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Memores acti prudentes futuri


I look at the walls and they go clear
I cover my eyes and disappear
A few words
"When we describe the Moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness."
~ D.H. Lawrence

"Is the meaning of life defined by its duration? Or does life have a purpose so large that it doesn't have to be prolonged at any cost to preserve its meaning?"

"Living is not good, but living well. The wise man, therefore, lives as well as he should, not as long as he can... He will always think of life in terms of quality not quantity... Dying early or late is of no relevance, dying well or ill is... even if it is true that while there is life there is hope, life is not to be bought at any cost."
~ Seneca

"People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world's about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don't need to last forever to be perfect."
~ Daydream Nation

"All Bette's stories have happy endings. That's because she knows where to stop. She's realized the real problem with stories-- if you keep them going long enough, they always end in death."
~ The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

"The road now stretched across open country, and it occurred to me - not by way of protest, not as a symbol, or anything like that, but merely as a novel experience - that since I had disregarded all laws of humanity, I might as well disregard the rules of traffic. So I crossed to the left side of the highway and checked the feeling, and the feeling was good. It was a pleasant diaphragmal melting, with elements of diffused tactility, all this enhanced by the thought that nothing could be nearer to the elimination of basic physical laws than deliberately driving on the wrong site of the road."
~ Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
~ William Blake
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Family history and magnanimity
Sunday, September 16, 2018
My family has been trying to have dinner together on Sunday nights for the past few months, in an effort to promote cohesion and know more about each other. Lately I've been asking my parents questions about our family history, partially because I'm taking a Family Dynamics class and it's making me wonder about a lot of things. Tonight we went to a sushi restaurant and both of my parents shared some things about our family history that they knew. I learned the names of my maternal grandfather's parents and some of their story, and my dad retold us a story about my great great great grandmother on his side who fell down a well in China and couldn't get out for days because she had bound feet and struggled to climb out on her own. I can't even imagine how traumatic that would have been to go through. Unsurprisingly, after she was shipped off to Hawaii to marry my great great great grandfather, she worked as hard as she could to sew clothing to sell so she could save money to stay in Hawaii. Hawaii had running water, unlike China at the time, so there weren't wells around.

The personal stories of history can be so fascinating. It's disappointing to me that for a long stretch of my life, I just saw history as an incredibly boring summary of wars and treaties. It was sanitized of much of the life and individuality that characterized the lives that made it up.

---

Unrelated to my thoughts about my family history (at least, for the most part), I was reading more of Technology and the Virtues by Shannon Vallor tonight. I just finished the chapter on virtues that we can apply in the 21st century, one of which was magnanimity. Magnanimity is one of those words I have often seen but never thought too much about. After reading about it though, I think I will add it to the self-development "to do" list I keep to remind myself of which values I strive for and what things I want to work on.

Furthermore, the sense in which the 'great-souled' or magnanimous person is 'above' the common person is chiefly concerned with their lack of pettiness-- their unwillingness to defile their virtue by scrabbling in the dirt over trivial advantages, honors, titles, prizes, or other ego-boosting trifles. The great-souled person does not ignore these things because he wishes to be above others, rather he is above others just because he tends to ignore these things. The things the great-souled person values are more valuable. The magnanimous person is the one who has a sense of nobility and self-worth founded in a lifetime of moral and social efforts rather than relatively meaningless zero-sum contests of ego. The magnanimous person can afford to be generous in spirit where others are not. He can absorb a petty insult without having to repay it. He can warmly greet the person who has pretended not to notice his arrival. He can let the other car swoop into 'his' parking space at the mall without responding like a rabid dog.

[...]

What, then, is the relevance of this classical ideal for 21st century life? Who talks or thinks about being 'noble' any more? This is precisely my point. Magnanimity enables and encourages moral ambition and moral leadership, two things sorely lacking in our contemporary technosocial milieu. Moral ambition can be described as the ability to 'think big' in one's moral aims. The magnanimous, those with justified moral ambition, are able to go beyond what most of us can afford in the moral realm (often little more than 'I'm going to try to be slightly less of a selfish jerk today'). The magnanimous can pursue and lead others in moral projects that require enduring courage, deep wisdom, expansive empathy, extraordinary care, and tolerance for great frustration and conflict-- because they have successfully cultivated these virtues as resources for such projects.

