The Disconnect Between Morality and Desire

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always wondered what it is that motivates people to do bad things, and what separates good from bad in the first place. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the disconnect between 2 things we know as morality and desire. Desire arises almost uncontrollably and causes people to commit acts for the sake of pleasure, while morality exists as a school of thought concerned with good and evil. I was tempted to say morality is the desire to do good, but I couldn’t quite say that since someone can acknowledge ‘bad’ things and still want to do them.’Having morals’ doesn’t implywanting to upkeep them.

So what makes a person stray from the desire to upkeep their morals? The answer to that question is the strength of one’s desire. If one desires to do something they know is ‘bad’ more than they care for the external and internal consequences of doing something bad, then to hell with morality!

How about this, can a person be ‘good’ within a moral system even when their thoughts are ‘bad’? If you ask most people that question I’m sure they’d say the thoughts are the most valuable part of being ‘good’ but I question whether anyone can uphold a system where none of their thoughts violate the principles of their moral system.

A harsh critique of a woman I know

I have a close female friend who is steadily growing older and can’t find a partner to settle down with. Sometimes she talks about finding a man with similar qualities to me and that makes me cringe because she is the antithesis of everything I want in a woman. Needless to say, she’s probably also the antithesis of what guys who are like me look for as well.

After giving it some thought I decided to write down all the things I believe are holding her back in a no-holds-barred blog post. I’m writing things that I wish I could tell her in person but can’t because I don’t think she’d take it constructively. That’ll bring me to my first point — she’s unable to process information that doesn’t fit her predefined worldview.

I believe this stems from her sense of entitlement. She has a mental model of the rules she thinks everyone should play by and “righteously” berates anyone who goes against her warped sense of morality. For example, when she does something nice for someone, she expects something in return. It makes everything she does seem like a transaction. Like she’s saying “I’ll do something for you now, but I’ll collect on your gratitude later” whenever she does something nice for someone else. When she feels as if the favors she’s deserved aren’t doled out to her, she has these child-like fits of anger which frankly showcase a lack of self-control.

There’s also her issue of indifference towards doing basic tasks. Whether it’s making sure her room isn’t covered in dirty clothes or preventing old food from rotting in her room, there seems to be a lack of care put into completing even the most basic things in her life. Who wants their life partner to be someone who can’t separate their dirty clothes from their clean clothes? Or someone who can’t wash a dish properly without there being food on it afterwards? Although there are guys who are willing to take care of all domestic duties, I don’t many people would accept such an uneven distribution of responsibilities.

She also makes a lot of excuses. She has been diagnosed with a few mental maladies like anxiety but my problem with her is that she uses these diagnoses as an excuse for not pursuing her goals. I’m all for people learning their limits and how far they can push themselves, but some people don’t even try to find where their limits are at all. It’s annoying when someone is constantly bringing up a mental ailment as an excuse not to try something uncomfortable. I’m all for understanding one’s limits, but I will not stand for people not pushing themselves to whatever their limits to get better at something.

I could go on and on with examples of how this girl exemplifies all of these traits along with other vices like her addiction to cigarettes and need for social validation but I think I’ll wrap this up on a good note. Nearing one’s 40s as a bachelorette is never easy. She’s always wanted someone who understands her but I think she’s starting to feel as if no guys want to. Understanding that there’s a problem is half the battle so maybe internalizing this knowledge into her feedback loop will help her grow into a person that’s worth the effort of understanding. After some growth, maybe she can meet a man who can help her where she’s at and encourage mutual growth among the both of them. Those are the relationships that tend to be the strongest since committing to someone is hard, and true love is a lot more work than most people make it out to be.

The case for being nice

On one occasion, when talking to one of my past roommates, I remember asking her why she couldn’t disagree with someone and be nice about it. She followed that question with another question so profound that it prompted me to write this post — “Why”?

I thought about what she said and for the first time in my life I contemplated the “why” of being nice. Are most people kind in anticipation of reciprocation? Is it something deeper than that, inherent to human nature maybe? Maybe it’s just a survival mechanism to appease threats?

