Friday, June 29, 2012

A Lesson In Stoicism: Handling Insults

Listen to: Far East Movement "Ain't Coming Down"

I believe in Stoicism and consider myself a practicing Stoic, so I frequently refer to the teachings of Seneca and Epictetus for guidance in my life. I read several Stoicism books last year that helped breakdown the philosophy in a way I could apply it to my life. Last week I came across a lot of insults; some came from individuals I had just met and others came from people I knew. My instinct is to instantly shut-down because they are exhausting and no fun. Naturally, I referred to my Stoicism notes on how to better handle these situations. To summarize, basically they should have no affect on me and the ultimate goal is indifference. As I've alluded to before, I've overcome significant obstacles in my life and to have my mood of the moment soured by a misguided individual (whether passive aggressive or just aggressive) is silly. As a Stoic, the thing I ask myself everyday is if I was governed by reason today. Succumbing to an insult, whether it be by a counter-insult, my mood, or behaviour, does not leave much room for reason. Hopefully one day I can just shrug off insults as a good Stoic would.

Nota Bene: I've been putting music in my posts because I love music and these are from my playlists. I give links because I think the songs themselves relate to my posts so the idea is to listen to the song while reading. Today's song doesn't exactly relate but I made the connection between the lyrics and "Clouds" (Aristophanes.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Five more things to know about me

Listen to Kanye West ft. Coldplay "Homecoming"

(1) I absolutely love love love literature and art.
(2) I love philosophy and often substitute philosophical ideology for religion.
(3) I really really really want to be a doctor.
(4) I like things a certain way, but I crave novelty and am not resistant to frequent changes in life.
(5) I have moxie.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This week's lesson's learned

Listen To: Smashing Pumpkins "Violet Rays"

I learned a lot this week about life and myself that I want to share:

(1) I am the decider. 
Retraction to previous statement 6/28/12: After giving this some more thought, I don't necessarily believe this to be true. I have strongly set beliefs in fatalism and they've developed as such from unfortunate events in my life that I cannot explain. Thinking that I decide things is the height of hubris because my existence is not the decider of the universe. In fact, I believe this to be the other way around. I do, however, take ownership of the conscious decisions I make, but I am well aware that the facets of life that are subject to my decision-making are limited by the fates. (More on this later.)

(2) I am free and I love it. I love looking at this world as a sea of endless possibilities. Life is infintely more fun that way. Live your life free and it will be much more exciting than you can ever imagine.

(3) There is a fine line between being too nice and being a schmuck. I've learned that I have limits on how and with whom I spend my time with. Being nice to avoid hurting someone's feelings can only get me so far until I realize my time is so limited and I want to spend it with people who are fun and intellectually challenging.

(4) After all these years I still love the Smashing Pumpkins.

(5) It's ok to go on adventures after studying MCAT for 4 and sometimes 8 hours a day.

(6) I do not follow social norms. I love getting to know random strangers and befriending them. Life is way more exciting when you share the excitement of the moment with someone. I strive to do that by meeting people everywhere I go and learning from them along the way.

(7) Splurging on choco cake is totally ok after studying for so many hours.

(8) I get super excited when flowers are about to bloom. My new summer blooms are coming and I simply cannot wait to wake up to them!

(9) A lifetime gym membership means nothing in this world. I find this emblematic of our society's culture (50% divorce!) Even when there is a bound contract for life it really only means temporary. Gruff.

(10) Act like you know where you are going and you will get to where you belong. Don't lie about who you are on the way, but being forthright, bold, and adventurous will get you places.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stay Youthful, Stay Free

I daydreamed a little today and thought about some books from my childhood that I really liked:

(1) No Tooth, No Quarter-Queen Denteena/Tooth Fairy Land-look at how pretty it is:

(2) Morris the Moose
(3) Bialosky's Best Behaviour-where I learned most of my manners

I hope ya'll think about your childhood books too! STAY YOUTHFUL! STAY FREE!

Listen to a song I heard/saw at the gym (which I'm apparently no longer a member of): Dev "Dancing Shoes"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Five Things to know about me

From time to time I'll post some nice factoids about me. (I'd like to promise once a week, but I don't want to make that commitment in writing.) Most people who know me really well (which actually isn't very many people) already know this, but hopefully at some point some of you will find something surprising or interesting.

