Gumption

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"All you need in this life is a tremendous sex life and a great ego. Brains don't mean shit." ~ Captain Tony Tarracino

Gumption is what makes humans act. That is, take initiative to act decisively, purposely. Human motivation arises when first there is need followed by the desire to satisfy that need and finally the fear that this need will not be satisfied. This system is the basis of animal thought processes, and humans most certainly are animals. Brains are but a tool for those who have gumption and a curse for those who don't.

What makes people civilized is a framework for cooperation. This framework serves to maximize each individual's ability to meet their needs. This is true whether the desire is for food, shelter or sex. The primary factor in directing action is thus not intelligence, but desire and fear. The primary factor elevating humans above animals is our ability to formulate commonly accepted rules of behavior. This too does not require great intelligence. The Golden Rule can be understood by all but the most moronic.

Gumption is what focuses the brain when inspired by desire or fear to act. Gumption initiates purposeful action. Intelligence is a handy tool used to successfully satisfy desires, but it is the desire itself that inspires human effort. Advertisers believe that individual decisions are made based on the human desire for sex even more than food. They rarely appeal to our intellects. Captain Tony has a crude way of expressing himself, but the wisdom in his insight is unmistakable. His words will be passed down for many generations to come on T-shirts in Key West at Captain Tony's Saloon. Happiness, as well as success, is more about ego and sex than intelligence.

Understanding the importance of desire is within the intellectual reach of children, but discovering and appreciating our innermost desires can take a lifetime of maturing. A path fishing, smuggling and bartending sure beats the hell out of endless guilt trip sessions, large doctor's bills and endless medications. Medication is the answer most commonly given today by "experts" on "mental health." Few of which are half as effective as a cold beer, a shot of tequila, or other native medicines, depending on the diagnosis. Practice self-medication if the need arises and leave the experts to medicate each other.

Gumption is making it to Florida after being left for dead in New Jersey for scamming bookies and then getting off his poor busted butt to head for Key West. Most smart guys would have died from self-pity thinking about how bad this situation looked, but a guy with balls worked his way up to own a bar and run guns to Cuba, among other exploits. This is the kind of fulfillment that someone with too many brains can never experience. This is also true for the majority of life's enterprises. The idea that only smart and/or rich people can be successful discounts the importance of motivation and thus desire.

In order to do something successfully you must first believe that you can "do it" and then it helps to have someone to "do it" with. Most people will go out of their way to impress certain members of the opposite sex. Brains not only don't help your ego and mating abilities, they can get in the way of both. The tremendous amount of blather today about self-esteem all focuses on outside forces when it is internal forces that should be focused on. If you practice self-confidence and find a good mate, the world is your oyster. If you practice self-doubt while masturbating physically, intellectually and spiritually, the world is a boot on your face. Whining about the fact that life isn't fair is the human equivalent of a dog rolling over to its master.

Experience allowed Captain Tony to figure out a thing or two that all the Freudians in the world will never understand. Seeing people who come from everywhere to an atmosphere conducive to exposing human desires and motivations will leave an impression. The salt air, delicious seafood, cold beer, beautiful sunsets, good music and healthy women in outfits designed to allow as much breeze to reach the skin as possible will often inspire moments of true genius from the most humble of thinkers. Finding simplicity in the complex is the true sign of genius, not complexity in the simple. Jimmy Buffet turned out alright, anyway.

Wisdom can only be found in the progression of desire to ego to intellect. Without desire, there can be no ego and no intellect. These three human dynamic traits must be balanced. This occurs when the ego and intellect allow for the concept of love to manifest in one's actions. When desire, ego or intellect gets neglected, then imbalance and discord will surely follow. A spiritual consciousness is what brings these areas into balance.

Seeking balance and harmony for desire, ego and intellect is more productive than focusing an excess amount of energy on just one. Focusing just on a desire, your ego or you intellect will lead to discord. We may learn to control what we eat, what we drink, how much we exercise, who we have sex with and maybe even how much we breath and how fast our heart beats; still we must eat, drink, move, breathe, pump blood and have sex. How we feel and think about these desires must come forth or fake desires will be conjured up.

Society evolves around moral principles that allow us to get along peacefully in a world of scarce resources to fulfill the needs of so many. If heaven on earth were to come and all needs were met by wishing for their satisfaction, then no rules would be necessary. But this is not reality. Because a man desires a woman does not give him the right to take her. Because someone desires another person's food, shelter or toys gives him no right to take them. Scarcity is the overriding factor influencing the need for moral principles or "rules." These rules restrict our behavior such that we don't always get what we want without negative ramifications.