Like most of the musings in this blog, I don’t have the answer to those questions but I’d like to explore the topic by first pinning down some definitions.

What IS “kindness”? The definition I found on Google says “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

Okay, well…what definition can I find for “friendly”?

According to Google it should mean…”kind and pleasant.”

Great, a circular definition.

Looking at the other two words in the definition of kindness, generous and considerate, we get the following two definitions respectively: “showing a readiness to give more of something[…],” and “careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others.”

For now let’s define being kind as the willingness to give more resources to another person than needed and not actively trying to hurt others.

Now what are some logical reasons one should be nice from a game-theoretic perspective? With the assumption that being on the receiving end of an act of kindness may bring someone happiness, in the case of a power imbalance, the weaker party can strategically wield kindness as to not be the target of hostility. The stronger party can also get something beneficial from being kind as it may imbue a sense of loyalty in the weaker party. This type of gratitude-bred loyalty can help cement the stronger party’s position.

In the case where both parties hold similar power like a weak-weak or strong-strong relationship, the incentive for being kind may take form in the wish for support from peers. As said before, getting others to like you cements one’s own power. This of course makes the implicit assumption that all parties enjoy being at the receiving end of kindness.

Unraveling more assumptions from my previous arguments, what if weak parties don’t care about survival and being nice to those stronger than them? What if those in power don’t care about cementing their power and being nice to those weaker than them? What is the incentive for being nice when it doesn’t directly benefit the individual showing kindness?

From this perspective nothing stops one another from being mean or indifferent to each other. Well for those cases I think we’d all like to believe that our ethical principals will always lead us away from malfeasance.

Principals that are stemmed from the belief that others are capable of feeling and have even felt at some point in time the same range of emotions we ourselves feel — from love and joy to depression and grief.

I believe this acknowledgement of our shared feelings of joy and pain breeds empathy and a desire for others to be happy that can’t be explained away.

Being nice and the desire to please is as fundamental to the human experience as some of our more biologically dictated instincts like eating or drinking. There may be no “real” reason for being nice, but I’d also say (with that logic) that there’s no “real” reason to do anything. In the end, I’d like to believe most of us can relate to the sentiment of doing no harm — physically and emotionally — and can always strive to be nice regardless of the accompanying rewards.

Quarantine Bae

With the onset of COVID-19, many individuals around the world have been somewhat forcibly confined to their living spaces to prevent the spread of this versatile virus. For me that means working from home, cooking, and finding good ways to spend the time I would normally use for my work commute and other activities outside my house. One of the ways I found to occupy my time is by talking to a friend over the phone. A girl who’s very special to me.

Truth be told she’s actually someone I used to have a crush on in college, but I could never act on it since she had a boyfriend. At the time, I convinced myself to NEVER tell her how I felt while she was in her relationship. My reasoning was that it would just bring unneeded complications to her life that I would never want to put on someone I care about.

Fast forward a couple years and she’s employed, single, and…out of state. It feels like the universe itself is denying me the chance of ever formally dating her. Or so I thought, but over the quearntine I’ve been given the opportunity to get to know her better than ever before and she reminded me why I fell for her in the first place. She’s smart, diligent, caring, passionate…and I honestly feel lucky that I’m even able to talk to someone so spectacular. Learning more about her from her past experiences of heartbreaks to listening to her dreams of the future only make her shine brighter in my eyes. All the extra time I’ve spent on the phone with her has only brought us closer together and me more attached.

This is why it’ll hurt all the more when quarantine is over.

In our post-quarantine lives I’m sure we’ll still keep in contact, but I believe there’s an implicit assumption that things will go back to ‘normal’ afterwards. We’ll snap back to reality. We’ll realize that there’s over 1000 miles between us and make 1000 different justifications between us on why it wouldn’t work. “And I’ve accepted that” is what I’d like to say, but deep inside I’m scared I won’t be able to ‘snap back’ so easily.

