Monday, June 8, 2015

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow, but

stop merely thinking about it.

Went walking earlier with this morning's questions:
how optimistic can or should a happy person be about the future? And how do we go about striking a salutary balance between present satisfaction and future expectation?
Actually, first I took them walking, then ditched my panting canine co-philosophers and hopped on the bike. Then, into the pool. Philosophy walks, but sometimes in summer it also pedals, treads, paddles, and floats.

These are not questions to be settled in a single day, even by an amateur tri-athlete. But a few salient and semi-determinate thoughts surfaced before the circle closed this morning. I noted that, however optimistic I can or should be, in motion I am always moreso than this guy appears to be.

But maybe less, most days, than this guy:
You know what the first guy's probably thinking:

But seriously.

A happy person who is tangibly invested in the future through his children or others' (this comes naturally to those of us in the teaching profession) should be as optimistic as our present uncertainty will allow. Better yet, as melioristic: don't just think about tomorrow, get up and do something about it. Have a little hope. (But don't confuse that with faith.)

My assumption is that the very act of procreating or adopting implies a degree of optimism, at least to the extent of affirming the possibility that the world won't end before our children have had an opportunity to enjoy it and maybe even improve it, to discover something in it that makes life worth living, that makes their specific lives significant. There should be no absolutely unhappy parents, Sisyphean though the job sometimes can seem. One must imagine the diligent parent at least as happy as a rock-roller.

Nor should there be any absolutely unhappy humanitarians, whether they share a roof with representatives of the next generation of humans or don't. They're all our children. All of them, all of us.

On the other hand, no one should be so happy as to profess utter indifference to the matter of how things may turn out for the next generation. "The really vital question for us all is, What is this world going to be? What is life eventually to make of itself?" That's why I have issues with George Carlin, even though he almost always made me laugh.

I thought a bit this morning, too, about Darrin McMahon's History of Happiness, and about the life of one of happiness's better exemplars, David Hume. Also, T.C. Boyle's The Harder They Come. Stay tuned. Or don't, if it makes you happier not to. Follow your arrow.

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