Paragon

As one progresses through certain stages in their life, they will encounter many different people. There are many from different walks of life. That is why it is in one’s best interest to keep an open-mind when it comes to these types of things. “These things” being people in general. It helps to facilitate a good working relationship and base for your interactions with others. Not everyone is going to share the same views as that backwater town you came from.

As stated before, you meet people. You make friends from these people. You make enemies from these people. You make disguised friends from these people. Most people will usually have a good group of friends and will usually end up having a neutral relationship with them. Most people will usually not feel ambivalent or strongly about anything they do or say mainly because of the fact that these people are politically-correct and will avoid confrontation at all costs. There is nothing wrong with avoiding confrontation but when you have to compromise your opinions in the sake of being “politically-correct”, then you have a problem.

Then there will be a portion of people that usually tend to polarize people. Some will usually have a negative to extremely negative view of the person (whether justified or not) and some will have a positive to extremely positive view of the person (whether justified or not). The actual percentage breakdown is dependent on the individual. The actions that the individuals have taken to get here are also dependent as well.

As on par the course with nature, there will be some humans that will decide to rise above the quicksand that is known as complacency. They are the driven ones, they are the ones that wish to carve out a better existence for themselves and the people they are in close contact with. They wish to thrive and strive to be the best they can be. As one climbs the social, monetary, physical (insert adjective here) ladder there will be people that will drag them down.  They are known in 21st century vernacular as “haters”. Many people brag about having haters, this is quite common in our cybernarcissistic hamster-wheel attention span culture. Having haters is a sign that you’re doing something right, no? The reality is, most people have not done much of anything to justify having a large span of haters other than being a complete asshole or jerk to people they meet. These people haven’t done anything revolutionary, they haven’t done anything innovative, they haven’t done anything creative. If they have any haters, it’s because of simple asshattery, nothing more nothing less.

Then, there are the people that have a large amount of “haters” simply because they are successful in some type of mastery. Whether it be business, arts, or sciences. People will be jealous of what they cannot attain. Mastery means putting in the work and effort to become a “master” in your given field, which correlates to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory. Many people are simply too lazy, unintelligent, or impatient to achieve mastery over anything. It is expected in this instant gratification culture to instantly be good at anything. No. It didn’t work for your grandparents and it sure as shit won’t work for you.

When mastery or dominance in an area is on its way to be achieved, there will be naysayers that will come out of the woodwork. Many of them will come out unexpected places. Many of them might end up being very close to you. These people will often tell you that your dreams, goals, and ambitions are foolish and you are better off doing nothing. The goal of these people is just to keep everyone who wish to follow their dreams down so that they will not have feelings of inadequacy every time they see you making a breakthrough. These people were too scared or lacked the resources to make their own breakthrough, now they are stopping yours.

The only way to reach Tahoe’s peak is to cast off these naysayers and plow ahead. A type of solipsistic self-indulgence is necessary, one that borders on the edge of narcissism in order to guard against this threat to sanity.  People gravitate towards mastery and dominance. That is why people in the upper echelons have more hangers on than they know what to do with.
The key, like everything in life, is to separate the good from the bad.

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Charity

 

it is important to remember those who have less than we do. As we fall deeper into this quagmire that is the economic recession, more and more people find themselves in a position of uncertainty and hopelessness. I’m just going to take a guess and assume that there won’t be as many Christmas presents under the tree as there were in previous years. Many people are inspired to give because of the particular conventions of the Christmas season. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” popularized this sentiment. “A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843. It was the first piece of literature to really discuss social ills while disguising it underneath the happy exterior of a season of the year. “A Christmas Carol” has so many different interpretations, but its core message remains unchanged – it is essentially good to give and it can make us better persons. However, deeper within that, a person must give in a certain way in order to reap the benefits.

So many different people were inspired by this message that they began to create institutions that addressed the needs of the poor and less fortunate. These institutions were known as charities. Charities effectively bridged the gap between the rich and the poor and created greater stratification of class. The rich no longer had to interact with the poor, they just had to give an amount to a charity and their donation would go to a certain group of people that really needed the money. The lump sum donation did not address the need to interact with people outside one’s social circle, nor the need to volunteer one’s time to make a difference. This is called indiscriminate giving. Indiscriminate giving provides the giver a sense of comfort that they donated to help make a difference in the lives of the faceless masses of endless people who need help. It however, does not address the core issue.

The issue of charity is not only addressed in terms of monetary donations. It can be addressed in other ways too, most notably volunteering. You would be surprised the difference you can make in someone’s life by volunteering your time and presence. Where to volunteer? If you live in an urban area, there is no shortage of places you can volunteer. People will always need help – and a human presence. There is no better time to provide both, in these dark days – both literally and figuratively.

Money is temporal. Human companionship is not. Giving to charity is great and all but the giver will be missing out on the core message that was detailed in “A Christmas Carol” Ebeneezer Scrooge arrived at his revelation that he could make a difference in the lives of others through simple things such as camaraderie. He got into the Christmas spirit of generosity and he realized it made him a better person because he interacted with people he normally would not have.

If we want to reach the same revelation as Scrooge did and make our lives better, we need to too.

 

 

 

– Scotia

The Life of the Lonely Individual

I’ve written about Loneliness before. This goes a little bit more indepth. There seems to be a huge confusion on the distinction between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is just the act of being by yourself. Being lonely is the longing to be with other human beings. Being alone can have a positive connotation. For example, a person can be alone and be perfectly happy as long as he feels fulfilled not necessarily by other people but by life in general. The lonely person is an individual who at their very core feels misunderstood and isolated from other human beings. Longings to rid oneself of being misunderstood is the core of loneliness. If you are like most people, loneliness is a temporal state and is quickly rectified by the reassertion of community and camaraderie with others. Loneliness for most people tends to be a fluctuating state of affairs that the individual will eventually realize ebbs and flows like the tidal cycles of the world’s oceans.

