How To Keep Yourself Together

That is really the prime directive of any living being. How do I keep myself together, in good shape, able to function in ways so I can, well, continue keeping myself together. How do I keep myself together long enough to convince that very similar but more beautiful form and function over there that I really know how to keep us together, so that we can unite our forms in function so as to produce a younger, less run-down, and just that little bit better unit of our form and function? Seems circular? Well it is. Life is cyclical, and the definition of its essence is too.

Why do I need to keep myself together; to keep my form and function toned? Well because other things want to break me down. Sometimes it’s just general entropy, raw cruel physics and time, slowly breaking down my cells and randomizing my DNA. But other times, there’s other matter patterns out there near me, or even inside of me, and they; they are actively working, some of them actively scheming, to bring me down, wipe me out, use my land or my own energy for their own evil purposes. There’s tigers, wolves, rats, army generals and rulers of foreign countries, or street thugs and gangs of a different stripe. There’s bacteria and there’s viruses. And each one wants to take my form, and my energy, and, regardless of how I need it to be, they just want to use it themselves. They want to re-pattern me right out of existence. It’s a mean nasty world sometimes. It’s a good thing I have my wits to protect me. It’s an even better thing I have some friends.

It’s great that my friends and I can work out stable and trustworthy and predictable ways that we can spend some of our time and energy co-operating to protect each others’ form and function. It’s a life saver.

If I didn’t have stable, mutually reciprocal agreements with my friends, or the friends of my great grandparents who formed this great friendly nation of ours, I would seriously be spending half of my hard-won food energy every day on fighting off all those aforementioned varmints trying to put me down and steal my resources or my very body or its labours and energy. I’d be burning or stealing their crops, eating their berries, and they’d be burning or stealing mine. The chance of me and mine surviving that? The chance of my form and function continuing hale and healthy over the generations to come? Not very likely.

I’d be wasting the energy I need to be gathering food with on fistfights and factional neighborhood wars. I’d be wasting the time and energy I need to be brooding how to fix things up to be easier for me, mine, and all of us, on petty, exhausting squabbles. I’d be going west, and you’d be coming east on the same path, and we’d have to fight to settle it right then and there. That kind of small scale social friction is exhausting. I don’t know about you, but it would be enough to undo me.

I’m going to join that happy band over there, that mutual protection society, that seems to have got its proverbial **** together. If they’ll let me in. I wonder how I’ll have to behave to get them to let me in to their group and stay in? I wasn’t cut out to be a rugged individualist all the time. I might even agree to pay some tax to the great chief depending on the social contract. I’ll work for us instead of just me some of the time. I guess, if that’s what it takes to keep from being booted out into the cold again. Why? Because over time it’s not quite as exhausting as going it alone in the dark and cold with those beady-eyed varmints all around. Those people all dressed the same over there seem to have it so easy, hundreds of them sittin’ there feasting and dancing together around their campfire with nothing but a few guards on the lookout around the edge of the circle. Now there’s form and function. They’ve got it made.

It’s not fight or flight. It’s fight or flight or build! Build a co-operative society so we can reduce the per-capita energy we waste on fighting and flighting, and get down to some serious friendly competition with civilized rules to keep everyone’s formed and functional limbs attached, some serious time for sharing with rules, so we can specialize our labour. Then we can invent new larger more efficient collective processes for catching and processing our food, building our shelters, making our tools. It could be paradise. It could be the great kingdom. Now if we could just convince someone to be King Kahuna, Queen Bee. Who’s going to be the hero? Who’s going to get us going in more or less the same direction to make all this happen? Who’s going to invent the new organism that is we? Who’s going to shepherd it through growing pains and redefinition? Why would anyone just trying to keep themself together paint that giant “leader” target on their behind? They must think it’s going to make it easier for them and theirs to survive. Seems like a gambler’s strategy.

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Explore posts in the same categories: philosophy, politics, sociology

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