Different Strokes to Move the World – In this Life and After

Two people I know (one of them was me) recently read a lengthy article in New York Magazine about “end of life.”

One of us got pretty depressed by that article. The other one (me) took the depressing description of the unnaturally extended life that is likely for many of us as a call to action to live my life to the fullest now, today. And to plan on going out like a firecracker in the end (to paraphrase a favorite author – Robert Heinlein).

While I still don’t understand why assisted suicide is illegal, I think I may be making a good effort during my remaining years to lobby for its widespread acceptance and legality.

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Cables and Cords

Different types of stuffed toys
Different types of stuffed toys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some days, it seems like everything I own has a cable or a cord, and generally also a battery. I just spent five minutes cleaning up the cords strewn around the living room. I won’t say the room looks any less cluttered afterwards, but the important thing is that I got it done, and when I need to use those cords again I will be able to spend the time to uncoil and unstow them so that I may use them. It’s important to have busy-work in one’s life – especially at home.

Computers were supposed to save us all time. A good friend said that to me, about five years into the Internet Age. She was a techie at that point, but there was something about her that always reeked of the Stone Age. I don’t think anybody who has used a computer actually feels like they have saved  time. Yes, we do things quicker. But there are more things to be done. Yes, it is possible to not do all those extra things. Good luck with that.

And then there are the batteries. When was the last time you had to remember to plug-in your car or your television or your stove? Batteries suck. And it sucks that so many of the things we use every day are dependent on them. Sometimes I wish we could all just go back to the time when we just had cars and stuff like that. Sure, we had batteries then, too – like for flashlights and for small “electronic” games or robotic stuffed animals. But the batteries didn’t need much thought. You’d buy a bunch and use them when you needed them. Or if your batteries were dead you would pick-up another toy or stumble around in the dark. Dark spots in life were common, and that was okay.

In today’s world, if your battery is dead then your friend is likely to worry about you. That’s what it’s like meeting someone for dinner nowadays.


Big Moves, Little Moves

I am more than 40 years old, and I don’t manage anything. There was a time in my twenties when I was a manager, but then I moved on to other things and somehow the endless stream of deep topics I have immersed myself in since then have kept me working mostly on the little stuff.

That’s the difference between managers and non-managers: Managers work on the big stuff. Other people work on the little stuff. I solve problems, and that helps me and my world to move, all in a positive direction. But I usually don’t get to pick the direction. And I don’t usually get to allocate resources. I’m the “task guy”.

There’s the personal life and there’s the work life. Keep that in mind. I realized a few years ago that my personal life is far (far!!) more complex than my work life. But my work life tends to be more in harmony with the community of progress that we all depend on for our futures. Sometimes the two types of life cross over in complex ways, and both have a chance to benefit from the crossing.

One of the great things about not being a manager is that you don’t need to figure out how to get other people to do stuff. That’s also one of the nice things about not being an activist.

But I am an activist. I always have been, in one form or another. So I do, when my heart gets riled about a topic, need to figure out how to get people to do stuff. Many activists just complain, form larger and larger groups, polarize the world, and create a general grumble that riles the community’s heart. But I don’t think that type of activism is very useful. I prefer the type where you talk to individual people, and keep talking until you figure out the right people to talk to about the right things.

When the right person wants a change to happen, that’s when it happens. You don’t need to change the world, you just need to change one or two hearts within it, from time to time.

Little moves. That’s where I like to be. Hopefully I am making the right ones, most days. Activism, when done “right” is not contentious at all – at least not over the long term.