Tag Archives: Philosophy

A flick-filled weekend

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December 2012

 

 

Some musings from a flick-filled weekend…


 

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No we didn’t do it on purpose. On both times at both theaters, seats available left (that were most comfortable) happened to be on C13 and C14!

 

 

Hotel Transylvania:

None whatsoever substance or significance worth discussing. Not exactly funny, not exactly original, yet not exactly boring either. Good for filling your spare time.

 

Life of Pi:

Put simply, the whole plot revolves around an aspiring novelist who approached an Indian immigrant in search for a story worth writing about. His referrer told him: “This is the man who can make you believe in God.”

I’m not surprised that the plot in the movie has undergone vast changes from that in the original book of the same name. The Man Booker Prize-winning novel is one of the many books on my shelf that has a profound impact on me. Ever since I first read it (I was fourteen), there was one dialogue that stuck on me throughout most of my coming-of-age years.

In Chapter 23, sixteen-year-old Pi talked about how “the sense of community that a common faith brings to a people” created trouble for him instead of bringing peace. Trouble meant the heated argument among a priest, an imam, and a pandit. They probed Pi’s parents regarding their peculiar son:

“What is your son doing going to temple?” asked the priest.
“Your son is was seen in church crossing himself,” said the imam.
“Your son has gone Muslim,” said the pandit.

Now here’s the interesting part: Despite their differing backgrounds of religious faith, there is a seamless convergence (an agreement) to the collective thoughts they’ve been taught by their religions to believe, that there is only one God and that He is universal.

Despite the agreement, they would go on suspecting and attacking Pi’s unorthodox practices.

All Piscine had to say to silence their argument was this:

“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God.

I remember when I was fourteen, at that very moment while I was reading that particular phrase, something struck me – both at mind and at heart – and has never left me up to this day. You can call it a stroke of insight; Pi called it God’s presence.

“The universal theme of us touching God is spiritual and India is a spiritual place,” said the Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, who claimed that this movie was his most difficult project to film yet. He revealed the hurdles faced during the filming process at a press conference in Mumbai: ”The book makes a philosophical point about theology and zoology. It examines illusions. To me that is the hardest. How do you create illusion, especially with so much money?”

On top of my head: Interreligious disharmony in a society (I’m talking about Indonesia). I always wonder how stupid we human beings are sometimes to disregard our conscience and corrupt the very advantage we have against our enemies or competitors. In 1945, Indonesia’s founding father Soekarno asserted in Pancasila that interfaith dialogue is #1 sanction for the nation’s independence. Decades later, all we’ve been doing is creating disastrous illusions, lies, wars, just to hold up our personal disagreements with the differing religions from our own, even when we know deep down we have the same faith and the same God.

Perhaps that’s the purpose of life, isn’t it? All we want to do is to love God, in all his mysteries and all that we’ve been taught about his glory. Much as directing a film is difficult for Ang Lee, to love the universal [truths, ideas, values, peoples, cultures] is a difficult skill to practice, so …

Above all, don’t lose hope.

Let me quote this anonymous writer who, at present is sitting in a local cafe (in Chapter 21), digesting “the better story” Piscine Molitor Patel just told him about his survival journey on a lifeboat – the one that prevailed across the Pacific in 227 days and carried a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger along with Pi. Pi retold his story in a “no animals, just humans” context to Japanese reporters who didn’t believe in the original story.

Let’s see what the writer believes:

 

I pause. What of God’s silence? I think it over. I add:

An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose. 

 

Take a moment to reflect… What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

Muchaluva,
Stace.

What would you like to do if money were no object?

 
 

A week ago a friend of mine shared this video on her Facebook wall:

 

 

A little background info: Alan Watts is a British-born American philosopher best known for bringing Eastern wisdom into the Western world. Following his 1999 publication The Way of Zen, Watts has since then been hailed as, in the words of philosophy professor Brian Bruya, “the godfather of Zen in America.”

Here’s the full transcript of the video:

 
 

So I always ask the question: What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life? Well it’s so amazing as the result of our kind of educational system, crowds of students say ‘Well, we’d like to be painters, we’d like to be poets, we’d like to be writers’ But as everybody knows you can’t earn any money that way! Another person says ‘Well I’d like to live an out-of-door’s life and ride horses.’ I said ‘You wanna teach in a riding school?’

Let’s go through with it. What do you want to do? When we finally got down to something which the individual says he really wants to do I will say to him ‘You do that! And forget the money!’ Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing you will spend your life completely wasting your time! You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living – that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing! Which is stupid! Better to have a short life that is full of which you like doing then a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you are doing – it doesn’t really matter what it is – you can eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way of becoming the master of something, to be really with it. And then you will be able to get a good fee for whatever it is. So don’t worry too much, somebody is interested in everything. Anything you can be interested in, you’ll find others who are.

