A Virtuous Exploration

I went to bed very early last night, around 9:00 p.m. I fell asleep almost immediately and slept soundly until around 1:00 a.m. Sleep came in fits and starts for the rest of the night; fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there, half an hour as the night wore on. I finally got up around 5:00 a.m. If I’d slept the entire night, it would have amounted to eight hours sleep. I never get eight hours sleep; apparently I don’t need that much. But I got less than I needed last night. I feel like I’m moving through thick molasses this morning. I’m slow and every move I make requires more energy than it should. If I felt more energetic, I would have gone to the gym. I would have been there when the doors opened at 6:00. But I didn’t feel energetic. And, so, I waded through the internet, my fingers struggling to direct the mouse across the screen. And here I am.

Three-quarters of my first cup of coffee are gone. The remaining quarter is cold and unappealing. As I look at the clutter on my desk, it occurs to me that this is the desk of a lazy, impossibly disorganized man. The only things missing that would complete the portrait of the desk of an idiot are ashtrays filled with cigarette butts and crumpled packs of cigarettes. Cigarettes. I find it hard to believe that, for a very long time, I smoked them. And I enjoyed them. Now, I find their odor rank and offensive. And though I try not to, I look at people who smoke as somehow lesser beings. That’s how people viewed me, I’m sure. Not sufficiently smart to realize what I was doing not only to myself, but to the people around me. Ugh!

People mistreat their bodies. I know I do. We eat foods that clog our arteries and pad our waistlines. We avoid getting the exercise that would keep our muscles firm and our cardiovascular systems healthy. We allow ourselves to get addicted to cigarettes and alcohol and drugs of all kinds. We jump out of airplanes and drive recklessly. Frankly, we’re too stupid to be allowed to live. Yet live we do. Just not as long as we otherwise might. And not as comfortably as we would had we just cared for ourselves better. And we don’t get enough sleep. Sleep replenishes us. It nourishes our brains and gives our bodies time to rest.

I think people would be more likely to treat themselves (that is, their bodies) with more respect if the results of proper care were more immediate. As a species, we’re impatient. When I go to the gym, I want to see immediate results; a narrower waist, firmer muscles, more stamina, and hungry stares by women who crave my body but will never have the good fortune to engage with it. Well, I never really want or expect those hungry stares, but the instantly firm muscles and narrow waist would be nice. When those results do not come after three or four sessions at the gym, the efforts seem wasted and pointless. Patience is a virtue, they say.

According to Aristotle, the highest virtue was intellectual contemplation. An additional twelve virtues he said, are:

  1. 1) Courage
  2. Temperance
  3. Liberality
  4. Magnificence
  5. Pride
  6. Honor
  7. Good Temper
  8. Friendliness
  9. Truthfulness
  10. Wit
  11. Friendship
  12. Justice

You’ll notice that patience is not on the list. But I did find patience on a list of forty virtues (40!!??). I think forty is an unrealistic number; I couldn’t even begin to name forty virtues. Of course, I couldn’t name Aristotle’s thirteen without the aid of Queen Mother Google, the fount of all knowledge and keeper of plenty of deceit. In that list of forty, I found Docility and Meekness; methinks some of the virtues were found in a Thesarus. I also found Prayerfulness: “being still, listening, and being willing to talk to God as a friend.” Uh huh.

“Hey, let me introduce you to my friend, God. Quite the baseball player, God is. And he cures cancer when he’s in the mood.”

I realize, when I sit at my computer and write, that I frequently pause and look up resources online to help me better understand and idea taking shape in my head. It’s as if my brain and the internet were beginning to merge with one another; I can’t think a fully by myself as I can when I am connected with the world wide web. Elon Musk, I read yesterday, intends to implant chips in human brains to create direct connections between humans and computers. I suspect he got the idea while contemplating what I’ve realized sitting here at my computer; I think more completely and with far more breadth and depth when I am equipped with the aid of a computer. The computer would be useless with me to use it and my brain would be less resourceful without access to the computer. It stands to reason, then, that a means of integrating the two would magnify the scope of their intellectual values. My brain power would expand exponentially if I could directly incorporate the reach of the internet into my thoughts.

My thoughts were interrupted by an odd noise outside. I went to explore and discovered my driveway repair guys are here. They are grinding the cracks in the driveway in preparation for filling them with concrete and aggregate. I am impressed with these folks; they are hard workers, very friendly, and knowledgeable about their specialities. They have the stamina and endurance I don’t.

Enough musing for now. I had better get on with the day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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