From Fear of Missing Out to Being Present

I like this direct attack. Puncturing the ballon with flair.

Here’s an insight that I’ve had about success: You can’t be successful at everything. We hear a lot of talk about work-life balance. Nonsense. You can’t have it all. You can’t. So any vision of success has to admit what it’s losing out on, where the element of loss is. And I think any wise life will accept, as I say, that there is going to be an element where we’re not succeeding.

Alain de Botton
TEDGlobal 2009
A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

I loved the appeal to the tragic to avoid the ridicule of the other. I loved the appeal to the medieval term “unfortunate” over the modern “loser”.

It would be insane to call Hamlet a loser. He is not a loser, though he has lost. And I think that is the message of tragedy to us, and why it’s so very, very important, I think.

That recognition of insanity is broached through humour – headlines ripped from the tabloids — and I laughed at their ridiculousness (which is not the same as ridiculing — nuance):

I mentioned Othello; they’d not heard of it but were fascinated.

I asked them to write a headline for the story. They came up with “Love-Crazed Immigrant Kills Senator’s Daughter.” Splashed across the headline. I gave them the plotline of Madame Bovary. Again, a book they were enchanted to discover. And they wrote “Shopaholic Adulteress Swallows Arsenic After Credit Fraud.”

And then my favorite — they really do have a kind of genius of their own, these guys — my favorite is Sophocles’ Oedipus the King: “Sex With Mum Was Blinding.”

“Incongruence” is not a word mentioned in the talk but it incapsulates well the attitude being purveyed.

An appreciation of incongruence – a worthy goal for a life well-lived. Dwelling in one’s own ridiculousness.

And so for day 2544

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