The Messages That We Send

I believe that the topic of messages sent is a very important thing to talk about, especially in a divided society full of protests, talk shows, and social media discussions. Messages have the potential to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, taken out of context, and downright twisted against you. It can be ignored, laughed at, criticized and shot down.  But it can also stir up movements, riots, wars, arguments, death, and life.

The problem with messages is that it contains both rational and emotional elements. Rational thinkers tend to strip emotion away from a message and simply look at the logical implications of such messages. Emotional feelers tend to ignore the reason and logic behind the message and simply look at the emotional implications of the act or words. Granted these are two extreme spectrums, but we all fall somewhere within it.

Moreover, there’s a divide between the fields of rationality and emotions. Let’s talk about emotions first. People can feel differently about people, food, movies, books, relationships, pets, and almost anything under the sun. You wouldn’t call someone wrong for liking a movie you don’t like. Instead, you may say that they have a bad taste in movies, but that would simply be your opinion. You can be on team red, blue, or yellow on Pokemon Go, but neither one is inherently right.  The “better” team is based on personal preference or socially created ideas.

For rationality, we tend to want to remove these opinions and emotions from our arguments. However, I will argue that this is much easier said than done. David Hume, a 17th-century empiricist philosopher, argued that “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” In other words, we cannot separate our rational thinking from our passions (or emotions) because passions necessitate our reason.

I am an example of this. I tend to pride myself on logical arguments and thinking. Premise A, B, and C give this conclusion so this proves I’m right! However, many times I have been humbled to see that my emotions tend to cause me to ignore or quickly dismiss other premises. I catch myself defending my side through a strong confirmation bias, rather than fully considering both sides. I’m already emotionally attached to one side of the argument, so my rational side is influenced by this feeling as I defend myself.

For example, I think Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of all time. I will argue it based off his stats, championships, and the legacy he left behind. Others may say Jorden or Lebron and also base their arguments on stats and championships. However, when we take a step back and observe our motivations, I believe that we all have an emotional attachment to the player that influences the “logic” and our rational thought process. I grew up watching Kobe. I experienced every game winner, every fade-away, and every championship he’s ever won. Through all the good and bad times in his career, I was watching and rooting for him. So, of course, my arguments are based on passion and emotion. If I were to argue against Kobe, even for logical reasons, I would feel like I’m betraying a part of myself.

Conservatives and liberals, theists and atheists, philosophers and scientists, are all the same way; emotionally attached to their cause, especially one that are the most educated, outspoken, and involved in it. If you spend hours, months, years, and even a lifetime learning and supporting your cause, how can you not be emotionally attached to it? How can you not feel defensive when someone says you’re wrong, despite people’s reasons? There’s nothing wrong with being attached to a cause, especially one that you believe in, but we must all realize when our emotions start clouding our rational thought.

So this is where the topic of messages come in. When someone burns a flag or raises a flag, takes a knee in protest or praise, blocks a freeway, supports a movement, votes for a political candidate, prays in school, or posts on facebook, a message is sent out to the masses whether they want it or not. However, very few of these messages ever change the opinions of others. If fact, they tend to divide people even more! What’s most indicative of conflict than a disagreement between something that both parties are emotionally attached to?

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee to the national anthem, the nation was divided in labeling it as an act of protest and an act of disrespect. The results of this knee was not a promotion of rights for minorities, instead, it was a catalyst of further division among people of differing opinions. Who’s to blame for this? I don’t believe Kaepernick intended any harm. I think he simply wanted to protest in his own way and exercise his freedom of speech. Whether you think it’s right or not, I don’t really care. But the problem with sending a message is that your intentions become ignored. When society gets ahold of your message, they can twist and turn it into whatever fits their emotions.

Two common responses to Kaepernick are as followed:

“Oh, you disrespect our national anthem? If you hate our country so much, then why don’t you just leave!”

“He’s expressing his 1st Amendment rights and giving a voice against the problems of society!”

Both I believe are valid. Yes, many people find it very disrespectful and yes things need to be said and expressed so people can be aware of the inequalities in the United States. Neither side is going to concede to the others opinions because it causes their emotionally charged beliefs to lose power to the other side.

