Thoughts in a park.

Hypothesis:

The opportunities for observation that present themselves to us during our various moments of idleness throughout the day (waiting in traffic, in line at the grocery store, for the water to boil), are often squandered by immediately turning to our devices for the latest digital updates.  We are a culture averse to idleness and simply observing the world us.  As soon as the world stops requiring anything of us, we immediately move from the real to the digital.  By doing this, we fail to see the world as it is.  Waiting in an idle state is the perfect opportunity for this. Continue reading “Thoughts in a park.”

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Allowing Boredom in Our Lives

Boredom has a long cultural history and an adaptive function in human life — it serves a vital creative purpose and protects us by helping us tolerate open-endedness; in childhood, it becomes the wellspring of imaginative play. And yet we live in a culture that seems obsessed with eradicating boredom, as if it were Ebola or global poverty, and replacing it with a peculiar modern form of active idleness oozing from our glowing screens.

The above quote by Maria Popova comes from a post she wrote about Kierkegaard’s writings on boredom, and gets at the crux of the matter for what seems to be one ailment of the modern condition of western civilization.

She coins a term called “active idleness” that is quite fitting to the situation. We are more disconnected from nature than ever before, and ironically, more disconnected from ourselves and one another. We stare at screens all day with the hope of connecting. Meanwhile, there are those all around us, in the flesh, that we choose not to connect with given the opportunity.   Continue reading “Allowing Boredom in Our Lives”

Making Sense of Memories

We are our memory,
we are that chimerical museum of shifting shapes,
that pile of broken mirrors.

(verse from Jorge Luis Borges’s 1969 poem “Cambridge”)

It’s interesting how as time goes on, memories tend to coalesce around a specific narrative. Events come and go, and yet one’s mind eventually settles around an internally agreed truth of what “is” and “isn’t”. Continue reading “Making Sense of Memories”

Day 28 – Thoughts on Finding Meaning

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge.)

What does it mean to be fulfilled?  To have a meaningful life?  As sentient beings, aware of our past and future selves, how do we reconcile our sense of meaningfulness in the present? Some of us find solace in religion, and resign to its teachings of  mystery and sacrifice as a way towards greater meaning. Others find meaning and purpose in how they make their livelihood, or the activities that make up their daily lives (parenting, teaching, cooking, etc.).  Still others find their deepest meaning when silencing the mind, and disconnecting from their worldly relations. Continue reading “Day 28 – Thoughts on Finding Meaning”

Day 25 – A New Financial Mindset

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).

At some point in our adult lives, we’ve all said some degree of the following: “If only I had more money, I could take care of XYZ and everything would be better.” After living with this mentality for years, and after having received multiple promotions and raises, I realized after a while that I continually ended up in the same place that I started at the end of every month- broke.

Each pay period I would pay my bills, save a small portion, and then see how much I had leftover. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but this money was a motivator for more spending. The more I had leftover, the more I felt obliged to spend it on nicer things for myself.  The way I figured it, I had done my part by saving a little and paying all my bills on time, so I “deserve” to get these other things as a young professional for my career, health, lifestyle – name your spending category.

spending-more-than-you-earn

We convince ourselves that having more money will close the gap between having money and not having money at the end of every pay period.  If only we could see that it is not so much the lack of money coming in, but the amount of money going out that keeps us in a perpetual rat race. It takes time for most to realize this, some never do. Continue reading “Day 25 – A New Financial Mindset”

Day 24 – Black Mirror : A Look at our Dystopian Future Selves

I may be a little late coming to this, but the British show Black Mirror, currently streaming on Netflix, is one of the best pieces of dramatic social commentary I’ve seen in some time.

In this anthology series, each episode tells a different story from the perspective of a not-so-distant future “us” that has somehow allowed certain technologies to progress to their logical, albeit dystopian and destructive conclusions. Continue reading “Day 24 – Black Mirror : A Look at our Dystopian Future Selves”

Day 23 – Why is Everyone so Busy!?

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).

Ask someone how they’re doing nowadays, and in varying ways they’ll say, “I’m so busy!” Are people actually busy, or do mindless activities consume their day which people call “being busy”? Never mind the fact the question of “how are you doing?” isn’t really asking about activity, but a state of mind. It is interesting that people choose to describe busyness as their state of mind. Rather than saying, “I’m doing well.” or “I’m really feeling good/bad today.” – they say “I’m busy.” Given the fractured and frantic nature of the average person’s attention these days, it’s no surprise that a feeling of constant busyness defines how we think about our state of mind. Continue reading “Day 23 – Why is Everyone so Busy!?”

Day 22 – Have we reached peak cynicism?

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).

We all know what happens when excess is mistaken for progress: housing bubbles, tech bubbles, financial bubbles – name your bubble. I’m beginning to feel we are approaching the zenith of a cynicism bubble. Peak oil?  It’s time to start talking about peak cynicism and its repercussions.

Here’s why I am just as guilty of it. Continue reading “Day 22 – Have we reached peak cynicism?”

Day 18 – Reflections on Taking Risk

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge)

Yesterday, I participated in an alumni organized professional development teleconference.  The topic of conversation was “risk”, the different facets surrounding the concept, and our personal approach to taking risk, or not. I was asked to think back to a time when I took a large risk, and how I approached making the decision. My immediate first thought was that of deciding to go to graduate school.

Going to graduate school was a very big risk for me.  At the time I got the idea in my head, I was enjoying a full-time cushy government job, with a pension, and a capped 40-hour work week. Sure, life was a little beige and boring, but at least it was fairly secure and predictable. I decided to leave all of this, take on tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, and pursue a career path in field fraught with uncertainty and financial woes – the Arts. Some might call this a risky decision. That being said, I probably couldn’t have picked a better time to return to school.  It was the midst of the economic recession that hit hard in late 2008/early 2009, and everyone was reassessing their professional worth.
Continue reading “Day 18 – Reflections on Taking Risk”

Day 16 – Three Essential Books to Achieving Happy Relationships

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).

In my continuation of book-themed posts, here are three books (sometimes all you need is three) that get at the crux of our relations with other human beings.  Whether it be romantic or platonic, familial or collegial, these three books will give you valuable insight and understanding of yourself in the context of your relations with others. Continue reading “Day 16 – Three Essential Books to Achieving Happy Relationships”