I love inequality. When I'm on the bottom end of it, I like that there's a scale that hints at the upper bounds of potential, and when I'm at the higher end of it, I like seeing the progress I've made. I have a tough time imagining the function of ambition and hustle in a world where everyone is always equal in all respects.
When I was in high school, I had a few friends who were obsessed with the idea of nanotechnology. I knew nothing about it, but they told me that eventually a machine would exist that would be able to create any physical object the owner desired.
The idea of everyone being able to have everything they wanted struck panic into my heart, as it threatened my beloved inequality. Sure, there were things that I wanted, but I liked wanting them -- it was fuel.
We don't have machines that can build us anything yet, but we do have machines with which we can build a great number of intangible things. These books, web sites, programs, videos, etc., are routinely sold for thousands, or even millions of dollars. They're build with computers that cost a fraction of their value, and require no raw materials.
What I didn't realize in high school was that once the means of production becomes trivially inexpensive, a product's value shifts from raw materials to something much more exciting: human creativity.
We're living in the age of the independent creator. Computers are cheap, and software is cheap or free. The knowledge necessary to build a wide number of valuable things is available for free online. In other words, an empire can be created with no noteworthy inputs other than inspiration and hustle. You don't even have to be in any particular place, or in any one place at all. Things can be built in teams, but they can also be built alone. Creation has become a very pure experience, free of any external hindrance.
I mention all this because I don't see nearly as many people taking advantage of it as I'd expect. Any ambitious person who is not creating something right now is making a huge error. Maybe things will stay the same in the future, or even improve, but there's no denying that right now is a golden age for creators.
Also - it's roughly the sixth anniversary of this blog. I started it to log my polyphasic sleep, and it's now grown to be an important part of my life. Besides giving me an outlet to write, it's connected me with a lot of amazing people. Thank you for being part of it.
The photo is my "office" for the past couple weeks, on the cruise ship.
Cy: The Dalai Lama noted once that he enjoys looking through coffee-table books about war machines because he thinks they're really cool.
I wonder if being overly concerned about acting in a manner that appears "Buddhist" is itself "Buddhist."
Tynan you were going to do an article on how to be happier (ie working on happiness directly instead of indirectly). I hope I didn't miss it. Would love to see something like that.
Paul, your correct, a man can be very minimilst in his life and still want things badly. the question you should ask is - will this make a person happy? in life its the journey, not the destination that's important. ie/ "i finally got the new apple iPad, now I can be happy." An enlightened mind frees itself from any emotional reaction to any material possession. This is a fundamental principle of Buddhism.
Once again I recommend the spirit level as a great read about equality. Contrary to conventional wisdom, more equality creates more productivity in society. In turn, more art, more culture, more love and more happiness for everyone. there may always be some inequality, certainly physical differences from person to person, but I feel that we as a community of human beings would benefit from aiming for the most equality possible. My opinion is based on what Ive read on the issue. Checkout the book and let me know how you feel about the subject.
Cy, you're being kinda silly. The man can be a minimalist and still badly want things.
If you had gone on to read, he dismissed part of his old view and did conclude that abundance would be a good thing.
Inequality can be a motivator, and there will always be inequality: physical, social or material.
Hey tynan im really dissapointed with this post in a number of ways. Its the 6th anniversary of your blog and its painfully clear youve gone off the path. Inequality is the cause of incredible amounts of emotional pain and suffering in our world. I recommend "the spirit level" by richard wilkinson for a look at equality and how it makes everything better. I dont even know how to address your comment that you enjoy wanting things. materialism breeds pain and suffering. Id love to see a move away from materialism and back towards minimalism in your writing.
just to quote your work to highlight my concerns tynan - "The idea of everyone being able to have everything they wanted struck panic into my heart, as it threatened my beloved inequality."
I so enjoy your blog. I feel I live vicariously through you. I love traveling in my small rv. I am currently bed bound in a hospital with potential return of cancer.
keep your fun and adventurous posts coming. You are living my dream . Thanks my friend.
Every day I come to this cafe to write and work on my blog. I'm a social guy and started talking to the people that sit around me. A staggering number of them make their living solely online. I hope to do that one day as well.
I used to walk into McDonalds and often times I wouldn't be charged for my food. Why? Because I went there so frequently and brought so many friends, that they knew I was good for business. My favorite meal was the Fishwich, a mighty sandwich made with a bun, american cheese, a deep fried fish patty, and a generous portion of tartar sauce. To fully sate my appetite I always supersized.
My parents had always encouraged me to eat healthy. I just didn't see the point. I felt good, I wasn't fat, and I never got sick. Why fix what isn't broken? I was thankful for my good metabolism and assumed that eating healthy was for people who didn't have it so good.
Then a couple years ago I watched Super Size Me. I watched it for entertainment, but it was the first time I began to believe that what I ate actually mattered. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. When subjected to a McDonalds only diet, the creator became depressed, lethargic, and generally didn't feel too well. That was the day I stopped eating fast food.
A nice email, and good questions -
your blog has helped me really transform my life in a matter of a week or so. I've never had so mcuh motivation, to do even simple things like clean up my workspace. it only seems to be getting better from here and it really is because of you. every morning i read your blog and get fresh insight into myself.
I've started getting books you've recommended, and so far so good. It would be great if you could suggust some more for me, particulary about getting the motivation to take a risk.
I'm having trouble making myself have passion for what i love, although everyday it seems to be getting a small bit easier. I have started to track my time, and so far even the fact that I'm doing it gets me more motivated knowing i cam keep up a system.
Thanks for the kind words. It'd be great if I could suggest some books on taking a risk?