Do we have reason?

Stoics have said that our ability to “reason” is important for us as human being,  that it’s what separate us from beasts. Stoic thinkers were also based their writing on the existence of gods, like Lady Fortune in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. There is a higher power in play that we can’t know and we can’t control. But it leaves us with our ability to reason, to make best of our situation, and to do good rather than whine or do evil.

Modern stoicism is stripping off the need of higher power while still pushing for the benefit of looking at the bright side, make do of what we have and don’t lose your sanity over things you can’t control.

Without higher power, the need to do good will need reinvention. The very basis that we need to do good because we are creatures of higher moral has became blurry. And therefore the questions over perseverance of moral and the definition of control will change too.

Forget about modern Stoicism, let’s get back to the “reason”. That’s said to be the only thing that we have full control of. Our ability to think and to perceive things. To be an optimist and to stop ourself from self harming thoughts. That if we can dig back into our inner desire to do good, we can overcome suffering.

But, here is the big question, do we really have control over our mind. Neuroscience has shown that our brain is a bowl of chemical mess. It reacts to the outside world and create an illusion of reality. And with example of genetic differences and mental illness, can one really master our mind? Can a person with mental illness achieve enlightenment if they can’t even choose to be sane? or everything is pretty much set to stone?

That also say that the great minds like Boethius and Epictetus could be a stoic because they had a brain that’s stoicable, that they were able to reason themselves to accept the world as it is and to make use the best of it.

I say that everything is predestinated, not of a higher power like a God, but of a chain reaction of events. That given that we’ve known all the variables, with a predictive model we could predict the future up to the individuals. And that by knowing the future will change the future in a constant reactive way. That the decision to see and change ones future is based on those predestinated chain itself and a million other variables that we’ve yet to discover.

So I guess for now we can call that magic.

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The empty desire jar

Desires are one of the key fuel in life. They drive you forward into meanings. Without desires we are corpses, inert and rotting. With desires, we work toward achieving them.

Circling back to the source of a desire is meaning. It is a very chicken or egg question. What comes first, the found meaning that creates desires or a natural occurring desire that produces meanings.

What are desires. Wanting to be somewhere. But why. Maybe that somewhere is beautiful. Why is it beautiful. Mountain ranges, snowy peaks, long roads, clear water lakes, autumn coloured forrest. why do they matter. I don’t know. But I still want it.

What about disappointments. Unfulfilled desires, where do you keep them.

How badly do you want something. How much are you willing to pay. How much do you have.

And what about the meaning of life. Why are you chasing these desires if life is meaningless. What drives the desire to fulfil your desires.

Let’s start with the desire to find meaning. If you believe your meaning of life is to reproduce, your desires would be to reproduce, raise good children. Having those desires in turns gives your life the meaning. Where do we stop.

Living a life without meaning stripped me off the privilege of having desires. Desires come and go. The difference is I don’t have a strong desire to fulfil them. That turned me into a walking dead. Am I even alive.

The lack of desire used to be my pride, a liberation from the need to chase dreams. A bravery act of strength of depending in me and me only. A protection from being disappointed and a carefree attitude to never feel miserable. But it has turned into a wall. I’m too scared to break the wall, to have desires, to be disappointed.

Having no strong desire is wearing me down. Every time a desire pops up I will fall into this pit of misery questioning the meaning, fighting it down. But how long can I keep up with this empty jar?


Exploring rare emotions

This is an attempt to immortalise this moment of my life so that I can come back later and maybe relive it again. Or better if I can experience this again.

Not that this is a pleasant emotion, it’s indeed of heartbreak and unfulfilled desires. But it’s rare nonetheless. I don’t regret having lived this moment nor that I wished this had not have happened.

I sat next to my speaker which was playing sad songs. Damien Rice’s, John Mayer’s, Adele’s and Sara Bareilles’. Also a bunch of other songs that I picked up over the previous days which amplified my emotions. Dido’s “Thank You” for the fantasy of having you in my life, “Bizarre Love Triangle” made my heart drop every time and started thinking of you again, and Sara Bareilles’ “Breath Again” for the desire to have you in my life.

Everyday for many days since I met you was a terrible day. For that one time we chatted pass midnight but not about you and me, for that every time that my phone buzzed with your messages and my accelerated heart beats only to talk about something else, for that one time we met and resisted myself to get closer, and for the rest of the time for waiting for your attention.

