Week 1 Results

Results for what? A week ago I decided to do a 30 day retreat, or something. I have the time at the moment to disconnect from the world and I seemed to have the energy to do it. It is like I am fasting for 30 days.

Mainly, as of last Sunday evening, I haven’t looked at any news and haven’t even scrolled on my phone. No NY Times, no Atlantic, no Apple news, no Google news, no Reddit news, no Kansas City Star.

I should first say that last Sunday, I saw what was going on in Afghanistan. And I did something very new to me. I messaged The White House and expressed support for President Biden. No matter how messy, he has the guts to pull the plug on what was obviously a situation that the US should get out of. No matter what happened this week, I still think that.

So, one week without any news. I noticed that, except for Afghanistan which has somehow leaked into my awareness, all other problems have not been on my mind. I don’t know how bad COVID is because I haven’t looked at the map on the front page of the NY Times this week, something I’ve done daily for over a year. I don’t know if the stock market went up or down. I find that events have not been on my mind and I don’t have daily outrage at all the things going wrong in the world. Hence, I’m much calmer. No “outrage addiction.” And I guess that would be the point of this exercise. How do I feel when I’m not focused on the news but on what is right in front of me? I feel calm.

As of yesterday, I am without a part time gig. I am now free to focus totally on the spiritual practices that go along with this 30 day retreat I am completing. I believe that I can emerge from the 30 days with some different neuro-circuits than I went in with. Today and future days are all bright and shiny and clear. I feel eager for each day to come. What a great way to feel.

Today, it being a slightly cool morning, I did a 20 mile run. It went real well. I jogged the whole way. I have an actual marathon race in 3 weeks, so this run was necessary training for that. However, today’s run went so well that I am highly encouraged with my general physical condition. Another way to say that is “pretty freaking awesome!”

Third Order Desires

The 2020 Summer Olympics are over, a year after they should have been. The athletes went home before the closing ceremonies. The 2022 Winter Olympics are only a few months away, and already there are stories about how draconian the pandemic safety measures will be in Beijing. Don’t fault the Chinese. They are showing us what a world with an ongoing pandemic looks like.

We live in a social media world and a pandemic world and a global warming environment. We have neuroscience, and gene editing, and mega-farming. We have dysfunctional governments. We have the end of oil on the horizon. Major and irreversible change will occur. Last week, I got from the library a history book on The Enlightenment (1680 – 1790), published in 2020 (Ritchie Robertson, HarperCollins). It has been said that The Enlightenment had a major effect on how we approach today. I don’t know, but maybe I will learn. The book is 2 inches thick. It might take me a while. I hope to report back on any ideas I glean from the book.

In The Enlightenment, scientists such as Isaac Newton (law of gravity), Nicolas Copernicus (earth revolves around the sun), Galileo Galilei (telescope), Christopher Huygens (blood circulates), changed our world. There were philosophers. Hume, Kant, Descartes, Locke, Voltaire. There were wars. The French Revolution. The American Revolution.

Many parts of today’s world seem hopeless. How am I governed by thoughts that occurred in 1790? Do I bury my head in the sand, because after all, I’ll be dead in 30 years? Do I have anything helpful about today to comment on? Most of the people in the US suffer from lifestyle diseases. The pandemic is taking them out. Since I am not part of the ultra-rich elite, and I have only one vote, what impact do I have? How should I live?

I offer you Jordan Peterson:

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life: Peterson, Jordan B.: 9780241407639:  Amazon.com: Books

Read the books. Follow instructions. Have a happy life. Peterson deals with third order desires, although this concept is not mentioned by him. What I mean is: First order desire is the immediate thing you want to do. Second order desire is more of an internal moral principle for why you shouldn’t follow the first order desire. Second order desire is in conflict with the first order desire. The conflict is a psychic irritation that cannot be endured for long. Third order desire is even deeper into spiritual values. Third order desire is difficult to figure out since it is expressed more in feelings than emotion. Third order desire is discerned with slow deliberative thinking, not the ego’s fast thinking. Happiness comes from discerning third order desire because it resolves the conflict between the first and second order.

Third order desires have nothing to do with the US Congress, whether you should get a vaccine, Olympic medals, or peak oil. Daily life can be fruitfully lived within third order desires. I myself never even heard this proposal of ordered desires until just now in my sixty second year of life. When I list out my third order desires, they clearly point the way towards what I should aim my life at. Deep thinking. Spiritual connection. Financial independence. Writing a master piece. Solitary contemplation. Athlete.