A concept I learned from Nassim Taleb I find very practical in thinking about life:

There will always be “freak accidents” (black swans, things that come out of nowhere) in reality.

The benefit of studying the past — realizing that so many people in the past are generally caught with their pants down before a crisis or calamity happens.

Why should we think about black swans?

White swan

It essentially means this:

We cannot predict the future, regardless of how much data we got from the past.

The real world is 100000000000×10000000000 more complicated, complex, chaotic, random, and insane than we think it is.

Why plan?

Black swan abstract by ERIC KIM x Matisse
Black swan abstract by ERIC KIM x Matisse

Which brings us to the question:

Why is the discipline of “planning” so crammed down our throats?

I think it’s about fear-mitigation. This means that we try to prevent scary and uncertain things from happening in the future by “planning” better.

Limits of planning

Let us give a real case — Corona Virus. Could anyone in a trillion years have predicted this would have happened? No. Why not? There’s no precedence for this! Nothing quite like this has happened.

How can we predict something which hasn’t ever happened?

Swans. Kyoto, 2016

This means from a practical perspective — don’t plan your life too much. Better to be flexible, nimble, and able to adapt. Which organisms survive and thrive on earth — an environment fraught with extreme chaos and uncertainty? The animals which can actually BENEFIT and THRIVE from the chaos and insanity.

Expect worse than worse

First step seems to become a stoic. Stoicism as giving the “fuck you” to fate. To become more indifferent towards life, death, etc.

ERIC kim selfie tree

What did Alexander the Great read?

Allegedly Alexander the Great has a copy of the Iliad by his bedside. He strove to emulate the courage of Achilles.

Ultimately what is reality? Risk taking, courage, and exposure to embodied reality. All else is false.


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