Today's topic seems ambitious but it is not. Often we make things more complicated than it really is. Although it isn't complicated, it's not simple either. It can fit in a blog entry but it is longer than normal.
Life is a singular view of the world seen through your own lenses. And every person has his or her unique pair. That's why we don't always see things eye to eye. And that's ok. We need to be cognizant of it though. Reality -- whatever reality is -- probably isn't what we are thinking. What is reality is probably something else, especially how we are feeling at any particular moment.
If the above is the case, we need to be very careful about making rash decisions that would negatively affect our lives permanently. Your default position must always be of great caution, to not cause harm if all possible, to not be mean if all possible. You don't have to be nice, but you can always try to not make a bad situation worse. Sometimes it means keeping quiet, listening, and allowing the other person to work things out him or herself.
I am not exactly sure how all our emotions helped us in evolution but one thing is for sure: emotions can do great damage in a lifetime if we don't steer them in the direction we want to go. What has helped our ancestors in the past won't necessarily help us in the present because their circumstances and environments are different from ours. In many respects, many of us are here because of a combination of luck, accidents, and, oh, intelligence.
Emotions themselves are a paradox. Living life wouldn't be so sweet without emotion and I would argue that life itself is about having emotions. In fact, I couldn't have written this blog entry without emotion and certainly wouldn't have started to write it if I had none. Yet emotions can be our worst enemies if we are asleep at the wheel. We must be aware of what emotions can do and what it can't. We must train ourselves to be aware of how emotions are affecting our decisions so that we make better decisions.
Every animal in the kingdom has emotions, but it would seem only humans have a superior ability to veto their power, to logically think through the variables, to thread the needle with care and competence. Alas, not too many of us use our special ability and not refine it to any particular degree and instead cater to our other abilities. For example, a human being running the 100m dash in less than 10 seconds is extraordinary but so can a common house cat. We must focus on what we are (potentially) good at.
Stepping back and reviewing our situation on earth: we are creatures of emotion that can do great harm, great good, or nothing great. Now I'm going to add another wrinkle: our time on earth is limited. The evidence is clear. Countless people before us were ambitious. Countless people before us were striving to make their mark. And countless people before us were cruel, ineffective, and largely useless. Each successive generation buries another until the early ones are all forgotten. The most famous people are remembered in name only, and even if we have photos, how is that of any benefit to them?
So what is the purpose if we are here only temporarily living life day to day with the emotions we feel? It is like we were plucked out of our original home and put in an enclosure as if in a zoo until it is our time to be free through other means. What is the point? It would be nice to know but perhaps that might not be the question we should dwell on. In other words, it is a question that doesn't benefit anyone much, including yourself, even if you know the answer. A more beneficial question to ask is what can I do to make the situation I'm currently in more worthwhile?
Therefore, on countless occasions, through good and bad times, I always tend to come to the same conclusion: you got to take care of yourself and you got to take care of those around you. This is, ultimately, the best we can do. There are certain things we want to see in the world and we can't effect them without our health and mental well-being. We can't take care of others without taking care of ourselves first. So first things first. Once that's firm, then we must work on things outside ourselves. Because our time and energy are limited, we can choose to go wide but shallow or we can choose to go deep but narrow. Whichever you choose, you can be satisfied that once you close your eyes to breathe your last breath you can confidently say you did good. It is a goal I strive to make a reality each and every day, and I hope you feel the same way, too.