Recently I have re-read German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche‘s “Thus spoke Zarathustra” – and I have nodded and smiled, and even laughed on several occasions. What a book! What a celebration of living to the fullest, and of living courageously.
In the book Nietzsche unfolds an existentialist development theory, similar to e.g. French Philosopher Simone de Beauvoir‘s idea of human development going from the Subman to the Adventurer and the Nihilist, until finally to genuine freedom, Jean Paul Sartre‘s division between living in bad faith and in good faith, and Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard‘s investigation on living authentically, which holds the metamorphoses from the Philistine to the Aesthete, and from the Ethicist to the Religious man. In Nietzsche’s universe the human development steps are the following: the Camel, the Lion and the Child.
Most of us live as camels our entire lives; we carry our weight, and do what we are supposed to do without asking any questions. The camel is not free, as he is governed by should do’s, traditions and the norms of society, as well as other people’s expectations. The camel accepts the weight that others put on his shoulders and doesn’t question the prevailing values. But the dominating values of the culture and time era he is a part of are not necessarily his values. And hence, living according to them, just because that’s what you do, makes him an unauthentic being. The camel that wakes up and starts searching for true meaning and other ways of life, becomes a lion.
The lion seeks freedom above everything else. He wants to break free from obligations, moral codes and duty. Everything feels false to him; he discovers that what he once thought of as being true and good or the right way to live, is nothing but what others have forced him to believe. He realises that he is free to break loose from expectations, traditions and obligations, which is when he starts breaking down assumptions. But the problem with the lion’s freedom is that it is negative. It is in it’s core a freedom to say no, no to what others impose on him, no to society’s norms, no to traditions – but there is no alternative to the lion’s shattered chains. The lion must learn how to take responsibility for himself, his life, to live for himself and to create his own reality in order to be truly free. His freedom must be directed towards something, merely saying no to everything is not saying yes to an alternative, and is certainly not the equivalent to being free (which by the way also characterises both Simone de Beauvoir’s Adventurer and Søren Kierkegaard’s Aesthete; they turn away from everything, say no to everything, but are left with an empty existence).
In order to overcome emptiness and create his own meaning, the lion must become childlike. The child is characterised by being creative, playful and positive, and is led by the sacred yes. He doesn’t seek other’s approval, but is able to engage in pure creation, and thus in the creation of his own reality and virtue.
But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes.” For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred “Yes” is needed: the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world. (Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
What I particularly love about Nietzsche’s description of human advancement towards authentic, free living is that living to the fullest is symbolised by the child. Not by strength or seriousness or physical superiority, but by the playful and childlike, like living like a child. Why? Because being truly free and living to the fullest involves being playful, creative, and saying yes to opportunities and engaging mindfully or without disruptions in whatever it is you are doing. Just like a child that is engaged in playing. The child in Nietzsche’s philosophy is passionate and courageous. He embraces possibilities and takes chances. He is the captain of his own ship.
The Camel, the Lion, the Child and trading
The Camel is the retail trader who follows the masses in hope of rewards, and finds comfort in knowing that he is doing the same thing as everyone else. Social proof. The Camel is the trader who applies main stream methods to an ever changing market, ultimately, with poor results. At the end of the Camel’s journey he meets defeat and resignation.
Trading the markets isn’t for me.
The Lion on the other hand, doesn’t give up. He keeps pushing forward in the face of defeat. He learns from his failures, modifies his approach and continues moving forward. He realises that what everyone else is doing is likely wrong but he is, currently, unable find an alternative via which to view the market. He has tasted success for short periods of time but consistency eludes the Lion, resulting in frustration.
Trading the markets is difficult!
The Child lives by the philosophy that if everyone else is doing it then it’s probably wrong. He playfully and tirelessly studies the markets and enjoys the process, as he has found an angle that both excites and motivates him. The Child always finds his way and reaches his goal, as he views failure not as defeat but a much valued learning experience.
Trading the markets is fascinating and exciting!