Being Free from Perturbation Pt. 4

Followup to: Being Free from Perturbation Pt. 1, Pt. 2 and Pt. 3

If you can’t accept doing things differently, you’ve got a shitty ride ahead of you. Apart from the radical changes we face in business, the way we live our lives is going to change as well. Think of the medical advances that every day extend people’s lives, think simply of the population increases and how that will redefine our notions of comfort, status and home. As control of the commanding heights of the world economy leaves the hands of the state, what of our notions of hierarchy and structure? There are still people alive today that were born in the 1800’s–there were Americans living in holes then.

A while back I worked with a friend on a paper and I was enraged by their work style (not to be confused with ethic). In school, or when I have deadlines, I almost always finish the night before it’s due. If I had a test at 3pm on Friday, I’d have finished studying by the time I went to bed on Thursday. I can’t possibly conceive the stress that goes along with doing it any other way. That’s just how I am.

And so I heard them say “Oh, I have a few hours to work on it in the morning before my other class” I was appalled. “How can you live like that?” But then I saw the paper after it was done and I was genuinely impressed (and not just because I wrote most of it). Clearly, my attitude is the one that is unhealthy. I react like that all the time. Who am I to say that any one way is better than another? And more importantly, why do I care? It shouldn’t affect me either way. But it does; I am incapacitated by it. That has to change.

So how free are you really? You can’t be free from perturbation and still be enslaved to control. You’re clutching at fucking sand–sand that will inevitably slip from your fingers just like your sanity. That’s what I do and if you’ve yet to experience it, I hope you never join that hell. It pushes you away from people you have nothing but love for and it makes it nearly impossible for you to keep your mouth shut.

We (I) can sit here and criticize slow moving behemoths, out of touch idiots and people who will be justifiably out of a job in the near, near future, but it will make no difference if we don’t actively prepare to face the same pressures ourselves. Just a few years ago Google didn’t exist, the record industry was at massive highs, cell phones were for adults only, and we hadn’t been marred by a foreign attacker on our own soil since the 40’s. The profundity of those changes is so massive that we’ve yet begun to try and make sense of them. And what things like Moore’s Law or the Law of Disruption tell us is that such momentum is exponential. The cycle gets faster and then it gets faster and faster, faster, faster, faster. If you thought today was chaotic, wait for tomorrow. Our future will be one of constant adaptation and of coming to terms with change.

But forget business–and let go of the megalomaniacal hubris that is thinking you can bend the world to accept your demands instead of the other way around–you cannot be happy this way. Freedom from perturbation is the state in which neither your actions nor the actions of others dislodge your from your center. Your peace, ironically, is guarded best by everything but the effort to protect it. There is that saying about catching more with an open hand than a closed fist…

If you can’t accept new systems, understand alternative means of action or the imposition of different cultural norms, all you’ll ever be is angry. “Why can’t it just be easier?” “But my way makes so much more sense!” So the fuck what. This is what Aurelius called “silently weeping over the chains that bind us,” except for in this case, they are illusory. They only exist so long as you let them. So we might not be built for the age that is upon us, but then again, we weren’t really built for anything but walking around in groups 150 on the plains of Africa (or the ocean, perhaps). If you want to be among that happy minority, of whom held the same characteristics 1,000 years ago as they should now, I think the key is transcendence–controlling the center not through tightness but extreme looseness. So, Phew. Breathe. Let it go. Accept the change. And move on.

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