Archive for the ‘life’ Tag

Enjoying the Process – Reaching Goals is Overrated

Is it worth it?

Random Observation/Comment #239: I am finding that more and more conversations with my peers have been focused on careers and happiness philosophies.  Why is everyone so lost at this age? Where am I?

At this particular stage of my life, my philosophy is the same as many of my peers – go with the flow and be happy along the way.  The interesting part, however, is that although the content of the thought may be the same, I feel like I am at a much later stage in my life.  I’m actually thinking more like a 55-year-old giving advice to my younger self to not waste life away, rather than an irrational 23-year-old spending an obscene amount of money in NYC.  Through the untrained eye, it may seem like the latter is true, but my excuses all lay within the former.

Let’s say, the goal in life is to insure the happiness and well-being of your close community (i.e. friends and family) in order to give yourself a purpose and position within this community.  We all want to be needed and remembered in some way, so what better way to do it than making people happy?  Although some people can be happy alone, I have come to terms with the fact that I am a social creature that feels lonely and weak without a social circle.  I feed off of my generosity to others because it makes me feel less disposable.  I am confident in what I provide to the community, and it’s not pathetic as to say that I want people to use me, but I do see a need to be accepted in some shape or form.  I’m strong enough to be different and unique, but probably not strong enough to be shunned by the rest of the world.

Anyway, if our goal is to be happy (which is not an unreasonable goal), we do a lot of planning and complete a lot of tasks to reach this goal.  We see so many things with a covetous eye because we think attaining such materials, positions, lifestyles, or whatever would take us to that happy state.  So with that goal in mind, we work hard and make sacrifices to reach that dream life or buy that flat screen TV.  And all along the way, we save money, work extra hours, and skim our life to make way for that new life with that big change.

Yet, once that goal is reached, that peak of happiness seems short-lived.  New goals appear or overlapping goals gain more interest once these things are crossed off the list.  Happiness turns to appreciation towards these possessions or situations, and things just get dull again until the next goal is reached.  What I see are long periods of sacrifice followed by short spikes in happiness.  That happiness or sense of accomplishment may be your moment of ecstasy to see all the hard work pay off, but new roles and responsibilities quickly take over as new challenges arise.

To me, this makes life a constant competition and an endless race.  You think you’re competing with your peers in order to have those moments to brag, or even just to keep up with their achievements and not lose your spot in the top 5, but once you reach the next level, your next level of peers will only bring you back to average.  Although anyone looking at you will say that you are anything but average, you’ll always think you’re mediocre because your ambition drives you further and further up.  But what is that final goal?  Is that race ever over?  When you die, did you win?

I am not saying this to make an excuse for laziness because I’m definitely not lazy.  I am not saying this to bash on ambition because I think an ambitious and career-driven person is essential to the hujman race having a future.  Actually, if it wasn’t for this ambition, capitalism and the open market would fail.  I am simply saying that some people are way too goal-oriented and therefore do not see the beauty of life along the way.  This was the most important thing I learned from my travels – the beauty of a simple life and the normalized standard of life.

I have a friend that claims that a vacation is not real life.  She claims that real life is filled with pain and disappointment; real life is supposed to be a struggle of sacrifices and hard work in order to reach higher standards; and real life is following the American dream of being that exception.  If that’s real life, than I rather stay dreaming.  I don’t understand why hard work means sacrifice if you’re working hard in something you’re genuinely interested in.  I don’t see why it’s wrong to be a cheerful person that hopes for the best and stays optimistic.  I don’t understand why people connect my current happiness with life as a lack of motivation to reach higher standards.

The truth is that I still have the same goals as most people.  I set a lot of liberal-arts-type or experience-driven goals because there’s just a part of me that puts a negative association to money.  I’ve just found that money corrupts and I wouldn’t want to work hard to lose my foot on the ground.  In some ways, just being lucky enough to have a roof over my head with electricity and running water would be some level of corruption.  There’s already so much I take for granted in life, I don’t want the value of earning a dollar to be one of them.  I wouldn’t want to see myself spend ridiculous money on luxury things that I wouldn’t essentially need just because I have more money than I can spend.

