Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No regrets

A New York Times article (“Facing a Financial Pinch, and Moving In With Mom and Dad”) says last year in the US “37 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds were unemployed or no longer looking for work.” As a result, 10 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 moved back with their parents. A young scuba instructor interviewed for the article now lives in a rent-subsidized apartment with his 90-year old grandmother. He says: “Part of me stays because of the financial benefits — I could never find an apartment like this one for even double the current rent — and part of it is that, while this might sound pessimistic, the truth is my grandmother is not going to live forever so I want to spend as much time with her as possible so no regrets later on.” It’s really neat to have such a clear focus on your own emotional needs without being much distracted by those of others – particularly if they will soon be dead anyway. As Winifred Gallagher argues in Rapt, the skillful management of attention and the capacity to maintain unrelenting focus form comprise the protocol for the good life which philosophers have pursued for at least 26 centuries.