But ‘snap back’ I will…eventually. Because we both have to get back to our lives and to be honest I’d be a bigger burden on her in the end. I know she’ll find a good guy in the area in no time, and if she doesn’t, best believe I’ll make sure to hold her to the standards she deserves. I just hope that when whatever we have has ended it’s worse for me than for her. I’d rather not have to deal with the pain.


Loneliness has always been an ambiguous concept in my mind. As a kid I had few friends and wouldn’t get invited to many activities from the kids at school. This didn’t bother me much as many of them had interests orthogonal to my own. What did start to bother me was my mom constantly reminding me that I stayed in the house too much, and her growing concern that I had no friends.

Truth be told, she had a right to be concerned. I didn’t really have any friends aside from the children of family friends. For my mom who talked to her countless friends on a daily basis, this was uncharted social behavior for her. For all she knew I’d be the next Eric Harris.

Of course I was nowhere near that level of insanity, but I was pretty fucking close to losing it. The kids at school weren’t too fond of me, and those that didn’t dislike me probably felt something very close to indifference. This made the possibility of hanging out with the other school kids (in our free time after school) unimaginable. Regardless, the concerns of my mom encumbered me and I began to internalize this feeling of not being able to hang out with anyone as loneliness.

In the present I would say my relationship with loneliness is a bit different. I care less about being accepted by others and actively seek out new conversations with minimal fear of rejection. Most of my motivation for talking to new people now is to alleviate boredom. I don’t think I ever quite feel the loneliness I did as a kid. Wikipedia defines loneliness as a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to isolation, which actually goes against my response to isolation. Now I cherish the times I get to myself and will start covet isolation if I don’t feel like I’ve had enough alone time. Of course maybe it’s impossible for me to be lonely since I never actually feel isolated since the Internet is constantly bringing me into contact with the ideas of other people.

Nevertheless, the feeling of loneliness I used to feel is now absent. This confounds other people. They wonder how I can be okay with so much alone time, and why I don’t feel an empty void for not having a girlfriend. This is a different type of loneliness their asking about — one tied to a longing for intimacy and stable companionship.

Here’s where things get a little blurry for me. I don’t feel lonely in the way of just desiring any form of companionship, but I do get an unpleasant emotional response thinking about the isolation I have with women I’ve cared about in the past. It’s a feeling centered around loss and regret from those relationships. It almost feels like a new type of loneliness. One that fits a more mature version of me. A loneliness for the socially secure, romantic pessimist I’ve turned into.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

One quote that’s stood out for me in recent years has been from Ray Dalio’s book Principals which states “if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want.” I think that quote sums up my life in a nutshell.

I was talking to one of my friends, Austin, recently and we were assesing where we both were in life and where we wanted to end up in the future. Right now my friend Austin drives a luxury car, works less than 30 hours a week, has most of his meals either catered or delivered to him, never pays a cent towards rent, has all the consoles and games he’d ever want, and to top it all off he has a loving girlfriend who routinely “shows him love”.

Comparing that to my life I drive a decade old car, work about 40-50 hours a week, barely ever get food delivered to me and eat leftovers when I do, pay a couple thousand in rent, have one console with a couple games, and a loving right hand who routinely “shows me love”.

Our lives are indeed very different, but sometimes I look back and ask myself if I made the right decisions. I went to college for a major I was passionate about, got my degree, and worked in one of my dream professions. Now I’ve willing taken on responsibilities for things as an investment in my life and career but have brought little to no immediate reward. I got all the important things I was aiming for, but not everything I was aiming for.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” I guess. Most of my goals are done through necessary means but sometimes there are unintended consequences to accomplishing the goals. I bought a piece of property but didn’t think about all the costs associated to it like lawn mowing costs, natural disaster insurance, refinancing costs. My main goal was accomplished but at the price of a lacked sense of responsibility. I ate my cake (bought the property) but lost the feeling of having my cake (the freedom to use that money on other oppurtunities and the mental freedom of not focusing on bills.

