To ordinary humanity the most important domain singular to man would not be his opposable thumb or his ability to use a hatchet -- it would be the domain of human emotions. My continual encouragement is for you to attempt to view human emotions as measurements -- much needed measurements. Life needs these measurements of a particular kind, and at the level of ordinary awareness they appear as expressions of grief, anger, fear, joy, surprise, guilt, etc.
You may at first think that I laugh at human emotions. If I do, and I'm not admitting that I do, it would not be on the basis of ordinary 3-Dimensional humor. There is a real humor about the way Life has arranged for these measurements. Life has caused Man to place great meaning upon, and apparently have personal feelings about human emotions on the basis that they have some great personal significance. Otherwise people would not spend seventy years taking measurements for Life.
If the impossible happened and the eternal question, "What is the meaning of Life?" were resolved into: "My god! I've spent thirty-some years taking these measurements and reporting back and I see no end to it!" I suggest to you that a great many people might find that disturbing and that is an extreme understatement. How could people stand to know that their whole life is taken up with: "Well, this thing seems to be four inches long by twelve inches high by two inches deep." Or, "This thing is grief-stricken, and it almost seems to have some width of guilt by association, and the height of it has something to do with missed opportunities."
An ordinary person will live his life out measuring sorrow, pain, depression -- and forget from day to day that he goes through the very same things over and over and over. Most people have just one act, one bit to do, and it gets them through a twenty four hour period, and then they do it all over again. "Life is terrible. It's always been terrible to me. I guess I'll take a nap." They are measuring: "Things are even worse than before I went to sleep. In fact, I'll bet this day is going to get even worse. I'll get myself some coffee." Then, "The taste of this coffee lost something. They used to have good coffee in this place. I don't know what's happened."
Most people don't have a full act. They believe they do, so they feel their life has meant something. How could they stand to know that their life had only been this one particular measurement, over and over? "This thing is nineteen inches long by four inches high, and it seems to have some depth as well."
Notice that people don't live their life under some fanatical tyrant who says, "Okay, you people are going to spend seventy years, if you're lucky enough to live that long, ha, ha, ha, making measurements and sending them in. You're alive and out of grammar school, so get to measuring! Wipe that grin off your face and get to it!" The process is not even that interesting. Life didn't even have the decency to say: "Grab a ten foot cotton sack and start picking!" At least you would get some sun doing that, and you could chew on some boll weevils. But Life just says, "Go measure. Go figure," or, as the ordinary hear it, "Go have human emotions and send me back reports of all the things you like and dislike. I'm concerned about you."
Life says, "I'm your little nature," or, "I'm Mother Nature, and how do you like things so far?" "Well, I've been depressed for some time..." "Ahhh, tell me about it." People believe they are having significant human and emotional experiences; that they're simply running, eating, having sex and sleeping. They're experiencing human emotions, but no one can describe them adequately. Emotions do not lend themselves to an acceptable verbal definition. The mind can describe itself better than it can the emotions. The mind can describe the body: The tongue, in profane and pseudo-holy manners can describe everything from sex to eating. But human emotions seem to be some sort of indescribably, nonspecific volatile area to ordinary awareness.
What if I have just told you why they seem so unspecific? It is a charade that Life makes man play: "I am having all these great bouts of inexplicable joy and then five minutes later I'm overcome by the blues and the blahs." It is all measurements. Imagine what degree of potential revolution there might be in the City, if everyone were confronted, at the age of majority, with the news that measurement was what life was all about. "Okay, you're now a little man or woman and here is what life is all about -- Measure!" Then, aside from a little sex now and then, and eating, napping and sending in your car payment, you spend the rest of your days measuring. Emotions seem to be an area that is most unique and promising in Man. Yet they are never fulfilling: Fulfillment is always just a little out of reach.
What if there is a clever parallel language going on? Instead of "seven and one-half inches by twelve and three quarters," it is, "Well, I'm a little bit depressed but there is a glimmer of hope in my soul today." What if that is what is really going on? Do you want me to take away the "what if?" Remember I am not poking fun at human emotions. They are reports and Life needs them. The reports are absolutely necessary or Life would not be reporting and receiving them. Even some poor little spinster sitting somewhere in her room, talking to her cactus plant about the "great international conspiracy," is sending back some needed report or Life would not have her doing it.