Much of life’s pleasures are very inexpensive – Beer? Wine? Mashed Potatoes? Actually, much of what I hold dear cannot be bought with all the money in the world.  You can’t buy inside jokes with friends or family bonding moments.  Well, it’s not even that you wouldn’t be able to obtain new things, it’s the fact that you can’t turn back time to get the youth that you’ve seen slip away because you worried too much about life milestones.  You may be able to put a dollar value on your time right now, but you can’t return that money to take your time back.  I rather enjoy the process and reach whatever goal I reach.  If I don’t get there right away, at least I could say I tried my best and had something to remember.

It’s simple – I’m not competing with anyone in my life, and all that chasing will always be just that – chasing.  What you have will never be enough, and if you think you need to be sad today to be happy tomorrow, it’s just important to know that tomorrow is never today.  “Let’s just stop talking about living and start living.”

~See Lemons Emphasize the Process

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Setting Up New Goals

see lemons set light green goals

So many potential goals

Random Observation/Comment #218: Rejection is a terrible thing, but it’s definitely part of life.  Any excuses I give for my role in the situation will never be enough to ease my mind.  I’m not sure if it’s the disappointment in myself for not being able to think quicker or act sooner (or later), or if it’s just self-pity and self-loathing, but it definitely sucks.  At the end of the day, it’s what you can learn from these situations, so over time I will rise from the lull and rebound.  Rejection builds character.

I wrote about a year ago about goals, aspirations, dreams, and fantasies.  I think it was about time to update this entry with my achievements in the past year.

Since last December, I’ve: finished my Master’s thesis, started a company, went on a small roadtrip to Ohio with close friends, studied abroad in Germany for 6 months, traveled all over Europe (at least 15 major cities), sledged on the Swiss Alps, cooked almost every day in Germany, collected about a hundred more beer caps, started a collection of beer labels, tried every flavor of Rittersport, uploaded about 150 albums to facebook, listened to the full Harry Potter series audiobooks, climbed 3 mountains in Germany, fell in love again, wrote about 100 entries, (almost) wrote a book, got to second round interviews to all the companies I applied to, wrote my first chapter to a comic, wrote a study guide for learning languages (key vocabulary words that are used in everyday conversations for Mandarin, German, Japanese, and Spanish), basically reorganized my life, read a book for leisure, bought my first manual camera, and started at least 5 other side projects.  I’ve been keeping busy…

To quote my previous entry:

“Many of the goals are very short term and involve completing tasks at hand to make myself feel productive for the day.  Long term goals exist as well, but they are much more reasonable and can probably be achieved in the next few years.  The aspirations are for my long term career outlooks and accomplishments that occur in the next decade or so.  My dreams are what I deem as possible, but will require a lifetime of hardship or a whole lot of luck to come true.   My fantasies are things that will probably never happen, but their existence makes me happy and keeps me wishing.”

Goals:

  1. Stop procrastinating
  2. Narrow down primetime TV shows because they take up too much time in my life (House, The Office, Heroes, Dexter, Colbert Report, 24, Californiacation, 30 Rock).  Better yet: try not to add more to this list.
  3. Learn to write more in Chinese
  4. Learn to speak fluently in Japanese, Mandarin, German, and Spanish by 25.
  5. Get better at cooking
  6. Review more restaurants
  7. Try more wine
  8. Finish the comic book
  9. Finish the manga
  10. Finish writing book – maybe publish it or just share with close friends
  11. Go sky diving
  12. Write more poems
  13. Add more to my bottle cap and labels collection of beers
  14. Finish my side projects list (top secret for now)
  15. Take more photographs and improve with manual settings
  16. Travel to Japan and Hong Kong before I start working
  17. See Natasha again
  18. Continue to collect memorable quotes from amazing nights

Aspirations:

