Note Well:
This blog is intended for rational audiences. Its contents are the personal opinions of its author. If you quote from this blog, which you
may do with attribution, please assume personal accountability for any consequences of mischaracterizing these expressed intentions.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Extra Napkins

Get a life. Strive for more. What else is there? Whether you envision a bowl of cherries, a bowl of Cheerios™ or just a toothpick, the festival of life is a process, and more process is its raison d'etre.

If you accept the above premise, it behooves you to implement an optimization strategy. But first, you must ascertain your preferences, which comprise a personal profile for a life worth living. There are two overarching disciplines available for guidance: natural science and philosophy. The former concerns the four-dimensional framework of reality as we know it. The latter concerns the fifth dimension, the spiritual, the wholly other, that which can only be approximated by the real component of its fully unknowable complexity.

Through the millennia of intellectual discourse, a few general guidelines for a worthy fifth dimension have been distilled. A further distillation provides the quintessential fifth dimension for a quality life: the Golden Rule of Hillel and the preeminent social imperative — the Decalogue of Moses.

As for the four-dimensional spacetime of perceived reality, centuries of scientific research have produced the ultimate survival guideline: natural selection. The concept of fitness is central to natural selection. And, although modern evolutionary theory defines fitness in terms of individual reproduction, fitness is sometimes colloquially understood as a quality that promotes survival of a particular individual, as illustrated in the well-known phrase survival of the fittest.

So, one's optimization strategy reduces to an appropriate fitness plan, of which there are many. But, again, there are two overarching schools of thought, which I will anthropomorphize as the School of Hearts and the School of Minds. The former subsumes all the fitness plans that stress the importance of physical and emotional fitness. The latter acknowledges the importance of intellectual strength, which is arguably the fitness edge responsible for human preeminence among the species.

I submit that most of the proven fitness plans from the School of Hearts will provide an adequate fitness base for survival. Choose components from every food group, including a sampling of food for thought.

But for crisis management, you must arm yourself with a carefully chosen regimen from the School of Minds. This then is where extra napkins come in. It is my whimsical characterization for a backup plan, a so-called Plan B for any occasion having significant downside consequences.

I was a Boy Scout for only several weeks of my childhood, but I managed to come away from the experience with an important insight: be prepared. My parents, survivors extraordinaire both, taught me many lessons, not the least of which was to have a rainy-day fund. And so, for a litany of good advice, we have: drink milk; begin planning for retirement when you begin your career; remember the cornerstones of investing (asset allocation, diversification, cost averaging, and rebalancing); don't gamble the rent money, and that goes for the health and liability insurance premiums too; backup your hard drive; don't drink and drive; etc.; etc.; etc. You've heard the drill many times. You need a backup plan just in case winging it doesn't work out. Are you listening?

There are those who relish the liberating thrill of living on the edge. I have known some, and that is a legitimate modus for life. Greater risk but a chance for perceived reward. Quality versus quantity. But every choice involves a risk/reward trade-off, and 'strive for more' suggests greater weight be assigned to quantity (i.e., time) for there is no recovering from the point of no return, by definition. Moreover, risk without expectation of reward is analogous to 'hitting yourself on the head with a hammer because it feels so good when you stop'.

Even Big Al got one wrong because the Omnipotent One does roll the dice of quantum fluctuations. To the best of our knowledge, it's all about process and probability. That is why I choose extra napkins.

No comments:

Post a Comment