Private property, like gravity, may be an inconvenient rule to me when I wish to acquire something that is within sight, but out of reach. Blaming the rules against theft, rape and murder as the reason that I can't be successful at fulfilling my desires is not only uncivilized but childish. That there should be as few rules as possible does not preclude the necessity of rules for civilized behavior. Respecting the persons and property of others is a good start. This is the Natural Order which should not to be confused with State Rule.

It takes a lot of programming to stifle the human brain, but we do get a lot of programming. A baby is born into a world where it is at the complete mercy of those who care for it. If a caring, loving atmosphere is provided for the baby as it grows, then natural desires will likely mature in a caring, loving way. If an angry, hateful atmosphere is provided, then human desires will likely mature into angry, hateful manifestations. We are largely at the mercy of providence when it comes to personality and how we deal with scarcity of the things we all desire. Such is life. But we continue to make choices and have the innate ability to change our course at any time with those choices.

If intelligence was the primary motivating force directing human action, humankind would have died out long ago. It is commonly realized among all but the most intelligent that the more intelligent a human is, the less likely they are to actually do anything meaningful in life. In the end it is your actions and not your thoughts that really count. This fundamental truth has caused much strife through self-inflicted difficulties. Yet love can emerge from the anger, frustration and hate that foments when thinking excessively about the inequities of life. Life is worth living because love shines through it all. The ultimate desire that gives us all purpose is finding a mate.

Affection, sacrifice and devotion are forms of love, but love is simply giving. Desire is not love. Desire is the energy that a spark of intelligence can ignite into love with spiritual maturity. The innate chemical reactions that take place when humans bond are beyond description; much less understanding. Dissecting the spirit of love into formulas with symbols and measurements moves the dissector away from wisdom. I prefer the poets. Love must be allowed to arise, and it cannot be forced. Force not only can not create love, force destroys love. Forcing yourself on the women you love is a sure recipe for unhappiness. There are certain rules to mating that have evolved for good reason, just as they have for other forms of cooperation.

The individual human ego is naturally distilled in the innate desire for sex, food and shelter such that the decision to act is so often driven by carnal desires. Intelligence quickly becomes secondary to these desires, and controlling them comes from the spirit within to cooperate with others. Intelligence is a simple tool used to obtain what is desired in the short term, but the ability to focus on the future allows people to balance their desires with their best interest.

Without carnal desires, the species could not survive, but without cooperation such as for mating, we would not exist for long. To wish that carnal desires did not exist or to pretend that they do not exist is folly. Mating is the original civilizing force from which society arose and we should recognize its importance in our lives. Desires are channeled by ego, intelligence and conscious choice reformulating raw sex into the more civilized concept of making love. You may take something, but know that it was not for love. Taking stems from desire. Giving stems from love.

We must make decisions today that will lead us down a path tomorrow based on what we did yesterday and know today. To look ahead, live today and appreciate the days gone by is a time management puzzle that is constantly changing shape, scope and dimension. Gumption helps you deal with it successfully. Rules help us deal with each other.

General rules of behavior have been passed down from our forefathers to reconcile human desires in a world of scarcity. These rules of society act upon both wants and needs. Though they change on the margins, the core values have withstood the test of time. In time our character is forged by the decisions we make and the action we take fulfilling needs and desires. To be aware of where you are in this process each day leads to maximum fulfillment of desires with the least amount of pain. A world without pain is pure fantasy and would probably be as boring as it was inefficient.

Gumption is what causes human action to occur. This motivating spirit comes from deep within and is developed from birth along a largely predetermined path in a matrix of pre-constructed constraints until we reach maturity. We then have a choice whether we wish to participate in a society or not. Socially derived rules for behavior promote ethical behavior and a strong sense of virtue. The oldest, simplest rules that have evolved in society are the most valuable and respected. Intervention by State authority into society is counterproductive at best and evil at worst. These two sets of rules should not be confused.

Honorable human actions promote more productive lives by fostering cooperation. More productive lives lead to more successful people and a prosperous society. Respect for the persons and property of others is what allows us to cooperate successfully for mutual interests. It doesn't take a genius to be motivated by desire nor to grasp the necessity of respect for others. It does take a little gumption.

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Mark Davis's picture
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Mark Davis is a husband, father and real estate analyst/investor enjoying the freedoms we still have in Longwood, Florida.