  1. Get married (hopefully after the love thing)
  2. Find a career with flexible hours, low stress, and high pay (maybe this should be a fantasy or at least a dream)
  3. Live in NYC
  4. Publish a book (autobiography, memoirs, novel, etc)
  5. See the Northern Lights
  6. Make money from photography
  7. Write about drinking expensive wines
  8. Get an MBA
  9. Save someone’s life – change it for the better forever
  10. Own a dog and play in the little dog park with them – yay!
  11. Conquer my fears
  12. Go restaurant reviewing with my brother – he drives the nice car and I pay for the meals

Dreams:

  1. Visit all 7 continents
  2. See all 7 wonders of the world (all of them listed on Wikipedia which makes them like 50 based on different organizations)
  3. Travel to at least 50 countries (currently at 15)
  4. Make my first million by the time I’m 27
  5. Eat at almost 80% of all restaurants in The City
  6. Early retirement
  7. Make a living traveling and writing
  8. Learn to fly a plane
  9. Own a house that I’ve designed (I would build it, but I’m afraid it would fall down while I sleep)
  10. Become as influential as a professor – possibly become a professor
  11. Change the world with something
  12. Get on the Colbert Report
  13. Travel to space – weightlessness would be cool too

Fantasies: (All new sorts of ridiculousness: see last year’s entry for other funny ones)

  1. Time travel
  2. Obtain Jedi powers – most notably mind tricks
  3. Be a part of a heist without any consequence.  I don’t mind getting caught as long as I can say “I want full immunity signed by the President.”
  4. Help build Skynet, but go back in time to try and protect a younger version of myself from the governator
  5. Chainsaw a zombie in half
  6. Sleep with the only hot girl that remains after the zombie apocalypse
  7. Carve a turkey with a light saber
  8. Extend claws and have regeneration. I would also have ridiculous chops.
  9. Swing from a chandelier while having an epic sword fight
  10. Curve a bullet around Angelina Jolie
  11. Play ping pong against Christopher Walking
  12. Lift an entire aircraft carrier from a door while saving a girl
  13. Fly around the world so fast that I turn back time
  14. Play an Australian guy pretending to be a black guy pretending to be a soldier in the Vietnam war
  15. Make a play about a secret relationship that foreshadows the movie
  16. Chant “We Are Spartans” after defeating thousands of Persians on the side of a mountain
  17. Have a split personality disorder that makes me invent Brad Pitt as my alter ego. Not Tyler Durden; just Brad Pitt
  18. Run across the US and back for no reason except “I just felt like running”
  19. Attend Hogwarts for 4 years while fighting the dark lord and then become an outcast for an entire movie to defeat death eaters (which will be so much better than the last one)
  20. When I get mad (or excited), I turn green and huge
  21. Search for a treasure in an ancient temple filled with awesome traps.  Unchartered meets Tomb Raider
  22. Go to Vegas and count cards to win lots of money
  23. Be able to speak like Mickey in Snatch.  WTF does he say? I hate Pikers.
  24. Continuously be chased by the government because I’m a trained assassin trying to figure out my past
  25. Sweet Key Lime.

As always, health and continual strives towards learning is what matters most.

~See Lemons Aim, Exhale slowly, and Squeeze

Life is All About Side Projects

Life. You see it, right?

Life. You see it, right?

Random Observation/Comment #213:  The more time I spend in New York, surrounded by the wonderful, fast-paced life style, the more I also begin to miss being in Europe. There were so many quirks there that made me happy, but I should realize that I was on vacation; and a vacation lifestyle is definitely not the productive one.  I grew in a liberal arts fashion with new passions towards living life, but I lost a piece of my technical approach (which was getting borderline nerdy anyway).  It’s odd continually separating these two worlds, but I’m not really sure why I’m trying to make such distinctions.  I changed my fashion and my organization in the past few weeks, and a new project is on the brink of initiation.  I will run the alpha once I have time to myself where I’m not distracted by amazing shows like Dexter, Californiacation, and House, and also not studying for upcoming interviews.

I’ve found that the method of leading a good life can be broken down to a few major rules.  None of these are intended to be religious in any way, but of course, they could probably be interpreted that way.

