Observation on the challenges of excessive down time
Man is an extremely complex creature: he usually acts in an unselfish manner for selfish reasons.
Mokokoma Mokhonoana : The Selfish Genie: A Satirical Essay on Altruism (see: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/48079399-the-selfish-genie-a-satirical-essay-on-altruism)
Some people, especially but not only in the Baby Boomer bracket and beyond, ask themselves what it is that they can do to contribute to society. After all, this is not an easy question to answer. The number of people who are underemployed, unemployed or simply alone and left behind in this world is constantly increasing. Mature individualism makes community based activities ever less appealing. And frankly most social interaction tends to be of the wanting kind. So how do you cope with this situation? How do you continue to be a valuable member of society when that society seems to be more a virtual concept than a real thing?
Well, the most important contribution you can offer in this circumstances is to avoid cracking up (i.e. becoming a political or religious extremist, turn into an addict of whatever or simply end up in depression). If you achieve that you have already accomplished more than a good number of your fellow citizens in similar situations manage to do. And realizing this objective you will naturally turn yourself into a force for balance, peace and harmony in the few social interactions you continue to have. And that is an amazing social contribution, a true jewel, a very rare feat, not at all to be taken for granted.
So, how do you avoid “cracking up”? Daily physical activity is of the essence here. And it doesn’t have to be the Hawaii Superman triathlon that you need to aim for in this respect. Because the latter may very well be a sign of an imbalance in and out of itself. No, daily physical activity can in fact be a very reduced thing. Noah denkt™ has come to realize that “simple” meditation already does the trick. No need to leave the house in the morning to get where you want to be. All you have to do is get out of bed (usually a challenge in itself); put on some cloths, perhaps do some stretching before or after and then sit there and watch without stress how your body and your breathing move you into an ever upright position. It works miracles. Just try it. You will save your day just doing that, especially if your body out of his own accord gets you to the deep breathing part.
And once in the rhythm of that daily meditation exercise, pondering the nature of narcissism will become an important and almost constant point of reflection for you. Noah denkt™ is of the believe that the third biggest challenge in the digital age, besides the ones that pertain to simply making money and avoiding to crack up, is to find the right balance in dealing with your own and other people’s narcissism. That narcissism is an inevitable side effect to a society that prides itself in increasing personal awareness. After all, how do you avoid feeling a void of recognition and acceptance you receive from others (incl. parents) when mostly everybody else is in the process of looking inward in order to figure out how he or she feels in the various environments he or she is involved in?
Now, standard reasoning in popular Buddhism and popular psychoanalysis has it that narcissism is something that should be overcome, – at best altogether. Noah denkt™ does not share this view. Clearly there needs to be a recognition of personal narcissism and a good degree of discipline in grinding away at it. But some self-importance is necessary first to maintain at least an ephemeral interest in solid community relationships and secondly to inspire creativity. How else, for instance, are you going to reach a market breakthrough if it isn’t by exploiting your resilient need for admiration and adulation? And what else is it that can seriously drive your altruistic ambition if it isn’t that entrenched self-centeredness that likes to cloak itself as the exact opposite? Mokokoma Mokhonoana (http://www.mokokoma.com/) and Michael Maccoby (http://www.maccoby.com/MMaccoby/) have reflected extensively on the ambivalent nature of narcissism. (https://hbr.org/2004/01/narcissistic-leaders-the-incredible-pros-the-inevitable-cons) So there is no need to replicate any of this here. The big ensuing question with respect to creative vanity however is: How do you keep the latter in balance and not have it grow out of proportions once success kicks in? After all, it cannot be denied that maintaining your sanity becomes an entirely different ballgame once the public or the market gets obsessed with you. Long gone will be the days then when you had ample time to consider this and that before acting out on it. Now, you will have gotten used to the leisure of power-steering your self-love. So there will be no smooth way back to the old grinding away approach, you were so used to before. Fortunately or unfortunately, Noah denkt™ cannot contribute any meaningful insight on how to manage the star-studded part of our conundrum. Perhaps meditation will help in these circumstances as well. But who knows. For the time being, we still have our hands full with the very basic task of avoiding regular insanity, i.e. the one that comes with too much downtime. So if you want to have that the opposite part covered as well you may well have to stay tuned until who knows when.