Reflections on Aphorisms #106

Not a whole lot of productivity today either. I’ve become hooked on Stranger Things and I just can’t seem to function. Though, to be fair, I spent a lot of time waiting in the auto shop to try and get my car fixed today.

Turns out it’s going to cost more than I expected. Take longer, too, which isn’t such a big deal because I don’t need to drive anywhere any time soon, but it’s a bad turn all ways ‘round.

Aphorism 146

Our repentance is not so much sorrow for the ill we have done as fear of the ill that may happen to us. (Maxim 180)

François de La Rochefoucauld

Interpretation

One of the things that’s been on my mind recently is horror fiction, and what makes things scary.

It’s not necessarily the unknown; we actually have a part of us that relishes novel experiences and that which we cannot predict. The unknown is often scary, but it’s not that bad by itself.

Uncertainty is much worse.

We can deal with the unknown because we have a schema for it; we are either in charge of our world or we are not, and we respond accordingly.

On the other hand, when we have uncertainty, it puts us in a dilemma.

It’s not the unknown that scares us, it’s the unknown that we don’t have an answer for that poses a threat.

And this isn’t necessarily to say that it’s the only threat we can face; people can take a fearful and anxious approach to the unknown. However, uncertainty strikes everyone equally.

Of course, the strength of conviction and belief can be stronger in some than in others (for instance, it’s possible to accept uncertain things if the uncertainty is low in emotional and psychological value), and not everyone will be crippled by uncertainty or find it odious.

I’m in a stage of my life where I’ve embraced a lot of uncertainty in exchange for the promise of a potential future.

The question I have to ask myself is whether I can maintain my value in the face of potential disaster, if I can keep going when I am opening myself to potentially losing more than I ever have.

Of course, the great practical reminder here is that everyone else still seems to be making it in the world, even if they’re not living their dreams. The number of people who are abjectly miserable is probably fairly low, and even then a lot of people who are really struggling are living in a way that leads them toward that path and could change it if they were conscious of the interactions between things in their life and psyche that create those conditions.

Resolution

Pursue value, not certainty.

Make decisions based on the future, not the present.

Bolster the strength of my faith and conviction.

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