The springtime ease

As I languished in bed earlier this morning, I addressed the issue of productivity. Specifically I examined whether being as I am now demonstrably unproductive is a manifest peril? Having spent the better part of a lifetime (basically everything I can safely recall from the age of ten onwards) devoted to accomplishment of one order or another, I now find myself submerged in a pool of iridescent indolence. It is an achievement of dubious success in spite of the shimmer; the effulgence of the moment is undeniable but I rather feel I’ve done little or nothing to deserve it. Is it the want of orthodox christianity, the absence of punishment for the crime, the reward without the suffering, the summit without the steep climb? As unfamiliar as I am with my present circumstance of inconsolable satisfaction, I am spirited to discover it is a poison which haunts young people as well. This, not because I prefer universal disadvantage, rather because it illustrates universal applicability of the infection and thus softens what might otherwise be dismissed merely as a private neurosis.

How can I make peace with the fact that if I truly commit to work on myself, I’ll be exhausted, tired, frustrated, stressed without any payoff for a long time, when I’ve been so used to injecting myself with video games, procrastination, fapping and memes? It’s like I’ve been hooked up to an instant gratification machine my whole life and trying to step off it is willingly throwing myself into a pit to fulfill some obligation I have to everybody else. And in 6 months maybe I’ll have a new job but I’ll still come home tired and pissed off and I’ll have to console myself with the platitude that I am a functioning adult who went from comfortable uselessness to useful discomfort because.. why? What am I looking forward to?

As so often transpires, answering one question only leads to questioning another answer. And then there’s the whole business surrounding the utility of questioning life at all and wondering why if at all there is or even should be an answer? What started as a modest morning reflection quickly descends to the most convoluted and often arcane Socratic enquiry.

Find problems in the world that you can solve and have a genuine interest in solving. Focus your energy on those things and you’ll begin to feel a sense of accomplishment greater than anything you ever experienced with passive consumption of instant gratification. For example, imagine what it would be like if you helped developed the iPhone. You would walk around and see just about everyone using your phone, and deriving much utility from it. Imagine how rewarding and fulfilling that would be. We all have the ability to shape the world around us; once you truly realize that and begin molding it to the benefit of yourself and others, only then will you feel true gratification.

And, then, like a mournful poetic message from Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) echoing those enlightening words, “Hail to thee, blythe Spirit, bird thou never wert, That from Heaven, or near it, Pourest thy full heart In profuse strains of unpremeditated art” issues forth the unanticipated compensation and revitalization of a springtime garden! The profusion and clamour of existential purpose is in an instant vaporized into the atmosphere. All else is redundant; the equivocation of life is dispelled.

Shelley’s life was marked by family crises, ill health, and a backlash against his atheism, political views, and defiance of social conventions. He went into permanent self-exile in Italy in 1818 and over the next four years produced what Zachary Leader and Michael O’Neill call “some of the finest poetry of the Romantic period”. His second wife, Mary Shelley, was the author of Frankenstein. He died in a boating accident in 1822 at age 29.

In 1804, Shelley entered Eton College, a period which he later recalled with loathing. He was subjected to particularly severe mob bullying which the perpetrators called “Shelley-baits”. A number of biographers and contemporaries have attributed the bullying to Shelley’s aloofness, nonconformity and refusal to take part in fagging. His peculiarities and violent rages earned him the nickname “Mad Shelley”.


I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—”Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart…. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1818

Battling the waves and obstructions of life is inevitable. Whether one were free from peril is irrelevant. Pain exhibits itself in the most unwitting and tedious fashion. Similarly however is the abrupt acknowledgement of life’s bounty. Nor is the achievement predictably or directly upon life’s erstwhile pain. The elevation is instead an acquaintance or reacquaintance with agreeable ingredients, seams of engineering and artistry which succeed to crystallize a spark of enthusiasm.

Socratic method (also known as method of Elenchus or Socratic debate) is a form of argumentative dialoguebetween individuals, based on asking and answering questions. In Plato’s dialogue “Theaetetus”, Socrates describes his method as a form of “midwifery” because it is employed to help his interlocutors develop their understanding in a way analogous to a child developing in the womb. The Socratic method begins with commonly held beliefs and scrutinizes them by way of questioning to determine their internal consistency and their coherence with other beliefs and so to bring everyone closer to the truth.