Unintentional consequences are real for bad decisions and even if you have a hint of them happening, you need to make the decision as if the worst scenario was happening. From tere you must ask yourself “Is the end result of my objective more important than those things going on? We never completely know that going forward

Looking After Numero Uno

“Sometimes you have to look out for numero uno,” my friend said on a quiet night outside our college library. He was giving his response to my question of why he didn’t want to study with our classmate Roger. At the time I thought it was bit harsh but I understood those words after some thought and accepted them as words to live by.

My living situation at the moment involves one place of residence with lots of space and only 2 people living there. One of those people is me, and another a “friend” I allowed to live with me. If you think the wording of that last sentence sounds strange, it was made to enunciate the fact that I’m ALLOWING her to stay with me. I work, and pay the bills all by myself while she shamlessly benefits off of it.

This woman is not my girlfriend or lover (nor was there any expectation she would ever be), and I simply helped her out of the goodness of my heart. But like all acts of kindness, you give a hand and lose an arm. “You won’t even know I’m here” is the furthest from the stance she’s taken in my home. Instead her current life purpose is to make my life miserable from a seeming lack of understanding of how common courtesy should work.

She dirties but doesn’t clean, she hears but doesn’t listen, and she takes up space but gives almost nothing in return. And its been almost 3 months. She has no self-awareness of how her household actions (and lack thereof) might affect me, and takes pseudo-ownership of MY possesions. She sees MY space as OUR space and doesn’t see anything wrong with the length of time she’s stayed at my place.

Throughout my life I’ve allowed things like this to happen, with all of these situations stemming from my lack of ability to set boundaries. My inherent altruism is breeding ground for a guilty conscience, but it seems a guilty conscience would be preferrable to a state of mind constantly in a state of anger. I’ve now lived to about a quarter of my life and have to start making decisions that keep me happy and put me in a good mindset. I will no longer allow those around me to squander my happiness for their own gain.

From this realization I will start doing everything in my power to get my current roommate out of my living space from now on. I know for a fact that if I had a friend go through the same situation as I am, I would be overzealously giving advice to kick that roommate out so why not give myself the same amount of respect that I do my friends? If that means losing some of my friends, then I’ll accept that too. What’s the use of having friends who treat you worse than you’d treat them?

My Experience At Yosemite

What was my experience? Well I was assumed to be high when i made a joke and my small ego said why not get high? I had 2 gummies after smoking a bit of the pen and felt it all. Then John offered to smoke some of his pipe, and I did. Then I got so high I couldn’t localize myself. I told Bobby what was happenning and he directed me towards the tent. i laid down and tried to sleep but my thoughts kept racing. It was marijuana induced insomnia. My brain was eushing with thoughts. After a while I wanted to make it stop. My mental fatigue did nothing to bring it down, and I laid in the tent trembling. I heard the rest of the camping group spot shooting stars, but I couldn’t make my way out of the tent because I was so disoriented. I needed someone to keep me grounded, so I called Bobby in to get me some water. He left, and I sat in the tent thinking of a way to get him to stay and keep my mind focused, but I couldn’t. All I could think about was how big a mistake I had made earlier that night to begin consuming marijuana; Or even earlier to the beginning of summer where I thought I might try it because of it’s alleged mind enlightening properties and it’s ability to alleviate depression. I’m not diagnosed as depressed, but I imagined if it’s used for the disease it could only have positive mind altering affects.

As I laid in the tent other thoughts hit me. It was as if my mind was enlightened to all the things I had done in the past. Many past decisions now seemed stupid, and I thought about all the things I took for granted. Because this was camping, this includes things such as basic utilities we use for everyday life. Also in this mind-altered state, I thought about how much was left to say to the people I love. My mother was among these people, and I realized how much she’s done (and still does) for me and my failure to show my appreciation. I thought of how stupid continuous use of weed was. I thought of my roommate Max and how appreciative I was of him stopping me from getting to that point long before. I thought of many things although mostly in a paranoid worried way.

