Posted on July 15, 2013
It’s funny how quiet a crowded place can be. I’m sitting in a cafe, a different one than usual, and there are several other customers, enough so that I had difficulty finding a free table, that wasn’t right on top of somebody. And mostly, there is silence. A few people, like myself, tapping away at keyboards of their various electronic devices and such. The occasional beep of some gadget or other, but as far as talking, we are in our own worlds. Silent. Not talking to each other, only chipping away at our projects, and our coffee, in a peaceful calm.
I must admit, there is a certain beauty to the calmness, the quietness, and for me the delight of watching people go about their business, even if it is sitting in relative quietness.
Such a corporate silence, is a treasured state, often I find when I’m out and about a sense of busyness, and people rushing here and there. Never stopping long enough just to enjoy the quiet things. Like a cafe, or if they do, they are not quiet long enough to know the beauty of it. There is a place for liveliness, but there is also a place for calmness, for quietness.
Or perhaps it is loneliness that drives us to our silence, we are quiet because there is no one there to talk to. For a long time one of the things I valued most was my independence, and my ‘personal space’ you might say, but now, I kind of wish that my ‘personal space’ would be imposed upon, that I would delight in the fact that we need other people in our lives. Perhaps we’re afraid that we’ll be intruding, or that if we seem to be wanting to be kind, we will come across as though we are wanting something from them, or perhaps it is that we simply don’t know how to start the conversation.
Take myself for example: I would say that I’m a fairly competent user of the English language, with a fairly rich vocabulary, and I’ve found myself able to write things, forget them, find them, and I myself am astonished by the richness of the written words, but I see all these people, and the first thing that pops into my head is ‘What do I say to them?’ What do I say to the people around me? But mostly, probably a good ninety-percent of it, is getting started in the first place. Consider that every person has something you can learn from them. Every person knows something you don’t know. Every person has talents, and hopes, and dreams, everyone has a story, if nothing else. A life that is uniquely their own. There is always something to be talked about. You yourself have a story, tell it. I have a story too, I should share it.
Again, it is a matter of getting started, telling my story, I do not know where to start.
So I, and all those around me, remain, silent, and while peaceful, the silence of the cafe is also a sadness.
Posted on July 22, 2013
Looking in a mirror can be uncomfortable.
I often feel like I lack value. I think it is because I am currently out of work, and at a loss about what to do to remedy it. I know that a lot of it has to do with the society I live in, where a man’s sole value is to be a part of the workforce, and little else. A part of the economic world, with little value as an individual. If I am not a part of the corporate or industrial machine I am of no value to my society. I understand that. Even so, I understand that there is a correlation between finding a source of income and fulfilling my actual dreams. To be honest, I am at a complete loss as to what to do. Every thought seems overwhelming, like I can not do anything about it, yet I simply can’t afford to ignore it either. That said, I often feel as though I am stuck in a vicious cycle of daily activities. I get up, I make dinner, I study a little, I go to sleep, I get up, I repeat. A day changes very little from the day before, and it drives me mad. I don’t like routine, and I hate not knowing how to disrupt it. I’m always at a loss as to what to pursue, and while mentally, I am much more at a place where I am willing to work just about anywhere than I was a few years ago, I am still at a loss about where to work. Every day that goes by, is another day closer to another year that goes by. To be honest, I really thought when I was younger I would be doing a lot more by now, but the days have gone by, one after the other, turning into years of the same day repeating itself again, and again, over and over. The daily routine is what overwhelms me, it feels crushing, like tomorrow is doomed to repeat yesterday. There is a frustration of nothing changing, and feeling powerless to create change.
Yet, I know it isn’t true. There are solutions, even though I’m not seeing them. Just like I know there is a proper use of a comma, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I suppose over the past ten years some things have been accomplished. I have written enough of a story to compose a book series with a little bit of editing, I’ve learned not only how to cook, but how to cook well. I’ve taught myself a couple of languages, and have taught myself to write, and much more importantly, how to think. I have overcome blind-spots and prejudices, learning how to be tolerant of those whom I may disagree with, giving me the freedom to accept people, even if I don’t always accept their particular beliefs, activities, ideas, and so forth. This is an accomplishment. There are many who are much older and more educated than I am, and yet are glaringly unable to think outside their own viewpoint.
My question is, how do I adjust my viewpoint to be a little more able to accept the daily life, but at the same time, I want change, I really want change, I want things to be different. I want to pursue things, and be things, I don’t want to look back ten years from now and only have a list of internal personal changes as something to reflect on, but to see a tangible change, something that has improved things outside of myself.
I am also very discouraged by the realization that there seems that as time goes on I feel more and more alienated from my fellow human beings. I am feeling increasingly more socially isolated, and the more I’m feeling this way the more powerless I feel to do something, myself, to escape it. I’m forgetting too quickly the virtue of empathy, and am feeling too much as though I have only myself for company. I dislike it, I really hate it, actually. I know it hasn’t been intentional, but I do sometimes feel ignored by a lot of those who I did know once, and I feel at a loss of how to pursue new relationships with new people.
Life happens, I do it too.
However, the question is, since those who I knew are no longer a part of my life, how do I start fresh? I do not want to be like some who in similar situations have made new friends, true, but with the entirely wrong crowd, and have become very disagreeable as a result.
