01/26/2018

I can be proud so far this week. Exhausted too, but proud nonetheless for meeting a fully-packed schedule head-on. Personal time may very well go the way of illusions in the next few months or so. So it shall be then – another letting go? You wouldn’t think I have much left to give, but the limit has not been reached quite yet. Maybe I’ll feel differently after tonight’s workout, and then hosting a long-time friend the whole weekend. Next week shall repeat as early as Monday morning…onward then!

Feeling intensely nostalgic for you of late, and not particularly sure why. Perhaps it’s because I missed our weekly phone calls, and with all the little pockets of time in transit the desire to speak and hear from you carved an inner path towards longing. The lack of adequate sleep undoubtedly contributed, though I shouldn’t blame my body for troubles I impose upon it. We’ve come quite far, even as your various joints and muscles aggravate: let’s keep moving, yeah? Maybe the inner paths will lead towards some outer gardens, or not.

So two of three themes figured out for the year then: Graduate, and some variation of “letting go.” Relinquish? Desist? Relieved? The third one sounds quite pleasant actually, probably the best connotation so far. Just one more theme to go. Perhaps another theme to do with perseverance or something else aspirational and just as cheesy. Like all good stories go, the characters have to believe in their mission. The thing about your own hill to ascend is that you are always free to stop. But that also means you alone can choose to look beyond the current trek and climb. So then, is this the stopping spot? Maybe someday, the answer will be yes. That doesn’t feel right for today though.

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01/24/2018

My airport misfortunes has not ended yet I see; one on the way forth, one on the way hither. So long as this return trip doesn’t end up being another overnight venture, it’s the best one can hope for…the learning experience has been wonderful of course, but now I eagerly await a weekend that is still a few days out. Tomorrow is long yet, and the day after feels not an hour shorter.

Looks like I must once again say bye to T…and for good this time most likely. Another dose of letting go for 2018, an altogether familiar sentiment of late. As the saying goes, I can’t control others’ actions, only my own. I wish you all the best you can conceive of.

For now though, I’m just tired. Not all progress is linear – it could be weeks, months, or perhaps even years before the labors from these localized days of exhaustion (mental and physical) pay off, assuming they do at all. So precious few things in life are guaranteed, and perhaps that is why our ancestors never banked too much on the future as they tend to satisfy with the moment. And why shouldn’t we? At least the moment’s here when we get to have a good one; tomorrow could be just as great as it is gloomy. Should it be great, a good moment now is surely not much less – if it’s gloomy, then the moment now is surely preferable.

But that’s casting doubt on moments to be had, moments to be built toward and earned. And like any work of construction built with just one soul’s effort, it takes time and effort to achieve mastery, if not in function then at least in look. Thus, patience and pain are both required, and both must be cultivated and sustained in the trials coming up ahead. Today’s me is tired, and tomorrow’s me will be sleep-deprived. Perhaps next week repeats the story. But at some point, a threshold will be reached, a punctuation smashing past this current equilibrium. By then, this will appear trite in retrospect, the same way the first mile of a marathon is barely worth noting by its 26th. Question is: do I believe this?

01/19/2018

A six-day week…This is the life I chose to experience. It’s hardly even begun; a mere taste of what the future morrows may soon bring. So be it. Ours is not a caravan of despair, but a caravan of hope.

A wonderful conversation with T.H. the other night about values and value systems, a topic both of us have spent much time musing over. Always at the edge of any thought we seem to discuss is the notion of agency: do we choose? Seems simple based solely on intuition, and yet the more we learn the more we find that our choices are influenced by oh-so-many factors.

Take values then. I grew up with Catholic parents, both devout and every-Sunday worshippers. I went to Sunday classes, where I grew increasingly disillusioned by my peers who couldn’t seem to care a sand grain less. Being Asian, I had many sources of Eastern influences: the culture itself for 8 years, various movies and shows, my predilection for certain reading materials growing up. My upbringing here in the US also plays a part, certainly a far bigger one during the teenage years than the first eight overseas. So here’s the question: take another person with all the same influence sources. Would their value system closely approximate my own?

How much of a ‘choice’ is it that I find certain themes like redemption desirable? Did I choose elements throughout the years that appeal to these values, discarding others that did not sync up nicely? Or did I grasp upon them because they appealed to me at some intuitive but not-so-deliberate level? How many of us, myself included, actually go through life choosing deliberately the values we operate with? If merely going along with our default settings is considered choice, it sounds awful passive. That said, I’m passing a value judgment here on passiveness being inferior – an indication in itself that hints at the larger web of values I sally about with.

This of course devolves into one of my favorite questions to ponder: is it better to have always been good? Or to achieve goodness through great effort? Given my orientation, the question may be biased toward the second half on first glance. Indeed, the second path sounds intuitively more appealing, signifying suffering, growth, redemption. Doesn’t that punish the individual who never wavered from the path of good though? Why should being good constantly the lesser or less compelling story?

On a side note, another hair turned gray some time recently. That’s three now (that I can readily see), all on the right temple side of my head. So long youth, we had a good run. I must learn to shelve you like so many passing yesterdays, and so many letting go’s of just this month: my old state’s license, my car, and quieting the flickers of a ghosting past. Among the seven sins of memory: the inability to forget for our own sake. Were it so easy to forget though, I’d live a happier yet shallower life (or so that ‘chosen’ value system of mine would suggest).

01/16/2018

If you repeat a truth you’d rather not hear enough, will it finally be palatable at some point? Or is there some virtue to be found, silly as it were, from resisting reality’s overwhelming odds? This seems especially pertinent at a societal level with regards to our era of “fake news” – it’s also especially relevant to my own life and my myriad of decisions. Simple enough then: all else being equal, a bleak truth will ultimately leave you better off than comforting falsehoods. At least, that’s what all individuals steeped in wisdom tell us. Has this actually been empirically tested against reality?

