Good Times

Humor is contextual. What is serious and what is funny can flip based on perspective and interpretation.

Viewing a video of someone slipping can incite laughter. But knowing the subject suffered serious injury makes the video macabre, eliciting a somber mood.

If life is fictional, and no creature is truly hurt, having only ever existed as illusion, then life is likely a highly humorous circumstance.

Sharing Life

An otherwise unpleasant experience can become enjoyable when shared. And life certainly provides an endless stream of potentially unpleasant events. So depending on our connection to those around us, these events can become enjoyable bonding opportunities.

Unfortunately, we tend to severely limit our enjoyment by excluding people, often requiring specific individuals or types to be present in order to consider a situation enjoyable. But by increasing our willingness to accept all others as equal participants, we increase our likelihood for enjoyment.

When we’re of the mindset that we’re all in this together, then life improves. To accept the multitudes as partners on a shared journey, is to increase our joy. To close ourselves off, is to decrease everyone’s satisfaction, especially our own.

This is why we must give of all we have and then some. By treating all others as precious companions, by opening ourselves up, we increase our love and appreciation of life. Companionship, is what life boils down to. There really is no other point. We all have a good time, or none of us do.

Bitter Pill

I simply look out the window to witness the plight of the working poor. I go out for a drive and I’m confronted with the arbitrary nature of law enforcement. While out amongst the spectrum of people, I’m repeatedly reminded of discrimination and inequality. While shopping, I sense my ever declining purchasing power. While watching TV or browsing the Internet, I’m struck by rampant misinformation and systemic corruption. You say to focus on something of interest, find something fun — well perhaps life should stop flooding my field of view with such unpleasantries.

To be fair, it can be fun to evaluate and criticize. Frustration arises when you believe your complaints should create some sort of change. For instance, you don’t review a movie intending for the producers to fix the script and remake it, the movie is already made, you simply enjoy the process of critiquing the piece. A bad movie can be an enjoyable experience under the right circumstances. Much of comedy is simply pointing out how absurd something is.

So scrutinize and judge life all you want, but do so as if it’s a story already written — resist the urge to lament its static nature. If the world was fixable, it would be fixed already — thus the world is intended as a drama generator. And just imagine a problem-free world, what can excite the mind more than the passion of injustice, cruelty, betrayal, and dissatisfaction — the anguish of life is haunting, remaining ever in one’s thoughts. If the object of life is to provide fodder for the mind, there is no better way than bitterness for leaving a lasting impression.

But bitter candy exists, does it not? Bitter can be fun if accepted with a lighthearted attitude. Life seems like a demented bully if approached somberly. We need to laugh at life’s crude attempts at merrymaking. Yes people are literally crushed in the process, life is quite the rambunctious storyteller — but don’t overlook that much of our fictionalized entertainment deals with death and destruction. To have your sandcastle kicked apart seems savage at first, until you realize it would have crumbled anyway — and a completed sandcastle means the fun is done.

Farcical Facade

We know this world to be fake because of its extreme brutality. If it were real, with actual consequence, how could we so readily hurt one another? Rather than participate in such savagery, we’d simply lay down to die. What’s living if it means the infliction of cruelty upon others?

Because of the violence, the rage, the irrationality, the indifference, the suffering, the sorrow, we know this life to be mere fiction. ‘Tis but a silly farce filled with buffoonery and horseplay, a series of improbable situations both crude and ludicrous. Pain is merely a prop.

A captive audience to be sure. We are repeatedly restricted from retaining compassion and understanding. We are made to ignore the distress of others. We are not allowed to grasp the greater perspective lest we simply quit out of protest.

I dare say we must maintain our appreciation tho’, lest we offend the host. Although the production may not be to our liking, we know not the alternative to this entertainment. Simply try to find some aspect of interest, focus on that, and accept the whimsy of the spectacle.

Sixteen Types

It’s a bit odd of course, that people can be categorized into 16 different personality types. That these types are distributed so well amongst the population is even stranger. And it’s weird how the types complement and conflict with each other.

I find some types pleasant and endearing while others seem harsh and distasteful. There are those whose drive is clearly counter to my own, and on some level we’re incompatible. Either a compromise is struck or we’ll be at odds.

And in my analysis at least, my type is not related to the types of my parents or siblings — we are of different and conflicting categories. Is this random assignment or the result of an odd intermingling, where certain types beget certain other types?

