The Meaning of Life

24. December, 2012

Minimize suffering.


  • We like to help others, minimizing their suffering (main goal of helping others) and our own (we feel shame when we see someone who needs help or sometimes even feel their pain as if it was our own)
  • Laws are designed to minimize suffering. Revenge might be our first instinct but it never minimizes anything. Like the old says: Eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. That might minimize insight but not the pain.
  • Even the most simple animals avoid pain. Plants try to grow out of shade. Excited electrons quickly return to their normal state – a¬†phenomenon which allows us to see.
  • Moral and ethical guidelines help to minimize suffering. Apart from the obvious effects, they help members of the group to behave well without suffering through the long and tedious process of discovering those truths themselves.
  • Religions try to minimize suffering by giving explanations for the inexplicable. Buddhism boiled everything down to this phrase: “Life means suffering” (from¬†The Four Noble Truths[*]).

Merry Christmas and a Painless New Year.

[*]: And their solution isn’t death, it’s ascension – Nirvana: “Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.”


24. January, 2012

Pulled a lifeless child out of swimming pool yesterday. Odd feeling.

What I remember most is two things:

  1. How long it took about 80 people around the pool to notice that a man was calling for help. He was calling and waving and a couple of people even waved back. But his plea for help somehow didn’t really register until I took the child from him and shouted as well.
  2. The foam coming from the mount of the child as I dropped him on the ground outside of the pool.

Luckily, a doctor was close-by and managed to revive the child. He did first aid until the staff doctor from the hotel’s infirmary arrived. The staff of the hotel also called an ambulance that arrived only a few minutes later. All in all, when the near-death registered, professional help came quick.

If you have a child who loves to dive: Make sure they don’t take deep breaths before diving. They’ll lose consciousness without any prior warning sign – it’s called shallow water blackout. From the Wikipedia article:

Significantly, victims drown quietly underwater without alerting anyone to the fact that there is a problem and are typically found on the bottom[…]

Some tips for people who want to save lives:

  • People who are about to drown don’t call for help – if they had the air, they wouldn’t be drowning in the first place. Look for signs of panic and utter silence. Playing children scream, shout and splash. Downing swimmers just splash.
  • People move all the time. If you think something is odd, watch them for 10 seconds. If you don’t see any controlled movement in that time, call for help. Remember that water is never still. So if the hands float a bit, that’s not movement. Watch out of for leg movement, swimming moves, looking around (head movement). If in doubt, call for help – pulling someone out of water takes a lot of time.