But it’s absolutely stupid to spend your time doing things you don’t like in order to go on spending things you don’t like, doing things you don’t like and to teach our children to follow the same track. See, what we are doing is we are bringing up children and educating to live the same sort of lives we are living. In order they may justify themselves and find satisfaction in life by bringing up their children to bring up their children to do the same thing. So it’s all retch and no vomit – it never gets there! And so therefore it’s so important to consider this question:

What do I desire?
 
 
 

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I’ve thought a lot about how my life would look like post-college ever since my junior year in 2010, which then led to my obsession with overthinking, which led to many fears, which led to plenty more worries, which led to chronic anxiety, which led to severe depression. I’ve been opening up about this since my previous posts. So far, for me, enduring depression up till the day I graduated out of college was the best accomplishment I’ve made in my life, and I believe there’s so many more accomplishments to come.

It’s no wonder that during those dark times, I’ve had my troubles when it comes to money. I nearly went homeless because I was too stuck up to ask for money from my dad. I went many nights starving. I no longer shop for leisure; not even window-shopping. I turned down social events as I didn’t want to spend time or money for things I didn’t think I need. Up to the point where I didn’t even have to spend a dime, I became so messed up that I voluntarily flaked out of every decent date and every potential guy who’s genuinely interested in me. I crashed my bank account every month because I kept using my living cost to buy books, spending lots of time reading them voraciously, and consequently skipping classes. I felt that, to prepare myself out of college, I had to equip myself with the knowledge and skill sets I need to have by the time I’m out.

And so the question becomes: What are these skills you need to have? What do you have to know? What’s so important that you have to skip classes and purposely fail all of them, waste your parents’ money, make them worry, and disappoint everyone else who really cares about you, just so you can outsmart your way to quit college and jumpstart your lifelong career as a dropout to do what you’re really passionate about? What if today is your last day on Earth? Are you still going to do the things you’re doing right now?

What are you going to do? 

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?

The question lingered in my head up to this day.

I’m ripe at 22 now. Other than knowing I’m meant to write, I don’t have the complete answers yet, but my life has turned around as I grow more and more hopeful each day.

As time goes by, the more I realized that it’s easier for you to grow when you start thinking more about how you can help others rather than focusing on yourself. Yes, we all want to make enough profit to save up for retirement, but for me, at 22, I refuse to put my most valuable asset at risk (time).

I know I won’t be as energetic as I am today by the time I’m wrinkled and silver-haired. In fact, at 22, I already have problems with under-eye bags and severely dark circles.

It helps to know where you will be 10 years from now. I have roughly a decade to prepare a steady cashflow, manage my assets (those knowledge and skill sets), and build my investment portfolios. But more than any amount of money in the world, I’m building my work around the desire to make a lasting impact.

It’s not easy to connect the dots. It’s difficult to break down the steps. It’s even more difficult to determine any step at all if you have no idea what you’re passionate about.

That’s where I think focusing on how you can help others will benefit you more than focusing on how much money you want to make.

Until you’ve shifted that focus, you can only ponder upon these big, hairy questions: What do I desire? How do I get that kind of living (profits)? How do I earn that kind of living (equities)? To whom can I offer my goods? To whom can I be of service? What are the things I have in excess that I can never get tired of giving?

I believe everybody has something.

At 22, I possess 0% credibility to have my say on everything I’ve just said on this post. But if you’re as perfectionistic as me and have a history of anxiety issues, allow me to share with you the most invaluable teaching as delivered by my Best Teacher: “I just don’t want you to be like me – just do what you love. You don’t have to worry about money.”

Money is indeed alluring. It sways people into doing things that they won’t normally do – both positive and negative things.

But…

Is it worth all your heart and all your mind and even all your soul to earn a six-figure? Does your thoughts, your habits, your actions, and everything that you do repeatedly, every day of every year, over and over and over again, actually have an impact to your community? To the larger society? To the rest of the world?

Do me a favor – do not ignore what your heart says. Listen to what it’s saying about YOUR values:

Aside from the money in your pocket, what makes YOU different?

 

What can YOU give to the world?

 

What can YOU leave behind?

 

What I know for sure: You can make better use of your time by choosing to do what you love.

Starting today.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Muchaluva,
Stace.