  • Keep a separate hobby from your career. Granted, your career can be a hobby (like programming, if you’re Nerdy McNerderson), but you should realize that other hobbies need to exist to keep things interesting.  Life is about what you do with your free time.  As we grow older and our scope of responsibility widens, we lose those precious moments to ourselves, so make sure you find your personalized and perfected relaxation routine (glass of red wine chatting with friends) or happy pass-time routines (ping pong or reading a good sci-fi novel).  Personally, it would be writing, photography, and testing random startup ideas, which I feel balances the technical aspect with a healthy dosage of those liberal arts things.
  • Make lots of short-term goals and finish them to stay productive. There’s a high level of satisfaction for me when I check off to-dos because they make me feel more efficient.  It might be the engineer thing, but I can’t stay still.  If you could, try to make these goals related to those hobbies.  This is basically the idea of staying organized, but you get much more done when these goals mold with your free-time and stray away from obligations.
  • Stay social and connected to a community. Whether it’s keeping up (cough, stalking) with your friend’s facebook updates, calling up friends to get slightly involved (just the tip) with their issues, or texting clever messages to random people, it’s nice to be involved in something.  You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when someone calls you up to invite you to go out to an event?  It’s a sense of being on someone’s mind and it just makes everyone more cheerful.  Everyone likes to get invited, so if you’re doing something; spread the joy.
  • Make observations about the world and try to see that bigger picture. There’s a level of ignorance that can be tolerated, but there’s just so much out there to learn.  Stuff you own is just stuff.  That materialistic world may make you feel better, but it can all be taken away.  Some people use faith as there guiding path, but I prefer to use knowledge.  I’m not saying, “Let’s crack open the internet and start absorbing it into our own memory.”  That’s just ridiculous.  I’m suggesting to make connections and to be savvy in specific subjects.  There’s no way you could be an expert of everything, but you just need to have your own thing.  For example, if I wanted to talk about theology, I’d chat with Justin.  If I wanted to talk about graffiti and tattoos, I’d talk to James.  If I wanted to talk about video games and the Rangers, Jake would give his feedback.  Hint: try not to be the expert of sitting around watching prime time TV shows on hulu.
  • Add a bit of randomness to your life. Routines are incredibly comfortable, but really nasty when taken to an anal extreme.  The most organized person in the world counting tooth-brush strokes and walking the same optimized path (like in that Will Ferrell movie) sounds highly efficient and should probably make me pitch a partial, but the truth is: I wouldn’t be able to hold that up.  Probably me, more than most people, love to have control over their own life, but I’ve found that sometimes you just need to let go and add some spontaneity.  If you don’t, you’re just a zombie consumer going through a set routine – granted, it might be the best routine ever, but you lose your edge when you get used to everything around you.
  • Stay healthy. All of the above doesn’t make a difference if you’re unable to do the things you love.  Make decisions that keep yourself and everyone around you content.  Life is already so short and we’re already so fragile.  Take breaks when you’re overwhelmed and make sure work or fun doesn’t get in the way of your future’s well-being.  Hint: Don’t drink too much, even though it’s super social and fun.

I made this list on the train ride to an interview, but I try my best to maintain these simple principles.  Most of it may be common sense, but there are a lot of these things I wish I knew before starting university.  For example, if I knew the importance of teamwork, I would have begun study sessions and problem set collaboration much earlier.  It’s all about using your resources and making sure you include that “liberal arts” world into your everyday life.

Does this mean I support a liberal arts degree now?  A Liberal Arts major is basically: “I don’t know what I want to do with my life when starting college so let me take any type of class I want to see what I’m interested in.”  You’re supposed to change degrees within the University when you figure out what you want to do.  Unfortunately, students abuse this system by taking the classes with the least amount of work, and thus, the most amount of partying.  Even if you say, “No, that’s definitely not me,” you’d be surprised at how much your peers affect your decisions.  Besides, college is also about learning how to learn and practicing your social skills so you can communicate better in the real world, so a bit of partying is necessary.

I haven’t been to the next stage in my life yet, but I’m pretty sure many things change when that popularity narrows down to a few close friends and your significant other.  Maybe facbeook will revolutionize things, but by TV shows (which is pretty much real life), the couples play-date thing is right around the corner.  Make the most out of your freedom!  Carpe Diem!

