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Monday, August 16, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 48 – What’s Missing

I got the inspiration for this note (see my last post about inspiration for more info about that) after driving back from Kent Island with Daniel Shi and we were talking about a whole bunch of things, some including philosophy but I will get into that a bit later. I want to start this post off with a quote we have all heard before, the one that goes like, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” I want to look at the opposite end of the spectrum and discuss how you don’t know what you’re missing until you have it or are at the very least made aware of it. We all have also heard the saying that ignorance is bliss and sometimes that statement holds true but you really don’t know what you are missing until you know it exists. One step above that is knowing how what you’re missing plays a role in your life and that can only be achieved when you have it.

Missing things usually has a direct correlation to emotions. If you are missing something you usually will feel like there is a void in your heart. This feeling means that you have a sense that something should be in your life that isn’t. Unfortunately when this happens you usually don’t know what it is and how you would go about filling that gap in your heart. This feeling is usually always negative because the lack of knowing how to make things feel normal or better makes you uneasy. You don’t feel secure or feel like everything is in its right place. This is where the saying ignorance is bliss falls apart. People will search far and wide in order to quench those feelings of void. The best way to achieve this knowledge of what you’re missing is to be exposed to as much as you can. Exposures widen your perspective and help you realize and get acquainted to new things you wouldn’t have beforehand. If you don’t know what’s missing it is either because you have forgotten about it or never experienced something like it before. If you have an unrealized love of painting, you may not ever know it is what could make you feel peaceful if you never go out and take an art class or some other means of experiencing it.

Knowing what it is that you are missing is a completely different thing that actually attaining it. It may give you an even worse feeling knowing you can’t have what you are missing compared to not having any idea. If something is just out of your reach, not being able to have it can drive some people crazy. This is where I want to delve into the difference between your wants and your needs. Usually everything you are missing is something that you want, not need. This is because if you don’t have everything you need you probably won’t be able to survive. If you are missing the sustenance in the food you eat, you will starve and so on with your other needs. For this reason, almost everything you are missing is something you want. Not having it won’t physically kill you, but can kill you emotionally and can cause people to become depressed and won’t help you live a healthy and successful lifestyle if you are always searching for something and not being able to find it or have it.

This post relates pretty closely to the Have You Ever Wondered post I did about What If’s because it involves a lot of speculation about how things could be. The thing that you should realize is the fact that there are so many opportunities (which is the topic of my next post by the way) out there that we miss each and every day just because we can’t physically do them all. This is mainly caused by the constraints that we all face and need to consider whenever we take action on any subject. Some typical constraints include things like time and resources like money that we can’t simply afford to do whatever we want all the time or is isn’t even possible to do them. For instance, you probably can’t just go out and get on a plane to Antarctica right this second. First, you would need to get approval from your parents (if you still live with them that is). You would also need to take into consideration all your previous commitments and adjust them accordingly to the time you will be using up when traveling. You also need to have the money to buy a ticket and a means to get there. It will also require preparation in the freezing environment you will encounter when you go down there. There are probably so many other factors that need to be discussed and gone over before you take the trip. Things like spontaneity provide excitement but they need to be worked out before they can become enjoyable or even a reality. Achieving what is missing in your life can be harder than it seems.

Now I want to get into what Daniel and I were talking about on the car ride home a couple days ago. I forget how it came up but I remember we were talking about the Many Worlds Theory. This theory basically states that for every possibly deviation from our reality there is an alternate reality that is exactly the same as ours but with that one unique difference. For instance, if you decided to go make a sandwich instead of going out to eat, there would be two different worlds for each option as well as worlds for the many other possible options. This discussion then got us thinking about how the world advances and what is available to us because of what has happened in the past. We went on to talk about what else would have been possible and is currently missing because things in the past didn’t turn out the right way for it to happen. This sort of goes into my next post about opportunities but it is basically crazy thinking about how different things would be if something else happened. For instance, there is a subculture craze out there called steam punk which basically creates objects and technology that are based upon steam tech rather than electricity based. It is like an alternate reality on how life would be if electricity never took off and we were stuck in the industrial revolution with steam technology. It gets me personally wondering if we could have had things like teleportation or other science fiction technology if things in the past would have happened differently. I’m definitely not saying I would go into the past to change it (as I’ve wrote about in past notes) but it is still cool to think about. I actually just got done reading an article in the latest Wired magazine (which is awesome by the way) with Will Ferrell about technology that we should have but don’t yet and it goes into specifics about why we don’t have those things like jetpacks or invisibility. Some reasons are because it isn’t physically possible for them to happen but they mostly have been restricted from existing because advances in technology haven’t made it possible. What if some discovery would have happened that made it possible for you to teleport or fly to far distant planets? The world may never know but I feel like those are definitely missing in our society and hopefully will become a reality in our lifetime.

So where is a good place to end this post? I think a good way would be to talk about how it isn’t always good to view at what you are missing. We are always told that we shouldn’t be greedy and continuously want things that we don’t necessarily need. This is a good point to make because a huge part of living life to the fullest is by making the best of what you have. The popular Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” illustrates an important point about not always being able to achieve or gain access to things that you may be missing so it is important to always cherish what you do have. If you are reading this then you already have been given an amazing opportunity that not everyone else has been as fortunate to have. If you keep wanting more and more you don’t show that you are grateful and appreciative of what you do have. If you always want more or find that you are constantly missing something then you are susceptible to regrets. Looking back on your life, you may find yourself regretting that things didn’t necessarily happen the way you wanted or wished them to. On the flip side however, it is important to try and be imaginative in order to take the next steps in your life. If you think about it, realizing that you are missing something is the very first step in striving for improvement in your life. My theory on life is that you need to seek out ways to improve yourself as well as the world and by trying to fill the voids in your life or life in general, you are helping to make this a reality. Missing something in your life means that you can take steps in order to make them a reality. The important part of this is that you can’t wait for the change in your life. You need to actively seek out and make them happen. If you try hard enough, you can fill any void in your life and in the end, you won’t be missing anything to live a successful and happy life.

-Allan Nicholas

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