 

Fitness Journal: Positive stubbornness

Total mileage:  22.49 miles
Target mileage of the week:  12 miles

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Power song through the week:
Nic Chagall – This Moment (Progressive Mix)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1THmq-dlxXw]

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Monday, 29 October 2012

1.89 mi run in 17:57 min (pace: 9’31 / mi)

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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

3.29 mi run in 30:31 min (pace: 9’17″ / mi)

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Thursday, 1 November 2012

3.55 mi run in 36:55 min (pace: 10’24″ / mi)

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Friday, 2 November 2012

3.14 mi run in 32:25 min (pace: 10’19″ / mi)

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Saturday, 3 November 2012

4.42 mi run in 46:52 min (pace: 10’37″ / mi)

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Sunday, 4 November 2012

(6.2 mi) 10k for Jakarta Heart Run!

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The Lure of Money

"Would payment in the form of money sway you into doing something you wouldn't normally do?"

Oh God no. Hell no, Plinky.

I've been through this kind of situation many times before, but the lure of money still doesn't work on me.

The average number of sketches for a logo design project requires at least 100 different concepts. I was offered a huge sum of money just to draw 3. It didn't work.

The average pay for a house copywriter at a company I had an interview with was very little. My job only requires me to write short blurbs from 9 to 5, and I was offered double the average pay. Again, it didn't work.

The pay to be a sales promotion girl for an auto convention is, say, quadruple the average fee. I was allowed to bring my own gown and dress up as beautifully as possible, as if I'm going to my own wedding or something. Again and again, it didn't work.

The pay was phenomenal to be a so-called model for a tour agency that aims to target the millionaires who are single, lonely, and too rich to spend money in one country. While they can travel the whole world in any given day, they need company. They want a legit selection of future wives too. These house models are supposed to make friends with the singletons throughout the tour, i.e. spend the night with them and attend to their needs. If they're lucky, by the end of the tour they receive wedding proposals from these billionaires, sort of an invitation to their jet-setting lifestyle. Well… Hello? Money doesn't work that way.

Money is something we need to go on with our daily life. We earn our daily bread and wine, then we work to give back what we've got. Yet money is not the end-goal to the working life… If you let it be, how will you answer those around you who asks, "What is the meaning of your life?", are you going to simply answer, "making money"? Is that really it? If you let your guards slip and give the lure of money a chance, you will desist more and more greed and eventually devalue yourself.

I can survive with only one apple a day with gallons of water. Why? Because breads are not cheap, and wine bottles are expensive. Besides, daily food is not on my mind most of the time.

What's mostly on my mind throughout the day are spent on daydreaming, a pricey activity that has made 1% of the world's population to become a self-starter, find their answers to the meaning-of-life question, and made a lifetime commitment to serve that purpose. That's how CEOs work.

And so it goes, I spend a lot of time mindfully following my heart. It's a proven strategy to execute a money-making "busy-ness".

I may not have a say on what I'm about to say, as I myself have yet to discover my meaning of life (thus the heavy daydreaming), but I know one thing or two about money-making:

Get yourself into the daily habit of doing all the things you are willing to do for free. Find a place to nurture it, find channels for it to expand, and promise yourself to never, ever, ever stop growing.

Earn trust in yourself by making yourself trustworthy to others. You are the Chief Executive Officer of your heart – nobody knows it better than you. Take care of it, have confidence in it, and cooperate with it when duty calls.

Whatever you do, treat others the way you want to be treated.

That way, you'll be like a walking money tree yourself – enriching the lives of others and alluring those around you to do just as you do.

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Where I Belong

If I have to choose a place to live either under the sea or up in the sky, I would choose somewhere in-between.

Which is where we all are now.

However, I would still prefer somewhere closer to the sea.

The sky is like an open book. The sea, however, is a little deeper and therefore provides the curious minds an extra room to explore.

Sometimes, we need the light from up above to guide us in life. However, more often than not, we only need to look deeper into our hearts to find the answers to our questions.

The heart, therefore, is where I belong.

What about you?

 

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The joy of giving

 
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The other day, I was reading acclaimed writer Maya Angelou’s take on philanthropy in her first collection of personal essays, “Letter to My Daughter,” a book dedicated to the daughter she never had, but has won the hearts of women of all ages worldwide through her captivating voice. She revisited an episode of her childhood, where she described her self as her grandmother’s shadow, a figure she so highly respects that she “imitated” her. “She was the picture of dignity. She spoke softly and walked slowly, with her hands behind her back, fingers laced together.”

As I was reading the chapter, I recognized the little soul of a quiet girl who had never known the hidden powers of her smile, and that it can mean the world to someone else. Reading her exposee has brought me delight, knowing that long ago, in another time and another place of the world, someone I never knew shared the same silent spirit as I do. Now, she is widely respected for that enigmatic smile on her face.

