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http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

"Multitasking, in short, is not only not thinking, it impairs your ability to think. Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it. Not learning other people’s ideas, or memorizing a body of information, however much those may sometimes be useful. Developing your own ideas. In short, thinking for yourself. You simply cannot do that in bursts of 20 seconds at a time, constantly interrupted by Facebook messages or Twitter tweets, or fiddling with your iPod, or watching something on YouTube.”

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The Sunset Limited is a play and film by Cormac McCarthy. I watched the film recently, and I thought it was provocative and curious.  There’s not really that much to spoil, in fact I think there’s almost nothing except <SPOILER> that White leaves the apartment at the end of the film as the sun rises. </SPOILER>  While the acting was good enough in moments of the movie, the timing in the film seemed a little off, a little rushed at parts. But all in all, an interesting experience

 

The movie is much like… A Dinner with Andre and The Man From Earth: closed room, dialogue centric movies that “intellectuals” enjoy  (Personally I just find them interesting, but most people would say … ‘pretentious’; not that my awareness of it being pretentious makes it any less pretentious) . If you’re a diehard fan of The Expendables or The Fast and The Furious, this may not be a movie for you (Although the two might not be mutually exclusive.)

 

The premise is that two guys, White and Black, are sitting in Black’s apartment. The door is heavily bolted and deadlocked, and sparsely decorated. After some back and forth, we discover that Black has saved White from a suicide attempt by train. The Sunset Limited.

 

White [played by Tommy Lee Jones of MIB fame] is a professor and atheist, Black [Samuel L. Jackson] is a Christian ex-con, apparently a murderer. The repartee is interestingly paced, difficult to follow at points, but essentially revolve around God, happiness and the meaning of life, good and evil, and death.

 

God

Black is a believer. He believes that he is there for a reason, that the professor fell into his arms, that everything in his life revolves around the Bible, that everything in his mind and in his life comes from the Bible and nowhere else. Black believes that it is part of his duty to save White, to look out for his brother, he is TRYING – the opening line is “What am I supposed to do with you?” – salvation lies in his fellow man, especially those who don’t want to find God. 

Black found God after he was involved in a graphically described ‘jailhouse’ fight , where he was injured and heard Jesus speaking to him while recovering. White describes it as  “a story of how a fellow inmate became a cripple one-eyed halfwit so you could find god”. Despite all of White’s cynicism, Black demonstrates an acute awareness of his reaction to god, as if the response to being put in a “bag of tricks” (ie evangelical attempts) is familiar to him.

 

Black tells an amusing anecdote about alcoholics, he says that drinking is escape, that people just want to be loved by god. “They can’t get what they want so what they really don’t want, they can’t get enough of.” He asked – which makes more sense – to want a drink of whiskey or to want to be loved by god.  

 

Knowledge is White’s god, it gives the illusion of being able to outwit the devil; the primacy of the intellect is what distinguishes us from rocks, but ironically enough, once we obtain enough intellect we are driven to perish; because the darker picture is always the right one.

 

Happiness

White scoffs at the notion of happiness. He says there is no happiness in the world, especially for the educated. It is the human condition. The more you know, the more you realise that you’re essentially part of a “forced labour camp”, living in a world of futility. Black believes that White had simply walked down the wrong path, that he should abandon everything he had done up to this point, because it left him empty at the path of oblivion, that he had steadily formed his life around a cynical view of the world.

 

White says “suffering and human destiny are the same thing, each is a description of the other”, that humans are destined to be in pain. Black says that pain is what defines happiness. Personally, I thought White’s bitter response was somewhat lacking, logically. Humans are not destined to suffer, that is exactly what we work our lives to avoid. Maybe that was White’s argument, that our lives are spent avoiding suffering and pain, and in the end we all reach the same end point of death anyway.

 

Good and Evil and the meaning of life

Despite being a Christian, he doesn’t accept that people are tainted by original sin (ie we are all intrinsically evil). He says that people are good, and they end up bringing evil to themselves. Black compares people to mines, and says that we should find the gold at the bottom of the mine, a pure ore which keeps us alive. Black believes that man’s body is capable of being purely good, because Jesus existed in the form of a human. That people are capable of being good.

 

White complains about the place Black lives in, describes it as … a moral leper colony, he asks why Black continues to stay there, that “even god gives up at some point.”; he asks what the difference is, to god, between coming to a building that is spiritually and morally vacant and a building that is entirely uninhabited. He is questioning hope; it is intriguing that he has a notion of morality. He believes there to be right and wrong, but doesn’t see suicide as wrong.

