Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Bless of Stupidity

For a long time, I thought that stupidity was the enemy. All the crisis in the world, the credit card household finances, the marketing victims, the cult sheep… all that looked like the result of not enough thinking, not enough data, and the lack of scientific method.

But then again, who is going to buy municipal bonds? Who is going to have children on their own, even with all the liabilities associated and the cost of education? Who is going to vote? Who is going to drive that brand new car out of the dealership so I can buy it for 20% less some months down the road?

I’ve been served for stupidity as much as from the smartest products of humankind. If not for stupidity, nobody would take care of my childhood without collateral. Without stupidity, I wouldn’t have a free college education in my country to get pay better in another one that doesn’t tax its business so heavily (to pay for free college education). Without stupidity I wouldn’t enjoy the products of so many endeavors that operate with poor margins or loss, nor would I have the advantage of technologies subsidized for overinflated stock prices. And let’s face it, without stupidity more than 80% of IT professionals wouldn’t have absolutely anything to do.

We complain about reality TV, ethnic wars, budget deficits and congressional lockdowns; but after getting over the first rush of indignation, we realize what is in front of us: a vast ocean of opportunities. Stupidity is better than crude oil: we never run out of it. You don’t need to cheat or lie, not even mislead. People will defend their own fallacies with their lives and force bills into your pockets.

But beyond the parody and the sarcasm, who is to deny that love can’t be smart? The selfless service to another human is the key for survival and one of our strongest evolutionary advantages. So if we get too clever, we face extinction.

This paradox seems to be a matter of semantics. When we talk about smarts what we really mean is “individual” smarts. The concept of a group that is collectively smart is not that obvious. By been individually stupid and collectively intelligent, we guarantee the survival of the species above any particular individual, just as our cells die anonymously for the wellbeing of the whole body.

Conscience is the misleading factor in this equation. Because we are individually (not collectively) conscient, everything we perceive is absurd. Of course, it's personally absurd, but superb in the aggregate. Since we don’t have the capacity to enjoy as a group, we suffer as singularities, just as a clumsy spermatozoid bouncing against a sterile wall who finds no consolation in the idea that “one of us is going to make it”. But he keeps swimming because he has no idea; we do. So we stop, we think, and by thinking we quit trying, and by doing so, kill the whole system.

Stupidity seems to be necessary for the survival of our species. A system composed of selfish smart individuals will cancel itself by logic. Stop complaining about the irrational population and bless them as the key element of our long-term resilience.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Match Yourself

I haven’t been inactive since my return to Florida. The exciting trip I took helped me to sense the nonsense of the life I was living. The world is full of people that give up and disguise its inertia as prudence. It’s nothing but cowardice.

Some visits to my family got me extra pounds, so the next step was to lose weight.

Every time I need to wrestle with my own body I find a hall of reality that I can’t fool. My system will react to effective measures, nothing else. Good intentions and dreams have not the slightest effect on my waistline.

For many years, I have been trying to find my formula to weight control. Since I was in my twenties, I ran into the error of explosive training and demoralizing crashings. Then I tried long term discipline, just to crash in several episodes instead of one.

My error was seeing my body as a separate project of my existence. A weak mind can’t wear a strong body. You can’t have a body that doesn't match your mentality for too long, the same way you can’t wear that Halloween custom every day to the office. 

First thing, my goal can’t be being attractive (external reward) but being worthy (internal stimulus). I love the image of that old man that wears a tie even when retired. He’s not trying to follow anybody’s dressing code but his own. If you shower and shave just when there is somebody watching, then you are really a beggar in disguise. The ONLY person who cares is watching all the time, yourself. 

Once you understand that simple fact is when discipline starts to boil in your heart. 

Romans had a word for this: “Dignitas”. It’s the root of the modern “dignity” but for Romans, it was deeply personal. Having “Dignitas” was to behave, look and match the way of a worthy life. When you find your “Dignitas”, the rest of your physical manifestations follow. 

That clears the path between mind and body, but still, you need to go through the technicalities of knowing yourself. Your body is unique, and there is a distinctive way in which it reacts to different combinations of nutrients, tasks and circumstances. At some point, you need to stop listening to diet experts and take note of those things that have a real and measurable effect on your system. You will be surprised by who far you may be from the average. 

The good news (great news indeed) is that controlling your body is not a challenge of will but one of self-knowledge. I got rid of sixteen pounds with a mild cardio workout of 40 minutes every other day, and I feel better than when I was a teenager.

I’m not doing this to impress anybody but the guy in the mirror.