My signet ring and my parents

I have a signet ring, which my father gave to me. I wear it every day and it has really become a part of my attire. I wear it without any engravings. Not because I don’t feel like engraving it, but because of a philosophy; a motive. Let me share it with you.

The ring symbolises my course of life to me; it was given to me by one of my parents, like the opportunity to become who I am. I got my life from both my parents, free to fill in how I want to.

I will not engrave it to remind me, every day, that I am my own person. A person who has been enabled to exist because of my parents, like the ring, but free to complete how I wish. The lack of engraving reminds me that I am my own ‘tabula rasa’, my own blank slate.

The slightly scratched surface show that the choices of my parents will always be with me; they do show their influence but they do not fully determine your life.

The scratches show that my parents had to go through their own life, their own experiences and struggles to give this opportunity, this ring to me, picking up the scratches on the way, always trying to bring this ring, these opportunities, this life as free and pristine as possible to me.

You do not have to conform to the choices people made before you, you are free to chose and design the course of your life, to engrave your own ring, for as much as possible. But remember: The opportunity to make these choices; to engrave this life by your own hand was given to you by your parents.

Thank you, mom and dad,

Love you both

Deliberate

Recently I have read a piece by Leo Babauta about living more Zen like, or to put it in a less prejudiced way, to live more calm. The post I read which struck me was 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk. It is a list of things to live in a more relaxed way, but there are a few points that I would like to share my thoughts on.

The first point states that you should do one thing at the time, followed by the point that you should do this task slowly and deliberately. These two points already made me change the way I live my life; allow me to explain.

Deliberating your actions, to me, means that you think about every action you take; writing something, choosing what you want to cook for dinner or even pouring water for tea. Think about these things before you act out; the often quoted and even more often ignored statement ‘think before you act’ comes to mind. Think about what you want to write and what style. Think about the spices and ingredients before cooking, the taste you want to achieve, what order to prepare the things in and arrange what you need, ingredients, pans etc., and set them on the counter before cooking. Think about your tea, the type of tea, how you pour the water in your cup and about where you are going to drink it. Thinking thoroughly about your actions accomplishes the first point on the list; one thing at the time. Physically and mentally, one thing at a time.

But it has a far more interesting and satisfying effect. Deliberating these thoughts sets a goal. A small goal, but still a goal. And because you focus on this one thing, this goal becomes the main thing in your head. Completing your task, even pouring water, results in satisfaction and a general happy feeling. The ecstasy that results from completing a task becomes a daily joy. To me this made everyday tasks joyful and satisfying, and made me much less lethargic.

Doing less and doing it slower made me achieve more, reach deadlines for my university courses faster and allowed me to completely finish the things I need to do. I was fantastic at starting seven things at once, stressing out about finishing them and eventually only finishing two of them. This has all changed.

Keep in mind that every task and assignment has an end; everything you do completes at a point where you can start the next thing to do. So do not worry about the other tasks while doing one task, it will all be finished as long as you deliberate your actions and do your things as you plan them. A way of life that, to me, made me see the over-hasted way of modern life and made me appreciate everything in my life more.

How to disagree with something, a guide.

A statement is made that upsets or angers you or a plan is devised that you feel is incorrect. Say a politician created a law or made actions using their position that do not fit in your perceptions of what is correct, ethical or even humane. A situation in which your brain is overflown with negativity. In short; you disagree with something. Fabulous, seeing how disagreement is one of the most effective mindsets that make every individual just that, an individual, as it is a mindset that strongly conveys your opinions. But there is some thing to note:

Disagreement can be executed in several ways; you can blatantly blurt out: ‘I disagree!’ and leaving it at that. With this “Loudest voice” mentality you provide a short and powerful statement, but in the end only show bigotry and bluntness.

Another, more powerful, thoughtful and effective way is to contemplate your disagreement and providing an educated counter argument. Not sure how to thoughtfully disagree? Here’s my take.

  • Understanding and Empathy

These first two steps elucidate the process of orientation: Understanding what someone is claiming and why. Now, in these steps you do not direct the actions towards yourself, try as much as possible to objectively and truly understand what the individual is communicating.

Initially, ask questions like ‘What is he precisely saying?’, ‘With what resources or methods does he want to execute this?’ and ‘What are his proposed benefits?’, and other similar questions. Research the claims made, find the grounding that the statements are based upon.

This is also the phase of empathy; the phase of understanding. Solely find information that supports the claims made and that the conflicting individual agrees with. Find out why the person you disagree with thinks what he thinks, and find all material that he uses to support him and understands why he thinks that way. Know your fight.

  • Specific disagreements

After researching and getting to know your enemy, you know exactly what he is saying, where to find evidence of what he said and what the specifics of his claims are. You didn’t get carried away in your anger and have comprised a list of claims that is as objective as you could make it. It purely says what he said, not personal conflict shown yet.

