Backish To The Future

Do you remember the end of the film Back To The Future where the professor comes to Marty McFly’s house in the DeLorean? Only now, the car can fly, and it no longer needs atomic material to power it.

While he’s waiting for Marty, the professor roots around in the garbage cans for fuel to put in the car. He opens the hood and starts pouring the remaining contents of a Coke can into the fuel hopper.

Then he gives an ‘absent minded professor’ kind of shrug and tosses the can itself into the fuel hopper.

Don’t you think human being a little bit like the car, when you think of all the great variety of things that we can take into our bodies that we digest to power our cells.

Of course there are things we can’t use. But it is said by some – Yuval Harari, for example – that a big part of how we got so brainy is because we harnessed fire. And with it we can cook food.

By cooking food we get much more nutrition out of raw materials compared to raw food.

That sets us apart from other animals. Think about cows and elephants that have to spend all day eating just to get enough food. The analysis might break down when I think about hummingbirds that get nectar from flowers, but still…

It’s lucky for cows that their necks and heads can point downwards, or they would get terrible neck ache.

Did you know that giraffe have a huge muscle that stretches down their backs so that they can pull their heads back upright after reaching down to drink? And they have multiple valves in the blood flow in their necks so that they don’t black out when they lift their necks.

And that brings me to the perfect birthday cake. With all the ingredients that could go into a cake, strawberry is the flavour that my mind sees as ‘home’. My tastebuds like many flavours and consistencies, but strawberry trifle (I know it’s not a cake) beats them all.

The prompt is: How do you show love?

How do you show love? By thinking of the other person. By judging everything they do and say favourably. By supporting them in everything they endeavour to accomplish. And all of this after one has decided that this is a person one can trust – and then never looking at that decision again.

Ah yes, is that how we all operate? Is this how I operate? If only. We/I have much to learn.

Define Success, Baby

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Even if one were a castaway, all alone on a desert island, one would still have in mind the approval of people back in the civilisation.

Imagine the castaway is fishing. Success would be measured in terms of proficiency, skill, manual dexterity, as seen through the eyes of people back in civilisation.

If one became really proficient, one would be proud of how much more ‘real’ one was than the others imagined in one’s mind’s eye.

Tell me it isn’t so.

Except for sociopaths, in our heads we all live in a community of other people.

So now, what is success?

Is it one where each person sees the others as a springboard to success?

Is it one where each person does not care about whether the others are successful – except insofar as a lack of success by others endangers or helps the individual’s chance of success?

Is it one where success means a common success?

A common success means each person feels that success is only success when everyone succeeds. It means each person feels responsible for everyone else. And together they all have each other’s backs, so to speak.

Are we any good at community? Why should we be when the arc of human development over the past centuries has been for all of us to search for and find our individual voice. We may be polite, accommodating, civil, or rapacious and grasping – with all shades in between – but in truth we are all elbowing our way forward in the stream. If we fall behind we think we are failures.

And how has it all being working out?

We tried a big man in the sky and that kept us united under one roof for a while. But then some people invented an authority structure and the churches and the kings and those on top made everyone else feel like they were bound in place rather than enjoying the drumbeat of life. And in truth, how easily could we cope with true equality when each of us would have to expose our feelings and build on that?

How many of us would rather hang on the coat-tails of others with more drive and settle in place for the duration without making too much of a fuss?

Now we, or at least Google and Facebook, have access to big data from which we learn that our precious individuality is in large part a mirage. We are predictable. We give off signals all the time.

Did you hear the story of how one American company sent out coupons for items it thought its customers would be interested in. The company then had to apologise because it knew more accurately when a woman was pregnant than she herself did. Or the company sent out relevant coupons before the wife had told the husband. And this was maybe ten years ago. We leave such a trail of data points that we have become exposed for the predictable creatures we are.

So where is our individuality that we guard so preciously?

When my choice is between pain and pleasure for me, I am like a bull with a ring through its nose sniffing out the good stuff and avoiding the bad. And what does that mean? It means that the choices before me are like a prison that hems me in. I choose between the possible. Follow my trail over the years, and you will know me.

So, success – is my success even mine?

To find the success you want, be among the people who inspire you.