June 8, 2001 (Ira Pilgrim)


I got plenty of nothing,

And nothing's plenty for me...

The folks with plenty of plenty

Got a lock on the door;

Afraid somebody is going to rob them

While they're out a making more.

What for?

Ira Gershwin

There were many times in my childhood when I felt completely powerless. I hated that feeling, so at some time in my childhood, I decided to acquire as much power as was necessary so that I would never again feel powerless. While, at the time, that seemed a reasonable thing to do, I never imagined how complex that goal would be. It was not as simple as acquiring food, or a car, or money. For every bit of power that I acquired, something was lost in the process. Let me explain:

I found that if I created my own small empire, that I had to maintain it and defend it against others who wanted to acquire it. If I was able to hire other people to work for me, I still had to see to it that the work got done. I found that as my power increased, my ability to do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it, decreased. In other words, the more power I gained in one way, the more power I lost in another.

At one time in my life I decided that my life was getting too complicated and I decided to simplify it. I aimed toward a state where the only thing that I owned and had to take care of were the clothes that I wore and my food. The more I simplified, the more complicated things became. If something that I needed broke, I had no tools to fix it and had to rely on other people who might or might not be able to fix it.

I could have opted, as did Ted Kaczinski, to live primitively. Much as I love nature, that was not very satisfying. I just was not raised to be a stone-age man. Besides, I had appetites to satisfy, as well as a love of art and music. I was also raised to believe that a family was necessary; something that I have come to believe is probably not so. I was raised in a city and, much as I hated it, there were also things that I liked about it. I also like to sleep in a comfortable bed and eat tasty foods.

One thing that everyone has to do is to come to terms with who he is. I am as incapable of turning my mind off as I am of going without food and drink. I am sure that I could learn to do it, since others have, but that doesn't seem to me to be a goal worth achieving. Achieving understanding and solving problems is something that I genuinely enjoy. Unlike physical things, your ability to do those things gets better as you grow older; provided that you keep doing them.

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