“What makes you you?”
That seemingly innocent question belies a mystery that has, for millennia, troubled the minds of philosophers far and wide. That question turned into a long, thought-provoking read in the late night that leaves me wide awake at three in the morning.
Worth every second of it.
The link’s right here, but I’m gonna jump straight to one of the last few points it brought up, specifically the continuity of a person’s identity.
Imagine a 90-year-old man looking at the photo of himself when he was 6 years old, and told us: “That’s me!”, we’d probably be inclined to agree with him. But if we compare these two from the different timelines side-by-side, they could hardly be any more different. They’re different in their size, they’re different in their thoughts, they’re different in the experience they went through, and with 84 years sitting in between them, it’s likely that every single body cell that existed on his six-year old self died a long, long time ago.
When we put it that way, it sounds a wee little bit depressing, no? Fortunately, people tend to not mind. However different we may have changed – and people do change – we would still tend to call our 10-years-younger self “me”. If we deny that, then we might as well say that the one-second-younger me was a stranger.
I have been thinking lately, what makes the heart beats? Now now, I’m not talking about the node signal that makes your heart pump blood, that really kills the mood, ya know? I’m thinking of the emotional heart, the one that changes its swing on the slightest whim, the one that beats without blood, and bleeds, without blood.
It just so happened that I have encountered too many a passing lately. The sorrow, the grief. For some, it may be but a fleeting moment; but for others, it may linger on. We’ve all heard the moody phrases concerning the heart: broken, bleed, smashed, splintered, frozen, harden, heavy, and what-not. One will be given 10 Nobel Prizes if such a material was found in real life, but even more amazing is that, even with all these crushing emotions, one might find the heart dancing the next moment, fluttering to the lightest tune without a care in the world. It seems then, the negative emotions came mostly from ourselves, and if we choose to let it go, if we choose to focus on positive emotions, what makes us excited, what makes us laugh, things started to seemed less dire.
So I wondered, what makes the heart beats?
Have you ever tried to change something in your life? Like, start waking up earlier and dedicate one hour or two for reading; fit 30 minutes of exercise into your busy schedule; begin yoga lessons that helps you to relax and be more mindful of the present; learning a foreign language; or just start writing nonsense in the hope of producing a book one day.
If you have, it is likely that you discovered old habits die hard. It doesn’t help when research shows that newer generations are more used to instant gratification, meaning they see the rewards they can get instantly or with little effort being more attractive compared to better rewards that requires time or effort. When an obstacle presents itself, the effort required increased, therefore the rewards now seem less attractive, and we are more likely to revert back to our old habit.
So, how do we overcome it? Simple really, we start small. Cut down your goal to something so easy you can almost do it in your sleep, almost. This turns instant gratification to our favour, really: when we made it so easy that there is little to no obstacle in our way, we could achieve it before the thought of not doing it even shows up. It’ll be like “what about n-OH IT’S DONE!”. The best part is the rush of excitement we feel over our little achievement, that one thing we’ve been meaning to do but keep slipping out of our grasps. Sure, it’s a small achievement, but that may be just what we need to motivate us breaking through our old habit and start sticking to a new one.
It’s Valentine’s! Phew talk about journey, my backside’s still hurting from the ride! Anyway, I realized it’s been ages (read: ten days) since I posted here, definitely way out of my usual posting schedule, and not following a schedule is one of the first sign of going down the slippery slope. Uh. Oh.
Thankfully, being away from writing for this long also means I have more things on my mind to engrave onto the paper (or in this case, my blog). So, I’m going to do a short summary and review on The Journey. If you do not want to get spoiled, stop right here! It’s a minefield up ahead. But if you don’t mind, read anyway. You have been warned ;p
I have wanted to talk about addiction, fixation, and their relation with disengagement for a while, but my first attempt turned into a post taking about how to multitask more efficiently instead. I guess the saying about the words forming its own course is true. Nevertheless, here’s my second attempt, and I have broaden the scope of the topic from disengagement to mindfulness. Let’s hope this time it stayed true to its intended course – not that I don’t enjoy a detour every now and then 😉
As an avid gamer, I am no stranger towards getting addicted to a certain game and would play on for hours until I have wrapped up loose ends (read: sub-quests) or progressed through a major plotline (read: checkpoint). Fortunately for me, it’s no physical addiction, so I won’t have to deal with relapses, and could choose to simply not to game if something urgent and important is seen on the horizon. Nonetheless, getting addicted is disruptive to my life. My schedule would be messed up, and I have to find extra time and effort to keep everything up to schedule. That is not healthy. It could and would cut into my precious time that I could spend with my family and friends, on recreational activities, my other hobbies, or even worse, on my sleep time.
I mentioned that I am an avid gamer in the About page, but the posts so far has nothing to do with games. It feels kinda unjustified that I call myself an “avid gamer”. So, I think it’s about time that I make a post on games. I dug up an old game that I have never gotten around to finish it, and start playing it anew. The next time I check, I thought “Wow! It’s been a week since I last posted here! Time sure flies.” That’s usually what happened when you pick up a game like Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. It’s not the most addictive games I have played (that honour goes to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), nor the one I have invested the most hours into (that would be Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale), but I think it’s fair to call it one of the most unique game ever produced, and certainly ranked among the best on my list.
Being marketed as an action role playing game in medieval fantasy setting, it goes without saying that there is some hacking and slashing, swords, shields, magicks, dungeons, dragons, the usual. What separate this game from most of its peers, is depth. Its refined combat, centered on unique stamina-based play style and varied enemies that demands you to adapt accordingly or die tying (that’s not a pun); the beautiful world in its sunset, giving off the radiance of everything it once was but no longer, foreshadowing its impending doom; the ever elusive lore of the world, shrouded in mystery, yet every brick and stone gives off a vibe: that the land you are stepping on is brimming with history, and if you look hard enough, it may occasionally offers you a glimpse into its rich past. These all offer something unique to the overall experience of the game, but more than that, they offer something that is at the core of the game’s philosophy: grow, or decay, there is no stagnation (that reminds me of Yoda).
A few months back I went book hunting and came across a book with an interesting title. I recognized the three words from the title straight away: Shyu, Ha, Ri, of which they represents a system, a way of thinking that have roots deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, and are prominent among the practitioners of tea ceremony, Go, martial arts, and even Zenism. As an avid fan of Japanese culture, it piqued my interest as to how the author was going to apply it to building success in life.
Turns out, the book ingrained the system into education as well as life-long learning as a means to achieve self-empowerment and through it, success in life. To put it simply, Shyu is to obey the teachings completely; Ha is to reevaluate the teachings, then alter, optimize, and even create new methods based on the teachings that best suit your own style; Ri is where you integrate the teachings into your system, and became a master of your own right. The book gives many genuine examples that are easily related to, and its ideas resonate with Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, that success is not found, but rather, it ensue after you no longer focus on success and dedicated yourself to the pursuit of greatness. Based on my understanding of the system as well as the book, I have rearranged them into 4 steps: