I’ve been learning so much lately. I’ve always had so many questions about myself, people, and life. I dared not hope to find any more wisdom/answers on this trip than I have from my explorations at home, but somehow, I have. I’m seeing that what I once thought were ideas rooted in my strength were actually formed around my inner weaknesses. I see now that what I thought were deep insights were sometimes just reflections of my own limitations*. I’m not sure exactly what’s bringing this flood of insight lately; maybe it’s that I’ve had time and space in my brain to pursue these thoughts; maybe it’s the culmination of my travel experiences; maybe it’s the effect of meditating more regularly; maybe it’s just getting older. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. Meditation is much easier for me with a mantra, and lately I’ve used these two:
“I’m here, I’m open, I’m ready; what wisdom do you have for me, world?”
“I am the warmth of the sun.”
The latter is about how I relate to others: I want to radiate my love, my warmth, my energy with others. Even though I struggle with that, I’m learning that I succeed more than I’ve realized**. And the more I meditate on it, and practice it, the easier it happens. I know that I am Love, and I know that others are Love, and I know that we can all sense that in one another. It’s so interesting that these spiritual, cosmic ideas are now as obvious to me as gravity. I see spirit, Love, magic everywhere!
*Mainly about independence, and being alone. I over-emphasized how important it is to be ok on one’s own, to rely on oneself, to have a deep and profound relationship with oneself, to genuinely appreciate and enjoy time alone, in one’s own company. As important as these things are, these ideas came from my weakness. I was struggling with my relationships with people: with how people made me feel, with how they challenged my ideas, my life, my values, my self-worth; how they made me feel unappreciated, invalid, weird, and excluded. And also how they rarely meet my expectations. So instead of finding a way to deal with it, instead of releasing my expectations of others, instead of validating myself, finding strength and peace from within, instead of washing their insults off of me and thriving despite them – I retreated. And I thought I found “strength” in my cowardly retreat. Now I see that I need to learn how to cultivate that inner peace despite my surroundings. I really do want to be the warmth of the sun. The sun doesn’t retreat when she goes without praise, when she’s ignored, or unappreciated, or taken for granted; she’s ever present, and always bountiful with her loving warm light. I want to be exactly like that: an endless supply of love and warmth, despite surrounding situations. I want to be the friend that’s always happy to see someone, even if I’m hurt that I haven’t heard from them in a while, or if they misunderstand me, or if they’ve hurt me. We are all guilty of that, so I’m letting my judgement of my own and others’ failures go.
**I strive to be positive, open, loving, and nonjudgmental, but at times that is hard for me. During the temazcal, there was a couple next to me being a little lovey-dovey. As I’ve been so focused on independence for the last few years, it bothered me a little. I kept thinking that they should be able to enjoy this experience on their own, and that they can’t be as introspective if they’re focused on one another. But I countered that judgemental thought with another: maybe they are having a different experience together, but I’m sure it’s wonderful and valuable all the same. At the end of the temazcal, the woman told me that she could “really feel my love” during the ceremony. I was amazed that during my inner turmoil/inquietude, my love was still radiating. It was one of the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it came at a time in which I needed to hear it. When I shared this anecdote with George, he said, “your love may be uncommented upon, but it does not go unnoticed.” I feel as if each time I struggle or feel insecure, I receive the most wonderful compliments. The Universe provides.
- The world is jello. When I move, you move.
- I am deeply, deeply, deeply grateful to be a woman. Ironically, my pathological fear of pregnancy would be much worse if I was a man.
- I’ve vehemently not wanted children for a decade. Is that currently true, or have I entrenched myself in a neuropathway so deep I can’t get out? I can’t imagine wanting kids, but I’d like to be able to explain that sentiment more eloquently.
- I simultaneously seek and hide from my true nature. I can’t even bring myself to say what I’m referencing. I don’t want it to be true.
- I love learning so much that I liked to imagine heaven as a place where you spend eternity asking “god” questions and getting complete answers.
- Note, I imagined it not as a place with answers, but a place where you spend eternity learning. The process and the “conversation” is key in this fantasy.
- I also liked (and still like) believing in magic. Maybe it just exists in a different way than is contemporarily imagined. Maybe what we believed was magic is now called science. Maybe the chaos of life is magic. Maybe life itself is magic. Maybe magic has lost the world.
- I’ve spent my life searching for answers to questions I can’t even conceptualize.
- Things I want to learn about:
- words (diction)`
- Things I want to be:
- a philosopher, obviously
- a research psychologist, duh
- I am attracted to intelligent independent thought.
