Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It seems that my desire to do other things has become greater than my desire to blog, or to put it more accurately, it seems that my desire to maintain this blog on a more-or-less daily basis has become second to other desires.

Free will - we always do what we want, ultimately. Oh sure, sometimes we might think "I don't want to do what I'm doing now," but actually we prefer doing that thing we think we don't want to do more than we want the opposite.

Let me give you an example: Suppose you don't want to go to the Opera. No problem, I can relate to that. But on the other hand, your wife wants to go and for you to join her, and you don't want to disappoint her (to look at the half-full portion of the glass; the half-empty portion is you don't want to deal with her anger and nagging if you don't go). Further, you don't want to seem uncultured or poorly educated. If these latter desires (domestic tranquility and social status) outweigh the former (abhorrence of caterwauling), you'll go listen to the Opera that you had wanted to avoid.

There are many things like this. If a fugitive's desire not to be caught is greater than justice's desire to capture him, he will stay on the lam. Sure, talent plays a part in this - if the world's greatest tracker, say, is searching, if only half-heartedly, for a mentally defective jailbird, he'll probably find him, no matter how badly the unfortunate jailbird wants to stay free. But at some point, the two curves do cross and if the world's greatest tracker simply does not care whether or not his prey is ever caught, and meanwhile, the jailbird is making a consistent, concerted and conscientious effort to do everything he can think of, despite his handicap, to stay free, well then, he'll probably never get caught. David, on occasion, really does beat Goliath.

Actually, though, it doesn't really take that much effort to catch a fugitive. The great will to stay at large sooner or later is overcome by a desire to relax and finally live a "normal" life, and sooner or later most, except for the most exceptionally motivated fugitives, give up the great effort to remain at large and get lazy or get careless and wind up getting captured. The pursuer merely needs to expend a modicum of effort to maintain the search and wait for their two separate willpower lines to cross on the desire-vs-motivation graph.

Take Eric Rudolph. After bombing several Atlanta and Birmingham abortion clinics and the 1996 Olympics, his initial desire to stay free must have been very large, as he remained at large living off the land (and possibly the kindness of sympathetic homeowners) in the North Carolina mountains. His desire to not be caught was simply greater than that of the posses, search parties and Federal agents out hunting for him. But after a few freezing winters of breaking into abandoned cottages and eating out of dumpsters, his desire for comfort overcame his desire for freedom, and he got caught by a policeman who was not even specifically looking for him, just checking out the vagrant reported behind the Pizza Hut in Murphy, North Carolina.

Bin Laden's an example of the other extreme. If the United States and its "allies" were really committed to finding him and bringing him to justice, committed as much as they are to say, blundering in Iraq or perpetuating their own regimes, they would be able to flush him out of whichever cave in northern Pakistan he's chosen for this winter. However, Bin Laden's will to remain at large for the rest of his natural life will probably always exceed bourgeois desires for comfort, and his idea of "normal" probably doesn't include running a Visa card at a Walmart Supercenter or attending his high-school reunion, so unless a truly dramatic shift in America's political will were to occur, Bin Laden will probably never be caught alive.

But anyway, I 0nce had a desire, a will, for some unfathomable reason to maintain this blog on a daily basis. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't always practical, and sometimes the quality of the posts suffered for lack of sufficient attention and sometimes I cheated and backdated an entry, but I kept up with the daily blogging as best I could, despite my job, despite the endless after-hour meetings, despite what passes for my social life.

But at some point, 'round about late August looking at my blog dates, I began to lose interest in saying something, anything, every single day. I tried to compensate for my lack of interest by taking on the discipline of a dharma-based structure, but that approach only made things worse - without allowing myself the freedom to speak my mind, the blogging started to seem a true burden and a chore, and by late September, I seem to have stopped altogether.

But the Buddha always pointed to the Middle Way, avoiding one extreme or the other, so I'm going to make a last-gasp approach to this blog by following a middle way of sorts - something in between total freedom and strict discipline, between "what will he write about next?" and the didactic "Dharma Lesson Number 108."

I'm not saying "I'm back," but I never said "I'm out of here" either. Let's see how this new incarnation works out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October 11

10/11/06 is 09/11/01 up-side-down (sort of).

Discuss among yourselves.