Always Burn Your Bridges

Choose your advice carefully. And then do the opposite. Or not. It doesn’t matter either way, since for every wise saying, you can find another one that advises to the contrary.

So you must exercise wisdom when selecting your wisdom, depending on the circumstances. Or by the same token, you could dispense with wisdom entirely and simply do as you think is right. By choosing your proverbs according to circumstance, doing as you think is right is exactly what you’re engaged in anyway, so you may as well cut out the middleman.

Or keep the middleman, if that seems best.

To such ends, here are some advisory phrases inverted, that work better now.

  1. Always burn your bridges

You can’t please everyone. You can hardly please anyone. Can you even please yourself?

Not if you’re constantly worrying about keeping people happy and on side. So go on, start a fire. It might be fun. There are billions of people in the world, what does it matter if some of them aren’t speaking to you? There are plenty more who will. And if you have no qualms about bridge-burning, then you are free to act as you please, and it might just be that doing that—acting as you please—is your ticket out of here, and by here, I mean the constraints and disequilibrium of conscious self deception.

  1. Never listen to experts

Ok, I will add a caveat: except within a very narrow corridor. Don’t trust them on anything outside that corridor. And the corridor shouldn’t even reach to the edges of their speciality. Not even close. You might want to put a corridor within a corridor, and another one within that, and only at the very centre of that, chalk a faint pinstripe of trust. And be aware that even then, expert knowledge is constantly changing, sometimes quickly, sometimes at a glacial pace, but it’s organic and shifting, nonetheless, and there are vested interests, and bias and indoctrination, and experiences unknown, everywhere and in every field.

So take care during a pandemic. Believe what your judo instructor who’s been doing judo for five decades tells you about judo. But if an economist starts holding forth on anything, including economics, then change the channel. And as for journalists...

  1. The ends don’t justify the means

This is because there are no ends. You wake up, you’re here, you do some stuff. There are no ends, and there are no beginnings or middles either. You know how it is: the journey is the destination, that kind of thing. So if you resort to immoral or corrupted means in order to achieve a glorious end, you’ll simply end up drowning in immorality and corruption, as the mirage-like end constantly slips over the horizon, just out of reach, or ripples into vapour should you stretch a fingertip to it. It’s not that there are no ends, and only means, it’s rather that means and ends are one and the same.

This is the end.

  1. Give up

If something is going to work, you’ll know it. Don’t flog a dead horse. Yes, people succeed by trying and trying again, but only by trying and trying again at things that can succeed. So know when they can’t. Cutting your losses, stating bygones, and paying no mind to a non-existent past are profoundly liberating.

Don’t waste your time and energy trying to swim upstream, when you could be navigating with the currents.

I’m so lazy certain about this that I’m not even going to bother expanding on this point. It’s going nowhere.

See? This paragraph was given up on, right there.

  1. Stop fighting for what you believe in

You could get up every day and battle to change the entire world and everyone in it. How do you think that might go?

Or, alternatively, you could change yourself, a small piece at a time, day by day.

You might extend this to your apartment. To your garden. To your local community, but never to the extent of imposing on others.

You might find that these further extensions occur naturally and without effort, as a result of getting yourself together. And you might discover, personal changes enacted, that the world looks very different anyway, as if everything has shifted, and you didn’t even get round to laying a finger on it.

And you wouldn’t want to either, when everything is like this. That is, just as it was. The struggles were illusory, after all.

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