- The thoughts, ideas, and questions that fill my brain are in a completely different realm than most people’s. In some ways they’re macro, a 50,000 ft view of human behavior. In the exact same way, it’s a micro view . I don’t know if I’m obsessing over trivial things that only exist in one’s mind, or if I’m trying to grasp really BIG things that explain everything we experience.
- Why does society succumb to authority so easily, and why do people think it’s a good thing to obey?
- I’m losing a tangible hold on the world. I just want to be naked in nature, close to the earth. So few things in this modern world are real.
- I no longer believe in the existence of an absolute truth. Sometimes things are simply unknowable, and sometimes that unknowable “truth” isn’t important anyway. Why chase after that figment of our imagination when there are tangible ramifications of that inexistent truth?
- Without a goal to consistently work towards, I’m dissociated with the passage of time. Last year was full of countdowns: June, before and during my trip, to go back to work, etc. I was more aware of every passing day, and made better use of my time.
- I tend to mull thoughts and questions over in my mind for years. Sometimes that works well, if the subject isn’t pressing, and isn’t too challenging to me. (Like with absolute truth, it was nice to slowly allow my life experiences to help me think about it in different ways.) But sometimes instead of asking questions endlessly, hoping for an answer to come to me, I should simply choose an answer myself. Instead of looking to my heart/gut/subconscious for direction, I need to just choose something with my brain instead. I’ll choose an answer and repeat it to myself like a mantra, and eventually it sinks in. So even though I’m not sure where my heart is or how I feel (godfuckingdammit) I can move forward. It feels like I’m training the way I think, which can be really powerful.
- Part of the reason I love questions so much is that they are the opposite of assumption. You can often avoid hurting or offening someone by asking rather than assuming. It’s surprising how often this happens.
- A lot of times when a person is upset with others, it’s not so much about them, but more about something unsettling within one’s self that others bring out. “When you point a finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”
- People act their worst when they are hurt (or afraid). We’ve all been there, on both sides. Try to forgive and earn forgiveness.
I’m learning that when we have conflict with another person, they often feel exactly the same way that we feel. It’s bizarre to think that a person you feel has abandoned you may also feel abandoned by you. Or someone who’s been lashing out to you may say you’ve been lashing out to them. How does this happen? A lot of times we reflect the behavior of others. It tends to be a defensive act rather than an aggressive one – like not reaching out to someone that hasn’t called you in a while. We do that to protect ourselves from being hurt, without realizing that act may hurt others, and therefore cause that same hurtful behavior to be reflected back upon us.
This type of mirrored behavior isn’t always bad, nor is it uncommon. Most people have experienced the phenomenon where you share an embarrassing story, and then your friend tells one of theirs. I notice mirrored behavior most with strangers. I’m very open, and I tend to share personal things more readily than most (hello, this website, omg). And damn you wouldn’t believe the things strangers have shared with me!
The existence of an absolute truth is not absolute.
That is, sometimes fixed, invariable, knowable, unalterable facts don’t exist. Sometimes the answer doesn’t exist.
This is hard for me to digest, as I really really really like cold, hard answers. But in cases of “he said vs. she said,” sometimes the truth is literally unknowable. It brings to mind the whole white & gold vs. black & blue dress thing: somewhere out there, the real dress (the absolute truth) exists, but that doesn’t mean it’s accessible (knowable) to us. Same with Adnan Sayid. Maybe he did it. Maybe one of Hae’s friends did it. Maybe someone passing through from another dimension did it. We may never know, and in that way the truth does not exist. And Jack the Ripper. And JFK’s murder. Etc. There’s so much that’s unknowable in this world. How does that make me feel?
This is where I’m tempted to agree with those that say the past doesn’t exist (presentism). It only exists in our imperfect, incomplete, mismatched memories. But I think it’s a big leap to go from saying we don’t or can’t know the past to saying it doesn’t exist.
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” – Alan Watts
René Magritte described his paintings as “visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does that mean?’. It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”
Solipsism: You are the only thing in the world that you could possibly verify as real. Solipsism states that the only thing we can truly assert is the existence of the thinking self. Other minds outside of the self cannot be proven, which leads one to doubt their existence.
Idealism: Reality is a construction of the perceptions held within the mind. If one cannot perceive the object or idea, it has no real existence. The ultimate being who is able to perceive the world is a divine being, holding all the ideas of the universe within its mind.
See also: 12 Angry Men
I have a hard time understanding what spirituality is.
In some ways, I feel a cosmic connection to all beings, human and non-human, alive and dead. A lot of people call that idea spiritual, but I don’t see it that way. I see it as a basic fact of the universe, that we are connected simply by the fact that we all exist and share this world, this experience together. Maybe the significance that one places upon that is the defining difference. To me, this connection is beautiful. Life is beautiful and rare, vast and deep.
