The progretarian’s approach to life

When Beethoven was about to turn 30 it became clear that his hearing ability started to detoriate and he had to face the fact that he eventually would become deaf. Taking into account that he was one of the most passionate and dedicated composers that ever walked the face of the earth, this is a shockingly devastating diagnosis. As a result of this he began to compose more manically, to focus more, to ‘produce more’, to be driven more intensely and sharply.

In a sense, we’re all in his shoes. We’re not only about to lose our ability to hear, we’re about to lose our ability to live. The diagnosis was given the second we were born. And still, we’re unconscious about this fact. Completely oblivious to it. Death is a blurry thing far away in the future. Something of no immediate concern right now.


And while there are profound reasons for this denial mindset to have evolved and being maintained over the course of our evloution, I am convinced that it’s now about time for a paradigm shift in order for mankind to move on, face acute global challenges and survive.


Denial is not enough anymore. In order to become life aware, we have to become death aware. How come, we know the fact of our finite existence and are not powered into action immediately as Beethoven was, when he found out about is finite hearing sense? Why do we waste day in, day out in front of the TV or its successors, the various screens that bring us the internet?


Humanity as a whole has come a long way and overcome many obstacles, but taking this as evidence that we will continue to survive is a fatal flaw in thinking. Death is always arounf the corner. It’s not far away and statistics can’t be fooled. The likelihood of you dieing tomorrow is the same as you surviving tomorrow whatever will come your way.


And make no mistake about it. There is no heaven and no paradise. There will be no eternal joy in the lap of god. When you’re dead, it’ll be exactly like before you were born. Nothingness, darkness. without consciousness to realize. As Vladimir Nabokov once coined it:

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”

This realization scares the hell out of me and at the same time fills me with deep gratitude. My dualistic response to this threat is the core building block of all and none in this universe. It’s about polarity. Only darkness makes light worthwhile. Only winter allows you to appreciate summer. And only death makes life enjoyable. Nietzsche contributed a thought experiment that he termed ‘eternal recurrence‘. In it he proposed the idea of living the same life again and again for all eternity and the only time you have a choice of what directions to take, is when you live for the first time. All the lives after that first living are vivid repeats, where you have to live through everything you did and did not do in your first try again. Eternal recurrence would be a horrible sentence, but the lesson is clear:

Make that first try worthwhile enough so that you actually would be at ease with passively living through it again and again, experiencing every victory and every failure again and again.

Everything my mind seems to be circling around are these very questions.

  • How can we make life worthwhile?
  • How can one reach his full potential?
  • How can one squeeze the last drop out of life, so when death comes to take you away he will only find an already dead person that has lived to the fullest. As the wonderful character Zorba the Greek articulated it: “Leave death nothing but a burned out castle.”
Maneuvering through life in our modern world is a narrow road. Modern mass media, the technological infrastructure and consumerism expose us to constant demons that unintentionally hinder us to taste life fully. You either fall into unconsciousness or try to feel life through over-stimulation. It’s either drifting away in front of the TV, 5 hours a day, or it’s constant stimulus via Facebook, Twitter, newsbits, buying stuff, eating stuff, doing stuff. A vast majority of people would love to be born on the finish line. They want it to be easy. They love security and possessions. They would love to live in an idealized care-free utopia without pain and struggle, but that’s not what reality is like. That’s not what a grown-up sees with his own fresh set of eyes. Denial of one part is denial of all parts.

The socially reinforced narrative of internal focus, ‘me me me’, ‘more more more’, ‘take take take’ is only half the picture. The other half, the second part of life, is about an external focus, ‘give give give (back)’. Life only makes sense because of other people. And while this is no higher spiritual truth and I understand that we are born alone and have to die alone, it is still true in a practical sense. If you were the last human on earth, life would initially turn out to be pretty boring and flat. We have to understand ourselves in the context of the whole species. That’s why a part of you has to be dedicated to that species that allowed you to blossom and thrive in the first place. As Stephen R. Covey said:

The whole progretarian mindset is based around this very idea:

How can one become the best self one can be, in order to give back?

There is no one point in life obviously when this begins. It’s a fluent, multidimensional and overlapsing process. That’s why I believe, it’s not enough anymore to be just above average in your professional area of expertise. To be fully content with life, you have to master many personal domains, mainly to have your brain chemistry function properly, so that it enables and propels you to contribute something to the global body of knowledge that helps mankind to survive and thrive.

You have to consciously adress life’s questions, eat the best diet you can, you have to regularly exercise physically to keep your body resilient. You have to become so good, they can’t ignore you. You have to read a broad range of topics a lot, to maintain brain plasticity and be ok with a fluid identity that is not attached to superficial ideas just so that there is something to identify with and fall into unconsciousness. You have to stay open and cultivate a discipline of constant, continual, deliberate development. You have to learn to focus on the long term, the legacy, not the short term, the currency. You have to understand that it’s about many many tiny steps and not one huge step. You have to develop a sense of abundance in every area of life and turn away from mental scarcity, that binds you to certain dogmas and beliefs. The progretarian idea is objective as science itself. It’s ever changing, because the only constant is change. It’s not about quick fixes and magic pills, but about stable, rock-solid foundations built through hard and deep work. It’s about the journey, not the goal. It’s about the action, not the fruits of the action.

It is about full, unrestricted responsibility for everything that is and is not in your life.

It’s about acceptance of the mystery that some questions simply can’t be answered.

We live in transitional times, experiencing the last strokes of the industrial age and moving into information age. Most of the gatekeepers and middlemen economically are dieing alongside the industrial era that created their rise to power.

Death is always a glimpse away. Life is short. How can we make the most of it?

How can we become the strongest versions of ourselves possible in order to then take away the focus from us and onto others, in order to help them become the strongest versions of themselves possible?

This is what the progretarian’s approach to life is about.


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