Life is a Pyramid Scheme

My friend Doug recently blogged about his favorite poem by Tennyson: Ulysses.


I would go but half way with Ulysses… For roaming the world and knowing is a great thing, but the doing of life is more important to me, not the grinding toil of it all, though there is more to that than we sometimes remember, but the helping of others, the feeding, the education, the caring.

I used to think that it was odd that certain professions basically only paid you to be a teacher of others who might go into that field, I am thinking of the liberals arts and history. Because I came from a business mindset, I thought you education ought to make you better at something that produced “value” from carpentry to law, but something you got paid for doing not for teaching someone else how to do it so that could teach someone else. It seemed that most artists, most English majors and certainly most history professors only taught others to teach, though, I knew some folks in these fields used their skills to “do something” it seemed like the market was already flooded and there were still more students graduating every year!

As I got older I realized that much of these fields are about self development and that many of the fields i had felt were not of high value made a person a better salesman, and better truck driver or doctor or lawyer or whatever they chose to do with their more educated self. But this awareness did not put my mind at ease about humanity. As I backed away to get a broader perspective on these “wasted fields” I realized every little worker bee was really pretty much only adding value to a system in a way that we in that system has decided was valuable. To build a house or paint a painting or cure cancer or feed the hungry are all completely pointless to the universe. As I have said before, Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler look about the same from a million light years away. Yet my Buddhists friends would disagree. The death of a butterfly in California causes the slightest shift, not in Florida, but the other side of the galaxy. Does it? I dont know. Ive never been there, and to be honest, I have never even felt the shift here in Florida, yet I know butterflies die every day in California.

It occurs to me there are two paths one can follow from my thoughts, one is nothing matters, so do nothing, or do whatever you wish without regard to others, The other is, the realization that the only things of value are the things we give value to. Enriching the experience of one’s life, through reading and conversation and travel and trying new things add value to the life one lives, and then taking that enrichment and teaching others, either in lecture, in writing, or best of all, by example gives our lives the most value. Be we lawyers, painters or boat captains, “Direct Marketing” or mentoring others either completely as apprentices, or only in passing a light bit of knowledge that we have mastered is not only the best thing we have, it is the only thing. our knowledge dies with us, unless we write it, or share it, our enriched life becomes dust in a century or less.

So while you climb to the top of a great mountain or overlook a great plain, like the Amway salesman, unless you turn around and inspire the next person to go on a quest or to help a neighbor or whatever you are doing with your life that makes it worthwhile, you are a “dead leg” in the pyramid. Of course, I used to worry when I was approached about the multi level business plans of some product or another, what about the last guy to buy in? But it this case, you truly dont have to worry about the last guy, because it is life and life only (thanks Bob!), And if you get the last guy to buy into life, he is already rich, and only has to wait for the next child to grow up to show them the wonders of the Pyramid Scheme of Life!


About anthonyuplandpoetwatkins born in Jackson, The United States August 04, 1959 gender male website genre Poetry, Historical Fiction influences James M. Lancaster, Brenda Black White, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Al Filreis member since March 2011 About this author edit data As one of the most public lives ever lived by a private citizen, there is little about me that isn't already available at Facebook or Shelfari and countless other places. Poet, writer, construction worker, salesman, truck driver, climber into the attics of total strangers, father and husband, and all around one of the luckiest men on the planet. My luck continued with a win in the June Goodreads Newsletter Contest! What an honor! http://anthonyuplandpoetwatkins.wordp... Additional Influences: Bob Dylan, William Faulkner, Barbara Kingsolver, Gloria Naylor, Eudora Welty
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9 Responses to Life is a Pyramid Scheme

  1. And the links continue!:

    yeah, i am aware they are in it for the buck, but still a link is a link, i appreciate the mention, even if i am aware that i will probably never make a dime off my blog.

  2. Doug says:

    I don’t think Tennyson would disagree with you. I don’t think his point was that “living” was about climbing mountains or seeing new scenery. I think the point was that this fictional king grew weary of sitting in a palace, observing his kingdom from a window, and occasionally passing a new “unequal” and pointless law — so he decides to leave the ivory palace, roll his sleeves up and fully engage life again. As I said in a previous post, as birds fly and fish swim, what it means to be fully engaged in living may be different for each of us, but please don’t tell me that sitting on your couch watching re-runs of Jerry Springer is your idea of living life to its fullest — we may have to part company there.

  3. Inspired me to rattle off this quick poem, more a reflex than a considered response:

    the human race

    slow-motion locusts
    we strip the fields
    cover teeming peace
    with arid war
    valuing action
    above thought
    and property
    above action
    we run a war on drugs
    but there are more addicts
    fight poverty
    but more are poor
    ended slavery
    but have more slaves
    cure diseases
    but more are ill

    i wish more people
    would stand back
    and just stand still

    • Bet Tennyson would be thrilled to think his poem inspired an essay that inspired my wondering ramble that in turn inspired this poem!!!

      • Doug says:

        I think he would, because I think he knew what so many others also knew, that Ideas are more powerful than bullets. Another reason for all of us to keep writing, keep speaking, keep painting, keep dreaming., keep living.

      • Doug says:

        btw.. thanks for the link back to my blog

      • you gotta keep that blog more active, keep writing. it occurs to me that i am surrounded by better bloggers, but i dont let my lack of talent prevent from blogging:) you, Seamus and mef, amongst others are all highly trained and pretty dern good at writing stuff, wish you all wrote more. glad you wrote this piece, without it, i woulda never have gotten the seam us poem!

  4. Pingback: SEARCHING OUR OWN PRIVATE ITHACA! | seadreams excursions

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