Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Napoleon Ate for Breakfast

They say that Napoleon trucked a copy of Plutarch's Lives with him into battle, everywhere he went.

Lives is hero porn. It's Plutarch's mytho-historic hagiography of great men—a hundred George Washingtons not lying about cherry trees, and a bunch of proto-Napoleons escaping from Elba. Plutarch was interested in the pivots of men's lives, and the pivots in history that they caused.

I'm more interested in what Napoleon ate for breakfast.

and his pistol. fuck that's a cool pistol.

The other day I was at work and it occurred to me that if I'd stop buying a $5 sandwich every day I'd have an extra $100 a month. This was after driving the brutal commute that I'm also trying to lessen in order to save cash and sanity, by moving into a polyamorous commune . . . I digress.

I had a kind of satori moment. I realized that I've been thinking like Plutarch—reckoning my life in terms of its great pivots, waiting for black swans and lotto victories, when that's honestly not how life works.

Six-pack abs aren't made in brutal two-week sessions. They're built up slowly (in the kitchen), through daily routine, and a thousand small changes of habit. Rome wasn't built in some watershed century. Rome was built in a day.

If you have played the lottery, I would gamble you've also made a list. You know what list I'm talking about.

(1) Mom and Dad ---- $500,000
(2) Manila house ------~$100,000 (plus solar panels?)
(3) Powered hang glider --------, etc, etc

Even if you don't play the lottery, you probably have this list in some form. You may even have a web address for it, containing the word "pinterest."

And while we play hard at our pivots, our wedding days and mythical eschatons, there shall progress not be found. And there, neither, is happiness.

The peaks of episodic memory--our kodak'd moments with provençal backdrops--are not where the lion's share of our lives' dopamine hauls will come in. Happiness is to be found in our daily practice. Not in the white dress and the wax-stamped RSVPs, but in the morning, after morning, after morning, tangled in her hair.

I've resolved to start a pinterest board to plan my perfect everyday. If I can slowly tweak it and ratchet it up in terms of saved quarters and spent calories, and more importantly in time with rivers and children and wine and ars vitae, I think I'll win at life.

And for its lack of heraldry, that's probably how you escape from Elba anyways.

No comments:

Post a Comment