Reflections on Aphorisms #41

Sunday’s a day of rest, so this will be shorter than average. I’ve also just had a slow writing day, and put it off right up to my bedtime (though, to be fair, I’ve been listening to Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans and I read at least five nonfiction articles today, so it hasn’t been entirely wasted).

Aphorism 64

In making his way through life, a man will find it useful to be ready and able to do two things: to look ahead and to overlook: the one will protect him from loss and injury, the other from disputes and squabbles.

Schopenhauer

I haven’t ever read much Schopenhauer (if any; my memory is fickle), and I probably should. I’ve got Marcus Aurelius to get through first, but I’m confident I’ll get there eventually.

I’ve seen a few quotes attributed to him I don’t agree with, but this is one that I actually find rings true.

First, the need to work forward.

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay.

I’ve got a sort of exaggerated notion of the “way”, because I’m influenced heavily by Jung, Campbell, and Pearson, but I do think that there’s a deeper element to this than just cultivating foresight.

It’s not enough to predict, because predictions suck.

Sorry, it’s true.

We will be wrong more often than not when we try to guess at what the future holds.

However, we can make sure that we know what to do. We can figure out what is folly and what is wise, and once we discern between them we can do better than if we lived as aimless wanderers in the universe.

This is where the Way comes in, in an archetypal sense. We figure out what to do (e.g. Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which is applied by Pearson to the everyday life of the individual) by finding broad guidelines and patterns in life that guide us to the future.

The second part is not obsessing over things.

I have only rarely had people hurt me deliberately, and when they have it never did me any good to obsess over it.

This isn’t to say that there’s never a time for the defense of self and others (and when it is called for, I believe it should be overwhelming and immediate), but also a need to remember that defense protects the future, instead of avenging the past.

Think of, for instance, World War I. There was no need for a war, because the probability of further assassinations of Austrian archdukes was relatively low, but war came nonetheless due to a pretense that was formed through conflicts other than the one at hand.

There’s an opportunity cost to everything. Any energy and time spent on one course is energy and time that will never be available for anything else.

Never waste that energy because of bitterness.

Resolution

Follow the rules for the good life.

Never do something “because”.

When the opportunity comes to forgive, remember that it costs nothing.

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