Poem: That’s Life

Destined to be great

(One thinks)

Suffering must have a purpose

(One hopes)

Future full of riches

(one dreams).

 

All to stay sane,

insanity knocks at the door,

letting in it would mean that you accept:

loneliness,

pointlessness,

meaninglessness,

(The truth).

 

Stay ignorant, friend,

so you can smile, but sooner or later the absurdity of life will strike you,

dragon fire,

see death and be cleansed,

reborn once you ask ‘why’,

babe,

naked, alone, terrified,

(It’s true),

but if you’re brave it can have endless possibilities,

(That’s life).

Poem: Your Hourglass Empties

Understand that the present is all you have, no

life in the past, gone

are those days, future

hope is always a second away,

pleasant to think about, but

you’ll never catch it.

 

no life outside the now,

no hell outside the now,

no heaven outside the now,

no bliss outside the now.

 

Wasting the present; wasting life

dreaming of different lives; living only one

that one goes quickly, as

keep dreaming, hoping, praying,

passivity isn’t rewarded, life

is meant for the active, for

only they can catch the fleeting present, while

the passive merely exist, watching the flickering stars at night.

 

Your hourglass empties,

you could only have one grain of sand left,

but you always act as if there are thousands, then

when life ends, we

may say it ended abruptly, but

each wasted day progressed towards the sudden cessation.

 

 

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Reflections On The Meaninglessness Of Life

We act as if the world cares about us. As if there is a future which is predictable and certain. If you follow the right steps that you may be happy at some point in your life. If you match the steps of people that have come before you, that you may find this life worthwhile. Our minds are meant to be chained to some meaning so we grasp at what is comfortable, what is easily attainable and believe that to be the truth. We seek stability for in a stable world we can make progress, we can make plans for the future, we can project ourselves 10 or 20 years from now and see the improvements we have made and thus, we can keep going, living the same rhythm of life that we have been living.

Such a belief is absurd. The world does not care about our needs.

It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm—this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the “why” arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. “Beings”—this is important. Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of consciousness. It awakens consciousness and provokes what follows. What follows is the gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening. At the end of the awakening comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery.

Such a feeling may strike someone “on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door” as Albert Camus put it. The feeling of absurdity. The absurd is the divorce between what a man wants and what life can offer. What man wants is meaning. A “why”, a reason for his struggle, for the hardships he faces, for the pain he endures.¬†What’s heaven if not a prize for handling the hardships of life with grace. A possible reward for being a good boy. The same way we treat children or our pets. Behave yourself and you may get a treat, but there is no guarantee.

The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.

There is freedom in this silence, in the meaninglessness of life. That freedom being that one is free to be who he or she wishes and do what they like. You are not destined to be someone. Your life has no fate. You can give your own life meaning without having to be chained to the coping mechanism of other people like God or the rat race to get to the top and buy the newest car and live in the most expensive house. You are not chained to such things because such things are just man-made concepts to keep the absurdity of life from overwhelming you. But the absurdity can be freeing if you embrace it and understand that your life can be completely your own if you figure out what matters to you, what you truly desire, what you want and through this, you can figure out what gives your suffering meaning and your life meaning.

Most people rather not go through the trouble of giving their own lives meaning. They rather just follow the prescribed formula imposed onto them by others and be fine going in circles, over and over. It’s hard to blame such people because life is difficult and it is hard and it ends rather quickly. Why torment yourself further by revolting to the world, confronting your beliefs, examining your limitations and constantly seeing the world anew. Such revolt may give your life value but it is also a struggle to live this way. It may be simple just to conform. Hence why there are much more conformist in the world than there are true individuals. I suppose spending your life trying to act as if life isn’t absurd is one way to cope with its absurdity.

Man is always prey to his truths.

The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays by Albert Camus.

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How To Have Optimal Experience In Life

In his book, Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes Optimal Experience in the following way:

It is what the sailor holding a tight course feels when the wind whips through her hair, when the boat lunges through the waves like a colt–sails, hull, wind, and sea humming a harmony that vibrates in the sailor’s veins. It is what a painter feels when the colors on the canvas begin to set up a magnetic tension with each other, and a new thing, a living form, takes shape in front of the astonished creator. Or it is the feeling a father has when his child for the first time responds to his smile. Such events do not occur only when the external conditions are favorable, however: People who have survived concentration camps or who have lived through near-fatal physical dangers often recall that in the midst of their ordeal they experienced extraordinary rich epiphanies in response to such simple events as hearing the song of a bird in the forest, completing a hard task, or sharing a crust of bread with a friend.

What can be concluded from such a statement is that the best moments, the most optimal moments in our lives are not passive ones. The times where you relax and do nothing can be pleasurable but rarely do we look back at such times with fondness and memory. Instead, the opposite is what we recall. The times where we sacrificed, worked hard, stretched ourselves physically and mentally to achieve a goal. These character-defining moments are what gives our lives richness and thus makes these experiences optimal.

Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.

“Make” is the keyword. It means we have to actively pursue tasks that are challenging, which make us uncomfortable and the accomplishment of such tasks would result in growth.

For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat this own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.

An important component to achieving optimal experiences is understanding what you care for and what doesn’t matter to you. You cannot rely on society to determine your rewards and punishments because you may simply not care for what other people find important. So, the pursuit of something that has little value in your life will not provide you with optimal experiences even though it may test you physically or mentally.

To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its reward and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances. This challenge is both easier and more difficult than it sounds: easier because the ability to do so is entirely within each person’s hands; difficult because it requires a discipline and perseverance that are relatively rare in any era, and perhaps especially in the present. And before all else, achieving control over experience requires a drastic change in attitude about what is important and what is not.

The main thing to understand about the optimal experience is that it may not be pleasant as you experience it. When you truly push your body physically to new heights, pain will be associated with that struggle. Or when you consistently put yourself in uncomfortable positions you really test your mind and force it to adapt but during that task, the feeling of being uncomfortable, of quitting, of the easier things you could be doing instead will be prevalent in your mind. That resistance is something you have to deal with.

Getting control of life is never easy, and sometimes it can be definitely painful. But in the long-run optimal experiences add up to a sense of mastery–or perhaps better, a sense of participation in determining the content of life–that comes as close to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivably experience.

The aim then is to pursue enjoyment and not pleasure. Pleasure can be hedonistic and is often temporary where after the pleasurable act is over, that sensation or feeling fades. While enjoyment, which comes from optimal experiences, stays with you long after the act, it is this enjoyment we think back to, feel a sense of pride and are overcome with happy emotions when recalling what we have accomplished.

 

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Poem: Neither Here, Nor There

Different is this land, from

the one I was raised in, there

the noise of all kinds distracts the soul, here

the silence, so readily attained, is avoided through sound, there

my eyes set upon the worst of man, here

I see the division of man, there

the love for one another seeps through the awful, here

one must remind people of love, easily

do people judge and hate others here, there

they judge and hate those who reflect their own image, here

the abundance is a problem to the soul, there

the lack of leaves the spirit withered, both

are imperfect, neither

is better than the other, I

am the product of two lands, with

the sins of each, as well as the grace, neither

here nor there, in no man’s land, attempting to understand the self, by

which I’ll understand others.