I suppose it is a little late for these, but I wanted them to simmer for a little while before putting record of them out for the world to see. After all, I have to live/commit with/to them for an entire year:)
Talk Less- I admire those who think before they speak, and I think I could profit from doing more of that. Words said without thought are often hurtful and cause conflict. I am going to avoid that.
Listen More- I set my days with intentions. A recent one I have used is “what can I hear today.” It has led to everything from remembering a waiter’s name, listening to a friend’s problem, reflecting on a stranger’s story, and even hearing a bird call that stands out from the nonsensical babble of the world.
Exercise the Left Side of My Brain- I am pretty middle-minded. My math and reading SAT scores were the same, I can think both irrationally and logically, and my two favorite classes this year are AP Physics and AP Art History. That being said, I feel that I have lost some touch with my more mechanically minded self. I want to exercise that by learning how to build and fix things. This, in addition to helping me become a more well-rounded person, will help me live a more frugal and self-reliant lifestyle in the future.
Learn to Cook- I have discovered a sort of passion recently. Turns out, I love to cook. I have started to cook for my family a couple of times a week (tonight I made caprese skewers for an appetizer, followed by stuffed portabello mushrooms, and pesto tortellini; it was delicious if I do say so myself) and I have watched the food channel in my free time for the past 8 months or so. I figure it is a skill that will help make friends, deplete hunger, court women, and further my self-sufficiency.
Be in Shape- This is more of an on-going thing and I feel it makes pretty much everyone’s new years resolution. Shouldn’t really be all that much of a problem as I am spending almost half of this coming year hiking daily.
Practice Non-Violence- Last but not least, in fact probably the most important. I am not an overtly violent person, but I have noticed that we are an overtly violent species and an even more overtly violent culture. I have been thinking about this for a while now; even though I, on principle, oppose violence I enjoy violent movies and the thrill of a fight (even when it isn’t my fight). But I want to make a special effort from now forth to not instigate or take part in violence. And not just physical violence but conflict in general. I hope to eliminate snide comments, talking shit, and degrading jokes (hopefully a side-effect of thinking before speaking too) and make sure that I am living an existence that is not adding to the drama-crazed and gore-hungry society we live in.
To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.
Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power.
To realize that you have enough is true wealth.
Pushing ahead may succeed,
but staying put brings endurance.
Die without perishing, and find the eternal.
To know that you do not know is strength.
Not knowing that you do not know is a sickness.
The cure begins with the recognition of the sickness.
Knowing what is permanent: enlightenment.
Not knowing what is permanent: disaster.
Knowing what is permanent opens the mind.
Open mind, open heart.
Open heart, magnanimity.
Someone just directed me towards your essay on body image and sex, and it was truly amazing. I know you talked about self confidence, but is there anything else you consider with people you may want to have 'experiences' with?
I don’t know if I could narrow down certain characteristics. If I could, they would still probably fluctuate day to day to day. I am consistently told that I have a “strange” taste in girls. Some who most would consider sexually attractive, I don’t see. Others, I find highly attractive and guys look at me like I’m crazy.
Certainly there are some people that click. I meet them and can sense chemistry. But I couldn’t tell you why that chemistry exists; no denying it is there though.
In contrast, sometimes I meet someone and feel completely platonic about them (if someone can even feel platonic?). As I get to know them or encounter them in a different circumstance sometimes that changes for no apparent reason.
Human attraction is a mystery to me and probably always will be. Thanks for the question and I liked how you phrased “people you may want to have ‘experiences’ with?”
EDIT: Sorry! I forgot to say thank you for the feedback on my earlier post. I have gotten a lot of comments on it and I appreciate them all. If not for them I would just assume I was talking to myself (which works for me, but I’m glad I can share my thoughts).
This isn't a question, more of a response to something of yours I read. And I am preceding this by saying it is 2 AM and if this doesn't make sense, that's my excuse.
You talked about your disbelief in love a while back and I must say I have heard this idea that it does not exist from a number of people. But I think that the reasons you can't see yourself falling in love or why it doesn't exist are a bit different from my understanding. I'm not claiming to be an expert or anything but hey, differences in opinions are what the world is all about. You said love as you've had it described is the total dependence on someone else for your happiness, and I think that isn't love, its obsession. I find love to be the realization that you would rather see the person you are in love with happy more than you want to be happy. This is the absolute way of putting the other person before you, you do not have to sacrifice your own pursuits or independence but rather you know that when it comes down to it you would rather ensure that the other person is cared for. It is not dependence but rather an independent choice made by yourself that you are going to do whatever it takes to make that person as happy as you can, you are not signing your choice to the other person but rather making a choice that is totally selfless and in the selfish culture that we see around us today it is hard to find that total selflessness which is why people have never seen it and believe it is just a myth. so there ya go. My opinion, and i await your response.
Again, its 2 am, i still haven't learned Stat and i can't sleep so this may not make sense, but its out there.
You make great points. We differ in our definition of love; I think that is the main difference. Also my post referred specifically to romantic love. You appear to speak of love in general.