I'm going to apparently change the subject. There is a willful method of action you can use when you are tied up in a less than obviously conclusive question such as: "Should I do this or should I do that?" This is a common situation in the City, and people will, when faced with an ambiguous situation, investigate it, think about it, ask questions and perhaps call someone up for advice. But far outside the City there is a willful way to use all of that: The best description, if it must be put in words, is that the thing becomes more trouble than it's worth. Everyone has become involved, in the City, with some instance where you are trying to decide what to do and somebody says, "Well, you should probably do this," and somebody else says, "No, I don't think you should." First you think, "Well, there is some validity to what he says," then another voice pipes up, "Yeah, but wait a minute," and you continue to waffle one way and the other. A Revolutionist, under many, many similar circumstances, could willfully use an ad hoc method of, "This is more trouble than it's worth." In a sense, the method is to change, or shift what would appear to be the end game conclusion. There is always an apparent conclusion or payoff to any game and what a Revolutionist can do is willfully shift it in such a way that he has, in essence, abandoned the game.
It doesn't count for you to say, as often occurs in the City, "Well, I'm just so overcome with the input I'm getting right now -- it's overloading me. I don't know what to do, so I'm just not going to fool with any of it." Then another voice might pop up and say, "That's not being a real trooper. You shouldn't be so indecisive." Subsequently you may then walk away having made no decision at all on a game that apparently needed an outcome -- and you feel guilty about it. Doing that is doing nothing.
The "This is more trouble than it's worth" method involves willful effort. It is not abandoning oneself to the regular flow of City life. It is not saying, "I am completely overwhelmed. I can't stand this. I don't know what to do!" Everybody in the City can do that.
You may have a particular goal that at the outset seems personally of consequence. "I heard that they've renovated an old steam engine, and it makes a daily run from here to Fort Dix. I've wanted to ride that train, and since I have a day off, I'll do it today." So you go over to the ticket counter and the man says, "Well, the next train doesn't leave for another two and a half hours." And you say, "Damn, I don't want to wait until four o'clock!" and he says, "Well, sue me!" Then you say, "Well, I guess I'll just come back next week." Then the guy says, "We're closing for the season. Today is our last run." And you say, "Well, damn!" Then you look at the sign and it says tickets are twenty dollars each, and you say, "That's a misprint isn't it? Tickets are only two dollars, right?" "Nope. Twenty dollars."
At the outset you had made some decision, that you wanted to ride that train. But there you stand, "Okay, it's twenty dollars, plus it doesn't leave for another two and a half hours from now, right?" The ticket man says, "Right." And you say, "Well, what am I supposed to do for two and a half hours?" "What do I look like, a camp counselor? I don't care what you do! I just sell tickets!" The whole situation can get to the point where something that was originally your absolute desire and intent, within a minute or so, becomes, literally, more trouble than it's worth: "I don't even want one more piece of information. Nothing. I don't need any more input. Right now, ad hoc as everything is, the subject is closed." You turn around and walk off. Even if the guy hollers, "Wait, a minute, we just found a train that's coming in early," it is too late. The decision has been made. It is willful, ad hoc abandonment. You have ended that little game, but not out of weakness or mechanical frustration.
Now, in the City, they will say, "Well, he didn't really want to go. He was just bored." But the reality is that for reasons of no importance, you wanted to go -- that was your consuming hobby right then; then the game was played off, and you simply leave. The game can shift. You decide, and when you do, the game has come to an end and you walk away.
You know that I'm not talking about a train ride, don't you? How about seeing somebody, continuing a relationship with someone, or agreeing to meet someone. If you get really good, how about inside your brain where the voices are saying, "We should have a new philosophy of life. We should do so and so," and you think, "Okay," and the voice says, "Well, when should we start?" The voice went too far. You just cut it off and that is the end of it.
Perhaps you see a street sign "Joe Blatter Drive," and you remember a guy named Joe Blatter who cheated you once. "I wonder if I could find him? I'll bet he's fat and out of shape by now and I could beat him up. I should! He used to live in this neighborhood as a matter of fact! Where's the phone?" Maybe you try to get to the phone booth but the traffic makes you go way around. Then when you get to the phone booth, you find only the yellow pages or you look in the book and there are about twenty Joe Blatters listed. Suddenly that is the end of it. Apparently there was something of real emotional significance, some report, some measurement going on -- but too many ambiguities arose so you willfully end it -- because you decide it was more trouble than it was worth.
You can willfully use this method. You can stop conversations, energy transfers of all kinds. It is almost as though you die in the middle of them -- as though a puppeteer had his hand on strings inside of you and suddenly he (you) yanked it out. What you are doing is withdrawing your measurement, your report on you and another. The energy transfer between you and them stops immediately. You can do the same thing internally.
You should remember: Any time you find yourself confronted with anything that has two possibilities, two choices, two paths, two ways out or two ways in, you have a revolutionary problem. First, one of the choices will never be enough. If one choice was enough, the whole world would be swine and we would be wallowing in the richest, most salubrious swill and slop. In other words, we would all be very happy and no one would need to attempt an activity like This. Actually, the whole world would be falling apart. We'd all be back to living in trees or whatever we used to live in.