TL;DR

I think this is the state of America today. Too much opposition with each other, too much pride, and too little understanding of our emotionally charged beliefs. Sending messages through actions or words is not a bad thing, but we must recognize that such messages may strike an emotional chord for some people. Henry Ford once said that “If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own”. Empathy is the key to finding a common ground, but it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide. 

But that’s where humility sheds its soft, yet powerful light. Humility is a dying virtue, especially in a society that’s ready to pounce on any sign of weakness. Once someone admits fault, he or she becomes vulnerable to attacks on all ends. But if a society does not learn to be humble, pride will cause them to self-destruct and devour each other from the inside out.

Bus Ride Home

I’m writing this while listening to Stan by Eminem on a bus ride home. It’s quite therapeutic to be on a bus where I don’t have to worry about traffic or driving, especially after work. It’s bright, warm, and surprisingly comfortable. There’s a slight drizzle outside. Fits well with the song. Adds to the ambiance. I look up from my phone and see an elderly lady in the front with a colorful striped beanie and a lime green jacket. What’s her story? Where is she going? Does she do this every day? Will I see her tomorrow?

I look around. There’s  a guy with headphones waiting to get off the bus. Another middle age girl walks in and sits behind me. I hear her talking in Spanish through my ear buds.
I wonder if she sees me typing about her… I shift my body to the left, lower my phone, and take my left ear bud out. She’s talking quite rapidly in Spanish with pauses here and there. I’m still worried that she’s reading this. She seems angry…

 

 

 

I leave this blank space so she won’t be able to read what’s above. I put the music back to my left ear. Piano, voices, drums, and pencil scribbles replace the bus noise.

Almost my stop. The elderly lady with the colorful hoodie gets up. Same with a balding guy with a skateboard. Soon I’ll be like them; traveling through the cold dark air. Hopefully back to a home with people to talk to instead of isolated strangers on a bus. One can only hope.

I walk now. I see four to five people in the distance. I remove the guitar solo from my right ear just in case they say something. As they get closer I realize it’s only two people. Two Asians, one holding the other one by the arm, guiding him through the sidewalk. They’re both pretty young… brothers maybe? The one being guided has pajamas on with a bowl-ish haircut, and clear rim glasses. Some things off with the way he walks, but I can’t figure it out.  I smile and say a muffled “hello” as I walk passed them. I think they do the same.

I’m home now. I wonder if people would read this. How dull is a post about a bus ride, especially a bus ride where nothing happens? I guess this depends on the perspective we choose to take.

For me, this bus ride was filled with something enlightening and beautiful that compelled me to write this. This 30-minute ride took me on a journey away from idolizing after fast cars or billboards advertising strip clubs and fast food. It placed me inside an illuminated rectangle box that moved through the darkness of night. Strangers in every corner.  Eye contact never made. Yet something about this environment sparked a curiosity within me for my fellow bus riders that I couldn’t quite figure out until now.

My mom comes in dressed in a contraption of yarn, string and old clothes. It’s a complete mess! She asks me a hundred illogical questions that I half-listen to. I respond with a “yes”, but she continues talking. I lose my temper.

The epiphany is this: We are all lost strangers in this cold dark world searching for someone to hear and record our stories. The bus ride illuminated the souls of these strangers that would have otherwise been hidden in the darkness… My mom comes back in my room, still dressed in an apron of yarn. She reminds me of the two Asians I saw while walking home. One guiding the other by the arm across the artificially bright night. It’s somewhat sad, yet beautiful at the same time.

Oh, how great is this longing and how very few are willing to satisfy it, let alone give notice to it! And how deprived am I that I cannot give the very thing that I write and long for…

But how fortunate are we to have a guide, an example, a teacher, a savior that is driving this bus of life. Life doesn’t end at our stop, it keeps going. Every day, every hour, every place we end up going. It illuminates us with real light that shines not from artificial lamp posts, but from the source Himself. We must take hold of this light because so many people need it.

It’s been two hours since I was on that bus. I’m at home now. This building is illuminated by two lamps. In it, there are three strangers.

 

 

 

Insecurities

Yep, I’m going to write about this.

This feeling of insecurity that so many of us have but rarely talk about. Instead, we project these insecurities onto objects that so many of us have and can’t stop talking about. We all know what they are, and for many of us, it is our most intimate and familiar companion.