I thought about how uncharacteristic of me to take chances going to a place I knew nothing about. I thought about how stupid it was to decide to go camping in an area considerably far from any civilization. I thought about my previous blatant disregard for dangers n the area including bears and rock slides. How could I be so stupid? Now I sat up, thinking that this experience was pennance for all my wrongs. Marijuana now seemed a demon substance for me, and that it fostered more than pleasant experiences. I thought about how free legislation was on marijuana and how bad this could mess with an area if introduced to quickly without registration. I was now flipping sides to how marijuana should be banned, and that this experience, if experienced earlier, might have significantly messed with my cognitive development as a teenager.

Strangely enough, although I abhorred the idea of any further recreational use of this drug and this whole summer camping experience, I was grateful for the insights it gave me. Mixed into the ridiculous thoughts, were deep contemplations of life that I did not want to deal with. This high left me with all the things I have been storing and ignoring in the back of my mind. All open decisions and responsibilities that were important yet unpleasant to think about. The stress of thinking about all of these things accumulated into one exprerience which my mind could no longer ignore. Everything from how to handle the impending death of an aunt with cancer, to my inability to tell my mom to go camping, my fear to tell certain people how I feel about them, and even the purpose of my lifr (a long htought about question).

Laying there I decided to write to keep my mind off things and although I wrote about a paragraph, my mind would not stop spinning with these important distressing thoughts. They would not be ignored and put to the side and there was nothing I could do to block them out, I understood that now. I laid there thinking that maybe this was enlightenment. Maybe there was a hidden trove of wisdom waiting to be released into my mind i exchange for my current sanity. I felt I was going insane, and possibly schizophrenic right when I began to appreciate the things in my life.

I began to feel empathy like never before and felt enormous pity towards those who I previously had indfifference. I thought about how cold it was getting in the tent, and how miserable it must be to be homeless in San Francisco. I pitied my roommate who’s occasional smoking of cigarettes became a addiction before his eyes. I thought of my sister who I had taken for granted, and my cousins who are mentally insane. Now, I felt, I began to understand a microscopic piece of that pain. The disconnect that one’s mind might have from the brain. Life in that state felt like a function that was constantly riddled with noisey inputs and expected to return reasonable results.

Why was I scared? The fear of not being able to return to normal was one of the bggest things on my mind.

The next day. My brain, and it’s power to feel chemicals.

Teo days after I write this memo because the traumatic psychological affects of this experience is still present and will not go away until addressed. I need to further learn how to be honest with myself and other about the way I feel, and not build up negative emotions. Funnily enough, as I write this, my brain feels the way it does on a high. The catharsis of writing is keeping my fingers attached to my keyboard, and refusing to go back to it’s usual activities. I feel as though I need to releaase these thoughts, but now that they have been addressed, I’ll soon enough figure out a way to handle all my individual problems. This is the time to work on the things I have a new found appreciation for. I would like to say that I can implement all my positive changes, but I can’t. Anger is something I don’t find as part of an enlightened mind, but I have a lot of. The mai target of hate is mainly myself, but a great deal is projected outward. The courage of addressing certain problems is still not there, and open decisions are still beign rtionalized.

How definitions can help you in your daily life

Back in college I took a class called Abstract Mathematics where i learned things that would stick with me for years to come. One of these things were my professor’s emphasis on definitions. He said before we can start understanding how to perform a mathematical proof, we really had to get a sense of what everything was.

For example, understanding a definition of something can start by playing around with conrete examples. This is because implications that can be made about concrete example may help in understanding the general structure of a definition. These fact elicitation methods used on definitions are commonly known as deduction and induction. Deduction states that “Because a structure is defined to works like this, it should imply this other behavior is true”. Or in the case of induction you can ask “because this concrete example works like this, we can generalize some of these properties to other cases of this definition”.

This process of developing proofs is great for evaluating the logical consistency of arguments. Whenever I have an argument with someone of a certain belief I always check for logical consistency. Note that this is different from questioning whether any standalone subjective view I don’t like is logical, but rather it’s the assessment of whether one’s view is logically consistent with the other views in their belief system.