I love my friends and family and feel what you described. But when people speak of romantic love, it sounds like something more. It’s built up to be all-consuming. If it is not, then (in my mind) it isn’t ‘love’. Maybe you care about that person, maybe you like them, maybe you even have a selfless moment, but that doesn’t qualify as (romantic) love in my book. And there is the cynics argument. Making your beloved happy, seems at the surface selfless, but you are doing it, overall, to satisfy yourself.
I guess, I see romantic love as another entire realm. And maybe I have it built up too much, but I don’t see the love that I see in my mind’s eye being possible in reality. But, like I said, maybe one day I will be swept away by it and overcome by it. Maybe I will meet someone and realize that I haven’t felt whole until that moment. I doubt it, as I feel quite whole now, but it is always a possibility.
Keep writing/posting your thoughts Robert. I feel that there aren’t that many atheists that are such strong proponents of love and I look forward to hearing the reasonings of one that writes so precisely.
this reminded me of your blog
This is awesome!
We live in a world so full of things to do and see. With so many experiences available, so many new feelings, so many interesting people; to live a consistent life seems dismal, pointless, even irresponsible.
If I ever utter the words “I’m bored,” I know that it is no one’s fault but my own.
Austin, like the anonymous person below me I really love what you said about body image, and in general I enjoy reading what you write. I have a question; do you believe that people have a soul? If so do you think love stems from that, or do you think it's more biological?
Just wondering! I'm always curious to hear people's opinions on human nature. Hope your week is going well!
Now we are getting closer to religious views (I will do a post on that when I have more time), but for simplicity’s sake -I believe that there is something more than the physical body, and a soul is as good a name to call it as any other.
If love is real than I think love would have to be between souls. That is the only way a feeling of that magnitude and importance could exist. However the idea that two souls are perfect for each other, that one is incomplete without the other, is not one I can easily wrap my head around. I cannot say I feel that emptiness that might lead me to believe that I have a missing counterpart.
The Biological aspect is an interesting one. To summarize the two religious views that I hold: 1.) Existentialism- (my interpretation) the idea that life is meaningless without the meaning I prescribe to it. This means no God and our physical world is all there is. In other words, “love” is reduced to mere chemical reactions in the brain. 2.) Reincarnation/Quest for Enlightenment- Some mix of Buddhism, Zen, and Hindu, There is a soul and a world beyond this one. In this case, love between souls could exist and a love could be justified. I will go deeper into this when I have more time.
Thanks! Once again, if I ever sound like I am self-righteous these are just my opinions. They are, in all probability, wrong; I make a constant effort to keep an open mind.
so i love what you had to say about sex and body image. and i agree. but i also think i am someone who believes in falling in love. can you elaborate on how you feel about the whole love thing? i'm really interested in what you have to say.
I would be happy to. It’s interesting, I find my views constantly changing. Chances are the majority of my opinions expressed here will change, and that goes for all my posts. Writing helps me sort out my beliefs and more times than not, ends up being an agent of change in my beliefs. Hopefully in doing this, I will develop my view on love a little bit more.
Keep in mind these are my opinions. I am not writing to offend, just to express.
When it comes to romantic love (and from here on out, when I speak of love, that is what I am referring to), it’s not that I don’t believe in it, but I would be a liar saying that it exists. Similar to how agnostics view God, I cannot prove the existence or the absence of Love. Who am I to say that someone who says they feel love is lying? But, in my life, I have never experienced it. And quite honestly, I do not picture myself ever feeling such an overwhelmingly strong emotion. Perhaps I am too guarded, too cynical or too egocentric to allow myself that much emotional vulnerability, to be swept and overcome with pure selflessness, to depend on a person to that degree.
I think that might be it. Maybe, in my mind, love insinuates dependence. I have worked so hard in my life to instill and maintain self-reliance, that even that simple idea of dependence is not just unattractive, but repulsive. However, and here is the qualifier, if love exists and is as powerful as it is made out to be, then my will will matter very little. And that maybe, one day, all my views will be washed away by this omnipresent and all-powerful feeling. Until then, I maintain my opinion.
I hope that gives you a better idea of how I feel about it. I tried to keep it from being an essay. I appreciate your interest and I love when people send me questions or prompts.
I was trying to find the perfect picture for this post. Something provocative, but not pornographic. Something that portrayed the beauty of the human body without setting unrealistic standards or putting out the idea that there is a specific body type that is the best. I couldn’t find it, so this is just going to be a long, wordy post that covers a lot.
First off, I am a virgin. No shame or regrets there, but I think that it is relevant to the post.
