What if there is no right way to live
Even my secular friends who don’t believe in any kind of god or spiritual component to the cosmos believe there is structure to the live we live. On a level one step below the workings of an indifferent universe, there’s human society, and we created it ourselves. That society wasn’t constructed with universal consensus on how it should work, but nonetheless it was constructed by us for us. So maybe this little pocket of human civilization we live in is not as random and arbitrary as the rest of the universe.
On Medium, the website I’m writing this now, you can see countless posts with titles like, “Nine steps towards more productivity,” “Why your habits are holding you back,” “How to attain genuine happiness,” and similar things. They aren’t like instructions for building model airplanes or recipes for cake where following steps exactly will get you to specific end results. It’s more like coaching for sports or tips for video games, where they give you a basis of understanding that is supposed to improve the odds of getting good results from your efforts.
Why is the path to success more like sports and less like cake? Whether you define success as some big endeavor that leaves your mark in history, or just finding an inner peace, or basking in the warmth of people you love and who love you, shouldn’t you be able to just take the right actions and get there? Some people might say you could. They write blog posts and books and promises.
We don’t hear from the other people, though, the ones who tried and failed. We only see interviews with actors who are starring in the latest blockbuster, who tell us about how they came to Hollywood with barely any money and worked hard and made it. Nobody interviews anyone in the vastly larger group of actors who came, tried their hardest, and left because they could no longer afford to not take a job they didn’t want. For every person telling you how they succeeded and how you could follow in their footsteps, how many people tried that path and fell off? If the number of people who didn’t make it is always so much larger than those who have, which is why we value those who have. So how can we put any faith in advice that has such a low…