keep coming back and pondering it. One version can be found at http://rainbowbody.com/newarticles/farmerson.htm

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There is no such thing as TMI. It can always be held in reserve for extortion.

Alligator Ed's picture

@ghotiphaze of which I had heard a variant 30+ years ago. In that version, the protagonist (if such word is applicable) was a Russian farmer and the army which came to take his son away were Cossacks. This shows that the lesson of the tale is valid cross-culturally. Assumptions of good or beneficial are transient, changing with the times. While attempting to "do my best", I have made many misjudgments but always with the intent to do the best.

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Not sure if this works in this essay, (because it's proving an 'anti,') but isn't it interesting that some members of a group 'always' do this or that. "This" could be blaming another group - always - or "That" could be members of a group - always - playing the victim.

I've found myself in groups saying "Always This or That" now and then; so I try to get out and get home. But then I remember that radio skit where the WW II British older home-defender 'helps' by confusing the enemy by switching the road signs.

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Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

QMS's picture

Thanks Mr. Alligator,
Your essay brings up some very good points for contemplation. In so far as "home" is understood, my idea: it is closer to the place we want to be toward the end of this game of life. Maybe, if we are smart and/or lucky, eventually getting there before the end is near. It is where I've been heading for many years.
Getting closer helps refine the ultimate goal. We change, the world changes, we make compromises to allow for growth and learn from the experiences. I'm starting to see some of the things I worked for mean less, while new developments take on unexpected precedents.
I am getting closer to home. Some of the realisations hurt like hell, unable to ignore the lessons. We will get there, one way or another. I wish for others the same I seek for myself. May the journey be worth the sacrifices made to get there.

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Send the military madness to the shrink. Sanity is peace.

@QMS

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Alligator Ed's picture

@QMS

In so far as "home" is understood, my idea: it is closer to the place we want to be toward the end of this game of life. Maybe, if we are smart and/or lucky, eventually getting there before the end is near.

I couldn't agree more. Thanks.

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this is such a beautiful essay, and I've wanted to say so much in response, but especially I've wanted to say this: over the past few months my husband and I and our extended family have been watching the Golden Gate Audubon Society's Osprey Cam, a live video of an osprey nesting pair on San Francisco Bay. We watched them build their nest, mate, incubate eggs, saw the first chick hatch on Mother's Day, and saw the 2 chicks fledge and lift off. We learned that the father flew off each day and fished, bringing about 8 striped bass each day to this family of 4, while the mother mostly stayed with the chicks, sheltering them from the weather and from predators. When the father brought a fish, he usually ate the head while the rest of the family waited, and then the mother pains-takingly fed each chick, morsel by morsel.

During the middle of the night on July 4th, Independence Day, a day after he or she had first flown above the nest, the older of the 2 chicks (they were a few days apart,) disappeared. The live chat included fear that it had been taken by an owl during the night. As the next days went by fear ensued among the viewers as the Audubon people tried to explain both the strengths and weaknesses of the fledglings, their susceptibility to predator birds, but also their incredible sense of home, such that they would find their way back.

Suddenly we learned that he or she had been found in the Bay by a barge crew, who rescued and sent the chick to WildCare for examination. Because the chicks were banded, the crew knew this was the Osprey Cam fledgling. Euphoria among the daily viewers online. Newspaper coverage, texts and letters praising the barge crew members. And then, just as suddenly we learned that the little bird had been badly injured, possibly by crashing into the Bay while trying to fish, and had to be put down.

I can't really express to you what this did to the people who had followed this family through the nesting period. The live chat described uncontrollable sobbing by mature adults. My husband and I had learned so much, about love, about caring, about work, and about dedication. We pondered about instinct as well as about nurturing and learning. Your essay brought it all back to mind.

Here are a couple of videos of the family. I notice the date on the second one is the day before the little guy disappeared.

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Alligator Ed's picture

@Linda Wood Humans could learn a lot from this osprey family. Dad is a good provider, Mom is protector, chicks reasonably well-behaved (though one chick ate too much compared to the other chick). One thing for sure, the two adults know where home is.

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Mark from Queens's picture

and am about to call it a night.

So in lieu of the comment I'd like to write, inspired by your fine essay, I'll just leave this cozy, warm song, that distinctly makes me feel at "home":

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(thirty three and a third at TOP)

"If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
WAS MUSIC"

- Kurt Vonnegut

Alligator Ed's picture

@Mark from Queens Music is one of the unalloyed joys of life! Get some rest, so you can make more.

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