Faced with all the ambiguity, I could just waddle about aimlessly and grasp the insight that occasionally surfaces. Sounds rather tenuous. Like the repetitions of exercises for the body then, I suppose a better system is to create regiments for the mind. Shockingly original, I know — only every single person ever of any real mental caliber has already arrived at this truth ever since recorded human history and most likely long before. So here’s one prime example of a truth I have confronted but not embraced. Sleeping well is another. Letting go a third…fourth…fifth…and onward. Perhaps there’s a link between the last few: I resist sleep because I hesitate to let go of my wake. Even now, at the edge of a day spilling over, and energy fading fast, I cling with words to push off my own body’s desire for rejuvenation.

I often joke that my blessing is being “normal” for a doctoral student. Maybe refusal to letting go is my kryptonite. No, not maybe, it is. Repeat this truth then. Find a way to channel its virtue (resilience? Determination?); find a way to avoid its failings (stubbornness? Rigidity?).

01/10/2018

I don’t regard myself as always making the best choices, even if I do okay on most days. Still, the past couple days are worth celebrating, if by that I mean feeling quietly satisfied with the general direction and progresses made in the little corners of life. An act of moving on and letting go; an act of maintaining discipline and grasping onto a new goal; myriad acts of life and cultivation, exempt from excessive entertainment to distract. Every little bit counts.

Which all reminds me, I have yet to choose my 3 focus words for the year. It seems like the past iterations have all been variations of the same thing…meaning I haven’t made any leaps in progress. Steady steps some months, and stumbled steps on others, but no side-roads crossed, no jumping past persistent obstacles. Granted, some of those acts above represents a leap of sorts, but here’s where complacency typically kicks in. I can tell though this time is truly different. I suppose that’s what happens when determination overtakes blind hope. Is determination also blind though?

Anyways, my exhausted brain is glitching with distractions. The three words for the year should be sorted in the days upcoming. Word one is for certain though: Graduate. I’ve taken the scenic route, and it has brought me many interesting life moments (you included, even if that ended how it did). This is the year for forward leaps though, and what is more a leap than finalizing that next level-up?

Rest now. There’s still 355 days of 250 words to go.

01/08/2018

So far, so good. Discipline is built upon fulfilling your self-assigned tasks – on time if possible, but still a positive if slightly late. If pain is progress, then I’m looking at pain aplenty for a while to reach the next checkpoint. That honestly doesn’t sound so bad; few things are as so clear-cut with progress as physical self-improvement. Project Ironman is on my terms now, and 2 weeks in a row is not yet a trend. One week at a time, then month, then year. It will hurt; it will be glorious.

Mentally, the adjustments have been slower. Work is ramping up, and I am ramping up a bit slower than is needed. Filler self-indulgence must decrease if I am to hit my next stride there. And sleep…my habits of resistance will probably need to fall by the wayside. That’s the thing about adulthood that I keep circling ‘round, understanding with perfect clarity but executing with such imperfect form: sleep is a necessity. Everything about the recovery process slows with every passing year. Much as I’d like to live as 22 or so again, I’m closer now to 32. Reality dictates that tomorrow matters more than yesterday. So be it.

That does mean then that my certain past attachments are just that, the past. Letting go absolves us both for each pairing of attachments. Commemorate those good moments, be willing to overlook the non-essentials that were bad, and leave those flickers be. But all that said, I must never stop advocating for my own cause. One bit of pain at a time, one extra step until the next checkpoint.

Let’s add another goal this year. 250 thoughtful words a day. Let’s call it Project Memory. I dedicate this one to my past loves – may our moments together spur me onward to a better me tomorrow. For those still in my life, I’m glad to have a shared journey with you. For those whose path has now diverged, I bid your journey all the happiness you can conceive. Life can be so incomprehensible, but I can’t let that drive me inward behind walls of anxiety. Into the chaos then.

01/02/2018

So, a new year but same old night-owling habit. Why do I resist sleep so after all these years? If nothing else, I need to let the body rejuvenate even if the mind is stubborn and unwilling to let go. Even now as i face a rather daunting day of work ahead tomorrow, already cutting into my chance for an 8 hour night of bed, I would still rather be doing this, a rather low-key inventory task as the eyes struggle to keep open underneath the last lit bulb within this house.

Safe to say 2017 passed in a largely forgettable manner. The beginning had its moment of brilliance which quickly faded; the middle 6 months brought little by way of victory or achievements in any direction worth noting; only in the last 3 did things progressed again. Funny enough, it was also exactly 2 years ago on this day I last tried to contact her. Crazy enough, time flew by so quickly between now and those ensuing months. Some days, it felt so recent. Maybe third time’s the charm, if ever third time cometh.

Projects are coming back on track. If nothing else, I hereby resolve to graduate for good by the end of this year. I’ve dragged it out long enough; heck, 2 years ago would have been wholly possible, and last year was absolutely feasible. But alas, so it goes. If every step taken was progress, we’d learn only how to win, and victory is a terrible teacher for the creative process.

I did manage to get some productivity towards the tail end of last year though, so there’s that to celebrate! Let’s do it again this year, and at least once every year after. Whatever my peak potential is, I haven’t hit that ceiling yet. So maybe I’ll be nice to the body tonight and rest early. The year has merely started – my last one before 30. Be a real shame if I don’t make the last of the 20s count.

As always, I wish you were around for one of those invigorating heart-to-hearts. I guess imagination will have to do. It’s strange yet pleasant that time has a way of dulling sadness and pain, yet preserves so well the best moments of fondness. While unfortunate that those months were all too brief, they still happened all the same, and what light there is to cherish I shall keep closely during those nights of solemn dark.