It’s my fault and that’s a good thing

(notes for a future essay about self-blame, responsibility, the concept of fault)

Beeware self-flagellation

[spoiler] In Good Will Hunting, the pivotal moment happens when Robin Williams’ character repeatedly tells Matt Damon’s, “it’s not your fault”.

Mumford and Sons – Little Lion Man : “But it was not your fault but mine. And it was your heart on the line. I really fucked it up this time. Didn’t I, my dear? But it was not your fault but mine. And it was your heart on the line. I really fucked it up this time. Didn’t I, my dear?” 

the interesting thing I’m not seeing mentioned is – people don’t necessarily climb the hierarchy in a linear, progressive way

I think a lot of smart, frustrated people are those who conceive of the higher levels but aren’t able to enact it because of their ineffectiveness at dealing with lower-level demands

something like a mortgage is a persistent mid-level demand – you can’t run or hide from it the way you might with something less persistent. so you either learn how to perform and deliver, or you struggle, drown, perish

everybody underestimates how challenging this is, and a lot of people deal poorly when discovering that reality is more difficult and painful than their expectations – pick up negative coping mechanisms, etc. it’s a significant part of why the world is so messed up, in a day-to-day sense

but this entire struggle plays out on a mid-tier plane, and maybe the lower tiers when things get dysfunctional

and mid-tier obligations are a huge burden that weigh people down from grasping at higher-tier concepts

it doesn’t necessarily have to be something noble or good. in breaking bad, walter white seeks self-authorship, to determine his own fate. the show itself, like most shows, is largely a form of escapism for audiences in mid-tier circumstances

circling back – some people start with a very low-tier model of reality, and either never climb, or are maybe dragged 1 or 2 tiers above by circumstances, and they try to adapt. they thrive, survive, flounder or fail, and that’s the plot of their entire lives, basically. it’s very contained, very local

then maybe there are people who continually seek to identify, examine and grasp higher-tier models of reality, and go through this in a very linear, progressive way

but a thing you can do with mental models that you can’t do with say, lifting weights, is that there isn’t actually really anything to stop you from going all the way to the asymptote

a child in the gutter can dream of the stars

most decent people spend most of their time engaged in exploring the ethics and conflicts and challenges of mid-tier reality

people discussing their relationships with one another, their work environment, their family and so on. and I don’t mean to dismiss these things, these are the important, grounded realities of everyday life. and I’m definitely suspicious of people who wax lyrical about the higher-tier things when they can’t take care of themselves

but while i’m suspicious, i’m not dismissive. because it does seem like there are times when the people who break into high-tier contexts and make a difference are people who get there almost *because* of their dysfunction. it’s complicated

in practical terms; high-tier contexts are spaces where changes can and do percolate through the entire system – philosophers, economists, statesmen, authors, filmmakers – people who go beyond working on their local issues and have species-level impact

I suppose the practical question is, I’m trying to make sense of how differently-calibrated people progress in life, and whether there is an optimal sort of calibration for people of certain dispositions, and whether it’s worth making the effort to recalibrate

when I frame things in terms of “I suppose the practical question is”, I’m already revealing the degree to which I’ve been conditioned to think a certain way

it would be interesting if we could meet the 27.5 year old Visa from an alternate timeline, who never got married, never bought a house, never had to hold down a job

and to figure out if there are things that he knows that I don’t, things that he’s good at that I’m not

it’s easy to see what I have that he doesn’t

it’s hard to see what he has that I don’t

it’s all conjecture on hindsight, but it’s significant because it would influence how I plan the remainder of my life

American Chopper -> Peterson clean your room

  • It’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you