Reading this, I have a renewed sense of something to strive for, which feels especially important at this juncture in my life. I've been fairly depressed lately and I think I'm coming out of it a bit right now, so it helps to have something to invigorate me and remind me of who I want to be.

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IDKYA [4P]
Saturday, September 15, 2018
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Headaches
Friday, September 14, 2018
I have been getting really bad headaches and I'm not sure why. Just a couple days this week, in the afternoon, right around when I finish babysitting. It's this throbbing pain that makes me feel like I'm going to collapse and/or throw up. Not a constant dull pain like the normal headaches I get... and light seems to make it much worse. Migraines, maybe?

Right now I'm wearing sunglasses to type this, haha. My sunglasses are tinted yellow and polarized and they seem to help a little, but I think there's some other issue I need to figure out here. My guess is that I'm sick, but it's this very strange sickness where my only symptoms are extremely mild occasional coughing and rare but extremely terrible throbbing headaches. I've never had a cold like this before and don't know what to make of it. :S

I've been really wanting to write a long and reflective post about something I've been thinking about for a few days, but it's currently too uncomfortable to stare at the screen for as long as it would take, so unfortunately I have to postpone that for now...

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Triangular bayonet [4P]
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
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Imaginative conversation
Friday, August 31, 2018
One of the things that's hard to assess when you're getting to know someone is their ability to have an imaginative conversation. It's just banter I guess, but there's a certain quality to it that seems important to me to have in an ongoing friendship with someone.

I went to a rehearsal dinner last night, and one of the other members of the bridal party gave me a ride. On the way to the restaurant from the venue, we passed a wall someone had painted Chester the Cheetah on, and I remarked that Chester looked like he probably hung around the Marlboro camel and that they were the cool outsiders in high school. That comment launched us into a discussion about what various mascots would have been in high school and what their relationships with each other were like. For example, the Cocoa Puffs bird was friends with Chester and the camel in high school, but he got hooked on some hard stuff and they drifted apart as his life was overtaken by his addiction. Tony the Tiger was the star quarterback, but he was always too wholesome to hang with the cool outsiders. You're not gonna find Chester helping underprivileged kids with their reading comprehension at the local library, but Tony? Yeah, he's all about that.

Anyway, I don't know if there's a term for this kind of conversation. I guess it probably pops up a lot in podcasts, though I find podcasts fairly annoying and don't like them, haha. I want to participate in imaginative conversations, not listen to other people having them. I wonder how I can filter for people who are able to chat like this?

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Low energy
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
I guess I'm doing okay. Some bad nights that might have been exacerbated by recent stressors, but I haven't been taken out of commission by any of it.

Feeling tired of people. Or well, trying to meet people. I don't feel like I have the energy in me to make it work. Nothing is re-energizing me after all these things drain me.

It feels like I've lost touch with my reasons for doing things. My overarching sense of purpose is waning. It's distressing, to say the least. I think I'm suffering from a lack of things to care for. No pets, nobody who strongly needs my support at the moment. I wonder if I should try to find some kind of volunteer work... I'm back to babysitting, and the baby definitely needs me, at least. That's something...

This shift in me has been perplexing. I feel like I've become more open to spirituality (as in, more accepting of it and relaxed about it, not like I'm subscribing to any particular beliefs), but at the same time I've become... somewhat nihilistic? Or maybe that's just depression, sneaking back in an unfamiliar costume. I guess that's something that's been faithful to me, no matter how long we're separated.

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The fantasy of forgiveness
Monday, August 20, 2018
Sometimes I forgive people without feeling like anything is needed from their side. Sometimes I think there's just one thing holding me back from forgiving a person. Maybe that's just some kind of wishful thinking though, a desire for that magical closure bullet that doesn't really exist.

In theory I shouldn't need anything from the other side in order to forgive. I conceive of forgiveness as a way of letting go of the past and moving on. It doesn't have to be tied to what anybody else does.

I remember telling my therapist a few years ago that I was struggling with forgiving someone and I wondered why I was punishing myself like that. He saw it as less voluntary than I did, haha. I'm not sure how I feel about it now. My theoretical concept of forgiveness is the same, but my feelings aren't all there.

I would have forgiven a lot if I got a postcard. A general gesture of good will.