 

Black says that the problem with White is that he believes that people should get what they deserve, and that most people deserve nothing. And to follow the Bible means to give love, even when they don’t deserve it. It is UNJUST to love and care for those who don’t deserve it.

 

Interestingly, when describing the Bible, Black says this – “I don’t think you gotta know this book exists at all. Whatever truth is written in this book, I believe is written on the human heart too and was wrote there a long time ago and will be wrote there a long time yet… this book is a guide for the ignorant and the sick of heart, a whole man wouldn’t need it at all.”

 

The value of the Bible, and any other literature for that matter, is as a cautionary tale, telling us to be careful. White says the reason why the Bible contains more about the wrong way to do things than the right way is because people are essentially evil, there are any number of “wrong” paths to go down, and only one right one. Whether White was alluding to the right one being death, or some other kind of righteousness, I’m not sure about.

 

Their conversation is peppered with the contumely “nigger”, which interestingly enough still seems to bother White, despite his nihilist attitude to life. It demonstrates the constraints of societal norms and education on White, the prison of his own mind formed through education and ‘civilisation’. Maybe. Black describes the notion of “believe” relative to “unbelief”. The believer arrives at his conclusion, draws from his one well; The unbeliever tries to destroy the well, to unravel the world. He’s saying that belief in untruth is better than no belief at all – a questioner believes seeking truth while a doubter wants to be told there is no truth at all.

 

Death

The film revolves around death. White tried to kill himself, Black killed in the past. White says the answer to his problem is death. He doesn’t believe in an after life, he doesn’t believe in spirits and a community of the dead. He sees life as noise, and death as silence, peace, darkness eternal. He describes how he will embrace the persona of death, whisper eagerly into its bony ears.

 

Black asks whether it is better to have elegant reasons, worldy, sensible reasons to die, as opposed to dying for personal reasons. Black says that White can only see his own shadow. That faith is a case of having nothing else left to live for. Black wants to believe that people who want to die have something important to them which allows them to die, that death is never for nothing. White says that what he holds on to, as he jumps in front of that train, the one thing he won’t give up is giving up.

 

White believes that life is just a series of opportunity costs. Every hour, minute and second that passes by is another path we forego, and the closer we get to death, the less we can do, the more doors are closed to us, and the more futile our actions become. We are all “terminal commuters”, nothing we do lasts forever.

 

The Sunset Limited

The film seems to intentionally leave questions unanswered, maybe it would be presumptuous to try and answer these questions, but I think it’s important to take away from White’s mistakes. He believes in futility, that helping prevent death is pointless, that there is no god, that the only logical conclusion at the end of the day is to accept death. But his world view seems to be of the shadow. He has no friends, no family and nothing to live for. He looks at the shadow at the expense of seeing the light. Maybe the message is that life is simpler than we make it out to be, that mere living is a sufficient reason to live. But watch the movie, let me know what you think.

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Productivity: Work Less and Do More by Applying the Pareto Principle to Your Task List(via @Lifehacker)

The Pareto Principle says that in most situations roughly 80% of effects come from only 20% of the causes. We can use the Pareto Principle to better manage our time and focus on the things on our task list that really make a difference.

Source: Lifehacker
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Heya people from all around the world! If you’re going to university/college/whatever you crazy kids call it, then it’s coming to that time of the semester… a time to put down your chosen alcoholic beverage container, reel it in and start ramming to get through another year of learning!

 

Now, learning is important, there’s no doubt in that. Exams are, for some, a time to revise what you’ve learnt, and for others, a time to learn everything you were supposed to learn during the semester; all to demonstate that you didn’t waste (another) 3000 bucks on useless textbooks and printouts . This is pretty hard work. So, instead, here are some things you can opt to do instead!!


1.       Gardening 

 

It’s winter time! The grass is growing thanks to the copious rain, leaves are scattered everywhere, weeds are popping up like … weeds and those roses need pruning again! Gardening is soothing and good for the soul. Plus, you get to meet all kinds of new lizards, snakes, birds and insects! Oh and dog poo.

 

2.       Clean 

 

You never realise how dirty your room is until you’ve got to study Income Tax Law.

 

3.       Find ‘music’ on Youtube 

 

I know it’s pretty old news, but if you haven’t heard this song and seen the video, it’s pretty entertaining. I know I’m supposed to have some disdain for the music, but it’s catchy and … Canadian.

 


If that doesn’t suit your taste, then there’s always a drum ‘n bass/dubstep/Bollywood/techno remix of your favourite song. Or you could listen to some of this funky groove.

