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Life is Hard

Posted on 2010.02.16 at 00:02
Location: tir's room
Mood: mellowpeace
Life is hard. I have two reactions to this concept. On the one hand, it makes me want to give up. It makes me think, what's the point? We're all either fighting endlessly or we're sitting around purposelessly. Every step forward takes immense concentration and effort and (just) leads to a still harder challenge. On the other hand, I'm beginning to understand the purpose of our being here on earth. I mean, if there is something else, a spiritual world, a heaven - I'm beginning to understand why earth is also necessary. In a spiritual world and especially in a heaven, things aren't so difficult (I tend to think). We aren't held back by an inability to communicate, by inadequate, tired bodies, or even by the limits of earthly logic. And that's wonderful. But here on earth, we have to push, we have to fight. We have to overcome. We face limitations within and without, and it is in this world that we must really work hard to get past them. A long time ago, I latched onto love and truth as the highest ideals I could think of, as the closest concept I have of God, and as the only things I knew I wanted for myself and the world. Less than a year ago, I started praying for one more thing: strength. Not only is strength, moral strength of will, the means to truth and love, it is itself an ideal. It is our strength of will that measures our strength of self. So, by being here on earth and fighting, endlessly, to live our own ideals every moment - we become ourselves. And that's why we're here. When we have to fight to be ourselves, well, it's the only way to ever really gain that self.

Thanks, God, for the challenges. Thanks for the wisdom to see past them. Thanks for the love that makes them worth while even while it makes them harder. And thanks for the strength to keep trying - over and over again.

Thoughts on my future endeavors

Posted on 2010.01.23 at 01:51
Location: dining room
Mood: curiousidea'd
 Today is not so good. I feel unprepared, naked, blind. My mind feels fuzzy. I can't see what to do next. I can't see what it is I care about. Here is what I know. I know I don't want to do something pointless if I can help it. I want to make a difference in a big way,. I want to start some wheels turning on the road to peace and justice. I want a better world. I want a world in which there is no war. I know that sounds idealistic, but the fact is I am an idealist and I want to work towards making that ideal not sound so idealistic, make it seem possible, make it closer to real. I want all children to have access to free, quality education. I want everyone to have access to free, clean water (I know water isn't quite free even here, but I want it to be). Here's the thing: I'm passionate about an awful lot of things. I'm passionate about international healthcare and education, the environment, animal rights, religious understanding (which is like tolerance but more involved and probably more lasting), global demilitarization, freedom of information (including active efforts to engage apathetic individuals), gender issues (including women's empowerment) and degendering (including open marriage laws), the arts (especially literature, fine art, and theatre), ethics and philosophy, criminal justice (with a focus on prevention and regeneration rather than punishment), self-determination, children in general, science (especially social science) as a tool for bettering the world...

I just had a revelation (I love potty-break revelations; aren't they fantastic?): I love research. Not so much primary research, although that's wonderful too in the little I've experienced it, but secondary research, reading the research others have done and drawing conclusions from it. I LOVE that. Can I do THAT as my job? Read tons of wonderful, new stuff, and write articles to educate people about it, make recommendations for governments and public service organizations and NGO operations based on it - can I do that?? Please??? It sounds very academic and removed, I know, I hear that - but I don't plan on doing ONLY my job, whatever my job is. I plan on both getting involved on the ground and making waves in the administration, it's just a question of which side is my vocation and which my avocation.

Do I need to go to grad school?

I'm going to spend some time thinking over this new line of thought. Feedback welcome. Haha what a change of attitude in the course of a couple paragraphs! I knew writing would help....


Posted on 2010.01.21 at 12:42
Location: dining room
Mood: calmelegant
I just wanted to say that I have terrible intuition. That is, that certain kind of mystical premonitory intuition - I totally lack it, and I find this rather disappointing. My mom thinks she has it, and I can't prove her wrong... on a few occasions she's asked me if I'd been really upset the night before and I had, and she'd just woken up at 3am with "a feeling" that something had been wrong. I don't have those. Or, to be more accurate, I have them from time to time... it's just that they're almost always wrong. I can't think of an instance when I had a feeling about what was happening or about to happen and it was correct.