I think I've been willing to forgive anybody who wanted my forgiveness. Maybe not everybody thought they should have had to get forgiveness, though. I'm sure there are people from my past who don't think they did anything really wrong. I guess there's not much to be done with that. As much as I'd like to repair things with everybody and be on good terms, it might just not be feasible with every person.

Is it possible to move on without ever forgiving someone? To just forget them entirely? One wonders.

---

Very slowly, in bits and pieces, I have been reading Shannon Vallor's Technology and the Virtues. It's giving me some ways to articulate things I couldn't put words to before. I wish I had a friend who was reading it so I could talk about it with them...

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The isolated self
Sunday, August 19, 2018
The word "autism" comes from the Greek word "autos," which means "self." It describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction. In other words, he becomes an “isolated self.”

When I'm not in a relationship, I spend the majority of my time alone. I mean, I have passing interactions with family, and I do have to socialize to some extent at school, but a combination of shyness, anxiety, and introversion has nudged me towards a life with a lot of solitude. I think it's kind of been that way ever since middle school. Because I went to competitive schools, I didn't hang out with friends very much after elementary school. In 7th grade I spent most of my time during recess and lunch at school in the library, reading. I did have a friend group in 8th grade and through high school, but I started spending a lot of time online.

Before I ever had a blog of any sort, I went on chatrooms in the summer when I was at my uncle's house in Hawaii. He had DSL and we only had dial-up at home, so it just wasn't feasible for me to be on the internet that much during the normal school year. When I was 14 we finally got DSL at my house, not long after I joined Nutang.

I wasn't inducted into the online world as early as some people, but I became attached to it quickly. Socializing in person was difficult for me. I was afraid of talking to people I didn't know well, and to some extent I still am. Today I was considering my options for getting a dress tailored, and I read that it could easily cost $70. Given that I make very little money, that's a big sum to me, but the prospect of going to a tailor was still somewhat less terrifying than doing what my mom suggested, which was asking our neighbor (whom I don't know very well) for help sewing it. (I think I have resolved to use temporary hem tape though, which will probably require the least social interaction of any option)

On the internet, I'm not crippled by shyness the way I often have been in person. It's so much easier to talk to people through text, to express myself and receive the expressions of others. The lack of nonverbal communication changes the game, though. I spent my adolescence being more engaged in online communication than in-person communication, and I think I adapted to the former as a result.

Awhile ago I was linked an article about how blind children can exhibit autistic features that are actually caused by their visual impairment. I can't seem to find it now, but I thought it was a very interesting idea... that being cut off from certain experiences can mimic the presentation of autism. Blind kids, being unable to see body language and such, can't socialize the same way as kids who can see. You might be able to see where I'm going with this.

A few months ago, a friend asked me if I had ever considered that I might be autistic. I felt fairly offended at first, partially because of the context and partially because I really don't think I'm autistic, but I've been thinking about why she asked that and what about my mannerisms could raise that question. I wonder if my relative lack of experience in face-to-face social interactions compared to online interactions might be coming off as slightly autistic tendencies in certain cases. I'm doing a lot more socializing in person these days than I used to, and I'm learning better how to navigate such situations, but I think I'm still behind, and it's slow going.

Something else that I think has hindered my development of better in-person social skills is the way my mom intervenes in social situations when I'm out with her. Due to the aforementioned shyness/anxiety, for a lot of my life, outside of school or hanging out with friends (which I didn't do much for a long time), my mom was present in most of my social interactions. When I was younger my parents would try to get me to interact with people directly, but I was too shy and/or anxious, and eventually my mom just started talking to people for me instead. I would go shopping with her and route communication through her. If I had a question about something, she would ask an employee for me. If I wanted to buy something, she would pay and talk to the cashier for me. I'm not trying to make her responsible for the delayed development of my social skills, but I think this has factored in. I've been oddly successful in avoiding most in-person direct social interactions above the bare minimum for a long time. The fact that I didn't get my license until I was 23 and relied on my parents and friends to get around also kept me from gaining social experience.

So, yeah. I don't think I am naturally socially disabled, I think I've just had a variety of life factors that combined to reduce the level of social experience I've had relative to other people my age. In bygone eras I think they would have just labeled it as "awkwardness" and left it at that, but nowadays if you're socially awkward you can't escape suspicions of autism.

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