Constraints, Ego and Star Trek

kirk-spock-fightMy friend X had a great insight- “You are very good at motivation but not so good with constraints.” I am more captain Kirk and less Spock. Kirk is capable of great things but is egotistical, reckless, emotion driven. High amplitude Kirk needs Spock to chop off the downside!

Without Spock, Kirk is at best a vision who will find a glorious death- since you don’t need to plan for anything after that dramatic gesture- and at worst, the talented could have been, drinking himself to death since life has disappointed him. Without Kirk, Spock becomes an incredibly competent but soulless bureaucrat who composes mathematically complex music that 3 people listen to, and the only reason he knows he is alive is because he goes for his annual check-ups on the dot and his doctor tells him that he is in great shape.

When these two combine to form a high performance team, the universe applauds. Theirs is not an easy marriage but oh it is glorious. That team is so life affirming because it represents the best of us. Creativity and vision evolving with intelligent constraints. To stay married they both have to rise to that challenge not just skate by. Important problems are the third leg of that stool- without goals bigger than themselves their ego and dissimilarities would prevent any friendship and just result in puzzled irritation. Puzzled because intuitively a part of them seeks what the other has to be complete and irritation because just the fiber of the other’s being is the opposite of theirs.

We should all know that feeling of being on a team that takes us to places we could have never gone! To explore the ourselves and the universe for the possibilities of our talent and hard work. That is what the best kind of existence is about.

A part of the reason I have set myself difficult goals for this year is because I will have to channel Spock, manufacture him, find him (and other supporting members) around me. There are other reasons- first- I have never had short term goals- I have mostly acted on aspirations (which is philosophy) and the desire to avoid failure (survival). I have never planned and followed an objective, scientific process to improve myself given self-imposed, explicit. short to medium term goals. However, I am ambitious. So my approach for evolution has been to take risk: put myself in harder and harder situations, try to get past those and see what happens. I evolve as a result. This style lacks purpose; but more troublingly, makes me depend on external beatings for evolution. The biggest flaw is that this style prepares me for barely good enough, albeit in a tough environment

Just good enough is ego satisfying and survival at best. It is a lack of commitment. Being the best is a different mindset. It may involve many things at which I am only just good enough, but I am explicitly trying to reach my limit in something that I stand for. Only surviving tough situations while floating around in a miasma of general malcontent with the universe is quite ego driven. To stop, I have to give up the crutch of irony. Launching a perfectly targeted acidulous barb makes my day and throwing stones at glass houses is deeply necessary. But ultimately these are not constructive- not primary emotions. Succeeding at the self imposed tasks is about seeking success not avoiding failure.

Much more glorious to sign up and lead the ship into unchartered territories rather than be conscripted trying to survive as a pawn in a war I don’t care about.

How Big is Your Son’s Package?

The Indian mating ritual is refreshingly direct and cynical. How much does your son make? How much will you pay us for him to marry your daughter? Do we have any other religious synergies. Oh and does he have all his limbs. It celebrates life as a tradable commodity.
My father who is trying to get his vagrant son married got asked the main question by a prospective bride’s father. The gentleman’s email said -” Please specify your son’s package….”
I have been in the US too long. My instinct was to say- giant! (of course) or we will let your daughter find that out. Until my Indian roots kicked in and I realized that he meant my financial penis size.

Fast Food Friendships

fast-food1Fast food tastes delicious, kills your health and makes you dumber. Is there a counterpart in relationships? If we end up codependent, seek flattery incessantly, and cannot tolerate being alone, we probably have too many fast food relationships!

” Oh dude you are so awesome!” , ” Your coming here has made my life more meaningful (Indian relatives), let me prove that by jumping headfirst into your feet. Interesting how many of these kinds of toxic friendship exchanges are made to the cadence of physical indulgence!- food based drugs (greasy, carb, non nutritious), drugs based drugs or alcohol fueled (so you can tolerate everyone around you). Dull the rational parts of me or this family/marriage/couple/best friends shit won’t work! This friendship miasma cannot stand the rational glare. No wonder Omar Khayyam drank- a LOT.

My friend X will flatter beautiful girls beyond redemption. “That is so INTERESTING.” ” Ooooh you are so evil.” He will let these girls order him around as long as they are hot and “interesting” – he pays attention, time and resources and they provide hotness and company. He hosts couchsurfers- people who stay at your place temporarily for a few night and move on… All elements of an emotional fast food chain well-constructed- temporary indulgence, hazy interactions, vague feelings of emptiness later, satiated by more cravings of the same. However, have us men done worse things for female companionship and to obtain beauty- absolutely! Let me not only throw stones but admit to my own pizza and fries binges. ..

A part of my friendship/or any friendship is complementarity. Also some of it is acknowledging human nature and that we need some flattery /sugar and fat to please us, nurture us and cover a lack of flavor. However, scientifically engineered fast food to make you an addict and engineered ways to “impress” other people/ make them codependent/find the worst in them and nurture that so they will do something for us (indulge our anti evolutionary/entropy decreasing/idiotic behaviors) is evil.

However, in the immortal words of Gene Fama” The market clears”-

Or in the equally immortal lyrics of Eurhythmics..

“Some of them want to abuse you,
some of them want to be abused ..
Sweet dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree…..”

So how could I take a moral stand against people’s clearly expressed preferences? Do I know more? Am I just being alarmist? A sanctimonious, hypocritical do-good-exhorter-without-economics?

It may seem like a social stand but it is a personal stance. Some people just are fat and miserable but do not have the intrinsic courage to throw off the habit. Similarly, I desire to do things but not enough to throw off my own habits that prevent it. Sometimes, we need that temporary help or that extra force. That extra force can come from people we look up to but really can come from better systems (habits) or deeply understanding what we are giving up by indulging.
Once I understand the true cost of my indulgence, it helps me make a more informed decision about how much I value that pleasure- that burger better be worth it.**
Overall, I am telling myself- that it is worth fighting to conquer myself. I will achieve AWARENESS. I don’t want to eat pizza or drink or seek flattery because I am sad. I want to joyfully explore my senses and emotions with awareness! I want to be free of the NEED to drug myself- I want to choose to INDULGE while evolving.

*However, the human brain works in funny ways. We are momentum driven. If we see ourselves doing something- our capabilities in our minds expand. So if I get on a good path then my estimation of what I can do increases and so my perceived cost of bad habits increases so I am more likely to give them up. This is obviously personal observation and speculation on my part…

**That cost is variable- if I have been working too hard then the cost of pleasure is high and I should indulge in it, should circumstances allow and if I have been slacking then I should probably get on with it or I won’t achieve my goal.
It is exhausting to always compute so the key for me is to develop self-aware systems or just eliminate some of the worst habits.