Chapter Six


last updated 2.1.21

After deciding to take the road less-traveled, I became obessessed with philosophical pursuits like a universal moral code and the meaning of life. Though I graduated college, I was turned off by the ideologies of academia and rhetoric. I viewed philosophy more like a builder trying to determine the best material for a foundation. I wasn't interested in standing around talking about different types of foundations with no intention of actually building a house, let alone get paid for such mental masturbation. With a more practical approach to seeking the truth, my final conclusion was very useful to me in every area of life that I applied it to from mechanics to human relations to national economics. I can't take any credit for it. The truth exists for anyone to find, often in plain sight. No one owns it or can claim praise for it. The one concept that ties everything together is energy. There are many forms of energy, fossil fuel, electricity, solar, wind, horse power, human power, food, water, fire, etc. To make it accessible to people from any walk of life, including a blue collar boy like myself, I reduced the meaning of life down to basic physics concerning the management and exchange of energy.

I could write a whole other book on the romantic and philosophical attempts to answer the question "What is the meaning of life?" but what I realized was that the question itself was the problem. A grizzly bear eating a salmon on the banks of a river in Alaska doesn't ask what the meaning of life is, neither does a humback whale breaching in the ocean. A young mother holding her first born certainly doesn't either. By asking the question as a young man, all I was really saying was that I was lost. The life I had lived up until this point including all my schooling did nothing to help me answer this question. "The meaning of life is to give life meaning" was my earliest attempt at answering the question for myself, but the answer was even simpler than this. Live. This is the answer. Live according to the truth. Don't just consume. If you're not living according to the truth then you're not part of life. All you're doing is consuming trying to fill the void that needing to ask this question, in the first place, creates while using resources to run from the question all together.

Energy is so simple and versatile of a concept that it can be applied to any situation a person finds themself in, especially social situations. I quickly realized that every time I opened my mouth, I'm either giving or taking energy, offering it or asking for it. It may be easier for people to see this in non-human examples, at first. For instance, in order for any type of energy to be exchanged, there needs to be a source and a destination. In a car, when a person turns the key (or presses the button on newer vehicles), the electricty, i.e. the energy, in the battery travels through a wire down to the starter which then starts the engine. In this example, the battery is the source of the energy and the starter is its destination. If we were to disconnect the wire that connects the battery to the starter there would be no path for the electricity, the energy, to follow. In order for energy to be exchanged it needs a source, a destination and a path.

A ripe apple hanging from the branch of a tree holds energy that if a person were to pluck the apple and eat it they would receive this energy. The apple is the source. The person's stomach is the destination. The path is created when the person takes the apple in their hand and brings it to their mouth. There are many examples of how energy is exchanged in both the natural world and the human-made world as well as combinations of the two. When I plug my cell phone's wall charger into an electrical socket, the socket is the source of the energy and the battery in my phone is the destination. The cord connecting them is the path. We could take it a step further and consider where the electricty is coming from which would be the original source of the energy. In most cases, this would be a power plant of some type, nuclear, hydro-electric, oil, coal, natural gas, etc. With solar energy becoming more and more popular, when photovoltaic electricity is used, the original source of energy is the sun and the solar panels mounted on the roof of a house, or in a field, convert sunlight into electricity which is connected, with wires, to batteries in the basement of the house, or to a municipal power grid, so when we plug our phone charger into the wall we're actually using the sun to charge the battery in this example which is pretty cool. The original solar panels are leaves on a tree. They capture the suns energy which then feeds the tree through the process of photosynthesis. The sun is the source, the tree is the destination and the path is formed by the leaves through the branches, the trunk and all the way down into its roots.

In human interaction, if I ask someone a question like "Do you know where the library is?", I am requesting energy from this person. I am asking them to give me some information. It's not much, but it's still a small amount of energy because the person has to stop what they're doing for a moment and retrieve the information in their mind then give it to me by speaking. All this takes a few seconds and most people don't mind giving a stranger a little information like this. The exact opposite scenario is, also, a good example of giving energy. If someone sincerely asks you "How are you doing?", this is, also, a question, but they're actually offering you energy not asking for it. When we care for someone, we're giving them energy. It's not the words. It's the intention that determines whether we are giving or taking energy, but in every interaction it is being exchanged. Applying this simple fact, one can easily identify the takers and the givers in life regardless of what they are saying.

When we give someone a compliment that is exactly what we're doing, giving them energy. On the opposite hand, when one person tells another person that they're "wrong", they're trying to take energy from them. There's nothing more pathetic than two unhappy people bickering over who is right or wrong because what they're really doing is fighting over a crumb of energy, both of them so low that neither of them are willing to walk away and provide themself with a better source. The truth is they're bickering has got nothing to do with whatever it is they're fighting over and everything to do with the fact that they're unhappy people and they're trying to blame this on the other person, whether it's road rage or divorce court.

When people tap into a source of energy greater than their individual selves, i.e. their egos, they would much rather give energy than take it. Giving is much more rewarding than taking, but some people will never experience this because they've never accumulated enough energy by their own means to know what this is like. The more we build lives dependent on the artifical human-made world, the more our efforts are focused on getting energy. The more we build our lives dependent on the natural world, the more our efforts are focused on giving energy.