I know very much what I don’t want, but what is it that I do?
I hate the feeling of feeling trapped. Yet, I feel like I’ve made that trap my home. I do not speak of my literal house, of course, I speak of my mentality. I also do not speak of ideas imparted, but of ideas I’ve learned myself.
I know my biggest hindrance is my mind, how I think of things, my hindrance is entirely in my head, but even though I know that, I still am hindered by the same things. To know that there is a problem doesn’t always take care of it. I feel very frustrated as a result.
I hope this post doesn’t come off as complaining, or as self-pity. I mean for it to be an outpouring of my thoughts in the pursuit of a solution, which feels as distant as the moon. I can’t maintain a positive attitude about things when all things need to be laid out on the table. That would only be deceiving myself further. I’m sure we would all like a mirror that reveals only our perfections, magically erasing our every flaw, and that is often how we are encouraged in these days to look upon ourselves. I understand the reason, and that there is even value in approaching things positively, but if there is an aspect that needs closer examination, it does not do to ignore it either. It is good to be happy, true, but it also good to look in the mirror.
So how to meet new people, I asked this same question several months ago, and yet I do not seem to have learned anything from it. Despite the challenging and excellent comments I received about it, and my agreement with the notions presented, I still haven’t acted out the changes required. I feel discouraged.
Maybe I should look at life as the pursuit of dreams, the pursuit of the stepping stones, like an income of sorts, wouldn’t be quite so overwhelming perhaps, if I viewed them as what they are, stepping stones, rather than the end result.
I suppose there is a part of me that is afraid of whatever it is that I end up doing, turning into the thing that defines me, and worse yet, letting it.
Posted on July 28, 2013
There is a monster in our midst, a vicious, terrible word that squashes hopes, delays dreams, and kills desire. The word is the word ‘Someday’.
Right now, I have one major goal, and goals that support it. I want to visit China. The next question of course, is how to get there. I once heard a quote in Benny the Irish Polyglot’s TED talk that went “There are seven days in the week, and someday is not one of them.” I like that.
Someday, in many ways someday is a rather discouraging word. I remember as a child and still learning my English audio comprehension I used to get my hopes up by the answer “someday” thinking it to be Sunday, only to be dashed to pieces once I realized that whatever it was I was asking about wasn’t the following Sunday, it was the someday, another word that meant ”something that is most likely never going to actually happen”. I’ve had way too many dashed homes by the word someday that I am rather distrustful of it, to this day. Yet, I find myself saying to myself: I want to visit China, someday. The problem is that someday turns into some year in the unforeseeable future.
So, what do I do to begin my journey to China? I suppose the first step would be obtaining the funds for it. So I applied for a job this past Thursday, for the sole reason of earning money to further my journey. I haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m already working on a list of other places to consider if I do not hear from them over the next week or two. I am determined to accomplish this journey.
I work best when I have a goal or purpose, and it must be specific, I can’t work for the word ‘someday’.
China isn’t the only place I wish to visit, of course, I want to visit several other places as well: Japan, Korea, Quebec, France, Iceland, England, and probably others I haven’t learned much about yet.
My other goal of course is to learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese, fluently. This one I have already been working on. I’m making progress, very slowly, but definitely noticeably. Sometimes when I ask myself if I’m really actually learning anything I then remind myself that I know 100% more than I did last year at this time, when I do not think I knew a single Mandarin Chinese word. I think I can communicate several essentials now, if in a pinch. I might not get everything exactly right, but I can communicate a surprising amount. I am making progress, even though as I work through each day of it, I feel like I’m getting nowhere at all. I do not think I’m ready to visit China and communicate fluently by any means, I’m not going to pretend I’m more accomplished at it than I am. I can communicate several essentials, but little more than that at the present time. I’ve been unorthodox in my learning methods, which has many advantages, and some disadvantages. To familiarise myself with the sound of the language, and the tones, I listen to it I find Chinese television programs for example, and watch them even if I can only understand a handful of the words. I’ve found that I learn the tones very quickly and effectively, almost naturally as when I encounter the word in an learning Chinese guide, I’ve heard it several times and know what it’s supposed to sound like. The challenge for me is building complex words, phrases, and sentences. Because I’m also learning how to learn as well as the language, I’m not surprised it’s taken me almost nine months to even begin to notice any noticeable progress. When I started I didn’t even know what Mandarin sounded like, now I can usually identify it within a few words when I hear it out and about or on a video, etc.
I am determined to learn how to speak fluently, as well as being able to read and write it, I want to do so as fluently as I currently am with English. Considering I write novels as a hobby, with the express purpose of creating elegant writing, the idea seems challenging to me. Though there are still a number of English words who I have not become acquainted with as of yet.
I hope to write more, but as the cafe I’m in is closing, I’m afraid I must wrap things up now, I’ve finished with my tea.
If I have the time, I might start another blog with the sole purpose of chronicling my adventure that I want to take to China. I just don’t want it to be someday, but to be something I am persistent in pursuing. I may have to work places I’d rather not, but I’ve been realizing lately that if I have a goal that I really want, such as traveling to places, than it makes the idea of working in these places a much more tolerable idea to me.
再见 or Goodbye!