The crazy thing about logic is that you can form an argument about general statements as long as you have logical assertions that relate them together. For example, the logical operator for implication (usually denoted as =>) can be used to say that the statement A being true will always imply that the statement B is true (A => B). The ‘~’ symbol means the negation of something. So if A is true and we write ‘~A’, that means the expression evaluates to false.

The thing to note is that logical consistency isn’t really checking the validity of these statements themselves, but rather if the proper usage of logical connectors are employed. Whatever statement I choose for A, and whatever statement I choose for B are irrelevant. Everyone can start with their own base assumptions, but I shouldn’t be able to contradict myself if I am to be logically consistent.

Another example can be made using these statements: Statement A is said to be true, A being true implies statement B is true (A => B), B being true implies statement C is true (B => C), and C being true implies statement A is not true (C => ~A), then I have a logical inconsistency.

If I were to write all the statements in mathematical notation it would look like:

A => B
B => C
C => ~A

When dealing with an argument we require all the expressions to evaluate to true to classify it as logically consistent. In this case I said A is true which implies B to be true. Because B being true implies C is true, I can write:

A => B => C

and actually just drop the middle part by using a mathematical concept called transitivity:

A => C

Now if we couple all our statements together I can show that the argument is logically inconsistent:

A => C
C => ~A

A is true, and A implies C is true. C unfortunately implies A is not true which causes us to reach a contradiction because it was already stated that A IS true. You can put in any sentence you want for A, B, and C but based on your logical connections of your facts, the argument will always be logically inconsistent.

Let’s take a concrete example of what was just written:

A = “Austin is a man”
B = “Austin likes women”
C = “Austin wants to date women”

A => B
B => C
C => ~A

In logic terms I’m saying “Austin is a man” is true, I’m asserting that because “Austin is a man” is true “Austin likes women” is true, as well as “Austin likes women” being true means “Austin wants to date woman”, but the last statement says that Austin wanting to date women somehow means he’s not a man. Now you could argue about whether my actual statements or implications are true in the first place (like whether A=>B) but the structure of this argument will always breed logical inconsistencies for whatever statements are put in for A, B, and C.

Ricky Gervais, Loneliness, and Gratitude

Since I was a kid I’ve been watching shows written and starred by the great Ricky Gervais. The first Ricky Gervais movie I saw was called “The Invention of Lying.” Somehow as a 12 year old kid, I could hear the comedic genius underlying this work and knew I had to see it.

The movie imagined a world in which the action of lying was something that had to be discovered. In fact, the concept of lying was virtually inconceivable in this world. The first person to conceive of this thought was the main character Mark whose life felt meaningless and dull, and who’s traits seemed unspectacular in every way (he was an underdog). The overarching moral taught by the movie was that achieving one’s life peaks means less when they become possible through illegitimate means. In other words, making one’s dreams happen using morally apprehensive methods takes some of the joy out of the achievement.

Following the work “The Invention of Lying”, most of Gervais’ other works use the same underyling structure. There is a character who has seemingly been brought down by life (whether they’re damaged, in pain, or they’re expecting pain), but they somehow find ways to appeciate the subtle joys in life in the end. Gervais explores not only the nature of human suffering with these works, but goes the extra mile in an effort to discover the human condition. To discover what is it that makes us tick. Why is it that we wake up everyday? Why is it that we don’t kill ourselves everyday? Why do we continue to live life even though everything sucks?

Everyone you love will either lie to you, leave you, or betray you at some point and even with this knowledge we live. We all know that we were born just to die, but even then, we live on. “What’s the fucking point?” is the question we should be asking after all this. We shouldn’t enjoy life if it’s most likely just going to end horribly should we? Honestly i don’t have the answer to any of these questions. And Ricky Gervais? He doesn’t have concrete answers either, but he does propose potential solutions through his medium of storytelling, and his style of capturing realistic and relatable human profiles of all walks of life.