This acts as evidence against there being a connection between all things or even a spiritual world of any kind that can influence this one. Sometimes I think premonitions are just random chance, with a bell curve distribution among people as to how often they're right: most people are right about as often as chance would imply, but there are a few whose premonitions just happen to be right most of the time - and the once-in-an-age prophet who seems to be right every time. Unfortunately, on the other end, there are people like me, who it seems would do better to directly contradict their intuition all the time, whose premonitions, just by chance, are wrong most of the time.

The other implication of this theory is that one should not trust prophets. Being right several times in no way affects their chances of being right at other times (in fact, if we're looking back at them, it implies that the other stuff is less likely to be right, since there's not as much chance that they were right that many times). Each new prophecy or premonition has just as good a chance to be true as any one before it regardless of the history. Like, just because I flip tails three times doesn't mean I should expect the next flip to give me tails. On the other hand, this means that I have as good a chance as anyone to predict something correctly one of these days and that's heartening (if silly).

Don't take any of this too seriously.

Trip Journal or whathaveyou

Posted on 2009.09.02 at 10:58
Location: dining room
Mood: nervousnervous
Hey y'all! I'm leaving for India! When I have internet I'll try to post in here about my trip, impressions, adventures, and so on. Should be a good time! Gotta go!!! Next time I write I'll be in India!

Thoughts from the Shower

Posted on 2009.05.24 at 14:09
Location: dining room in BA
Mood: contemplativedesireless
Ambient Noise: cartoons from the living room
I fight for my way and my views. But what no one seems to realize is that I expect and want everyone else to fight back just as hard. That is how I expect we will all come to a better way and better truth. I am not fighting to be right, but to find out what is right. What a capitalist I am, though! to expect that competition creates mutual benefit. I ought to stop, since I don't think it works. Especially since, of late, people have been backing down and "letting me be right." That's not what I want at all! What I want is for you to buttress what you are saying, fight for it, prove it to me - make me think and question what I am saying, make me back down. But this doesn't work. All I succeed in doing, most of the time, is making people think I am stubborn and egotistical and need to be right. I need to find another way to go about this.

My little brother read another version of this I jotted down so I wouldn't forget. He's almost thirteen and he told me I'm crazy. "You fight and say, 'this is what is right and this is why,' and when people say, 'okay,' you go 'aaaaargh' [shaking his fist]." He has a point of course, but I hope you see a mite more sense in my position.

The thing I can't get around is this: If I merely ask someone to back up and explain their position better so I can understand it - first of all, they might take it as a challenge anyway - secondly they likely won't explain the problematic pieces. If I ask about the problematic pieces in particular, they are almost certain to take it as a challenge. What do you think? What do you do?

There are two more things that I could say about this - no, I suppose there's more than that, but we'll limit it to two - first, it may be that a less mature me came to this position, this way of thinking and acting, because it often did lead to my own view or way prevailing which is, after all, what I thought then to be right and best. As I've grown older, I've come to see that adversarial systems do not always allow the best way to win, and have come to accept that even when I win, I don't always deserve it. Second, I muse that though I do not necessarily want to "be right" - well, in another sense I do - I want to become right, to gain all the knowledge and perspective I can. In that sense, perhaps, I am still egotistical? Well that is an issue for another day, I think.

The Bright, Vague Hand

Posted on 2009.04.12 at 15:49
Location: my room, new tooth
Mood: draineddullish

Today as every day, I woke up to a bright but vague hand pulling me out of bed. It tugged at me urgently and, since my dreams were fading quickly from mind and there was nothing else I could see pulling at me, I grasped the hand in mine and allowed myself to be dragged along. Though this hand appears insubstantial, it is quite solid and strong, and once you’ve taken hold of it, it is actually easier to run alongside it than to let go. I have a theory that the hand only looks vague because it is divided among so many of us, and that it remains strong because our holding on is actually also holding everyone else on as well. We are always moving, every day, though sometimes in a frantic, half-stumbling run and sometimes just trudging slowly forward. I can’t be certain what determines our pace, but when the hand tugs on me harder, I know I must go faster or I’ll be left behind. We continue our mass scramble until well after dark when we reach our beds again, which have found us wherever we are, and we are abandoned to climb into them and into the adventure of dreams.

