Wow, totally disagree with your approach here, but nice to read!
What is important to me in life is whatever happens to be important at the time (I would not list family, work, and motherland or whatever).
The reason “that thing is important to me” (whatever is important at the moment is important to me) is that it strikes me as important. So then you ask what is the criterion by which it strikes me, but this is like asking “what is the criterion by which something hurts me” or “pleases me” and I’m going to say it’s in the action of the thing striking me as important.
For instance, today I installed some CNC’d wood gears my roommate painted silver onto our gate. There is really no reason to do this or not, the project has been sitting in the shed for months and no one really cares. But I saw them and thought “those should totally go up!” I was kind of on a roll, having just tested the instant pot against the rice cooker, scraped the label off a jar of coconut oil, skimmed every page of Helen Keller’s The World I Live In, cleaned up the yard from a big build I finished yesterday, investigated changing our front lock, etc.
So I think it’s mostly about the mode and mood I was in, where each subsequent project was very rewarding!
I think that, to abduct this experience into your model (necessary for your holy grail), you’d have to say there already existed (where?) a criterion that allowed the wood gears to become important! Like “this sounds like a busy body who likes finishing what he started and doing all the things!” But that is certainly not how I think about it myself and, more pertinently, not the reason this criteria exists. You could try to invent a more clever criterion, but I’m going to insist that it never had actuality and that you can’t plan to be able to share it between everyone.
Anyway, the reaching that you’re doing reminds me of Seyla Benhabib, who does a great job just shouting at you that some shit is true, while you believe it!

Glad you’re thinking about this stuff and thanks for pulling me over here. 👻

Essayist.

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