 

4.       Watch All The Movies

 

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve got a bunch of movies on your playlist that:

 

-          your hipster/artsy friend recommended to you that one time when you guys were really drunk;

-          you read about on IMDB’s top 100 list or some “Top 10 best movies” list; or

-          you’ve tried to watch, but can’t seem to get through

 

Now seems as good a time as any to watch them. It’ll stimulate your brain and get you ready to study. Promise!

 

Here’s a starting list for your perusal:

                                 I.            The 2010 animated film “The Illusionist” – okay, this is genuinely an amazing movie, down to earth; about a kindliness, reality, innocence and illusions. Beautiful.

                                II.            Federico Fellini’s 1963 cult filmmaker classic “”. It’s basically Inception, Hugo or any one of those other movies about making movies. If you manage to sit through the whole thing and understand it, you probably don’t need to study anyway.

                              III.            Tree of Life– starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn etc – if you can ignore the whispering and blatant existentialist messages, the movie is still quite tiresome. Beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but … tiresome. Then again, not as tiresome as studying.

                              IV.            Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbour Totoro” – A  cute Snorlax-esque tree spirit cares for a family.

                               V.            Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” – I haven’t even seen this one myself, but yeah, I probably will.

                 P.S. - Relevant Article.

5.       Discover How Much You Can REALLY Drink

 

Milk, that is.

 

6.       Online Shopping!

 

I hear Asos is having another sale. Also, end of Financial Year? Also, where’s the fun in studying if you can’t see what you’re working towards (and then buy it now, because dude, there’s a SALE on.)

 

7.       Crunking

 

Close enough.

 

8.       Message ALL your friends

 

Preferably with pointless messages like ‘Hiiiii!’ or ‘sup’, and through every medium possible, Facebook, Twitter, MSN (ha, like anyone still uses MSN), text, WhatsApp, answering machine, pager, hell, send em’ a letter ; they’ll probably appreciate the distraction. Plus, Confucius says, it’s important to keep up with friends so they can know how much you’re suffering during exam time too.

 

9.       Cartoons

 

Reruns of The Simpson suddenly become infatigably interesting around this time of the year. Also, Inspector Gadget.

 

10.   Arrange an elaborate date

 

Your significant other will be very pleased that in this time of turmoil and stress, you chose to find time to arrange a romantic boat ride, candlelight homemade dinner followed by  chocolate fondue and a trail of rose petals to the bedroom. It won’t be tainted by determined procrastination or anything. Go get ‘em, tiger(or tigress).

 

11.   Learn cooking, drawing, painting and origami.

 

I bet you were playing Draw Something or staring at something you absent mindedly doodled when the thought struck you: “Gee, I’m pretty good at art.”

 

Or maybe that one time you whipped up an amazing Mee Goreng. Oh man, how good was that Mee Goreng!? You’re definitely the next Masterchef.

 

Did you know the Engineering School once held a competition to see who could make the best, most aerodynamic paper planes? They got nothing on you. And your mad paper basketball skills? Linsanity.

 

12.   “Study” Groups

 

Let’s be honest guys. C’mon, really. When was the last time you had a productive study group session? Study groups are groups of friends that meet under the guise of academic pursuit to gossip, watch Youtube and crack silly.

 

Unless you hate everyone in your study group, in which case maybe you’ll actually get some study done. I wouldn’t use their notes though.

 

13.   Take a Break. Do Some Exercise.

 

Genuine advice. If you feel like your study is going nowhere, just do push ups or go for a run or something. One interesting way might be to have Monopoly-style Community cards, and whenever you feel like you’re not studying, you just pick one up and do what the card says.

 

You can include – “5 minute doodle”, “15 push ups”, “Go outside”, “Have a Kit-Kat”, “1 minute of shut-eye, deep breathing”, “Give yourself a back massage” (or if you’re friendly enough – “Give someone else a back massage.”), “Call a friend”, “Try to link to “Hitler” or “Jesus” from a random Wikipedia page”, “Check Facebook – 30 seconds”, “Drink some water”, “Stare at space for a while” and “Find some new music.”

 

14.   Write a Blog

 

That’s all for now, folks. May your week ahead be mighty fine!

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flower crying by ~Mastowka on deviantART

Why do we cry? Why does the release of moisture from our tear glands indicate emotion? Why is it considered unmanly, and why is it so satisfying?

 

Wikipedia, humoursly enough, defines crying as “a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures” (Okay, I guess that wasn’t THAT funny… ) – more interestingly, under “Function”, Ol’ Reliable says that crying relieves stress and releases toxins from the body, and that crying triggers our empathy function.