For that thought that I’ve finally found someone, that I am lovable, that I deserve an angel like you. To be dropped into pieces that it was my delusion. For you were never attracted to what I am. That you only wanted a friend.

And then for that hope that lingers, that I can make you love me, that I can make this work. I showered in your coldness instead. But I stayed for the hints of warmness.

So I sat next to next music hoping, weeping, regretting, daydreaming, embracing this emotion. For this is not desirable or pleasant. But at least it felt like something. The pains make me feel alive. For this is better than feeling nothing.

So I wanna thank you for that. For sparking something in me again. Though it won’t last for long because I’ve started to forget you, but maybe I’ll see you again. Maybe you’ll find me. Maybe I’ll meet some else.

 


Talking to a stranger

We had a quick chat for the first time after living here for 3 months. One of my neighbour.

It used to be normal to live with 5 different people in the house without knowing their names or talked to them. But it’s something one will do here upon seeing someone. A quick, “Hi, how is it going”, or shorter “Hey mate” will do. But sometimes unexpected need for a conversation put me in a very awkward situation. It was nice, he asked a few questions, how was your day, and the sorts. But having not used to small talks, I was left with short answers to the point of “he seems kind of rude”, or unfriendly.

So here are 3 reasons why Introverts are not meant to be talking to random stranger.

It is Spontaneous

It’s just not a strength of an introvert to think spontaneously especially when it involves more than himself. I can talk to you given enough time to prepare. But bumping into you somewhere unexpected and being asked questions will end up with short uncertain answers, especially when I don’t know you that well. And to quickly think of questions to ask back is another huge tasks.

Should I ask if he has kids, will it be rude, how about the weather, it’s middle of the night for fuck sake, ok just stay cool and wait for his next question.

We process things slower and in more details, looking for patterns, meaningful pieces of information to be delivered, which bring me to the next point.

Lack of meaning

It has to be meaningful else it won’t be done. Even when the meaning is fake, it’s good enough.

I understand the reasons for small talks. The search for compatibilities, a simple rule that glued our society together. But it changes with every individuals. Introverts see individuals as unique as themselves, avoiding generalizations. So every new people have to register some level of meaning for the chat.

Fine, it’s totally expected to bump into your neighbour, which happen almost everyday. But I’ve registered that we’ve passed the need for a chat, but a simple thumbs up or “howdy” is good enough. So again, walking passed him and being asked questions bring me back to that zone of thinking “what do I want out of this conversation?”

Lack of commitments

Well, he said that we should have a beer someday. I agreed even though that felt like an empty invite. Where is the when, where and why parts?

Introverts, back to our complicated thought process, make little commitments. But once we’ve made one, we’ll make sure it’s delivered.

When it comes to small talks with a random stranger, it boiled down to the question of “where will this conversation lead into?”. Will he become my next best friend, or else, I won’t be investing too much thinking about what to talk to him.

We make few friends, but stronger ones. We don’t know many people, but all the people we know are close friends. And given that it’s very expensive and difficult to be just an acquaintance, it’s almost not worth doing at all.

Having said all that, I apologise that I didn’t give a very good first impression to many of the people I’ve met. And to my neighbour, I’ll prepare enough courage and enough meaning and commitments points so that I have a good enough reason to invite you to my kitchen for a beer or two.


Lost in the cultural translation

There are many differences one can spot upon moving from an East Asian culture to a European ones. I was tempted to say western culture in place of european, but feel that Australia is not exactly geographically western.

I have a friend from Malaysia who’s recently moved to Japan. We’ve had a few great conversations regarding home away from home and how cultural adaptation can be a pain in the arse. It hit me one night that we’ve came from the same place but have ended up in two very different world. I asked her to take a picture of the night life scene of the bar that she’s at, but was quickly turned down that it’s not appropriate to take picture in public. That’s how much Japanese value their privacy. If it’s in Melbourne, everyone will be fighting to be in that picture.

I was struck by the fact that I’ve been adapting slowly without noticing it. Australian’s culture I would say is a very extroverted one. It is encouraged to share your thoughts all the time, and it is kind of ingrained and it’s not natural for one to be reserved. Even the more introverted people I’ve met have shown no drawback in expressing their opinions in a public settings.

I suspect that it all comes from the initial education system. Having none of the data to prove that, but by pure guessing only, I guess the school system in Australia encourage student’s participation from early age, removing the barriers of seniority and layers of authority. In contrast with the ones I’ve came from, students are thought to acknowledge the seniority and authority to the point where the people in charge are almost always right. I’m not arguing which one is better or which is right or wrong, it’s the matter of the results that interest me right now.

