Sailing the Turbulent Seas

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There is nothing, neutral point, ground zero. And then there is something, which is always a departure from zero point, in one direction or another.

Things have a tendency to remain the same, to (appear to) be balanced. In order for a thing to change it must go through a period of unrest, a transformation. This may be great disturbance.

The hardest thing is always transitioning from one balance to another. For example, when my leg was injured it was always most painful when I going from being still to moving. Once I'd grown accustomed to either state it was fine; only the transition was painful. Getting out of bed/getting into bed. It's fine once you're out, fine once you're in.

We see this pattern everywhere. In sports: to raise our level of fitness we must push ourselves, or "overload" as it is called in weight training. We must overload - place the body under stress, give it something it is not used to, push it beyond its current boundaries - if we want to progress, or change. After a period of transformation we will reach a new balance, a new level of fitness.

It is the same with stretching: our muscles will have a default length, which is really the length that our day-to-day activities (our environment) require them to be. In order to lengthen them we must continually stretch them - i.e. engage in new activities that require them to be a longer length. If we keep up these new activities - if our stretching becomes part of our day-to-day routine - then our muscles will remain at this new length. As soon as we stop stretching, our muscles will adapt to the new circumstances: they will shorten.

Stretching is like Acting. If our default mode is primarily selfish, then in order to counteract this we must "stretch" regularly - in other words, we must make a conscious effort to be unselfish.

We must understand what our default is. Default seems to be defined by environment. We can see strength as our ability to stray from our default, in other words our ability to Act or change. Through Acting we come to know our weaknesses; these are like ceilings on our ambitions, or boundaries beyond which we cannot stray.

In order to reach a new destination, you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas.

Conscious Stretching and Acting is only necessary outside the bounds of a structured community. It is the action of a responsible individual. Within a structured community, we stretch and act automatically without knowing that this is what we are doing. In other words, we are constantly stretched to the right length in order to function in harmony with our surroundings. The necessities of this kind of life demand as much. Currently the individual must Act because he is not contained within a harmonious community, and he must carry various ideals within himself.

There is currently little motivation to Act or to stretch. We live in such comfort that we may not see the necessity of staying in good shape, either physically or ethically. There are supports that will catch us when we fall and that will prevent us from having to feel the consequences of our ill-health. We have devices that keep the body comfortable and that prevent it from having to exert itself; and we have devices that prevent us from having to be ethically responsible and that remove us from the outcomes of our ethical indiscipline.

Our default, as defined by our environment, is imbalanced, unhealthy. It is in poor shape, both physically and ethically. The individual who decides to depart from this default - who begins to stretch and Act in order to 'get fit' - will be fighting an tough battle, and may have to fight it alone. In departing from the general default - from the general requirements of his environment, his culture - he becomes an aberration; an obsessive; a misguided fool; a curious novelty. It is much easier to maintain a level of fitness if we are surrounded by others who are also striving to remain at this same level, or to reach higher.

Society sets the default. If the individual is displeased with this default then he must depart from the conventions of the society. He will be at odds with many "normal" things. If we live in an ethically excellent community - in other words, a community that is in balance with itself and with its environment - then we need no longer stretch and Act because our default will be sufficient. This is why the traditional community required little stretching or Acting. The traditional community hovered around the "0", the point of balance. The individual did not need to strive for excellency, this was a communal undertaking, a communal default.

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Do Not Disturb
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