“Too many of us seek validation rather than truth, greater confirmation rather than greater knowledge.” – quote from an essay on George Orwell’s fierce modesty. I love the concept.
Time and again, I’ve come to learn that cliches do often have some basis in reality. Usually, they seem so intuitive that I cannot understand why they need to be uttered at all. But, there is a certain beauty in certain phenomenon that form the cliches. As I travel through southern Africa, I have come to really appreciate the notion that if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Of course, that notion can apply to many things in life. But, here I’m specifically referring to people/friendships/acquaintanceships. If certain people are meant to be in your life, you will meet them and meet them again (or stay in touch in some way, shape, or form). Expending excessive energy in trying to hold on to people is often fruitless and definitely not an optimal use of scarce time and effort.
Another lesson that I have learned is that even if some people may pass through your life just once, it doesn’t mean that they cannot/will not make an impact. Transient friendships are important and to be cherished as well.
Life is not only a process of learning, but also continuous relearning.
Happiness can be many things or one particular thing. Happiness is different at different times. Happiness can be different for different people.
Yesterday, I felt that happiness is being in the company of those that care about you and truly get you. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world when you say something potentially vague and those in your company catch your point completely, including all of the critical subtleties.
This grandma is preparing for a new adventure. Perhaps, the biggest adventure of her lifetime.
A few nights ago, I had an extended conversation with friends over a few drinks about our ideas on ‘nature’ vs. ‘nurture’ vs. ‘personality’. My hypothesis is that our ‘nature’ is a primordial seed that determines how we react to external stimuli from the very beginning of our existence. The stimuli that we receive constitute the ‘nurture’. Over time, when met with new stimuli, our reaction also takes into account our past reactions to stimuli and their consequences. This evolving amalgam of ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ forms our personality.
Today, faced with a new shock to my planned equilibrium path, I hope that my personality is reacting in the right way. A new adventure will bring forth new perspectives and growth–and perhaps, more importantly, a renewed sense of purpose. I don’t think I’m enlightened enough to live without purpose yet.
This new adventure will bring me face to face with new stimuli that I have never imagined. I wonder how I will evolve from here.
I recently watched the movie, Rosewater, directed by Jon Stewart. The amount of meta-ness about the film is almost over the top. The film is about an iranian journalist who was imprisoned for about four months during the Color Revolution in 2009. A material contribution to his imprisonment was his interview with the Daily Show shortly before. As a media platform that pokes fun at actual news outlets and contemporary affairs to bring to light the absurd, the Daily Show by Jon Stewart had sent a reporter to Iran during the protests in 2009 to interview with Bahari. The comedic interview led the Iranian authorities to believe that the iranian journalist was a spy for the American government.
It’s crazy that a comedic fake news shoe could have such an impact. On the one hand, Bahari’s imprisonment is tragic, and yet on the other hand, this tragic event and subsequent movie truly brought to light the absurdity that authoritarian governments are.
Anyway, I hope to think about this more. The Chinese philosopher, Lin Yutang, was absolutely right in that the importance of humor is much overlooked in our society and that dictators lack humor.
An article, dated April 30, 2015 in the Washington Post and written by a sister of a student who ended his own life while a student at the College of William and Mary in 2010, anecdotally suggests that the quality of counselling efforts at the College had drastically declined from from the time when the author was a student (Class of 2006). The article begs the question of what might have changed in the school’s policies or managerial style in the intervening years to account for the decline in mental health counselling services and the negative turn in the way that the school’s administration handles students who come forth seeking help. The suicide in 2010 was purportedly the first in five years. Since 2010 there have been eight suicides at the school.
It makes one wonder if what happened was that the Great Recession happened. State and local governments slashed their budgets during the recession and continued to during the recovery. As a public university, the College likely saw its public funding decline and had to adjust its own bduget accordingly. Perhaps, counselling services were trimmed down in the process. But of course, counselling efforts are no guarantee in preventing suicides. It is just one vector; but I do hope that the College can make an honest assessment of its policies and that our government and society-at-large can make it so that economic downturns will not will not exact a death toll.
A colleague claims that he gets seasonal depression during this time of year. The sick irony of life is that the good – byes are seemingly only sad or tearful when the hello period was actually meaningful to parties involved. Unless we’ve reached a point in life where we feel perfectly at peace somehow. Perhaps there is a balance or equilibrium point to good – byes and hellos. Or do we simply learn to move on much more quickly and efficiently as we grow older? Do we accept that most people are just passerby and aren’t worth the investment of a meaningful relationship? Do good – byes get easier merely because our hellos become more halfhearted?
Is happiness merely one’s achievement in modifying one’s desires so that they are in-line with one’s honest perception of reality?
How can one be both an impartial judge and an active participant? Does objectivity (as much as it is possible) require that one remove oneself to an ivory tower? If one is no longer an active participant, how does one make up for the loss of that perspective while aiming to make fair judgments? What if underlying conditions in which one is an impartial judge vs. an active participant are so different that they are actually two different worlds. Thus, what may be valid for one world may not necessarily be valid or cogent for the other. If so, then it seems fruitless for one to attempt to become an impartial observer of human events by disengaging oneself.
30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy is a person that I cannot quite figure out. To me, that is quite impressive for a tv character. He is like a human puzzle that intrigues me, increasingly. I used to only watch the show intermittently for the quick laughs. But, I have started to watch the show all the way from the beginning and it really gives me a new perspective. Kind of like a one-night-stand vs. legitimately investing in a longer-term relationship.
It’s easy to just watch from afar, laugh and then forget, until the next time. But, imagining Jack Donaghy as a person that I may come across in real life–felt preposterous. There always seems to be another side to him. Before I started to watch the show all the way from the beginning, I had mostly focused my attention on Liz Lemon–seemingly the protagonist. It didn’t take long for me to find her relatable and somewhat predictable. I was able to fit her into a paradigm that I could understand. The character that I initially assumed to be peripheral and cliche, actually turned out to be, in my opinion, the most complex. I cannot figure out Jack Donaghy. More and more, I feel like he is actually the central figure in the stories. At every turn there is a contradiction. Some contradictions make sense together, but I cannot figure out how his contradictions all come together. I wish to meet such an interesting figure in real life. An onion with infinite layers, there is always another layer to peel.