Op-Ed
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Op-Ed

Who’s at the Helm?

As a conscious being, I see the benefit in pushing myself through difficult times because my body and mind grow stronger.

That which tells me what is noble also tells me what is not, but who’s to say that the nobility I seek is even noble at all? Even that strength and nobility are subjective measurements. I should note that I also believe that God is my inner authority which is an amalgamation of the lessons I’ve accumulated in life and is, therefore, based on the reception of life to me and how I perceive that. Depending on who I ask in my mind, I can get a different answer each time I ask myself a question. Which is really good for the process of making a decision, but maddening with regards to the execution. And still I wonder if considering this very paradox is adaptable. It’d certainly be much easier to just walk along an already established road, so why is it my desire to go off the beaten path? It feels good and it seems like there has to be reason for that. Which leaves me to wonder… is this a trap?

It wouldn’t be the first time I was led astray by my desires. I say led astray but you might also say I learned a lesson from little teachable moments. That’s how I see these detours now as just an opportunity to learn. So what I’m wondering is: am I being led by God or the Devil? Or both? Is it the same? Because when I do the things that seem virtuous based on my upbringing, it feels like labor at times. The reward is I make others proud of me, which in turn makes me proud of myself. I’m susceptible to being a martyr because I can see how everyone around me needs my help. Or is that me wanting theirs? Am I only helping others to be helped in return? Which gets back to, if I don’t help others and only serve what feels good to me, is that selfish? What feels good can be hedonistic and what seems right feels like labor… and then I have to ask why do I feel like the things I like are selfish and who told me that in the first place? Who decides what is morally good? With so many different paths to choose from, how can I find the objectively good one?

A biologist would tell you that organisms act in a way that is most adaptable. This is usually defined by what allows the organism’s genes to live another day, which could be through their offspring. If I’m to believe what I was taught in those classes that I paid the equivalent of an arm and a leg for, then whatever feels good is right. Otherwise I evolution should’ve made it feel wrong. Trusting my gut is what I evolved to do. Yet, another evolutionary point to consider is that, not all adaptations are good. For instance, Runaway Sexual Selection, a concept that explains why peacocks have such big and bright tails that make them an obvious target for predators. It’s cause the chicks dig it which seems like a big sacrifice but its how the male can move his genes into the future. It is a sacrifice the genes are willing to make in order to continue playing the game of life.

Its as though I have to set my sails toward what feels good but go through obstacles in the eternal pursuit of that goodness without ever actually reaching it, or at least without being able to harness it forever. When I reach an ideal, its no longer idyllic. Its indulgence. So if I get going too fast in one direction and never take the time to look around and reassess, I lose the plot. The good news is that even if I end up off track, I’ll have at least built up stamina and strength from failure. Like swimming from buoy to buoy in a vast sea of potential. Some people float by on their yachts, some struggle while treading water, some don’t even know how to swim and still some have to walk the plank. I guess we can build a boat together and stop treading water. It seems supremely important to remain in good company for water cooler chats. Why is that what we live for? We are all just trying to stay afloat. Whatever it takes to remain buoyant until we are ready to plunge back in to the great unknown potential.

Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa

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