Australians talk to their teachers and bosses like a friend ( to some extends ), I couldn’t even look my teachers in their eyes while they were teaching. Their teachers are staffs, hired to teach. Our teachers are worshiped as a hero and are to be respected and their orders followed. Their parents job is to raise the children to be useful to the society. Our parents main priority is to make sure we will take care of them when they are old and useless.

I’ve written this with so much negative biases toward our side of the culture to the point that I need to defend them. Their parents have their government to help support their children, student loans, free educations. My parents have to work hard everyday to save up to my college fees. Their parents have retirements plans. My parents have almost no saving when I started college. One would have said that if our government was better at supporting my parents in the early years, they would not have to burden their children.

Their system have produced a relaxed, cool lots. We’ve grown up to be a fighter that will lose everything when we stop.


I made this


I surprised myself sometimes. I am usually very low key, humble, low confident kind of guy, but every time I read my own blog, I’m impressed on how I actually enjoy reading them.

So does that old profile picture of mine. I drew that on a piece of paper a while ago and I put it up as a profile picture. Few weeks back when I look at it again, I’m still impressed. So I decided to turn it into a painting.

Note: it’s my first painting on a canvas. I painted a few other when I was a kid on big papers. 


Down south to OZ

Is it just me or the last few prompt has been sad? Empty, would I want to be optimistic about this?

It could just be my current mood I guess, also because I’m listening to Damien Rice. That beautiful bastard has a heck of a collection when it comes to sad song. (hint: check out his song “The Greatest Bastard“)

I’ve moved to Melbourne just a couple of months ago and had been wanting to write about the experience about it, but I was probably too empty to make out anything until now. But somehow when I start to write, all I can think about is the past.

I guess I’ll list 10 things about melbourne that I love so far to convince myself that this is a great decision.

Currency

The money is here worth much more than the previous countries I’ve been (Malaysia and Indonesia). The tax can be crazy, but it’s still a pretty good deal. So earning Australian Dollar means more buying power and also I will have more saving to travel especially around SEA where most of my friends and family are.

Weather

I wouldn’t say I loooove the weather, but I’ve started at the wrong time. When I first got here on mid April, it was getting very cold. There were nights as cold as 8 degree Celcius. And colder nights are ahead of me. But it’s great when the sun in shining and when spring comes, it’s will just fine.

Swing Dancing

I’ve started swing dancing last year in KL and have been hooked since. It’s a type of Jazz dance and it’s a lot of fun. Compared with Salsa which is much more popular, I find Salsa is too intimate and I can’t really handle that in public.

KL has like 2 social dance event a week. So I mostly dance once a week and maybe go to classes sometimes. In Melbourne, there are at least 1 event everyday. It’s like heaven.

Service

The service here is much more expensive but it’s much better. I’m so surprised on how easy things are done here. People are very friendly and they understand that they are paid to make you feel comfortable and welcomed. And it’s probably by law that customers are protected in the best way possible.

Arts

It’s amazing how much lively this city can be. Again it sucks because it’s winter,but when the warmer and dryer wheaters come, the city will be alive with live performances on the street, painting, art shows. It’s beautiful.

Ramen

I love Ramen, and it was pretty expensive back then in KL (compared to local food). I can eat Ramen every day in here and it won’t really break my bank account. I’m spending the same amount of money for other types of food anyway.

Coffee!

It’s amazing how much coffee they drink over here. It’s pretty normal to go for coffee break a couple of times a day. I’m not a coffee addict but I do love a good cup of coffee once in awhile. Living in Melbourne means that you’ll always find a coffee shop wherever you are.

Water

You can drink from the tap, which is a luxury back home.

Bicycle

I grew up riding bikes. Having the chance of bringing that back to my life brings back tons of childhood memories. It’s a flood of nostalgia and a couple of near death moments with my bike. Can’t wait to buy a bike and explore the city with it.

Meetup

Meetup here is huge, just like Swing Dancing, there are more options and bigger community. Even though the people can be a bit colder and harder to befriend with, the fact that there are more options makes it a better chance to find friends.

I’m feeling better now. It’s true how setting our mind into positive things can bring us into better mood. But I’m addicted to sadness, what can I say.

More on the KL to Melbourne move stories to come. Let me know what you’d like to read more about. If you are in reading this in Melbourne, tell me what you like the most about this city.