Buy it on Amazon.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
|Reflection - Mt. Fuji, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi, Japan - Circa May 2016|
The following is an MS Teams conversation with a colleague after learning that we each enjoy reading, reflection and writing:
T: What inspires you to read, reflect, and journal (or blog)?
J: I think I was inspired to read by just my curiosity of everything in the world. In my past, I never read that much. I only started reading heavily in the last maybe 3-4 years. Instead of reading, I traveled a lot. I learned a lot that way, from talking to people, observing, feeling, and experiencing. But as I grow older, my responsibilities grow and so travel (although I still do it often) is now not as often as I would want it to be. Reading (specifically non-fiction) has kind of opened up those other avenues to learning and education about things foreign to me while I cannot travel as much.
Reflection is something pretty new to me too. I only really started reflecting on my life when I took a sabbatical from work. That really allowed me to take time to think of my past and my future in great detail. I started to understand better what I was doing, why I was doing things, and what I could do to change or improve my future. The reflection is so important now. I feel like if I didn't have that time (sabbatical) to reflect, then I wouldn't have grown in all the ways I feel like I've grown in the past 5 years. I was out of work for nearly 2 years.
The journaling and blogging has always been a part of my life. My dad used to journal when I was a kid. I grew up on notebook journals and writing events down. I had a calendar that I would just fill in all the boxes with tidbits. So I always did these little things, albeit not as consistently as now. But now I find that my blogging has allowed me to just put my thoughts out there. To not just contain them in my head but to make it "real" by making it public. It helps kind of relieve my brain from just constant thought. And if anyone reads it, then great. If not, then at least I can look back on my thoughts to see how I've grown. And because they're "tangible" I'll never have to wonder what I've possibly forgotten.
And more recently in my life, writing / blogging is a way for me to pass on my life to whatever children I may have in the future. I looked back on the lives of my parents and thought, I don't really know what their day to day life was like. You get to hear stories and tidbits of whatever they can remember. But those memories are few and far between and obviously not nearly enough for you to understand who your parents are and what they really went through. If they had written it down, you could read it like a book and imagine and fully feel what they experienced and lived. I think that more than anything now is my motivation to write.
And then kind of as an aside, I feel like the more I put out there for people to read, the better the chance that others get to know me and understand me. And maybe my thoughts will help others in their lives somehow. But that's existential.
But let me turn it back to you... what is your inspiration to read, reflect, and/or write (if you do all of the above)?
In college (the fist semester of my junior year, to be precise) a profoundly impactful professor told us to never stop reading if we wanted to grow. He said, "You are the sum of two things: the books you read and the people you meet." As someone who craved growth (and still do), it was enough convincing for me to stick my nose in books from that point forward. Similar to your sabbatical, I took a few months off after I graduated and before I started work at [XXXX] and solo backpacked SE Asia. During this time, I required myself to journal each day; so quickly can we forget life-changing experiences--whether we realize it in the moment or in hindsight--if we don't pause from our busy lives to make sense of the what we experienced that day. I reflect on my journals from that trip and can track back to key catalysts and see how they've shaped the man I am today. So, I now live by a slightly amended version of my professors quote: "you are the product of three things: the books you read, the people you meet, and the journal you carry, for your journal is the free-space where you can make sense of your books and experiences." The reason I read, reflect, and write is to make the most of my precious, limited days on this beautiful planet and to wake up with the goal to be a better version of myself from the day before.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
|Mrauk-U, Myanmar circa March 2017|
I've read about so many successful people who meditate. It cannot be a coincidence that those who fare so well in life (at least to the public's perception) practice this ancient ritual. And for a long time, I've wanted to try it. I didn't know how except for what I've read. And I thought that my mind was not prepared for something so deep. In books, the process is so simple but everyone cautions how difficult it is to tame the mind, even for just a few minutes. But if this is what people who I highly regard are doing, I wanted to know why, how, and what the impact would be to my life.
To be honest, I don't know why I decided to do it now. Maybe it's because I started to read the "Zen Master" - Phil Jackson's book entitled Eleven Rings or if it's because I just completed reading The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams. But I decided to do it.