I’m writing all this while I contemplate my own insecurities. The words that are edited out or left on here are a reflection of this contemplation. This post is my attempt to understand the edifice of insecurity that I’ve built up to secure the fragile complexities of my own life. This edifice that is meant to be a large imposing stronghold that projects a firm understanding of life, contains a neglected and emaciated spirit.

These metaphors that I use confuse me. It’s difficult to stay consistent with them. But I use them because I realize this is essentially a reflection humanity. The things we wear, post, buy, drive, etc. are mere representations of ourselves that we want to show others.  We objectify ourselves! But this is isn’t something to be always ashamed of. It’s just life. Our objects and creations are a symbol of humanity.

We are essentially weak, fragile, lost and broken creatures, navigating the infinity of this world. The only reason why we’re here today is because of what we create. Our objects, laws, and social structures, give us the confidence to sail vast oceans, stabilize societies, and preserve our lives.

But let us not forget who created what! We made this laptop. We made our phones. We write these stories. We are intelligent creatures with limitless possibilities! So let us have confidence in our ability to create, rather than putting our confidence in our creation that thieves can rob and moth can destroy.

But most importantly, let us not forget who created us! If you believe in a God, then you believe that every fabric of your being, every invention, intelligent thought, and every step we take is given to us. Everything that we create is because of who created us. If this is true, then humility should overflow from our creation. It’s like a renowned architect father giving his son a lego set to build. It would be arrogance for the son elevate his lego creation over his dad’s buildings. It would be the worst kind of pride to elevate the lego creation over the father himself. Rather, the child should be humbled by the gift of life and the ability to create.

So maybe it’s time that we see edifices that we’ve erected as effigies to be burned down in protest of what we have allowed ourselves to become. Once we’ve burned down the idols that we’ve spent hours polishing and refining, then we can start cleaning, feeding, and showing attention to the creator of the idols, and ultimately the Creator of all things.

Freedom from our creation allows us to freely create our lives.

(I recognize that this might be an abstract and impersonal analysis of insecurities. Depending on the feedback I get, I may post more about this topic, but only if I feel secure about what I write….haha)

Writing at 4:00 AM: Endless Loops, Cupcake Dreams, and Malnourished Souls

Are we not our own prisoners in an endless loop? If an entity can be so repulsed by being imprisoned by a lesser being’s endless loop, then shouldn’t we also loathe the fact that we have succumbed  to the fetters of our own creation? The very pattern we create for ourselves to escape reality has robbed us of our very free will that’s endowed within us! Quite Strange don’t you think?

No one can be free without self-control. How blind have we been to that very word, “self-control”. What is freedom when we have no control over ourselves? Has life become just patterns and routines? Addictions and convulsions? Repetition?

Like the incessant tapping of fingertips on a table, these addictions remove us from reality and into the noise that screams for attention. Quite, and seemingly innocent tapping that demands to be heard, recognized and consumed. Our OCD cannot accept the tap, tap, tap, tap… from the pinky to the index finger, impatiently waiting for our opposable thumbs to coax the noise away.

Lures set, coins placed, daily-prizes updated,  and cup-cake traps ready. We crowd around to the luminous glow. 150 is a number. Same with 99 and 1.  But oh how glorious are these numbers that make everything else dull. Such an alluring dream of glory and freedom, with all its consequences

giphy

So we condition ourselves not to fear the electroshock of technology and addiction, but rather to embrace it, for it’s promised that something sweet is at the end. The cupcake dream is worth the electro-therapy that we are prescribed by the psychiatrists.  “Oh you’re sad, lonely, anxious, and depressed?”, says the doctor. “Here’s a carrot on a string. What’s that, you don’t like carrots? Of course you don’t. Okay here’s a delicious cupcake hooked to a large battery. Mmm yes it hurts to grab it, no? Don’t worry, as long as you set your desires on this cupcake, all other cares in the world will go away.

cupcake

So this becomes us. Medicated by promises of satisfaction. Brilliantly medicated I say. A lick of frosting at first to entice us and mask the static shock that comes with it. Positive reinforcement hides the natural positive punishment. Content rats in a maze. We stubbornly grab onto the pleasures promised day in and day out, but always shocked by the sheer emptiness it brings.