There are many people in the modern world that for one reason or another find themselves being lonely at one time or another. That’s just how society is structured. However, as aforementioned it passes. Unfortunately, there are many people for which loneliness is a constant reminder of their differences from society and their inability to connect with other human beings on either a platonic or romantic level. These people who experience chronic loneliness are those that are often put on the fringes of society for not “fitting in”. Humanity has a herd mentality that has subsisted from bygone eras and we will do anything to be in favor of the spectator and society as a whole. The people who experience loneliness the most are the homeless and the gifted.

The homeless feel denigrated by society and hide their shame of not having any money nor any place to stay. Homelessness is a sad state of affairs in our great society and it should be something that should be unacceptable. Inevitably, there will be people who are indeed homeless as the unemployment rate can never be 0. However, the amount of homeless people should be vastly reduced if we wish to call ourselves a great society. At the core of homelessness is the feeling of being misunderstood, which again concentrates their inherent loneliness.

The gifted are people who have felt misunderstood all their lives. They have been cast out from society as being “too weird”, too irreverent, or even worse to the opposite sex – too socially awkward (not in all cases). Their ideas have been ridiculed as myopic or too self indulgent, not applicable to a larger framework of ill-laid plans. These people with abnormally high IQs or ways of thinking have often been the paragon of thought, the liberators of this ungrateful species from the dark ages, the saviors of humanity from the pool of primordial slush from where we once spawned. They are writers, artists, poets, inventors, social activists, warriors, commanders. Leaders. Still, even then with all their services to their fellow human beings, they are cast aside and looked at something as less than human. For example, Radiohead one of the most revolutionary group of musicians to ever walk the face of the planet have had their music dismissed by some critics as self-indulgent, boring, and as one girl I know said: “too depressing”.

There are many people who do not fall into these two groups but a large portion of people who experience chronic loneliness do. They feel misunderstood at their core. Unfortunately, there is no solution for chronic loneliness and the people who experience this must live a life looking inside through the glass while everyone on the inside does not even know they are doing so. It is an unfortunate series of events that there are people who will never be able to experience what community is because they are different from the rest of society. Occasionally, someone bending light will come along to perk up the wilted flower but more often than not that is not the case.  Living a life of loneliness and being misunderstood is their cross to bear and their end will be their inevitable crucifixion by way of their own misunderstanding.

– Scotia

Finals

In every college student’s life there comes a much dreaded time of year – Finals Week. This week and the preceding weeks are accompanied by much stress, confusion, desperation, panic, and gnashing of teeth. I feel like a calm island in the sea of chaos as I witness my peers talk frantically about how they need to stay up all night to study for an exam the next day or to turn in a paper that is due tomorrow. I often wondered how students fell into this trap. Procrastination, yes but I feel that there is an underlying issue at hand here. Even since freshman year, I managed to turn in all my assignments on time with little stress. Half of the time, I manage to do turn things early or study early. I then find the week before finals as a way to center myself for the week ahead.

After much contemplation, I have come to discover that the underlying issue is one of ego destruction. Ego destruction is exactly what it sounds like, destruction of who you are, your sense of self. Finals week requires that you give your all and nothing less if you wish to succeed. This means you must destroy who you are and suspend all of your desires and beliefs. Basically two of the things that make you – you. Ego destruction is a very difficult thing to do, even for a person who has destroyed their ego various times in the course of their life, like I have. Every time, it manages to get a little easier but it still hurts. What are the benefits of ego destruction at finals week? Razor-sharp focus, dedication towards studying and reviewing, time management, and many other habits that are beneficial towards the completion of the goal of finals week – success. As an interesting aside, many individuals who take high does of psychedelics (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA) report feelings of ego death during the duration of their “trip” and residual feelings afterwards.

Today, I was in the library in the early hours of the morning. I heard a girl on a phone with someone, most likely her parents. She was crying uncontrollably and talking about how she felt so misunderstood and how she felt like she was slowly falling apart. I was not eavesdropping, but she was talking so loud that I could not help but hear her. I felt bad because I knew that there was nothing to do and I genuinely felt sorry for her. I can only imagine how many other people feel like this. Ego destruction is something that must be willed before an opposing force comes to destroy your own ego. When you yourself destroy your own ego and accept this, the hard part has been done by you. When a force comes and destroys your ego, it will shatter it into parts that may or may not be retrievable. It is akin to the strategic breaking of damaged bones by doctors so that it can heal correctly, rather than risking an improper heal without intervention. Ego destruction sounds frightening, but it can be an interesting process because it lets you know what type of person you are and how much you can take. This girl was not ready for finals week and because of this, it shattered her. What is the damage? Only the doctor knows.

No painting nails, no playing guitar, no reading of books, no going shopping to the mall, no talking long hours on the phone to your boyfriend, no cooking of birthday cakes, no spending long hours on Facebook. All of these must be suspended until the task is done.

If you manage to prepare early enough, you may not have to undergo ego destruction. Still, everyone does at some point in their life, whether consciously or unconsciously. Finals week will break everybody in some way. The question isn’t how much you can take before you break, it is if you will be able to pick up the pieces of who you were and reassemble yourself at the end of the day.

– Scotia