September 22, 2022

For a while I've been wrestling with a paradox of dissatisfaction: Buddhism and other philosophies (Stoicism, Epicureanism) tell us that it's a fool's game to make our happiness contingent on the world being different than it is... but it seems like that's a critical way to get energy to change the world for the better. (George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.")

But the other day I posted a meme that started "Be a Kermit the Frog. Have a creative vision and no ego [...]" That seems like beautiful advice - but it seems like ego is another important driver? Much like it's easy to predict docile passivity if one were to consistently just accept the world as it is, it seems like without pride there would be fewer reasons for high standards. Ego is a hell of a stumbling block - stops me from taking risks that might damage it - but it also encourages me to do excellent things.

I worry I'm a little too ego-driven; you could see a lot of what I do, from art projects to romances, having inspiration that's a mix of "this pleases me" and "this impresses others". But I think my lived philosophy of truth as being an emergent property of groups (rather than a subjective thing known by individuals) means that my ego is tied into trying to see if what I'm doing is any good according to other people, since I don't trust - or even value - my own judgement.