Deep down inside, however, we know that the voice of reason (Lisa) tells us to do otherwise.

giphy-2

“A simple cupcake will bring me no pleasure.” Once we realize that these things we constantly strive for are mere cupcakes in the midst of a great feast, we become enlightened. However, it comes with the enlightenment of our depravity and malnourished life.

We step out of our cave and see an orange tree. It’s fragrance and vivid color makes us salivate with a hunger for nourishment. We grab the orange-ist orange and take a big bite out of it, but to our dismay, it’s bitter, hard, and rough. “What gives?”, we ask ourselves, “I’ve had orange flavored sprinkles on cupcakes and it doesn’t taste like this. I’m never touching an orange again! Time to go back to that delicious cupcake”. In a life engrossed with cupcakes, we may never learn to peel an orange.

We long for nourishment, but many of us haven’t learned how to get it. We don’t even know how to peel a damn orange because we’ve never had a real one. All we had are cheap, artificially flavored substitutes.

The world is our orange. Ignorance is bliss only if all you know is a cupcake. But it becomes a bitter fear if we only know the shell of the orange.  Our job is to persevere through the bitter fear, dig deep into the worlds contents and actively and wisely peel into the life giving sweetness of the world.

Dreams that Shape My Reality

It’s been one hour since I woke up from my dream. I feel good. I feel like the events actually happened in real life and that I was living it until I was gently placed back on my bed after a day of pleasantness. I don’t dream a lot and even when I do, the memories and feelings quickly escape my consciousness as a go on with the day. But this dream is oddly different.

My heart has been filled, not to the top or even to a point of half full, but it’s filled nonetheless. I feel happier in a strange way and all this is from a fantasy concocted by my imagination. My unconscious mind allowed my conscious mind to have a glimpse of its complex and vast highways of information in which I only have an incomplete map of.

As I continue writing, the memories slowly dissipate. I’m starting to forget the detail, the characters, the laughter. My heart still feels the joy, but I know that just like my memories, it will pass by the time I finish writing this. But this is how its always been and should be.

We live in a society that longs for the permanence of the past. We take obsessive pictures to preserve these moments, landmarks, and food so we can relive it in the future. But having and being reminded of past memories is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s essential and normal for one to be shaped, molded and encouraged by it. Pictures, videos, stories, and memories of the past can bring hope in a time of despair, joy in a period of sadness, love in a time of hate, and clarity in a time of confusion.

These memories are gifts. It’s priceless to be able to close your eyes and reminisce about  holidays, family gatherings, and happiness. These are an essential part of who we are and should not be taken for granted. Every second of our life is a creation of a new memory, most of which are quickly forgotten. But we are essentially creatures of the past living in the present. Our whole being is a reflection of our past. The people we meet, the foods we eat, the dreams we dream, they all manifest itself to this present person. The past is done, the present is forever ephemeral and our future is an enigma of uncertainty.

I’m truly thankful for my dream, as it has given me a boost in how I feel. But now I have a choice to make. I can go back to bed, dream about it and regress into the past, or I can get up, live in the present with the past accompanying me, and shape my future.

 

To My Readers: Why I Write

First I want to say thank you to all the people who read, follow, and support this blog. It has truly been a blessing to be able to write freely about various things in life and receive such positive feedback from this community. You are the reason why I endure hours of writing for a paragraph of text. You are well worth the time.

The goal of my blog is not simply for me to vent about life’s challenges. But it’s to continuously improve the way I write so I can provide better content for you all to read. I want to provide posts that are deep, unique, profound, and most importantly relatable. I believe that there is an ocean of words at our fingertips that have barely been explored and I want to dive into its deep waters and glean clarity and beauty from these complex and vast expanses.

But I don’t want to dive into this ocean alone. It can be cold, deep, and so very intimidating, but the potential of treasures more valuable than gold are well worth the nose dive.  Words have a unique ability to liberate a soul from a prolonged drought, but it also has the ability to drown a soul in its crashing and unrelenting waves. We’ve all experienced the scathing words of rejection, criticism, and lies. We also know the freedom and release that words can have on a soul, whether we speak or receive it.

