Thursday, May 17, 2018

Standard of Living

The measure of my day - and the barefaced order in which I reckon it - is the extent to which I relish my health, breakfast, the weather, the way my clothes fit, the tenor of exactitude (everything from the responsiveness of emails, the level of commercial and financial anxiety to the way the car engine sounds) and my current perception of the future.  I am far beyond the quantification of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities (unless you include intellect, production, the incidence of disease and personal safety). But the cost of goods and services, inflation rate and the number of paid vacation days each year are outside my personal scope.

Lest this for any reason sounds haughty, my intention is not to minimize those compelling factors, rather to emphasize that my life's ambition has always been to enjoy what I have and do, not what I might have or might do.  The brutal truth is that my standard of living (if based upon traditional comparisons) has varied from what some might call poverty to what others might call luxury.  Throughout those periods of transition the calculation of my "situation" has never deviated from what was then my personal assessment.  There was a time for example when the most fundamental personal computer cost in excess of $3,500.  Today a personal computer which performs hundreds of times more efficiently costs as little as $500.  To the social scientist the shift in price and availability should represent an increase in the standard of living.  From my point of view (having owned computers at both polarities) nothing much has changed.  I continue to be amazed by what technology affords us and I would be hard pressed to say that the estimate of my happiness has changed at all.

No doubt I am failing to make my case clearly.  Nor do I imagine it will assist to reiterate the differences in my worldly possessions or income over the years. Whatever has been the current architecture of my existence, I have invariably appraised it in the identical manner as I now do.  It is predominantly a sensibility, not a metered assessment.  This partly explains why I am unimpressed by the notoriety or wealth of others.  My own experience has taught me that those elements can change without guarantee of outcome.  As such they are very unreliable standards of anything that counts.

This is not to suggest however that a seemingly blind ignorance of the customary standards of living will ensure a happy result.  Nothing could be more inexact. There persists an obligation to pursue the standards by which one purports to evaluate (and elevate) one's being. To begin with, reflection is essential.  I am constantly reflecting on matters, whether in the middle of the night or in the middle of the day.  Doing this often enough soon reduces what has the appearance of either obsessiveness (bad) or insight (good) to an unadorned summary process of analysis.  Synthesizing thoughts and reducing them to their base liquor triggers simple perceptions.  Until this preferred state of contemplation is attained, the view of one's future is perturbed at best.

Therein lies another - perhaps less than commendable - observation about my standard of living; namely, that much (if not all of it) depends strictly upon my favourable computation of tranquillity.  Yes, yes I know this will offend you advanced thinkers and intellectual mavericks or revolutionaries!  But quite honestly - even though I acknowledge the need for social reform - I am hopelessly addicted to the pleasure of harmony within the limited sphere of my personal universe. The trick however isn't to bludgeon one's mental capacity to the point of a lobotomy but rather to discover the straightforward pleasures of life which inspire a sense of accomplishment and equanimity.

There is plainly an agenda by which to achieve this covetable result. While thinking about life generally is meaningful (and the public mandates will continue unfailingly), one must also learn in particular to address the inalterable truths of insular nature, among them that we all makes mistakes, that we cannot change others, that there is nothing either inadequate or ignoble about enjoying the present, that instinct is vastly underrated, that our own tastes and prejudices matter, that gold is real. If there are more personal noises in one's head then it is imperative to confront them, starting with a direct question, "What's bugging me?"  If answered honestly, then each response (and subsequent enquiry) will disclose further horse sense. It is an arithmetic calculation.

Perspicacity doesn't always imply settlement; there are indeed some eye-openers which are unpleasant. Yet this hostility promises solace in its own way. If nothing else it enables one to move on - a process inherent to any discussion of standard of living. The nightmares which hound us can be put to rest (or at the very least put out of mind).  But it requires deliberation.  Unfortunately we're upon the sea of change. We can never relinquish our probe. Neither should we allow ourselves to become disenchanted. There is an answer.

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