Now is the time to get, calm and collectedly, angry. What are the points you disagree on? Not the whole statement, but the exact points. Was inhumanity exhumed in a certain step of a proposed plan? Were unethical actions planned as horrid means to an end? Have racist implications been made? Is the message of the whole statement a hateful message? Find certain, specific aspects of the matter. Not the generality. It shows that you know what your countering, it attacks your opponent more effectively.

  • Substantiating

You’ve chosen the aspects that counter your philosophy regarding life and that are antonymous to your view of humanity. The proceeding step is to show that you know what you are saying. Support your claims. Explain why you think that the statements were incorrect, but don’t stop at the statement ‘It is inhumane.’ as this is why you chose to attack that certain point in the first place. Why is it inhumane? Who does it hurt? Why is it bad that those people are hurt? Why is something said unethical or hateful? Explain why the points you chose are outright preposterous. Be in-depth, explain to the roots of your personality and of your nature why the statements are disagreeable to you.

  • Countering

The comprehensive list of disagreed points has now been expanded to an essay thoroughly illuminating your disagreement. Yet writing this essay purely as a rebuttal to a statement is half the effort and effect. It shows thoughtfulness, resourcefulness and cleverness but leaves room for integrity.

Counter the statement, make your own statements, concerning the matter, that support your views of correctness and ethics. Explain how your views are better, and don’t be afraid to release your hold on the original matter and write on what morally right in your point of view. Write what you think is correct, why you think that and why it is better.

 

My beautiful epiphany

Not too long ago I had a moment of realisation of unimaginable scale, at least to me. It was a realisation concerning all of mankind; me, my friends, family, partner, a random person in the train and even you. Allow me to explain my epiphany and tell you why it was so impressive to me.

What I realised, with my feeble mind, was that we all think and have thought things. All the little things you, the reader, think about everyone else thinks about. Everything you thought about or have an opinion on, everyone has. Everyone has a mind as bogglingly complex as yours, everyone has opinions as deeply grounded as deep as yours in your brain. The people who write their opinions in columns or blogs have thought about their opinion in the same way you have, and carry the same emotions as you, and the latter is possibly even more boggling.

Everything you’ve had emotional feelings about; your youth, school experience, work and love everyone else has had feelings about. Just as deep as you have had. every person you see, passing in cars in the opposite direction or walk past in the street has emotions, is thinking something when you see them and have a goal or direction in their life. 

And the fact that everyone has a goal they’re working towards was the realisation that was awe-inspiring to me. The fact that everyone is there for a reason, for a purpose. And possibly of no purpose for you, but for them. And this is the point I want to stress: Every single person exists for a reason, every individual you see. Every man working in a field that you pass by train, every store clerk, every child and every elderly person who scuttles by on his old day. That man who was driving towards you on the other side of the highway wasn’t just a car you saw once in your life, never to be seen again but it was a man with a goal he was driving towards, possibly returning home to his family he loves or going to work, possibly with the same unwillingness you have had when you had a job you didn’t like. And the same emotions concerning those situations.

And it is not just this one man, but every single car passing you on the highway has someone in it with a mind as complex as yours. They all work towards goals and have directions and purpose in their lives. Every single person. This realisation at first made me have a small existential crisis, as I realised that my brain, in the large picture, is not unique. No one’s is. We all think, feel and see. We all experience. And then even more amazing is the fact that, when you really look at it, everyone is then unique. Everyone, through the experience of their childhood, education and all else has a unique thought process, unique “sets of opinions” (read some opinions are shared with others, but you will never find someone who shares the exact same opinions on everything ever as you).

I guess all that I realised that everyone is a person, and that was amazing, awe-inspiring and beautiful to me.

So opaque

Via Daily prompt: Opaque

My opaque thing has a well defined surface and has good textures to boot. It is pleasing to look at, fun to have in your hands and control and comforting to have near and be with. The outside is clear to see and easy to place and understand. Yet what lies beneath this seemingly comprehensible surface one will not know. It could be all colours, yet none either. Hollow or filled with layers of shades and colours, all of the rainbow. My opacity can have a bright outside yet an inside dark as night. A bland beige outside filled with colours so unimaginably and awe-inspiringly gorgeous.

All these features we will never know, unless the object is well inspected and carefully chiseled away at to peek inside. Or the object can be broken when our curiosity takes hold us, and the exposing inside can be seen once and for the last time. The once-gorgeous colours of a bland object will not ever be as beautiful as before.

Prudence

via Daily Prompt: Prudent

Prudence, the mother of all virtues. The ability to make decisions based on rational thoughts and reasoning. Making a prudent decision, the thing that makes humans amazing.

The ability to outweigh -in a reasonable span of time- the pros and cons, the requirements and even the consequences (the future!) of a decision is an incredible feat of the mind.

Being prudent is a wonderful thing, as you will seldom have the feeling of having made a bad decision, thought prudence is often confused with cautiousness which some people see as a bad quality. Bad decisions are so harmful to mankind, as it is a truly painful feeling that can in no way be reversed or changed, a pain that can not be comforted without the medicine of time. Decisions made are decisions made, and if said decision was a prudent one happiness and gladness and content ensue.

Prudent

 

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