I want to learn from the acclaimed authors, seasoned writers, and casual bloggers. But I also want to learn from the introvert, the mute, the uneducated, the ignored, and the outcasts. People who have never had the opportunity to pick up a pen, or had an audience to listen to them, or the confidence to speak up. Every single person has a story to tell, some wisdom to share, and a voice that wants to be heard.

So I want to engage my readers to share with me advice, stories, and life experiences, which many of you have already done in your beautiful blogs. I still have much to learn and experience about writing and life. So if you have a story to tell, or something you want me to write about, or just want someone to listen to your voice, please feel free to post in the comments or message me personally. I would love to learn from your unique and beautiful lives.

 

A Post About Mental Health

Humans are fascinating beings with the capacity to accomplish extraordinary tasks. Our complex brains can allow us to paint beautiful canvases and abstract pictures. It can allow us to create thousand word masterpieces in literature or create life-changing technology or medicine. It allows us to appreciate the universe we dwell in; from its unrestrained beauty of nature to the life-giving virtues and love that we have can show to one another.

Whether we’re created from intelligent design, or evolved from millions of years of life, it is without a doubt that we are vessels with astonishing capabilities. However, with the immense complexities of our human nature, comes a painful darkness that always shadows us wherever we go. The gift of reason, intelligence, and awareness that we’re bestowed with is paired with the responsibility to keep it properly nurtured and healthy. When this goes ignored, un-nurtured, abandoned, or abused, a darkness arises in us that suffocates our gifts. It suffocates the fire in us that burns to accomplish and experience the great things that our gift of life allows us. It doesn’t matter if the fire’s a modest spark or an ardent flame, the dark storms in our mind can quench even the strongest of flames.

This is a pretty dragged on introduction to the topic of mental health that I want to talk about in this post. I do this to emphasize the brilliance of human life in relation to our surroundings and the amount of potential for discovery, experiences, and love that we as humans really have. But it’s also to emphasize how our mental health can blind us from this potential and paralyze us from moving forward. So much can be gained from the way we think, but so much can be lost from it too.

Mental health and disorders have been deeply ingrained in my life for as long as I remember. As a kid, I grew up with a bi-polar mom and an “Asian dad” that constantly fought with each other. I’m not saying that an “Asian Dad” is a disorder or anything, but for those who know the stoic, unemotional, conflicting-cultured Asian dad, understands the emotional and mental toll that it can cause on a child. This lack of parental guidance caused struggles that I was ignorant of as a kid. It only confused and frustrated me. It contributed to my low grades and fears. However, I was protected by something that kept me from a consuming darkness that I see many of my peers fall into. We all know the awkward, stand-offish kid in grade school, the loner, the anti-social. We also know the temptation to cut, to drink, or do drugs  For some reason, I was given a quiet persistence that allowed me to persevere passed it.

As I grew older, these struggles manifested itself into anxiety and depression that still persists in different degrees. These manifestations of past struggles are paralyzing and debilitating and have dulled my vision many times.  But I continued to navigate through the dense forests of my life and I began to realize my strengths and weaknesses that sparked interests in several things. I also realized how blessed I am to have the support and love that I received from my friends and family. Without them (you), I don’t think I’d be here today. But, I also realized how many of my peers suffer from a wide range of mental and emotional struggles that are just as painful and debilitating as mine and don’t have the support.

This post is for these people. I confess my depression and mental issues here, in hopes that this is an investment in the most valuable thing on this earth; humans. Too many brilliant, unique, and lovely people have been chained too long by the fetters of doubt, insecurities, fear, depression, loneliness, anxiety, OCD, and countless more, without a means of help or hope of freedom. For those that can relate to this, I urge you to stay strong and persistent. Know that there are people struggling with you. Also, know that you’re valuable and loved. Don’t take life for granted, rather life live to the fullest. There are books to read, places to go, people to love, voices to be heard, and peace awaiting for you.

For those who have strength and clarity of mind to navigate this world, this is a call to invest in your peers who are struggling. To be salt and light in a very cold and dark world. To be quick to listen and slow to speak. To use your gifts and talents for each other. To love your neighbor as oneself, with love that is patient and kind. A love that does not dishonor others,  is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.