(1) I work very hard at maintaining relationships with other people in my life.
(2) I'm obsessed with music (every kind besides country), but I do not like live music (due to my sensitive hearing and past concert experiences.)
(3) I'm anxious but have a high energy/vitality for life.
(4) I don't like things smaller than me. (animals, insects, other creatures, etc...)
(5) By the same token, I am fascinated by things larger than me (large ships, large maps, giant marine mammals such as whales, the ocean, the universe.)

Listen to: Far East Movement "Change your life"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Life is not easy for anyone

No matter what appears from the outside, things may not be as they seem.

Listen to The Fray "Run for Life"

Monday, June 18, 2012

I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered a shipwreck -Zeno

The biggest misconception people have about me is that they think they have me figured out. In spite of my age, I have had a substantial amount of life experience that I don't get credit for or that people who meet me cannot conjecture. To list things now would only be out of hubris, so I will conclude this with a quote from a Stoic (very fitting for me.) Those who are familiar with the school of thought and can identify the major principles of Stoicism have a glimpse of some of my beliefs. True to the irony of the reputation of Stoicism, its ideology is also frequently misconceived by the masses.

I made a prosperous voyage when I suffered a shipwreck
-Zeno of Citium

Listen to: Skrillrex "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fun at Paint Night

I recently signed up for paint night ( and below is a photograph of my painting. The venue (49 Social) was very nice with excellent food! I am not entirely pleased with the way it turned out mainly because I was in a grumpy funky mood when I went to paint night, but oh well. This was my alternative to signing up for a painting class which I really wanted to do but didn't have time for this summer.

Listen to: Florence+The Machine "Shake it out"
Regrets collect like old friends...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

nosce te ipsum

I was pondering the idea of knowing yourself; knowing who you are regardless of circumstance or company. I didn't realize how important this was until I was working as a military engineer. It was in those two years that I recognized that I changed a lot of who I was to make things work for the moment and to fit it with my surroundings. Much of me got lost and the biggest decision of my entire life was to quit that job. I did learn, however, that forcing yourself to do things beyond your comfort zone is where you will grow the most. I can't describe how I scared I was the night before I was going to the Letterkenny Army Depot for the first time. I didn't know what to expect and was afraid I'd be eaten alive. The thing I learned is that when you're in an unfamiliar environment you will always have a choice: either rise to the occasion and embrace the challenge or flee. Even though I knew it wasn't me, I always made an effort to assimilate. I knew I was friendly so I made the choice to befriend everyone at the base that worked on the line and listened to their stories (professional and personal.) Ultimately, though, my decision to return to academia was more of a homecoming than anything else. I just had to wake up one day and do it. Here in Boston I am tested everyday to stick to who I am. In some ways the challenge here is even harder because it rises in unexpected circumstances where I believe I belong or am in control. It forces me to keep my feet on the ground and think "is this really me?" or "is this who I really want to be?" It's hard when you're on your own as I am with no one out there to really guide you or help you or keep you in check. How many of us can sleep soundly at night knowing that we have stayed true to ourselves? It's the idea that when everyone around you is experiencing something and you are choosing to deviate from that path based on your own values, experiences, or circumstance. Nosce te ipsum is Latin for "know thyself."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Beach Fun

This past memorial weekend I spent an exquisite few days in Cape Cod. This was my first trip to the Cape and the weather was amazing. I spent quite a bit of time at the beach including an entire evening in a (failed) attempt to view the sunrise. Here's a picture:

Of course it wouldn't be an adventure if I didn't learn something. In order to see a proper beach sunrise it is imperative to:
1. check the weather before departing on an evening adventure (it was way too foggy/cloudy to actually see the sunrise)
2. wear socks
3. make sure the beach is facing east
4. bring snacks and a blanket (sustenance is key since the beach is chilly at night and also helpful for staying awake)
5. bring a dry towel
6. do not freeze up when questioned by cape police as to where we're going at 3am
7. enthusiastically declaring your plans to view the sunrise at the beach is an acceptable reason to give the police as to why a group of non-shady looking individuals are wandering the streets at 3am.

A special thanks to all my new companions for a lovely weekend!

Grow old along with me the best is yet to be

There is a house down the street from my apartment that has cleaned up the shrubbery on its lawn and displayed multiple lawn ornaments. Here is a picture of  of them that I thought was precious. (The plaque in the center is the title of this post.)