A few tips that I learned:
- don't drink coffee before you meditate
- blow your nose before you begin
- find a relaxed position (but if you don't, your body will adjust through the meditation)
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
|Scientific American - November 2009|
I'd be really interested to read an update of this article and see where we stand today, as of 2020, which was supposed to be a halfway mark for the 2030 potential. It all seemed to be very doable, but have the obstacles that we encountered in the past 11 years significantly slowed the plan for a sustainable future? For sure we've made significant progress, but are we too late in preventing sea level rise, droughts, and extinction? How much have we accomplished in 11 years? How much still remains? Curious.
Monday, September 7, 2020
|Paro Taktsang (aka Tiger's Nest) - Paro Valley, Paro District, Bhutan - circa April 2017|
|With our friend's mom - She is a host, local guide, and loving mother. As you can imagine, we were treated like family. |
|Our new friends - Tshewang & Tshering and Auntie's dog.|
Saturday, September 5, 2020
On Climate Change:
"For a couple of hundred years we have been telling ourselves that we can dig the midnight black remains of other life forms out of the bowels of the earth, burn them in massive quantities, and that the airborne particles and gases released into the atmosphere - because we can't see them - will have no effect whatsoever. Or if they do, we humans, brilliant as we are, will just invent our way out of whatever mess we have made.
And we tell ourselves all kinds of similarly implausible no-consequence stories all the time, about how we can ravage the world and suffer no adverse effects. Indeed we are always surprised when it works out otherwise. We extract and do not replenish and wonder why the fish have disappeared and the soil requires ever more "inputs" (like phosphate) to stay fertile. We occupy countries and arm their militias and then wonder why they hate us. We drive down wages, ship jobs overseas, destroy worker protections, hollow out local economies, then wonder why people can't afford to shop as much as they used to. We offer those failed shoppers subprime mortgages instead of steady jobs and then wonder why no one foresaw that a system built on bad debts would collapse.
At every stage our actions are marked by a lack of respect for the power we are unleashing - a certainty, or at least a hope, that the nature we have turned to garbage, and the people we have treated like garbage, will not come back to haunt us."
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
"The Dalai Lama was describing the Buddhist concept of mudita, which is often translated as "sympathetic joy" and described as the antidote to envy. Mudita is so important in Buddhism that it is considered one of the Four Immeasurables, qualities we can cultivate infinitely. The other three are loving-kindness, compassion, and equanimity. "
"Mudita recognizes that life is not a zero-sum game, that there is not just one slice of cake in which someone else's taking more means we get less. Mudita sees joy at limitless."
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Carlton Abrams
"To be indebted is to fixate on the future. I tense up after good fortune has landed on my lap like a bag of tiny excitable lapdogs. But whose are these? Not mine, surely! I treat good mortune not as a gift but a loan that I will have to pay back in weekly installments of bad luck. I bet I'm like this because I was raised wrong - browbeaten to performs compulsory gratitude. Thank you for sacrificing your life for me! In return, I will sacrifice my life for you!
I have rebelled against all that. As a result, I have developed the worst human trains: I am ungrateful. This book too is ungrateful. In my defense, a writer who feeling indebted often writes ingratiating stories. Indebted, that is, to this country - to whom I, on the other hand, will always be ungrateful."
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
"Now, we should also realize that the recognition of our own limitations and weaknesses can be very positive. This can be wisdom. If you realize that you are inadequate in some way, then you develop effort. If you think, everything is fine and I'm okay just as I am, then you will not try to develop further. There is a Tibetan saying that wisdom is like rainwater - both gather in the low places. There is another saying that when the spring bloom comes, where does it start? Does it start on the hilltops or down in the valleys first? Growth begin first in the low places. So similarly if you remain humble, then there is the possibility to keep learning. So I often tell people that although I'm eighty years old, I still consider myself a student."
- Dalai Lama XIV
"The word humility actually comes from the Latin word for Earth or soil, humus... Humility literally bring us back down to Earth, sometimes with a thud."
"Humor like humility, comes from the same root word for humanity: humus. The lowly and sustaining earth is the source for all three words. Is it any surprise that we have to have a sense of humility to be able to laugh at ourselves and that to laugh at ourselves reminds us of our shared humanity?"
- Douglas Carlton Abrams