Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being insignificant

When it comes to holiday types, I would say I'm absolutely terrified when it comes to wide open spaces like beaches, mountains and flying through space. At the same time, it is just as thrilling because of the possibilities those vacation types bring. It's also strangely liberating.

For a long time, humans have built cities, where an increasing proportion of people now live in. If we take for a moment to consider architecture and the purpose of a built city, it's extremely anthropocentric. That's a big cheem word for "based on human interests and needs". Things are tailored to our size, our bipedal way of getting around and our comfort. I feel this subconsciously fuels our sense of self-entitlement. That as humans, we become upset when nature throws us off and tears down our buildings, our habitat.

I've gone hiking in the south Germany's Black Forest, and despite my fear for open water, saw the dead coral reefs of Phuket. Both experiences made me extremely small and insignificant.

And that feeling was perfectly wonderful.
People get the feeling of satisfaction because they "conquered" a mountain by scaling it. They take deep dives to see the wonders of the ocean. Technology made all these possible and it's amazing why we've achieved. At the same time, we have a voyeuristic fascination with ship wrecks, being island-stranded where people have no one but themselves to fend against nature, the enemy. We want to maintain our supremacy and like a threatened monarch, we hang on desperately to power at all costs.

I'm not advocating the fact that we go straight into the wilderness and start living again from the cave. Yet, at the same time we should be reminded of our vast insignificance, that all work we do, is human work and we represent very little of the reality in life. Like the late George Carlin would say, "earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas".

The earth really doesn't need saving, saying this will turn things for the worse. It blinds us to the true fact that we are desperately holding on to our supremacy of this epoch, and saving the earth is really saving ourselves. The frightful thing is that people with money and power have the resources to survive, while the poor and impotent will not. Climate change, is inevitably a problem of poverty in both ethics and economics.

I feel an implacable sense of peace precisely because I am powerless over what is before me. The forces that move mountains will crush my skull in a heartbeat, the waves can dissolve my corpse in a week. That sense of peace is perhaps what Buddha was saying - to consider how life ebbs and flows, and nothing is everything while everything can become nothing. We have to let go our control - our sense of ego.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Emotional vampires

Recently, I met a guy who tried very hard to woo at the beginning, and subsequently called every day (late at night when I'm sleeping geez), and sang love songs to me.

Typical romance, typical brief courtship.

The conversations were not unenjoyable, but I always felt tired at the end of it. It struck me that this guy spoke nothing but his experiences, and when I shared, I could tell he wasn't really listening. He was self-obsessed. People that are like black holes, who suck your energy, that even your light cannot escape from it.

So I, like any other person, went to Google what it means to be around emotional vampires. From Mark Mason(.net):

1. Do you feel that people often don’t (or can’t) understand you or your problems?
Do you feel that there are many barriers in your life which you have no control over?

2. Do you often ask for help from others and/or feel like few people are willing to help you?

3. Do you feel like you often don’t receive the attention or appreciation that you deserve?

4. Do people often complain that you don’t listen to them, when in fact, you feel like they don’t listen to you?

5. Do you feel like most other people have lives that are much easier than yours?

6. Do you fight with close friends and loved ones often?
If so, is it usually their fault?

7. Do people suddenly drop contact with you with no explanation and refuse to communicate with you again?

8. Do you often feel helpless, like you have little opportunity to improve your life?

Interestingly, I answered yes to some of them. So today, I decided to confess to parts of myself that I never acknowledged existed - until today.

(Having said my best friend as a knack for dragging me out of that cesspool of self-pity.)

I'm an emotional vampire too. On deeper reading, I deduced that emotional vampires really only care about themselves and have this vortex of self-entitlement that my problems are more important than others. That my "predicament" is unique. Now I wonder how many people are silently judging when I go into one of oh-my-life-sucks mode.

I think the more people I meet, the more I become self-aware that my mum falling to a stroke, may not actually be the worst problem in the world. I realise that not having a life-partner is not the most important issue. It's easier to consider that our problems are the worst, when many times others are called to fight different demons within their cell of existence.

It's not that "things could be a lot worse". Not that "lucky that life isn't mine". It's not that a stroke is worse than a sprain or a perpetual kidney problem. Rather, recognising the inner strength it takes for each and every one of us to carry on, takes the focus away from myself, is far more a productive way of dealing with my problem than self-wallowing. Ultimately, we've all been there, and because we have, we know the personal triumph needed to overcome obstacles in our lives.

Of course there will be days where we slip and fall, and consider our days the darkest because it really seems so. Of course, we are entitled to be emotional and lean on others a bit. It is a nice feeling to be taken care of, and like that patient who refuses to leave the hospital, getting used to that makes us a burden to others. Eventually, no one likes hanging around a vampire. It's an open market, and people have limited time. Don't waste their time with our inane selfishness.

To those whom I've burdened with my problems, I'm grateful you stuck by my side when at times, I refuse to budge from my sickbed when I'm perfectly well to walk again. I will be stronger, more self-less =) I will be there for you, as you have for me.