~See Lemons Always Busy

Much More than a Rittersport Obsession

This is going to interfere with the weightloss project

This is going to interfere with the weightloss project

Random Observation/Comment #191: Contrary to popular belief, I am not obsessed with desserts or sweets in general. I have a sweet tooth (somewhere among the carnivorous ones and passion towards cherry tomatoes), but it had always been geared towards cheesecake, ice cream, and cookies.  This new project for Rittersport chocolate is not because of some endorsement they are paying me or any ploy to invite girls over to my room (although…).  The purpose goes deeper than merely trying every type of chocolate – it’s the overall completeness of an adventure.  It’s just a simple short term goal that brings me a great deal of pleasure for a relatively small price.  I would have spent the money on snacks elsewhere, but forcing myself to buy everything at once and record these findings just seems much more calculated.  I’m all about being spontaneous, but these side projects, no matter how calculated they may be, make life interesting.  I have so many on-going projects involving collections, but each of them don’t have an end date.  I will never try every restaurant in NYC or drink every beer in the world.  I’ll have a great opinion about each of these experiences for a small list of “top 10s” in each category, and yet I want something so much more.

Tackling a new flavor of chocolate for a particular brand brings me a level of accomplishment that a project will be completed.  Yes, this will hinder my goal of a six-pack – just as the beer and wine taste testing has – but this can easily be thwarted with some extra hard work.  This step towards making a reasonable schedule for this project had much more significance than I had initially intended.  It’s not just “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I try every flavor of chocolate from Rittersport?”  It’s “Hey, why not?”  I’m lucky enough to be half way around the world in a foreign country with new customs and particular quirks – don’t I have the obligation of living this to the fullest and showing it to my friends and family?  It’s part of the reason I started this blogging and twittering thing.  I just want to share, and the virtual communities have made it simple by giving me a car and building a highway.

Life is about hobbies and ways to spend your free time.  The money thing is sort of important to maintain the life styles and support some expensive hobbies, but what fun is a life filled with paying off debt?  What fun is life without the occasional pothole, aggressive drivers, and unbearable traffic jams?  Excess of these metaphorical obstacles could cause stress and frustration, but I think I would be pretty damn bored without a finish-line and some big fat guy in a suit blocking the way.  The truth is – I love the challenge and I love making small doses of controllable chaos.  It makes me feel productive and it makes success that much more rewarding.

Hopefully, a career will help feed the purpose of my hobby while not suffocating it with obligatory deadlines.  For example, my brother loves buying old 1990 BMWs, fixing them with his mechanic friends, driving them for a few months, and selling it for the profit that barelycovers the gas and insurance cost over time.  Obviously, it’s not the monetary gain after selling the car; it’s the priceless fun he had learning about how everything works and driving down a windy rode with the top down, listening to 80’s music.  And my brother’s career of designing roads just somehow nicely completes his story.  He’s dedicated to his work because his projects will be providing the essentials for millions of cars for the next 25 years.  After all, a car is pretty useless without well-designed roads connecting destinations.

Through these travels, I have searched for those stories that help me reflect on my own.  I’ve heard so many that make sense, and I’ve heard so many that seem just as lost (if not, more so) than I am.  It gives me comfort that we’re all looking for that purpose in each of our individual lives.  I guess the first step is to find what makes us happy.  Whether it be, drinking out with friends or playing video games in front of the computer, we shouldn’t conform to what everyone says is fun.  One thing is for sure: We are social creatures and happiness lies somewhere within our importance – being wanted, needed, and missed – within a community.  It is in this place where I find my home.

~See Lemons Continue Searching

I was trying to be creative with pictures...

I was trying to be creative with pictures...

Interlaken’s Lakeside Sigh

 

 

Thank you for posing, random strangers.

Thank you for posing, random strangers.