I think that the human body is beautiful and it makes me sad when I see people who are self-conscious or afraid to show off their figure. Maybe it is because what is so stunning and amazing about our bodies is that they are all different. Fuck “idealistic” images posted on billboards. No doubt, those women are beautiful, but that is not what beauty is. Trite as it may be, True Beauty is shown through in confidence, in character, and in the tiniest (and biggest) imperfections that make us unique. At the risk of sounding like a guy who hates his own gender, I hate the way guys seem to see different as bad. There is a little bit of a vicious circle: A guy rejects/put downs a girl, she assumes it is her body and loses self-image, this girl without self-confidence is no longer attractive. It takes either women empowering themselves and demanding that they are beautiful, or guys seeing the beauty that hides behind the shallow wall of a negative self-image. So that I am clear, this works both ways. I was always convinced that I was too skinny, that to pick up girls or walk around with confidence I needed to “get big.” Or that a girl wouldn’t like a guy who wasn’t packing a roll of dollar coins in his pocket. I have recently come to realize that my body is my body, and trying to change it would be to deny part of myself. If I am healthy and happy than I am attractive to the people that matter. The point is that our beauty originates from our differences. I don’t want to spend my nights to come with carbon copies of Victoria’s Secret Models, I would rather spend them with someone who is elegantly hideous and off to show that to the world (or at least to me). Sorry for this long line of cliches, but I felt like I hear that message a million times over from girls to girls, and I thought a guy needed to be added to the list.
Next subject, Sex. Similar to my infatuation with the human body, I have an infatuation with sex. I am an 18 year old kid, what else am I going to think about? But, why am I still a virgin? Seems like if I find this great event/recreational activity/connector/whatever the fuck you want to call it, I would do it the first chance I got at whatever cost. This might sound insane, but in middle school I was self-conscious about my lack of sexual experience. It led me to disrespecting and using girls to compensate for my insecurities. Note: if a guy uses you, it is only because of his insecurities. After I gained some real self-confidence, sense of dignity, and stopped caring as much what people thought I made a promise of myself. I will never be anyone’s mistake. That promise combined with my resistance to saying “I Love You” or even pretending to know what such a vaguely defined feeling is and my constant want for independence (fear of commitment) kept me a virgin so far. I am okay with that, in fact, I am good with that. Because even though I don’t think sex needs love, or even a relationship. I do believe that sex should be between people with a mutual respect for each other, between people who trust one another, and people who are invested into each other. Strangely enough, I believe this could happen on the day I meet someone, with someone I have known and considered a friend for years, or with someone stuck in between. Who am I to close my life to any possibility? I would also like to state that sex is something to be explored. Pleasure should not be dirty or taboo. If no one is getting harmed than it’s fair game in my book. I think that an open mind goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence and that is the sure-fire way to tell when someone is faking it (self-confidence).
Conclusion- Every human body is beautiful and should be appreciated. Sex is amazing: the true source of life that also makes great exercise and can open minds to dream-like experiences (of course, I guess this is conjecture as I am a virgin). But sex spans all sexual acts, and in many cases, I imagine ‘foreplay’ can be just as mystical. I don’t think I believe in love (at least not romantic love, at least not in my life), but the connection between lovers (I guess I shouldn’t use that word) transcends the physical, love just isn’t how I would describe it (don’t ask me how I would describe it, because I have no idea). I hope we have a mass enlightenment somewhere in our country’s future, because if we get to the point where all people look like the ones on billboards I might be sick.
As of right now, I am only planning on applying to Marlboro College. It is my first choice and after visiting it is hard for me to picture myself anywhere else. I am on the fence about applying to Evergreen State and Guilford College. Looking for colleges, I relied heavily on the website http://www.ctcl.org/. I think Marlboro is still the best fit for me though.
I left Charlotte for Asheville at 10:00 on Thursday morning prepared to spend my day waiting. Life seldom gives you only what you are prepared for. We waited 45 minutes to be seated for lunch, but that was small time compared to the 6-7 hours we waited in line for the Avett brothers concert right after that. It was worth every second; we ended up with front row seats and I had one of the best concert experiences of my life. After it ended we were famished, the only restaurant open at 3:00 AM was another 45 minute wait. The taste of a dry black bean burger and pseudo-grilled cheese was amazing and once again, waiting was worth it. The next morning we were to grab breakfast and head home, but nothing is that simple. My car’s clutch wasn’t working (it turned out to be a bad clutch slave). Luckily, my parents had driven up with some friends and they had enough room in the car for Jamie, Leah and David. My dad and I pushed/rolled the car out of the parking garage and proceeded to wait for the tow truck. We took it to a small, independent shop in Flat Rock called the Beemer Clinic Inc. Run by a scatter-brained genius who reminded me of some combination of Einstein, Socrates (the old man from Way of the Peaceful Warrior, not the philosopher, but maybe a little of both), and any other absent-minded, intelligent sage you can think of. We were there from 2:00 until 10:30 pm. I welcomed 2011 on an empty highway in a sputtering, 28 year old car.
Although it had it’s ups and downs, I have no complaints. I spent nearly 20 hours of the past 3 days waiting, yet I have no regrets. I think 2010 had one more lesson to teach me, and it’s more complex and less banal than “good things come to those who wait.” I don’t know if I have figured it out completely, but I think it is more along the lines of “Don’t resist the will of the world, move with it and you will be bestowed with unforgettable experiences.” But maybe it’s different, I need to think on it some more. I do know that I ended those two days with a heightened awareness of my control over whether or not a situation is good or bad and a superhuman ability to wait without complaint.