What is spirit? Is spirit a higher power, a creator, a master of the universe? Or is spirit literally just connection. Like, “Get in the spirit” or “spirited fans” — where spirit is everyone joined together in their excitement. Or does spirit in that context just mean excitement, and the connection isn’t important?
Some people use spirit to mean the essence of a person, their “soul,” what defines them as a person.
Here’s an interesting description of “spirit”, captured by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York:
“I’m studying to be a rabbi. I’m a little worried that I’ll be out of a job because less and less people seem to find religion meaningful. It’s getting to the point where it seems crazy or stupid for someone my age to believe in God. I see God most in my relationships with other people. Victor Hugo said that ‘to love another person is to see the face of God.’ I think our capacity to love is uniquely human and naturally connects us to something higher than ourselves. I even think that loving a baseball team can be a religious experience. I was here in 2012 when Santana pitched his no hitter. Everyone in this stadium was holding their breath at the exact same time. And when the game ended, everyone screamed with the same joy. We all felt so connected at that moment. And I think that was holy. That’s the feeling I want to create in my synagogue.”
And of course, no post even remotely related to region would be complete without the following:
I’m boy crazy. I thought it was just because I was 16 in an all-girls high school. In college, I blamed it on the fact that 75% of the students were male. But now? Nope. I totally own it. I’m boy crazy, and I’m ok with that. I’m thinking recently that it’s more that I’m love-crazy. Boys suck, love rocks, don’t ya know?
So once I got back from my trip and settled into an apartment, I jumped into the world of online dating. My friends taught me the ways of tinder, and helped me choose some profile pics. Suddenly I’m flirting constantly, and my calendar’s full. At first it was super fun! I love meeting people, and it turned into a good way to check out all the cool bars/restaurants/coffee shops in my new neighborhood. Some of the dates were awkward (this one guy couldn’t shut up about how much of an introvert he was). Most of my dates were ok: good conversation, polite, intelligent, no deal-breakers or red flags. So when they asked for a second date, I’d say “yes”.
But you know? I wasn’t genuinely interested in any of them. What a waste of time. I don’t want an ok date; I want to love madly. Just like the song!
So yea, I’ve scaled way back on the dating*. It’s confusing. I’ve don’t even want a relationship at the moment. I don’t want to get all caught up in someone, and I don’t want to give so much of myself to someone else. So what have I been doing? I’ve been focusing on bettering myself. Per Derek Sivers**:
Raise standards. Say no to anything less than great.
Every person that doesn’t rejeuvenate me and make me feel better, say no. Blacklist them. Banned. Not allowed in, not even for a minute. No explanation needed. No compromise. No favors. Done. Gone.
More fountains, less drains.
Every thing I’m doing that isn’t good for me. Every thing I’m eating or drinking that isn’t making me more healthy. Stop. Say no.
This even means saying no to half-ass conversations that are not whole-hearted and unconflicted. People that are “fine” and I “kill time” with, but don’t actually love and actively enjoy? Nope. Not good enough.
Doing this gave me a huge feeling of self-worth. Setting the bar really high for something to take my time.
It means more empty time, but that leaves room for POSSIBILITY!
Empty time has the POTENTIAL to be filled with nourishing and awesome new actions and people, whereas filling it with half-ass things and people kills all that potential and possibility.
It’s more than just dating. I’ve been evaluating EVERYTHING and seeing what value is added to my life. My friends, my habits, my possessions, my opinions, my character, my job, and how I spend my time have ALL been under scrutiny lately. I love that I am the most important person in my life; it’s a rare and precious privilege, and I’ve been embracing that even more lately. In trying to make the most of it, I’ve edited and eliminated a lot. I’ve also been adding choice things, like a daily practice of yoga and meditation. I’ve spent more time with Eric, Sara, Emmie and Lynn – dynamic, inspiring, empathetic people that I don’t see often enough. I’m drowning myself in art. My Netflix habit has been replaced with a TED talks addiction. And I’m generally focusing on the process of things (cooking, cleaning, exercising) more than the results (food, clean home, feeling fit).
Life is fucking finite, people. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your resources.
Because the more I put in, the more I get out.
*I also realized that this is the longest I’ve been truly single since high school! And it’s only been 8 months! Damn! It’s weird to think about, because even though I’m still getting used to being single in some ways (I’ve never gone stag to a wedding), in other ways it feels so familiar (endless, endless questions).
Song is “Love You Madly,” by Cake.
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