One choice is never enough. "Do I love this person or not?" "Should I go back to school or not?" What if you do decide to go back to school -- you moan and complain, you can't sleep enough, your boss is about to fire you, and if he does you can't continue school because you couldn't pay tuition...so you are never happy. That one possibility is not satisfying; and if you don't go back to school, then for the rest of your life you suffer over it. "I should have done it and it's too late now. I'm just too old. I'm married and have seven kids."
In a choice of two possibilities, either one will not be enough. This is a mathematical rule -- and it never matters which choice you make. It seems to matter in the City -- but it never does. Even if you tried to pursue both choices, which ordinary people cannot do, it would barely produce enough energy to get a person moving. Ordinary people cannot even hear of it, but if you could pursue both possibilities, it would just barely give you enough energy that we might be able to talk about some kind of serious change. But one possibility is never, never, never anywhere close to sufficient.
Related to the method I was telling you about, there is an unrecognized use and pleasure in a kind of willful mismeasurement. Let's jump back to Joe Blatter. Perhaps you don't call him -- instead you walk over to have a cup of coffee and work yourself up to calling him. Then you hear somebody nearby mention something about Blatter's Funeral Home, and you ask, "Hey, is that the family of Joe Blatter? He should be about fifty by now." And they say, "Yeah, do you know him?" And before you realize it, (being under the influence of caffeine you actually responded), you say, "Yeah, I went to school with him." And they say, "Really? Were you a close friend? Do you want to call him up or something?" Perhaps you had already decided to work yourself up into a frenzy and call him and say, "Joe, this is so and so. Get stuffed you creep!" or something real brave like that. There you are with this person asking you about Joe, who stole money from you, and instead you intentionally compliment Joe. "Well, to tell the truth, I was on the interstate about twenty miles out and I drove over here just on the possibility that I could see Joe. I don't know, all these years I just sort of felt a warm spot for old Joe. I think about him all the time." You willfully mismeasure.
What if nobody brings up the subject of Joe, but you're there drinking coffee, deciding whether or not to call him up and yell at him and you mismeasure it in the privacy of your own inner nervous system. "Well, that old Joe sure was a sharp guy. I mean he borrowed twenty dollars and said he'd pay me back in two weeks and within the two weeks he moved to another town. That Joe knew what he was doing. What a guy!" You're not being sarcastic; that is not the purpose. It is willful mismeasurement and it produces new energy. There is great pleasure in it and, as always, freedom. To experience this, you have to willfully mismeasure something -- and it doesn't matter in what way you do so.
Here's something else I've never put into words. Even though I've continually pointed out that a Real Revolutionist must be strong, able to override ordinary emotions etc., there are those among you with genetic weaknesses of some kind. When I speak of strength, I am not attacking those with a real genetic weakness. If you have only one eye or you have a congenital lump or a bad back -- you can't take these things to another level of guilt and suffering. Remember: There is a difference between hurting and suffering. There is a difference between having a bad back and suffering over it, taking continual measurements about how badly you hurt. If you hurt, you know you hurt -- you don't have to measure it all the time by telling others, and yourself, all about it. If you have a real weakness don't ever misconstrue anything I've said as an attack on you, because you didn't do it -- Life did it. It shows Life isn't perfect. Life limps somewhere or it wouldn't have limping people.
A person can have a bad back and still not feel like a delicate piece of china -- you can have a weakness without being weak. If you're alive you have a weakness.
Several other things I'll mention: You should never pet the King. Don't humor him, patronize him, or treat him like a "good ole' boy." In a sense, you are petting the King if you let some weakness become your main measuring tool.
If you do have a bad back, for example, the first thing you'll do at your new job is sort of limp into the office, so someone will say, "Bad back?" -- then you're petting the King. And the King won't take it forever. You do not humor a mechanical King. If you say, "I've been depressed all my life," it's as if you're petting the King saying, "There, there." I guarantee that under the right conditions he'll turn on you, and you'll regret it.
If you have some desire to pet the King and you move up real close, with your hand raised, you better have a knife at hand. Because you'll have to kill him. Don't patronize your own mechanical dictatorship; it is dangerous. You better be ready to kill him if you're going to pet him.
Remember that a Real Revolutionist must be an expert marksman -- a deadeye shot. To hit anything you have got to aim at it and if you don't aim at something you will never be a shot. Take that and combine it with the fact that you can absolutely abandon something which is more trouble than its worth, and that doing even both possibilities in a binary confrontation will just barely get you moving.
For thousands of years there has been an old saw: "If a ship knows not for which port it makes, no wind is the right wind." That strikes most people. But some of you should be able to See that from a revolutionary view, if a ship had no port in mind then no wind is an ill wind.
What if you could hold a willful, short-lived aim of: "I don't have an aim. I am aiming and not aiming. I understand that if you have no aim, you have still GOT to aim."