Random Observation/Comment #168: I was once asked by a friend, “What has happened in the past week that made you love life?” The question was difficult to answer not because I followed some cult cynicism (which I don’t), but rather because the week in question was a week where my senses were almost paralyzed by the overflow of natural beauty.  The view of mountains in every direction definitely added to the feeling, but I’m pretty sure it was the loose shoulders and open arms embracing this life that made me forget about reality.  My lungs hoarded the clean air and I finally let my brain breathe for that oxygen head-high.  The last time I saw an empty Terminator-on-screen-display of tasks was in Japan.  Once more, I enjoyed these moments in peace.  I was not alone – it was me and Mother Nature.  We had endless conversations with each other even though the understanding of each other’s languages was minimal.  At some point, She probably told me to stop being anti-social.

 

Writing is my form of time traveling.  As I sit down and refresh my memories with the 400 pictures I took this day, it really feels like that scene from The Butterfly Effect when Ashton Kusher jumps back to change events.  All these terrible Hollywood camera effects references is sadly the best I can do to express this imaginative shift.  I often type with my eyes closed and with minimal distractions as to more deeply remember every sense in my body and every thought in my mind from that time.  I try my hardest to grasp those floating memories and paste them onto my laptop screen.  The random rants are a direct result of my silent conversations (although it sometimes involves different ties from more current events).

I give this reiterative reasoning for my entries because I think I have officially marked the memory of blissful peace on the side of that lake that will stay with me forever.  Yes, everything about Fuji-san sunrise was a rejuvenating jolt from that picture-perfect defibrillator, but there was something different about this walk that made me smile.  I guess what I’m trying to put into words is embodied in the featured photograph of this entry.

Not only was the walk in the Neuhaus wildlife preservation area an incredible, real-life painting before my eyes, but it offered a contrast of life phases.  The path following the lake was designated for dog walks, baby strollers, joggers, and regular nature enthusiasts, thus providing me with a very diverse sample.  I saw small groups of teenagers, young backpacking travelers, locals jogging with dogs, lovey-dovey couples, mothers with baby strollers, families with toddlers, and old couples holding hands on a bench watching the mountain’s reflections in the lake.  These people made my heart melt.

I couldn’t help but smile with envy.  I remembered those carefree teenage years and skipped a few stones, distorting that long forgotten reflection.  I remembered the romantics of being in love and finding comfort in being her shoulder to lean on.  I empathized with the young adults trying to maintain their grasp on youth and finding hobbies that fit their lifestyles.  I imagined the baby’s soft breath and happy dreams while following her mother in a joyful routine.  I longed for the short exchanged glance between parents that say in that extra-long second, “We did it.  I love you.”  And I look forward to that moment on the park bench where words cannot begin to describe the rollercoaster, called “Life.”  But for now, I will be the young backpacker with a heart for adventure and an open mind.  If you were there, I’m sure you would have seen the same.

~See Lemons Immersed in the Essence of Beauty

 

A perfectly placed open field in front of mountains

A perfectly placed open field in front of mountains

It’s Like a New Era

 

 

Perfect timing.

Perfect timing.

Random Observation/Comment #120: I didn’t really grasp the concept of waiting for a specific date to turn a new leaf and break bad habits.  We’re changing years, but what does that do except make me mess up writing the date for the month of January?  These New Year Resolutions scream procrastination and a weak mind.  If you want to do something, why do you need a special date to start?  Just get off your lazy ass and do it.  The convenience of setting a start date to the beginning of a month or any arbitrary day doesn’t make sense with something like getting in shape, quitting an addiction, or being a better person – some things should just start when you realize it being a problem.  Well, since I thought about the resolutions today, I guess I’ll start it today like everyone else.

 

The passing of 2008 comes with many great memories.  I think this was one of the best years of my life.  I spent the first half as a senior at Cooper Union with minimal work and my own place in the city.  With a relatively large amount of free time (compared to junior year), I began researching new and different pastimes.  I reflected on how lucky I was to live in the best city in the world and also how stupid I had been to not indulge in this privilege earlier.  My education had impeded much of my learning.  The experiences of racing to meet deadlines and sleeping for 4 hours per night was part of my college world, but my social life paid the price.  I have no regrets regarding these deprived years because I left with a solid work ethic and a continual desire to learn.  I had gone to college – not as a test of memorization or exam-taking skills, but to explore my optimal method of organization and learning.  At this day and age, it is more important to know how to find the answer, than it is to recall it directly from your memory.  Hands-on lab projects and technical skills are much more valuable than exams with matching definitions (not that any of our professors ever gave an exam that didn’t have trick questions). 