Every once in a long while, I pause and look around and wonder why we bother going at all. It seems that we are always going, and going nowhere. I wonder if there is anywhere that we could go, or if nowhere lies in every direction. I wonder where we started, or if that was nowhere too. Then the world tugs on my hand, and I comply, put my head down and rush off again, off towards nowhere. It never seems quite worth it to drop the world completely, pull myself out of its grasp, and let it go on without me. I guess I’m hoping that one day, we will be going somewhere, and am afraid that if I’ve let go, they will have all gotten there without me.

When I do look up, though, I see nowhere on every horizon, blank and white and uninviting, with no indication that beyond it in any direction is someplace else. Yet there is a horizon, and every day I’m sure we cross it in some direction, and always I hope, beyond this one. Most of the time, though, it’s easiest just to keep my head down and hurry along within the instantaneous here that we create in our going along. The very odd thing is, although nowhere is in every direction and on every horizon, the instantaneous here is a bright and noisy thing, no more a place perhaps than our surroundings, but an event, and if I keep from looking at the horizon, there is an illusion that we are moving along through someplace, instead of merely moving along. But I find it very difficult to confine myself to the walls of this set, to this scenery we all help create. Even if I keep my head down, the brightness and noise of this ever-hurrying world frequently cause me to retreat still further until, pushed inside myself, I am outside those walls again, and see the nowhere that is in front of me.

Sometimes I wonder achingly if anyone can point me in the right direction. As we hurry along, I see those who seem to know where they are going. They are not holding the bright, vague hand of the world, but stride alongside as if this is the path they have chosen by their own will and judgment. Once, when we were only strolling along, I made my way gently over to one of these who was walking nearby. As I drew up alongside, my fellow traveler turned to me and showered me with a radiant smile. I introduced myself, nervously, and asked how she managed such confidence as to her direction, without being led as I am.

With a soft pride, she answered, “I am led by Another’s hand, which guides me to the only Place worth going.”

I found her answer strange for two reasons. First, I could see no other hand by which she might be led, and second, it seemed quite a large coincidence that her Hand should be leading her in exactly the same direction ours was leading all of us. I entertained the thought that perhaps she was split in two, and her other half was being led elsewhere and in another direction holding this other hand, while this half followed the world.

Just as I was about to ask her about this, though, the hand tugged me into a slow jog. My companion glanced about her with wide eyes and, seeing the rest of uspicking up speed, did likewise. “I’ll tell you more later, when we slow down again” she puffed. Disheartened, I allowed myself to drop back several feet as I continued to lope along, half-dragged by the bright, vague hand.

Almost immediately, I found beside me a cheerful, independent runner. He laughed and nodded towards the other. “There is no other hand,” he declared. “She and the rest like her are simply deluded by wishful thinking.”

“But you,” I countered, astonished at such open judgment, “You don’t seem to be holding the bright, vague hand either.”

“Is that what you call it?” He laughed again. “It certainly is vague, and bright too I suppose, or at least colorful. No, I don’t choose to be dragged along like some. No offense,” he added suavely. “It just doesn’t suit me.”

“But then do you know where we’re going? Or why do you go this way?”

"Yes,” and the smile slipped and twisted cynically on his lips, “I know where we’re going.”

Though I wasn’t about to assume he did, hope sparked in me at his assertion, however cynically made. “Where?”

“Nowhere!” he cried triumphantly.

“Oh. Well," I faltered, "that’s what I always supposed, anyway. But why do you follow along then?”

“Haven’t you noticed?” he said. “There’s nowhere else to go. Or haven’t you looked around you? And if I’m going nowhere anyway, I might as well enjoy myself as I’m doing it.” With that, he pasted his smile back on his face and capered off.

