Thursday, November 29, 2012

D23 - Pyramids

The question is this: If you could magically turn back time to prevent the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of human beings, would you?  If you count yourself among the functioning population in a civil society, the answer is an easy "Yes."

Why, then, do I hesitate when the result of that exploitation happens to be the Great Pyramids of Egypt?  Is the mass exploitation of humanity justified if the end result is a Wonder of the World?

Perhaps it is that we are so many millenia removed from the suffering of those ancient people that it no longer repulses us in the same way.  Is there an experation date on suffering - some moment in time when reprehensible means are overlooked by the magnificent ends? 

The suffering of the movers of those great stones are as ephemeral as their tradgically short lives, leaving only the ends of their labor to judge.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

D21 - Sleepy

Tiredness most affects my happiness and impacts my quality of life.  But it is a very specific type of tiredness, the kind where I can tell from the moment I open my eyes that it is going to be a frustrating day of everything sucking.

Everything sucks and there is nothing I can do about it.  I have no patience for anything.  My focus wanders like a cab driver working through rush hour.  My thoughts are directed in all different directions, doubling back upon themselves, often sitting in traffic jams where they are baked in the hot sun.  No sooner do I arrive at my hard won destination than I must head off for another.  My mind is exhausted, yet cannot rest.

Friday, July 6, 2012

D20 - The rational life, Part 1

I try and live my life as a rational being and that is part of the problem.

Rational decisions are made with disregard to emotional skewing and represent the best decision to be made based on facts and reason.  Kurt Vonnegut wrote how, "...it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

Exhausted is exactly how I feel.  Frustration, sadness, lethargy are the emotional byproducts that fuel off exhaustion.  It is not a packed calendar, nor my mind being pulled in multitudes of disparate directions at once.  Years of working several different jobs has finely attuned my multitasking abilities, though like everyone I am not beyond the occasional late bill payment or forgotten commitment.  

The exhaustion I feel is the pressure of rationality.  To always justify to others and to myself that what I am about to do next is the most logical progression from where I am now.  Even for simple decisions - what I should do for lunch - the questions fly mad in my mind:  Is this the restaurant that you will be happiest at?  Does the price justify the happiness it will bring you?  If you don't have a lot of money, how can you justify spending anything on lunch?  A never ending volley of inquiries that necessitate all kinds of rationalization gymnastics to subdue.  


The side effects of this constant self justification are twofold, neither is very good and the second is more harmful than the first.  First, I fear over-rationalizing my behavior effectively blinds me to the difference between actual justifications for my behavior and self deception.  In short, I am so deft at the rationalization game that even I can't tell when I am playing.

Second, it has a paralyzing effect on my decisions.  Like the naively optimistic Candide who postulates that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, if I believe my actions to be rational, then I have made the best decision available, thus rendering all my other options irrational.  I am trapped in the rational path of least resistance. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

D19 - Smart phones suck

They suck because they make you want more than you need.

They make you feel you need to access to your email/twitter/facebook/tumblr all day, every day.  The truth is, the world will keep revolving just fine if you have to wait, but the temptation to absorb your consciousness into the tiny infinite world housed in your pocket is so palpable it can cause real, physiological stress.

The damage from these devices would be minimal if it ended there.  If we were satisfied with checking for new messages and, upon finding none, then replaced the device into our pockets. But we have arrived at a time in history when our minds need to be amused every spare second of the day.  No longer do we have to sit uncomfortable and alone with our thoughts on the brief Metro ride home.  God-forbid our mind be blighted by old-fashioned boredom when we can be blissfully swiping our fingers across a glass face at words and images that are not really there, miming the actions of social interaction substituting a cold machine for flesh.

I long for the good old days - which in actuality were pretty rotten (see: polio) - where we had to believe in a world that still existed when we closed our eyes.  The devices we have grown dependent on shroud us in a constant fruitless anxiety that we are missing out on life, or, even worse, deluding us into thinking sitting in front of a screen can substitute for living it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

D18 - Life as a movie

A mental game I often play with myself is to imagine my life as if it were a movie.  Not only is it obvious fun to translate my immediate situation into different genres of movies - seeing what my walk to work would be like if I were starring in a romantic comedy for instance - but it can give me perspective in another way as well; thinking about if how it would feel to be at the beginning, middle, and end of a movie.

Thinking about the end of a movie allows me to reflect on the events that led up to where I am now.  I enjoy figuring out the "Man vs. Man/Nature/Self" struggles that happened in the past that I have overcome and grown from to get me to this moment.  I imagine myself sitting down to read my book as the music comes up and the screen goes to black - the restful end of a long journey.

Envisioning myself in the middle of a move changes my focus to the immediate struggles facing me.  Where will the movie climax? Who will turn out to be a villain and who a trusted ally?  I will have to stay tuned to find out how it all turns out!

This final perspective, where I am walking through the opening scene of the movie, I find the most helpful in keeping me optimistic.  I imagine the strange and twisted journey that awaits me.  I can let go of the bad things that happened in the past more easily - after all, they happened offscreen before the move even started.  Maybe they will be rehashed lightly at some point later in the film during a surprising reveal to give my character depth and weight, but they will not be central to the action of the film.  The acquaintance I make with someone I meet that day could set in motion the events of the film.  The world seems full of possibility and expectation.

Friday, June 8, 2012

D17 - Drill Rules

Marching band season has sprouted once again - always surprising me with spring rehearsals that seem to sneak up on me every year.  I am not sure what the next season holds in store for my drill writing, but these are things I have learned over the years that will help me in future writing:


My Drill Writing Commandments!:
1. Rotations require subsets - lots of them!
2. Everything that goes on the field must be on a second revision (at least) - no "winging it!"
3. All pages need to have complete, accurate, and readable information
4. Revisions made on the fly must be documented
5. When in doubt, keep it simple - One big idea at a time
6. Movement is a given - Holds are effect
7. The Drill serves to deliver the music, not the other way around

I am sure there will be more to come, but these seem like a good start. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

D16 - Creed

Long ago I adopted the personal creed "Do interesting things, go interesting places, meet interesting people."  It may be time to finally start living up to that saying.  That is not to say that thus far I have been a wallflower in the dance of life, but I am still far from cutting-a-rug.

Traveling to India to pursue the love of my life was a good start.  Never could I have dreamt that, even if I wanted to, I could have made it to India in my lifetime - that is until I had the best reason in the world.  Jessie pulls me, both literally and figuratively, out on the dance floor and gives me a sensation that I have only felt a few times before in life; anything is possible in this world.

Alongside her I feel as though I have the courage to fulfill the creed I set out for myself years ago.