|Sunburst of a 38 C|
When we look at the development of any 'engineered' product, they keep improving one part at a time until the demand dies off or perfection is reached, that is the product exceeds our needs and wants. We can see it in the steam engines, but they died off about this time. The last one that I know of was the Kitten, which ended production in 1942. Most of the others ended in the 30's, when gas took over in a big way. Grandpaw almost lost the farm over a 1929 McCormick 15-30. Anyways, the concept is fairly straight forward, keep examining and improving my belief system, until I either die off, or arrive at a serene and tranquil state of 'enlightenment' or awakening or what ever.
Yet it is straight forward to see that living virtuously, if I could, would be necessary and sufficient to have a 'good life' in Stoic terms. That is to say any life lived honestly, prudence to do right, temperance, justice, persistence and courage, compassion for self and others, would be a good life. OK. Temperance, with respect to food intake, is the tough one for me. Temperance with respect to work and life balance is also a tough one. Something about being trained into that Protestant work ethic, putting work before other things, was an issue. Not now, with retirement. But without work, there is anxiety, which is actually worse for temperance. Perhaps it is time to schedule myself some work at home. There is a lot that I could do, if I had the motivation to do it.
The Stoics say virtue is necessary and sufficient as the minimum. Once we understand and accept the minimum, everything else is just gravy, unnecessary but nice. God was nature and rational thought, death was final. Epicurus one one step further in simplification and suggested that family, commerce, wealth and politics have great potential to add stress and can be avoided to make life simpler. The ideal occupation is farmer/gardener. They add friendship and pleasure, gratitude for the essentials for life level of pleasure as a satisfying way of life. Garden with a few goats and/or sheep for close, cheese and milk, self sufficiency of the group farm one could say. There was no god, no afterlife. Death was final, as it is. Minimal reality at it's finest, as long as you can be content with that. The Cynics went further and eliminated most other comforts and everything but the necessaries of life, live raw in public space, off what they could gather, beg, or were given. Theft was not an option for them, virtue was paramount. It would be much easier to live like that where nobody had much, as where I was raised.
Death is final. I can see the appeal of death defying religions who promote an afterlife and reward in that life. The current life does not matter, it is all about the reward after death. To bad it is not real. All we get is this one, and we need to learn to deal with suffering, physical and mostly mental/emotional. We need to bring our expectations, delusions of what life should be, our aversions, and desire in line with reality and start to live right knowledge, right intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, attention, concentration. The virtues, in Buddhist terms.
So, with broad strokes, this is the way of the ratchet, or the magpie picking up the shine bits and moving on. My real problem is this underlying anxiety that I feel, which can easily be removed with work, Phen-Fen, alcohol, high blood glucose/ high insulin, nicotine, and other things.