I continued the next several hours in my more accustomed silence, occasionally drifting alongside someone, but not exchanging anything meaningful, just sharing a few feet of ill-defined path. The exchanges I’d already had left me feeling depressed and resigned. Of course I’d noticed that there was nowhere else to go. How many nights, released by the hand, have I wandered off a small distance into emptiness, only to lose hope and look again for the constancy and oblivion of my bed? How many hours have I spent straining my eyes towards endless empty horizon, vainly hoping for some distinguishable irregularity? I am quite uncomfortably aware that there is nowhere else to go. Yet how could I find joy in this pointless, ceaseless going?

All I wish for is some goal toward which my feet could point, that my steps would be ever purposeful, moving me closer to someplace new. And somehow, I can’t truly believe that all around me is nowhere. Deep inside, I am certain that beyond some horizon is a place worth going - I only wish I knew in which direction it lay. I guess I’ll just keep holding onto the bright, vague hand and hope that one day I’ll spot something else to guide me.

How to Make French Fries

Posted on 2009.03.10 at 00:31
Location: new tooth
Mood: curiousprocrastinating

Step 1. Cut potato into french fry shape.
Step 2. Put a bunch of oil in a pan on medium heat.
Step 3. When the oil is hot, put the potato in the oil.
Step 4. When you get impatient, turn the heat up.
Step 5. When the potato is brown, take it out of the oil onto a paper towel.
Step 6. Salt.

I made some really amazing french fries tonight. Since I just ad-hocked it, I was super super impressed with myself and I had to share.

Don't use "vegetable" oil. It's generally soybean oil and it tastes yucky (does anyone else think so too?). I use canola. Also, don't get impatient until the fries are pretty well cooked through I think. And a "bunch" means enough to maybe more than half cover the potato. Which means you will have a bunch of oil in the end. Which you should reuse. To make french fries again! One more thing, you might have to stir them a few times, unless you decide to use a lot more oil maybe.

Yay unhealthy food! But I did leave the skin on, so that counts for something, right?


Posted on 2009.03.02 at 21:12
Location: new tooth
Ambient Noise: working music
I only exist as an object. As an object, I am nice, I am a person, I am happy. As a subject, I do not exist, for I disappear into my action. I walk, I give, I write. In these things, I no longer am, but my action is and I am absorbed by the action.

Taxi to the Dark Side (documentary)

Posted on 2009.02.04 at 21:51
Location: new tooth
Mood: heartbroken; steadfast
The proper response to torture is anger. But we have to be careful where we point the powerful moral anger that leaps up inside us. Why are we angry, after all? We're angry that people can do that to other people - that they can forget to look in one another's faces and see people and to love. If we direct our anger at them, or at the outgoing administration (what a nice scapegoat) then we're just doing the same thing, we're forgetting. It is the saddest part, that each one of us can forget to love, that many of us do much of the time, all of us sometimes. The hard part is looking into former President Bush's face on the television and not laughing derisively, not despising, and not holding a grudge - but seeing a person and loving. What are we angry at? Not the man who allowed torture to happen - no. We are angry at the moments when he could not look into the prisoner's face and see. We are angry at that blindness, angry every time it happens. I am angry at that blindness when it allows me to yell at my sister. And I am angry at that blindness when it allows a prison guard to humiliate a prisoner and then smile. It is that blindness we have to dispel, not the people who suffer from it. I forgive them - not because what they did was forgiveable, but because they are also people. And the only way to fight what is wrong is with what is right. The only way to fight hatred is with love.

Please forgive me for sounding like an idealist, naive, a fool. I choose to be this way. I understand cynicism - I am a cynic. But I choose to have faith in love anyway. This movie broke my heart. But what drives the crack deeper is when people respond out of anger - when people, horrified at the disregard for human dignity, allow themselves to hate even a little - which is just a little disregard for human dignity as well. I want people to see this movie. I want people to know what each of us is capable of. I want us to fight our blindness.


Posted on 2008.12.15 at 23:04
Location: geri
Did you ever notice, that when you play Minesweeper, you never guess wrong on the first click?

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