For most of my life, I was successful. Generally speaking, each year was better than the prior year, and whenever I made a “five-year plan”, my life turned out better than what I had planned. Like many people, I had developed little “rules” or habits or maxims or truisms that guided my life. Considering my current life, تنهن هوندي به, اهو آهي
obvious that there is something wrong with this list. () Maybe some of these items are wrong, or more likely, I am missing some key habits and skills; skills that if I had them, I would have weathered this storm.
In no particular order, and not a complete list, منهنجي “rules” for successful living:
Consider the laws of Illinois. Just the printed law of Illinois take up 11 large books with small print, but the laws passed by the legislature must be interpreted by the courts, so to truly understand the law of Illinois, you must also read court cases. The following reference tool starts with the 11-volume set of Illinois laws, adds some other rules, and annotates each law and rule with summaries of some court cases. To read the entire court case, you must go to yet another reference tool, but just this list of summaries of some cases expands the original 11 volumes to 147 volumes! And that is merely the law of Illinois; it doesn’t describe the law of any other state, Federal law, the law of other countries, religious law, international law, the history of law, or anything else related to law. The most knowledgeable lawyer in all of Illinois couldn’t know more than .001% of Illinois law.
تنهن ڪري, being an expert at locating knowledge is probably more important than having knowledge. Some specific rules about finding knowledge:
One simple experiment proves this in an elegant way. Pretend your native (non-English) language does not distinguish between blue and green (pretty common, actually). You are shown an object that a native English speaker would call green, but you call it “bleen”. The next day, you are shown an object that is identical in every way except the color. The color is slightly different—a native English speaker would call it blue, but you would also call it “bleen”. The scientist then asks you, “Is the object you saw today the same color as the object you saw yesterday.” You can only answer yes because both objects are “bleen”.
The point is: you remember things and understand things only through words. If your vocabulary cannot distinguish blue and green, then all of those colors will be lumped into “bleen”. If your vocabulary cannot describe the world around you or your inner life, then everything will be lumped into “bleen”, and your ability to grow, communicate, and understand yourself will be limited.
I have been trying to figure out what went wrong that led me here. I do not really believe I will figure it out, but first, I tend to analyze everything and this is not an exception. ٻيون, the point of telling this story is so that other people might figure out how to avoid my complete hopelessness in their own lives, and it is natural for me to speculate about what went wrong. تنهن ڪري, it is unnecessary for me to figure out what went wrong or to believe that I might figure it out: I am not writing this for my benefit.
I think the most obvious rule I missed is that humans are social animals and it is exceptionally important to structure our lives around the social aspects of our actions. It is impossible to accomplish anything, or to even survive, without the help of other people. Money and other modern constructions can make it harder for us to see how much we depend on the other seven billion people in the world, but no amount of technology will ever remove our psychological need for human interaction. People who live in complete social isolation tend to develop severe mental impairments within six months. جي “castaway” scenario is increasingly less likely on a planet that is more crowded every day, but it illustrates the fundamental need for social interaction: if you do not have it, you will literally go insane.
As an American, and especially as a Texan, my culture strongly emphasized “individuality” ۽ “self-sufficiency”. These concepts are myths. You probably do not own a single object that you could construct yourself. Even if you are a cabinetmaker who made your own cabinets, you did not construct the tools you used to make those cabinets. You did not mine the metal from the earth, forge the hammer, grow the tree for the lumber, distill the gasoline for the trucks that delivered your materials, or do a million other tasks. Self-sufficiency is an illusion, and for me, I think it was a dangerous illusion. According to our modern definition of self-sufficiency, I was successful for many years. And that success—that strength—was also my weakness. I focused on “self-sufficiency”, and I neglected to learn how to depend on other people.
ها, I do mean “depend on other people”. That is practically a sin in modern America: depending on other people. We do it all the time, but we refuse to acknowledge it or to value it. As my life became more difficult than I could handle, I lacked the skills and relationships to get help from other people. Hell, I lacked the ability to even recognize that I needed help from other people. Even today, I know that I need help from other people, but I have no clue what help I need. Nor do I know who to ask for help or how to ask them for help.
My lack of ability to seek and receive help from other people is extreme. I doubt most people are as deficient in this area as I am. When I look at the lives of other people, I see things that are absent from my life. Something as common and simple as a “best friend forever” is foreign to me. I see it, I know it is possible, but it has never been a part of my life. I have no idea how to form that type of relationship: a dependency that is so deep and strong. That is just one example of my extreme lack of knowledge in this area. I might be good at helping other people, but I am terrible at receiving help from others.
One major lesson I have slowly learned over the last two years: I am great at asking for help in my professional/school life, but when I need help in my personal life, not only cannot I not ask for help, I feel very guilty accepting help from other people.
I think the difference is that in professional/school life, people expect to work together and help each other, but expectations are quite different for our personal lives.
In our personal lives, we are supposed to be self-sufficient and independent. And we expect some types of people to be more self-sufficient than other people: Americans are supposed to live the American Dream, which means (حصي ۾) that we should make it on our own (consider the foreclosure-tsunami and how many times you have heard, “some people just shouldn’t own a house” really? if that is true, then it means “some people should just be serfs”); as a Texan, I am supposed to “pull myself up by my bootstraps”; as a man, no, wait, I mean as a MAN, I am supposed to “buck up” or tough it out; as part of the majority ethnic group, the huge advantages I get should be enough for me to succeed (and white Americans do get advantages), and if they are not enough, then there is something wrong with me; since I am smart, I should figure-it-out mydamnself, and if I can’t, then I am lazy; and the list goes on.
Culturally, it is ok to ask for and get help from your family–most of the time. To most people, which do you think sounds worse (recall that I am 36 years old): “I live with my mother.” يا “I am roughing it in my car until I find a new job.”? A 36-year-old, white, Texan, MAN, with a brain, who lives with his mother is a complete loser.
Since I was young, I have been told by the world, my country, my culture, and my teachers, bosses, schoolmates, coworkers, friends, and family, “You have been given gifts, so you have to help other people.” They said it implicitly and explicitly. The phrase that haunts me every day: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
I was born lucky: I was given a life that is better than 95% of all people who have ever lived. (Not an exaggeration; 7 billion people alive today, 100 billion who ever lived: do the math.)
When I need help in my personal life, I feel very guilty.