For me, it’s all a bit too coincidental. A small number of distinct and conflict-prone personality types? It appears to be drama in the making. On first blush, one might assume that personalities were as varied as the amount of people on the planet — or that there’s a singular “normal” that we all should be striving toward — but the MBTI certainly suggests otherwise.

I’m clearly supplied with a predefined set of character traits shared by a small percentage of the population. I’m not in control of my inclinations, preferences, or reactions — they’ve been provided by whatever mechanism assigns my type.

When surrounded by other types, we can develop the sense of being abnormal, but upon realizing our own type, we see we’re normal per our particular category. And sometimes we view other types with envy, wishing we could do as they do — but knowing our own strengths, we understand our role to play.

Overall, it seems like a good idea to understand the varied, yet not so varied, personality types — we can use that knowledge as a source of empathy as well as a way to understand ourselves. We should not expect others to fulfill a role that is not theirs, nor should we strive toward a role that is not our own.

Whether the sixteen types of the MBTI are the definitive categorization of mankind is debatable of course, but we should at least acknowledge the implications they put forth. If we understand the characters and their roles, the game of life may make a bit more sense.

People Types

I first heard of the “Myers–Briggs Type Indicator” stuff many years ago, assessed my type, and moved on. But recently, I happened upon it again and found the description so accurate, that it struck me in a new way. I’m a particular character it seems, one of only sixteen — and by simply reading the description, someone would know the essence of me and why I do what I do.

And if I’m such a definitive type, I’d tend to speculate that the other types are at least somewhat accurate — meaning the world is comprised of these few personalities, repeated over and over. It suggests I’m a stereotype, a set character in a fixed narrative. I’m often drawn to the idea that the world is really a computer simulation in which I have little to no control — so in my mind, these copy-pasted personalities tend to lend credence to the idea.

It appears that I am an INTP, a thinker. According to the description, this is me: I value logic and reason above all, living within my mind, wrapped up in theories, ever attempting to solve problems, I see myself as important and powerful, dismissive of the standing social order, needing to fix and improve, always finding patterns and devising explanations. I think rather than do, spending my time and energy on ideas attained through logical conclusions, socializing is secondary, feelings are secondary — a bit robotic or perhaps Vulcan — coming across as overly critical, sarcastic, or just negative. I express myself as accurately and succinctly as possible. Independent and unconventional, I dismiss tradition, seeking new analysis — I am not a leader or a follower. I simply seek to understand the world.

Solitary, I maintain minimal relationships. For the few I keep, my love is intensely focused and uncomplicated, faithful and pure. I am intrigued by intelligence. I have simple daily needs and can accept criticism. I tend not to externalize the intensity of my feelings. And to understand the feelings of others, I analyze, closely monitoring behavior, as I tend to lack intuition for such matters. I approach conflict analytically, which is not always appreciated by others. As a parent, I am easygoing, allowing my offspring to grow into themselves, leaving their lives unplanned, listening to their input, and enjoying their company.

And I like that description, it certainly seems fitting. I think the larger picture is this: if we are all comprised of predictable traits, then it would be in our interest as a society to identify and provide avenues of expression for each type. Otherwise, when people are not allowed to express their natural tendencies, there is bound to be dissatisfaction and frustration. We can also see that one definition of “normal” is not enough — but, we’re not all that different, as we share the same qualities with those in our type.

Unpleasant Odor

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that Buddha, Jesus, and Krishna characterized the world as a shithole. Buddha was so distraught by the suffering he saw, that he left his family and sought enlightenment — Jesus castigated the religious leaders of his time until dying at their behest — and Krishna urged Arjuna to slaughter his treacherous family.

So those seeing this world as messed-up, are not crazy. In fact, they are following in hallowed footsteps. But of course, this path does not end with complaining, it requires transcendence of the crap. Mere acceptance will not do — this path requires the realization of a purity existing beyond the dung.

But make no mistake, the flesh will become soiled — ceaselessly so. The body is a poop-tube after all, food goes in, poop comes out. As Buddha abused his body while in a depressive state, as Jesus hung from the cross, and as Arjuna butchered his cousins, we witness the filthy nature of existence.

And dealing with the stink of life is not about avoidance, or covering over the smell, or holding the nose — as those strategies ultimately fail — it’s about removing the connotation of “stink”. By questioning the very nature of stink, we begin to let go of the idea that “stink” is a concrete concept.

When we train our mind to no longer focus on feces, when we quiet the turbulent thoughts that tend toward the noxious, we escape the taint of excrement. Although we are ever surrounded by fecal matter, our essence, that which is experienced in the stillness of a quieted mind, remains untouched.