Apr 28, 2021Liked by Steve Skojec

I’ve been working for 6 and a bit years since I left university and have had 4 roles and am due to start a 5th in about a month’s time - all for the same company but in 2 different locations. You’re right that this is the way we work these days, and I do wonder at what point I’ll be happy doing a job for 10+ years in the ‘meat’ of my career.

I used to find time for side projects. I’ve been running a website for a priest friend for a good time now and have previously had the energy and time to make improvements. I have ideas for new projects which could, I think, be quite powerful. But between work and kids, I have no energy left in the evenings. Somehow the balance I used to be able to create has gone and now I’m left emotionally and physically drained in the evenings and all I want to do is watch something or play a game. Lockdowns haven’t helped. They zap the soul and the willingness to do anything...

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I really liked the piece, Steve. I've been a little hesitant to offer anything in the comments. I don't want to interrupt the flow of words, for one thing. And at first, I wasn't sure if I had anything even meaningful to offer.

I'm not sure I had a midlife crisis -- at least, not in the usual sense of the term. My own adult life took quite a different turn than is usual for men in our societies, being taken up in military duty. So, either I never had one at all, or it happened at some other period, such as when I was 30. Please don't think I'm in any way making light of it - far from it.

In many respects, the "normal" life that includes a midlife crisis reminds me that in many key ways I am always going to be an outsider, looking in through the windows of other, normal lives.

I'm familiar with Kieran Setiya, and this book certainly is, as you say, eloquent. He touches on many things that have been noted from at least the seventies, and brings them into modern focus with updated terms. He really does love Aristotelian rhetoric too much for my liking, and I would caution you to beware of rhetorical/dialectical word traps.

Telos is certainly a linguistic term, for instance, but its usage in the context he describes actually goes back to Aristotle:

"Telos (/ˈtɛ. lɒs/; Greek: τέλος, translit. télos, lit. "end, 'purpose', or 'goal") is a term used by philosopher Aristotle to refer to the full potential or inherent purpose or objective of a person or thing, similar to the notion of an 'end goal' or 'raison d'être' (from Wikipedia). "

Aristotle was using the word rather disingenuously to detract from Arete, a term used by rivals of his philosophy. Arete, at least in terms of your quest for meaning, purpose, and the unseen truth, is a very old word that might be of interest to you.

Arete is what you have, at least in part. It is what you seem to be searching for, reaching to. If my assumption is true, then that is a very noble quest indeed.

I hope you'll forgive a quote from Robert Pirsig:

"Kitto had more to say about this areté of the ancient Greeks. ``When we

meet areté in Plato,'' he said, ``we translate it `virtue' and consequently miss

all the flavour of it.

`Virtue,' at least in modern English, is almost entirely a moral word; areté, on the other hand, is used indifferently in all the categories, and simply means excellence.''

"Thus the hero of the Odyssey is a great fighter, a wily schemer, a ready speaker, a man of stout heart and broad wisdom who knows that he must endure without too much complaining what the gods send; and he can both build and sail a boat, drive a furrow as straight as anyone, beat a young braggart at throwing the discus, challenge the Pheacian youth at boxing, wrestling or running; flay, skin, cut up and cook an ox, and be moved to tears by a song. He is in fact an excellent all-rounder; he has surpassing areté.

Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency...or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.

Phædrus remembered a line from Thoreau:

``You never gain something but that you lose something.''

And now he began to see for the first time the unbelievable magnitude of what man, when he gained power to understand and rule the world in terms of dialectic truths, had lost.

He had built empires of scientific capability to manipulate the phenomena of nature into enormous manifestations of his own dreams of power and wealth...but for this he had exchanged an empire of understanding of equal magnitude: an understanding of what it is to be a part of the world, and not an enemy of it." (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

There is certainly a lot of information in there that might be of use in your quest, if you have the time to read it (If not, you are welcome to a copy of my college notes - he's quite a wind bag sometimes).

I found, early in my own working life, that I was already crowded out of entry level jobs by Boomers, and unless I wanted to starve to death, my choices needed to radically diverge from the status quo.

Even in my military career, I realized after a while that I couldn't stay in the job as a specialist. I had to diversify my skills and experience set. If I got seriously injured, I would be out on the street with little or no alternative job prospects, or worse - I would be beholden to some kind of government program or hand out. I generalized my skills sets as much as I could, giving me as much flexibility as possible, when re-entering civic life and the private work force.

So far, it's working. I'm even back at university taking classes, part time. At 48! Business college this time, not liberal arts and philosophy.

And I have learned and unlearned a lot.

Looking forward to the next exciting installment,


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Apr 28, 2021Liked by Steve Skojec

Systems vs goals. Have you read Scott Adams' How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big? I'm reading it to the older kids once a week. It resonates.

Signed up for that newsletter, too. Isn't it funny how we're back to email newsletters? Suddenly, my email inbox has become interesting again. I don't have to sift through social media to hear people.

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