Being the mother figure that she is, I consulted her chapter once again after the realization of our increasingly secular yet selfless generation, upon pondering Scott Brown’s message in his article, “How Twitter + Dopamine = Better Humans.

We be, therefore we are. Deep down, our be-ings are built as lovers of humanity. Yes, you might say that we are designed out of the idea of humanity, from which we call our-selves “human beings”. Our mere existence is a living proof that each one of us is a lover of mankind – not necessarily are we labelled as philanthropists, but we are all charitable by nature, at least, on a neurochemical level.

Evolutionary science has proven that our brains are wired to feel good once we’ve performed an altruistic behavior. Infants who have not yet learned even the most basic social skills are readily there to pick up our clothes for us if they fall off the hanger. Once tapped, this ingrained cooperative spirit in all of us huddle into one powerful energy to fend off imminent dangers. The 9/11 attack elicited an unstoppable heroism toward the victims, demanding the donation of bloods and other acts of compassion or an expression of grief, as selfless as the 300 Spartans who died for the welfare of their state against the Persian invasion, expecting no reward of any kind in return.

Actually, we kind of do. Whenever we act out a selfless deed, the brain’s reward system is flooded with the feel-good hormones better known as dopamine. It’s the same kind of feeling when you receive a hug, eat chocolate, have good sex, and gets a promotion at work. You reap what you sow. I suppose that is why when someone thanks you for what you’ve done for them, you say, with a smile, “My pleasure.”

In the words of Angelou, being charitable is as if to say, “I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need. I would like to share my excess with you.” My generation, the Millennials, practically grew up with technology. We are better informed, better equipped, and better connected to the world than any other generation before us to reach out and help those in need. With our multitasking skills and spurts of creativity, we are capable to drive any social, environmental, and political cause with the least amount of time, considering a tweet and a Facebook like is as easy as clicking a button.

I had numerous impulses to give in excess to various charities I feel passionate about. After all, I memorized my credit card information by heart, thanks to my humongous hippocampus (through regular exercise) and overflowing dopamine (through brain stimulation that comes along with regular exercise). Yet, my conscience will always strike back at every impulse, especially when distance and time can still be a factor despite technological advances.

I remember those exact words my mother, my most enduring role model, once said to me when I decided to give up life: If you want to give so much, might as well give to the people closest to you. “You’ve got a lot to give, so give those you care about in abundance. You don’t have to go so far as to donating huge amounts of money for people you never know. There are people at your arm’s length – sick grandparents, elderly neighbors, wounded beggars and starving children in Indonesia – who need more of your help than the needy in Africa.”

I still live off my parents’ income and am presently living with them. I’m jobless too.Yet I’ve also recently done something that has made them extremely proud: I am a college graduate. That alone has brought the all smiles and made them kissed me on each cheek. With the addition of my job offers, upcoming activities, and future opportunities, I have succeeded in making my self a joyful gift for them.

With every individual who focuses on the people closest to them to be happy, the less amount of time it takes for the joy of gift-giving to come back in return. Even fewer the hungry and the sickly have to wait for someone across the planet to give them clean water to drink, replenish their souls with medicine.

Looking ahead, despite the occasional hurdles to test our faith, humanity remains promising. I am promising my parents, two people who have given me life, to continue making them proud, for I have never failed them (but have been close to) in my 22 years of existence as a human being.

 

By this, I, too, am happy to describe my self as charitable.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Muchaluva,
Stace.
 
 

- Image courtesy of Serendipity; life itself via Tumblr

Fireman? Ballerina?

“When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen?”

 

 

 
I’m not sure how old I was when I wrote this, but I know it was written around that time. This is what it says:

 

 

“I really like Sailor Moon but I only like her if she really came down to Earth from the Moon of course! I also like the other Sailors of course! If I only like Sailor Moon then the other Sailors will get jealous right! So these are the things I like hey wait I’m not done I still like some more things which are Disney and Warner Bros. Now I’m done these are my favorite cartoons but after talking about these things I want to become Sailor Stasia Bye-bye!

HAPPY READING”

 

 

 

 

I am still not sure what does “Sailor Stasia” mean, but I assume it means I wanted to be a Sailor of my own planet. I wanted to make my own world and conquer my soul the whole time I chase after my dreams. I wanted to master my own mind.

That message remnisces William Ernest Henley’s beloved poem, “Invictus”:

 

 

 

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m assuming it meant that way, because I’ve made it happen, or something close to it.

 

 

 

 

 

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