Anyway, with my free time, I did anything and everything anyone would do if they had time in the city.  I did some research by reading New York City guides and literally asking what people loved doing with their free time.  I started by allotting myself a larger budget – I figured that an extra few dollars on food and entertainment would only increase my overall semester spending by $1000, which I could earn in a month’s salary when I got a job.  Although this was very true and I did thoroughly enjoy my time, I “accidentally” forgot I was traveling over the summer and didn’t really want to work yet.  Oh well, I’ll just dip it into my already large debt I owe to my parents.

By the end of May, I was excited beyond belief knowing that I would graduate with somewhat of a useful degree like engineering (no offense to the History majors).  Even though I suffered through 4 years of hell to obtain it, I have maximized my options for my future, and this choice of different paths keeps me excited for tomorrow. 

My trip to Japan was life changing.  I discovered one of my passions in life – writing.  I’ve always been a writer, but I never wrote coherently enough for other people to read.  With every entry describing Japan and my train of thought through these culturally awkward situations, I have learned more about myself.  I hope these reflections inspire others to see life in a different eye.  I was talking to a close friend about relationships and it was somehow manipulated into the meaning of life.  I don’t have a generic answer for you because I don’t think there is only one answer.  Scientifically, we’re here to reproduce and protect our offspring so they can reproduce.  Economically, we’re here to contribute to the golden arrow of consumerism so capitalism works.  Spiritually, we’re here to ensure that our souls have eternal happiness by helping those in need.  However, when I say there isn’t one answer, I don’t mean it for a category either – I mean that every individual should have their own answer.  We are tied to many of our obligations, but how we find meaning is an internal struggle.  Your ambitions and initiatives give you meaning.  Someone that is occupied with achieving their goals shouldn’t even have time to ask the question.  The meaning of life actually is quite simple – just live.  Stop over-thinking it and enjoy all of those happy moments that comes in small doses.  Life is what you make of it, which directly relates to how you spend your free time.  I’m going to let that thought bubble a little bit more before I elaborate in another entry.

Anyway, when I returned from Japan, I spent the rest of the year writing about those experiences, working on my thesis, and weighing my options for careers and hobbies.  Organization and planning flooded my mind on an hourly basis, and I really felt alive when I wrote my lists of aspirations and dreams.  The goals that have been completed become my stepping stones to reach my ideal life.  And with every experiment and observation, I come closer to identifying the qualities for my ideal life.

Since I was so enthusiastic about traveling, I made plans for my next adventure.  After the Master’s, I’ll travel Europe.  Studying in Germany is simply a resume stuffer to give more time to find myself.  So what can I hope for in 2009?  I hope I learn about myself as much as I’ve discovered in 2008.  It will be difficult to quantify or qualify this self-knowledge, but hopefully I’ll come up with a measuring method as well.  Whatever happens, I hope my friends and family health and happiness.  Never stop learning and never stop loving.  Cheers and Happy New Year.

~See Lemons in 2009

Keeping it Interesting

 

 

Cutest puppy ever.  It's relevant to the post... umm... don't forget your pet makes you smile.

Cutest puppy ever. It's relevant to the post... umm... don't forget your pet makes you smile.

Random Observation/Comment #112: I don’t like routines, but sometimes they’re necessary and I’ve come to accept that.  The comfort in my particular routines root from the pleasure of knowing that I had tried most alternatives and settled on a path that balances time and energy towards these uncontrollable moments of commute.  Everything has been made to, what I refer to as, “dynamically efficient.”  I not only choose the best path for a regular walk, but I also accordingly adjust paths due to delays, detours, or even my mood (woopty-freakin’-doo, so does everyone else in the world).  Well, I just wanted to point it out…

 

The battle between security and adventure has been my main internal conflict for the past few years.  I’ve been torn left and right thinking about my threshold of risk-taking.  In no way do I want to live a “life on the edge,” looking for the next conquest, but then again, I don’t want to always follow the same routine in a boring life.   So where is the balance?  How can I fool myself into being happy with repetition?

