On the foolishness of waiting

I hate waiting, hate not so much the experience but the idea of waiting. The experience is tolerable, but the idea is exhausting. The idea of waiting is exhausting.

Even then, “The idea of waiting is exhausting” falls flat as an expression. Its inadequacy shows through. Better said: “The life that envelops itself in the idea of waiting is exhausting.” And there we have it.

When I wait, I posit the essential over and beyond me. Furthermore, I posit value in what is not within my ken. If I wait for you to kiss me, then I am positing value in something that may never come. So I wait for your approach, and I am disappointed.

Not always, of course, but often enough for disappointment to take its toll. And therein lies the problem: Waiting is such that it carries the idea of disappointment, like the taint of a cigarette, with it, within it wherever it goes.

The form of life wherein waiting figures prominently is also the form of life wherein wishing and then regretting play equally prominent parts. Yes, because waiting leads, not necessarily but certainly quite regularly, to wishing that things were otherwise than the way they are (or could be). The wish, in turn, is replaced by the regret, and the regret for this finally a regret for life, for my life, for being.

This may all sound terribly melodramatic as you’re waiting for the train. And you might reply that waiting does not always culminate in dissatisfaction, and you’d be right in saying so. And you might go further and imagine all the times you’ve waited and–the joy of surprise–your parents provided.

I think you jest, and I’m sure you’re confused. Have you ever wondered whether the question, “What can I do here and now? What is within my power?,” might change your way of thinking? I can meditate, and perhaps the train comes or perhaps it doesn’t. As the water heats up, I can clean up around me. Will my lover kiss me? Perhaps I can ask her with my eyes or with my lips. I can be active even while the world does its thing.

As opposed to waiting, the meditation. As opposed to wishing, the invitation. As opposed to regretting, the love of fate. As opposed to a life well-wasted, a life well-lived.

How do I know that I like this person? Some heuristics

Yesterday, I wrote about a handful of entrepreneurial principles to live by. The first principle from Martin Glaser was: “Only work with people you like.”

I haven’t addressed the epistemic question, however. It is: “How do I know that I like this person?” Well,

  1. How well put together is this person? Is he intact, or is he falling apart at the seams?
  2. Am I at peace with this person? Is she nourishing? (On the toxicity/nourishing distinction, see Glaser.)
  3. Am I likely to do any good?

The questions should not be taken as a checklist or as a step-by-step guide. Rather, they should serve as heuristics: a set of tools to be used to help you make some sense of things. In my philosophical counseling practice, these are the questions I’ve begun asking myself during the initial conversation.

Some entrepreneurial principles to live by

An entrepreneur: “one who undertakes,” says the OED. Or could we be a bit coy and say, “one who gives it a whirl?” And how might he live? By his wits and according to principle.

The first three, slightly modified, are lifted from a short essay by Milton Glaser.

  1. Only work with people you like.
  2. Don’t get a job. (Addendum: The career is dead, and the project, disconnected from a broader vision, is disorienting).
  3. Seek out nourishing people. Avoid toxic ones. (Read Glaser here.)
  4. Lines of thought: Learn the art of the zigzag: Few ideas or essays ever go in a straight line.
  5. Partnerships: Invite the other–try things out–thank him.
  6. Money matters: Never haggle. Ask what the other thinks is fair. (If you’re following principles 1-3 above, then the question of haggling should never arise.)

Malcolm Harris on bad education

From n+1: Harris’s punch line: “[H]igher education, for-profit or not, has increasingly become a scam.” To review:

  1. “Since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation.”
  2. And how have students paid for ever rising tuition? By taking out loans, federally back and hence low risk. Harris’s prediction: Here comes the education bubble!
  3. Lots of goodies going to burgeoning administrative class. Not many going to shrinking tenured class. Hurray for the corporate university!
  4. We’ve got rising student debt coupled with draconian bankruptcy policy. Sorry, son, once you default, you’re not offloading your debt.

The lessons I take from this? Don’t go into higher ed, and start looking seriously at alternative forms of education.

A lullaby composed the morning after walking home on a warm night in Brooklyn (April 25, 2011)

Did you feel the fog last night, my friend, did you feel the warmth of the night?

In the midst of the mist of the night, my friend, did you feel the warmth of the night?

And was it then that you opened up your heart, was it then that you felt whole?

Did you feel the fog last night, my friend, did you feel the warmth of the night?