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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Goodbye my little garden

Over 2 years ago, I noticed empty planters in the patio area at my previous job. I decided to do something about the emptiness and bring some life. I want to share the transformation as an homage to this little garden that I had to leave behind since I very recently changed jobs.

Here is what it looked like before:

And here is what it looks like now:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

-Mary Oliver

Love the succulents in my garden

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Thoughts on a quote

I want to provide some comments on the following quote:
Remember that stress doesn't come from what's going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what's going on in your life.
- Andrew J. Bernstein

I dislike advice that asks people to "think differently" about how they view a situation. I believe this misses the point entirely since then you wonder, Ok then where do the thoughts themselves come from? Why do the negative ones consistently show up and the positive ones are usually nowhere to be seen? Why are people usually able to understand something at an intellectual level but they can rarely take the lesson to heart at an emotional and deeper level?

You can't "force" yourself to think differently about something if the more negative interpretation keeps overpowering the positive. We ultimately have no idea where thoughts even come from or where consciousness comes from or why some people are much more prone to anxiety and negative thinking than others. How can you "control" something when you don't know its source or how it's even created?

I am not saying give up and think it's all hopeless. I am saying that's it's not as simple as trying to control how you view a situation and what your thoughts are. The solution is probably a lot more difficult and must be more thorough. Perhaps it involves going through some kind of powerful experience that gives you a perspective shift or genuinely elicits an emotional response.

For instance, somewhat recently, I was feeling especially down and like absolute shit. Nothing was working. Music wasn't helping. My hobbies weren't helping. Talking to friends wasn't helping. But you know what randomly and unexpectedly raised my mood? An old lady was stuck in an intersection because there was no ramp installed to help her move her heavy cart. When she saw me walking by, she called to me and asked me to help her lift her cart. I ran over and helped her and almost immediately afterwards, I was feeling noticeably better. When nothing had broken through the sadness, this small act broke through. Why? I really have no idea. But notice how trying to "think differently" or "controlling thoughts" was doing absolutely nothing. Something completely unexpected like helping an old lady completely broke through the terrible mood when nothing else was working. 

Perhaps we should consider more "non-orthodox" solutions to people feeling like crap. Maybe we can try to convince a sad person to go out and find someone to help and see if that helps raise their mood. Or we can prescribe some other action-based approach that is more relevant for that particular person such as asking the person to consider quitting Facebook or at least uninstalling social media apps from their phone. The overall point here is that you can't simply "think differently" about something most of the time. Some kind of action or powerful experience is needed.

Friday, June 22, 2018

"Work hard and you will achieve your dreams!!"

I have never been a fan of the "work hard and you will get what you want!!" mantra that is spammed all over the place. A more realistic version of the advice is "work hard and you will increase your CHANCES of getting what you want. There is never a guarantee but you aren't hurting your chances by actually trying harder to achieve what you're after." I think this is a much more realistic version of this advice. It tells the person that working hard is important but it also doesn't give them false hope that hard work is going to get them what they want 100% of the time. Ultimately, that's what hard work does. The world is a complex place and there are numerous factors we can't predict or understand. We try to exert control over this randomness the best we can but we ultimately can't gain complete control. All we can do is increase our chances of a favorable result. There is almost never a guarantee.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A memory

I wish I could remember the exact quote and who said it but today I was reminded of a podcast I had heard in the past and the guest was speaking about her rough past and how she got through it. She made a point that stuck with me.

The gist of her explanation was that bad stuff happens to people all the time and to deal with it, they create an explanation for it and think it all "happened for a reason." I am sure we have all heard people say this and there is nothing wrong with it I think because it's a coping mechanism and I don't see the harm in it. The podcast guest went on and said that stuff does NOT happen to us "for a reason." Shit just happens and we search for reasons and meaning after the fact to try to make sense of the randomness and indifference of the universe.

I don't know if it's pessimistic to truly accept the fact that reality and bad luck are mostly random and there is no rhyme or reason behind it. In a sense, thinking like this allows you to perhaps live life in a more carefree and uncaged way. But at the same time, this could put you at risk of thinking everything is meaningless and nothing really matters. That kind of a perspective can rob life of its joys and that's no fun either.

I don't know where I stand on this issue. It's something I have thought about over time but have never come upon a clear answer for myself. Maybe that's fine. Clear answers are rare.


After almost 4.5 years of administering the estates of lonely dead folks, I am about to start a new job in about 2 weeks time.

I had never assumed that I would be sad over leaving such a morbid occupation but now that I am actually in a situation where I am about to make this big (relatively speaking) change, I can't help but mourn what I am about to lose.

Over the course of these past few years, I had managed to become so effective at this odd job of mine (most people have no idea that the department I work at even exists... we are that obscure and work mostly in the background), that I got away with having various perks that are likely very rare among the white collar workforce. Well, I assume it's rare for anyone who is not in the programming field. If my brother's experience is any indication, those fools have immense amount of freedom since they are so sought after and employers don't want to piss them off and make them leave for positions with other companies.

I am going to miss the benefits I had carved out at this job. One such perk was having roughly 2 hours every day where I would practice drawing. In the middle of the office, with all kinds of managers constantly walking by my cubicle with direct sight of me, I would sit for at least 2 hours a day and work on various art projects. I would consistently have dozens of color pencils spread out over my work-space and constantly be working on my next art project every single work day. What are the chances that I can create such a situation at any other job? What are the chances that any employer in their right mind would tolerate such behavior from an employee whose work responsibilities have nothing to do with art?

Another bonus at this job is my garden. On the 9th floor of an office building, I had managed to get approval to convert the patio space outside into a succulent garden. I have taken care of this garden and kept it thriving for over 2 years and now I am about to leave it behind. I inevitably once again ask myself what other employer would allow an employee to create and tend a garden at a position that is not remotely related to plants and gardening?

Plants and art... these two things make me very happy and I had managed to sneak them into a job that dealt with death. I don't know if I will ever manage to achieve a similar situation again and this realization feels like an intense punch in the gut.

Onward I suppose. On to new things and all that bullshit.

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