When I was “on the road” (so to speak), I looked at everything around me like a five-year-old toddler.  I asked random questions in my mind and to the closest person next to me throughout the entire trip to get the full experience.  It was the complete submersion in a different culture that kept me interested.  From aspects as obvious as their foreign tongue, to the less noticeable mannerisms at meals, I was fascinated.  My mind also had that “observation mode” toggled on record and analyze, which has recently become increasingly more difficult to locate.

I live in one of the greatest cities in the world (if not The greatest city), surrounded by skyscrapers and mom & pop shops on every corner, yet I don’t obsess with my camera and I don’t memorize all those useless facts to the same detail as when I was in Japan.  The city that never sleeps is a concrete creature with its own heart, mind, and soul.  The energy can be found in every buttered bagel or coffee, and these miniscule everyday incidents contribute to a city of adventures beyond my imagination.  It’s the familiarity that manipulates me, but it’s also the same familiarity that comforts me. 

Before I offer my solution on how to keep life a little more interesting, I want to reflect on this desire to remove myself from repetition.  Doing the same thing every day and week is perfectly fine for people who want to control their life in whichever way possible, but for me, life loses its lustrous color and vivacious strokes.  Surprises are – well – unexpected, which floods my mind with planning compulsions.  It’s a high pressure situation when you’re put on the spot, and in my mind, it leads to a lot of stress.  However, just because I don’t like too many surprises, doesn’t mean I want to follow the zombie crowds.  I like trying new things, but they must be within my branch of choices.  I’ve planned the “next level” to have a larger variation of routines.  They’re all safe and preapproved by me, and it’s up to my whatever-mood to pick.  This is how I’ve stayed sane while maintaining my anal tendencies.  I suggest mixing it up a bit to keep the mind sharp, and to see the world large and mysterious.

  1. Try different restaurants.  Stop going to the same place for lunch and dinner even though it’s incredibly delicious.  Exploration increases your opinions of places.
  2. Try writing a journal. It only takes a few minutes to jot down a few thoughts about the day.  It doesn’t have to be well written, but if you read it later, you’ll definitely be glad these moments in your life exist.  Even if it’s writing down one thing you learned today, you’ll have 365 random facts in a year. 
  3. Read a different genre.  If you like reading, try a different genre or go out on a limb and read a trashy romance novel.
  4. Try to learn a musical instrument. If you played an instrument when you were younger, try to pick it up again.  If you didn’t, maybe there’s something easy you can practice like an ocarina from the iPhone app.
  5. Keep the iPod diverse.  Music is so relaxing, but the same songs over, and over, again melts my brain. 
  6. Learn a new language.  Was there a language you just wish you could pick up?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know Mandarin when those 1.2 billion people in China start to take over the world?  Pick up an audio-book and listen to a lesson everyday during the commute. 
  7. Take a different route.  If you have time, walk or drive a different way to work.  Clear your head with another radio station or take a peaceful stroll to organize priorities.
  8. Taste-test wine.  This will not work for alcoholics or non-alcoholics, but I remember when I bought a $15 bottle every two weeks to try out different wines.

Sometimes catching up on sleep on the train is nice, but I find that most of the time my mind is blank or drifting in odd directions.  I guess I keep thinking this way because I never want to lose that desire to learn and absorb new things.  Maybe I should narrow down my list and just work on my strengths.  Being a well-rounded person takes so much effort.  If you take anything out of this, it should be that life is beautiful and we should all do everything to see every corner of it (it’s probably a circle).

The list was geared towards those who are trapped in a routine.  If you have free time, I’m sure you could come up with a much larger list of hobbies.  Best of luck, Mr/Mrs Nine-to-five.

~See Lemons Learn to Live