Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

The future is the ghost that haunts us as a species.  §

If you can predict the future, does that make you a genius or a fool?

Or is it actually neither? Is it actually more true to say that almost everyone can predict the future in certain important ways, and that’s why humans in particular struggle with life so?

Isn’t that the cause, for example, of the rising suicide rate, the genesis of “Spade” and “Bourdain” as stories? Were these not people who, able to see the future clearly, couldn’t cope with what they saw?


© Aron Hsiao / 2005

The “experts” suggest that the problem is that people imagine a future that isn’t real, but it dawns on me that this isn’t actually true. Rather the opposite—people may have all kinds of reactions to futures that aren’t real, but they carry on. What stops people dead in their tracks (forgive phrasing) is when they see a future that they know to be likely, or at least not very unlikely, that they don’t want or that scares them.

— § —

I remain quite sore from my first three days of taekwondo training. Historically I have not liked being sore following physical exertion, but in this case, I like it.

Funny, that.

The people that run my dojang have become central inspirations in my life. A key reason for this is that they are neither social justice warriors nor movement conservatives. They are, in fact, not publicly political at all. Instead, they are friendly, pro-family, very pragmatic, very generous, very compassionate.

How is it possible that several someone(s) have so escaped our modern plagues? They are the only people like this that I know. It’s one of the reasons I like to go back so often. It’s like time travel into the past to go there—a past when we all had better futures.

— § —

Last night I read a Lao Tzu quote—not sure how accurate or where from—that sticks in my mind.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

I’ve read what amounts to the same thought on many other occasions, but the way it is formulated here seems particularly forceful and clear to me.

Or maybe it’s that I am finally ready to grok it? When the student is ready, the master appears?

— § —

It is a common human experience to believe that you have radically changed, only to discover afterward that in fact, you haven’t—what has changed are perhaps a few central thoughts and desires. The domain of things that have not changed includes:

  • Your habits

  • Your personality

  • Your coping mechanisms

  • Your identity for other people

It’s always a bit of a come-down to realize that what felt like a sea change in actuality changed mostly nothing about your real, as-lived life, even if internally it felt as though so very much had changed.

People who aren’t very self-reflective never come to this realization. They believe that in fact, they have changed completely, and that an unfair world refuses to recognize this change. This leads them precisely to intensify the habits, personality, coping mechanisms, and public identity with which they no longer believe it fair to associate them.

In fact, it is quite hard to change. The “change yourself” meme is misleading in that way. For all the sturm und drang, for all the difficulty presented by changing “yourself” (noumenon), it is far, far harder to change yourself (phenomenon).

— § —

For too long I have been living life as if I was on the lam. This is no way to live. Despite the above, let’s see if we can change it.