Janus, Newton, and the Absolute Predictability of Your Future, Part II

Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.

Robert Louis Stevenson

banquet tableNow that the groundwork has been established in Part I, we can move on the real meat of this topic: how the truth about consequences will incontrovertibly make you or break you.

The Beauty in the Beast

Like Janus, consequences have a truly dichotomous nature. And like Janus, consequences allow you to look back at the end results of particular choices and apply that knowledge to future decisions. The law of outcomes is an unstoppable beast, and only you can determine whether that beast will devour you or empower you. There is no alternative. Every choice – every choice – you make will result in a predetermined outcome of benefit or detriment. You never get to opt for a “resultsless” decision, nor can you hope for a different outcome when a past decision is repeated:

  • Lie to your friends, lose their trust.
  • Run an extra mile, get a better race time.
  • Waste an hour in front of the television, lose that hour forever.
  • Study the bonus material, improve your final grade.

The results – for better or worse – unavoidably follow the actions, and the same results will follow the same actions with nearly circadian predictability. It is now that we come full circle to the foundational postulation: you can predict your future with absolute certainty, provided that you

think in terms of consequences rather than in terms of choices.

This manner of living – living by the guideposts of outcomes instead of options – demands a radical paradigm shift, a complete departure from ordinary patterns of human behavior.

The Rule of Consequences

The lesson here is to not make laborious decisions about your words and actions until you make concrete decisions about the types of outcomes you want to obtain.  Is it not just as foolish to select a consequence after choosing the action as to select a target after releasing the arrow?

You may chose to read a book because you understand the general concept that reading is a prerequisite for success, but is that really the case? Does the key lie simply in the act of reading, or does it lie in what you are reading towards? Should you not first determine who you desire to become – an accomplished poet? a magnificent orator? a preeminent physicist? – and then discerningly select the materials and manner of reading which will nurture the garden of your mind into a towering forest of knowledge capable of supporting the bold and powerful future for which you so deeply hunger? Only then will you begin to see growth beyond the limitations of an ordinary life. It is this Rule of Consequences that forms the foundation of success’s great palace.

The Feast of Your Future

So this it it. It’s time to determine who you want to become. In every aspect. Mental, emotional, financial, relational, vocational. Dream. Envision. Get specific and lay it out in black and white. Let the paper know exactly the man or woman you long to see looking back at you from the fog on your morning mirror. Then take time to understand how specific actions exert their resulting forces upon the cultivation of your faculties, and only engage in those actions which directly move you towards the great heights to which you aspire.

There is no time for meandering, no excuses for aimless triviality. An extraordinary life demands the fullness of all your energies and the force of all your will. Nothing less will suffice.  Hour by hour, choice by choice, you are preparing a feast of consequences of which you will one day be compelled to partake.

Will your banquet be filled with triumphal successes or painful regrets?

photo credit: John Bollwitt via photopin cc


A Universal Malady

How much is enough? – A questioner

Just a little bit more. – John D. Rockefeller

Do you know the name of the number-one disease in our post-modern society? Polio? AIDS? The Big C? Not even close. This silent paralytic is affecting virtually every member of the human race worldwide, and its very nature inures its staying power like the cement of a barnacle on the pilings of an aging wharf. Strangely, in every known case, affected individuals lead completely normal lives and experience no pain, discomfort, or loss of physical ability – but the mortality rates are a staggering one hundred percent.

Yet this crippling and subversive sickness has been embraced by the general public, and leading spiritual, secular, and ethical thinkers even tout the malaise as a high virtue of which the whole of mankind must strive to be possessed. Its name is satisfaction, and, rather than bestow all manner of peace and joy as it is widely believed to do, its singular effect is to create a debilitating necrosis of desire in the hearts and minds of its unwitting victims. It mercilessly erodes the great pillars upon which the very pulse and throb of progress are predicated, and its end is the mortification of hope, the murder of motivation, and the mastery of all who fall under its malignant influence. Among the killers of our age, it is truly chief.

The Twist

Am I saying that, contrary to the tides of conventional wisdom and popular thought, satisfaction is something of which we should remain perpetually abhorrent? Incredibly, yes! Satisfaction and success are mutually exclusive entities. But here is where things take an interesting turn. The fulcrum of the entire argument is founded upon a subtle yet essential syntactical difference between satisfaction and its cousin, contentment. I wholeheartedly believe that you should always be perfectly content at every echelon of your life while remaining completely dissatisfied. Let me explain.

The Cure

Contentment is the intellectual and emotional acceptance of your particular circumstances which enables you to derive the maximum amount of pleasure and benefit from those circumstances. Satisfaction, on the other hand, is a passive acceptance of those circumstances as the pinnacle of achievement with not a thought given to what comes next. The former provides a rich context in which ambitions proliferate with rapidity and efficacy; the latter lays dreams to rest in a lifeless grave of presupposed attainment.

If Newton had been satisfied with basic astronomy, would we have experienced the immense benefits of optics, calculus, and the scientific method? If Edison had been satisfied with the phonograph, would we still be without electric lighting, motion pictures, and alkaline batteries? These men were irrepressibly dissatisfied, and their dissatisfaction left an indelible legacy on the pages of history. No empire was ever forged, no nation erected, no masterpiece crafted, no revolution birthed by the paralyzing impotence of satisfaction. It is a state of enervation, the Slough of Despond, a starvation of the mind and soul.

The content man is free to revel in the shallows while nurturing a visceral longing for the horizon. The satisfied man does not know the horizon exists because he is enamored with his sandcastle and oblivious to the sea.

Are you satisfied with your sandcastle?

– CD