I’m sometimes asked mighty strange questions. For example, how would I fare with living under a bridge? This may follow one of my philosophical yet misunderstood dialogues about having all the necessary elements for a fully content life, provided certain minimal necessities.
The implicit latter point, the one I probably fail to adequately communicate, is usually the responsible for raising certain confusion. And yet I find such questions a bit whimsical.
What is the purpose behind the inquiry? What are the circumstances that led me to find abode under a bridge?
Is this a temporary calamity due to a hardship? Am I there by choice as part of an experiment? If I hadn’t found another place to sleep, how long do I remain under the said bridge? Am I to take action to improve the situation? If not, why do I purposely compromise my existence? Am I indentured to pass a fixed, or an indefinite period here?
How are the conditions for sleep and nutrition? What tools are at my disposal? Am I able to exercise and move around?
How are the noise levels? Are the parameters fixed or am I at liberty to improve them? Is hostility or other physical threat an issue? What is my prior training?
In this realm, has my consciousness been conditioned for the eventuality?
Essentially, am I at liberty to make rational decisions and influence my well-being and environment? Or am I hopelessly bound to an arbitrarily fixed state under pessimal conditions for both physical and mental health?
It follows, why should I address such an odd question? Is the interlocutor interested in a philosophical exploration? Or is this a product of pure whim, with no purpose or foresight?
Similarly occurring questions I’ve sometimes heard:
- What if you suddenly find yourself on the streets?
- Why have a bank account at all?
- Why not live entirely outside the system?
- Do you like weapons/firearms? [In what sense?]
- Do you like music/sports? [In what sense?]
- Do you like such or other food? [Again, in what sense? To taste? To smell? To look at? To eat daily? To experience the accumulated effects on the body chemistry?]
- Do you like ___ insert activity here ___? [In theory? In practice? To observe? To actively pursue and prioritize?]
These are not necessarily poor questions, provided that asked with purpose. If that be a philosophical debate, I have few qualms. I take pleasure in the philosophical.
If it be on a whim, to merely fill a conversational void, lacking any desire to further pursue the topic, to be asked follow-up questions, to retort, why waste time with mindless interchange?
To generalize the bridge inquiry, how is a person emotionally equipped to handle a series of bad case scenarios? Examples:
- Sudden inability to walk unconstrained
- Blindness, hearing impairment, or muteness
- Loss of immediate possessions (ie, wallet, phone, keys, all identification documents)
- Sudden loss of all money or the inability to access for some extended period.
- No lodgings for the night or some extended period
- No quality nutrition for an extended period
- Inability to adequately move or exercise
- Long-term, close-quarters coexistence with people of poor influence and habits.
- Facing conditions insufficient for basic happiness or effective cognitive functioning
Much of the above hardly represents the really devastating scenarios. Much of it is a mere frustration that concerns you alone. And yet, I bet most of us do not feel apt for even that.
Is it beneficial to contemplate bad-case scenarios? According to the stoics, yes, and I largely agree.
The habit hardly molds you into a cynical personality, as you need not invest too much energy to the deed. Rather, maintain a largely optimistic attitude, but with a small portion directed towards bad-case scenario anticipation.
Really visualize how you would receive the situation. How would a role model, or an internal guide of yours handle it? With time, you become more impervious, better equipped psychologically to deal with unexpected hardships.
Questions, comments? Connect.