Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sucking dust

I cleaned my room today. This is an activity in which I engage only occasionally. I suspect I last vacuumed was at least four months ago; the empty boxes in which I shipped most of my things from LA were sitting folded against the wall up until 4pm today; I still don't think I've emptied the trash can in my room since I purchased it (although admittedly it still isn't quite full - there's always a little more room if you compress the current contents). Partially, I think this is an expression of my refusal to fully admit that I've moved to Switzerland. I still feel like a foreigner here. Keeping the empty boxes is like saying "I may be here now, but I'll be leaving soon, so I shouldn't get too comfortable."

I think that most of it, though, is some sort of practical Taoism, divorced from the usual realm of application. If you live in the moment, and you don't recognize an external morality, let alone an overarching ultimate goal or directive, then you need to choose your actions on a minute-by-minute basis, with little other than personal preference as a guide. At any given point in time, I don't really feel like cleaning. It's not very amusing when done without the aid of powerful stimulants. I know that if I do clean, the second law of thermodynamics will just blow through and make everything messy again. I'm all for romantic, unwinnable battles, but only when both the goal and the method of combat hold some considerable aesthetic appeal. A clean room satisfies neither criterion.

Moreover, were I to clean, the only one to benefit would be the me-of-the-future. While he seems like he's probably a nice guy, the me-of-the-future is not the me-of-right-now. I'm no great philanthropist, and I don't think the appreciation the me-of-the-future would have for a cleaned room will equal the irritation faced by the me-of-right-now in rendering my room into such a state.

So I almost invariably choose to do something else instead. I don't think my choices are particularly good, but since I lack a framework in which to evaluate their quality, I'm hard-pressed to identify better choices, even after the fact. I feel like I'm perpetually just getting by. I can survive from day-to-day without too much trouble, but I don't think I'm accomplishing anything meaningful or worthwhile with the passage of time. dx/dt = 0. I think that life would be more amusing if I were able to commit to a grand objective, but nothing seems sufficiently important. I can think of no mountain for which, having achieved the summit, I would feel satisfied for more than a few weeks. I don't think this is a matter of living selfishly versus living for the benefit of others. In the end, both approaches are equivalent, since actions for the benefit of others have an immediate and obvious impact on yourself. And assuming I am not uniquely unworthy, why should I work for others in the first place? It would be an awfully ironic world where everyone was toiling for everyone else and ignoring their own happiness.

In the end I'm left with only questions and the imperative to act.

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