 

That explains why we never enjoy seeing other people cry, why we usually want them to stop crying immediately. It represents the exposure of the person’s soul (well..you know what I mean. true feelings, core etc). A relinquishment of functionality, the return to a childlike state.

 

The evolutionary section I found more interesting, it said that, as tears have the effect of blurring our vision, rendering us vulnerable and half blind, it is a “reliable signal of appeasement, need or attachment”. I guess hugging and embracing just isn’t powerful enough to convey that true submission.

 

I’ll just go ahead and admit that I’m not the stoic figure of manliness that traditional males are supposed to be.  I’m still ambivalent about the notion of the man as a rock, an unfeeling beast of burden. Perhaps it is not a matter of not HAVING emotions, but not expressing them. It seems especially relevant given that crying is an evolutionary admittance of submission/weakness.

 

Why is crying cathartic and satisfying? Tears are shed to express sorrow, joy, empathy/sympathy and other states of emotion (maybe hunger?); it is not exclusively used for situations of weakness or frustration, but it usually has the effect of releasing hormones that make us feel better. Although it’s in dispute as to the source of the pleasant feeling, much like shoulder rubs, if it makes you feel good, usually it doesn’t matter if it is actually curing a problem (as long as it’s not causing one).

 

So I guess the answer is that it’s satisying because it’s cathartic. It represents expression of emotion, just like laughing, but for a different degree of feeling. There is no stigma in laughing, but there is in crying. Perhaps it depends on the kind of crying you’re doing. If you’re bawling and moaning, which are also just visceral expressions of emotion, then you’ve abandoned all hope of accomplishing anything through action.

 

Perhaps that’s where the stigma is, no one wants to return to the hungry child state, demanding attention, requiring dotingon; Man is supposed to be an island, or at least a rock. It’s about the reason why you’re crying, the way you’re crying, and whether it is socially acceptable for you to do so.

 

On the topic of manliness, I’ll saying nothing more than to direct you to this here blog - http://artofmanliness.com/2008/06/19/when-is-it-okay-for-a-man-to-cry/; that list of when crying is acceptable includes:

  • -          At the altar
  • -          When your beloved car/truck gets totaled
  • -          A particularly “spiritual” experience (You read whatever you want into that. ;P )
  • -          While watching – Rudy, Braveheart, Gladiator (I would add The Bucket List and Warrior)

 

And situations where it’s unacceptable for dudes to cry are:

  • -          When your favourite sports team loses
  • -          When you don’t get your way
  • -          To the point of irrational thinking
  • -          And I would include – when making bowel movements. I don’t care how much curry you had. Man up.

  Do not Cry by *kavsikuzah on deviantART «  A montage of crying faces.

That’s all for now. Crying! Now coming to an awkward situation near you. May your tears be genuine and appropriate.

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This is an exercise in discipline. It will be 30 minutes of uninterrupted (well, as uninterrupted as allowable in the circumstances) stream of consciousness style writing. Any censoring that happens happens as a result of natural inclinations.

 

My first thought is sort of an inquiry into what other people’s lives are like. I used to think that life just had one big good and bad meter, or perhaps a thermometer…maybe something less mutable, but something which changed slowly, not rapidly and suddenly. In that sense, a good day is simply part of a good lifestyle etc, while a bad day is just another day in a suboptimal living style.

 

But life doesn’t seem to be like that (although I may well be wrong), it seems that the good days and bad days happen rapidly and can happen as a result of a few bad decisions or bad circumstances. Maybe everyone has bad hair days and bad general days. I can’t say for sure, a phenomological dilemma I suppose.

 

And besides, what constitutes a bad day? Maybe you woke up groggy, the harsh buzz of the alarm piercing your ears in the ruddest, most intrusive manner, and you stumble out, struggle to squeeze some caked toothpaste out of the bottom of your tube, maybe the weather is overly cold and the hot water doesn’t work, so you can’t spend 10 minutes standing under a warm blanket of water. (By the way, apparently long hot showers are bad for you, but it’s so hard to say no, isn’t it?)…. Then maybe you head out, find that you’re out of milk, car’s got a flat tyre and you miss the bus and suddenly it starts raining.

 

That would be a bad day, probably, but it doesn’t seem like something you can’t remedy. Sleep earlier, be prepared and have contingency plans. But the amount of suffering you feel that day may well equal the amount of suffering you endure in this situation:

 

You wake up with ants crawling on your chest, under the dirty rags you dredged up from the drainage ditch last night. You muster the energy to crawl into an alleyway, fending off some wild dogs who seem to be eying you hungrily. You sit on the groud, your bones aching from the impact and lack of flesh to cushion the hard gravel roads. Some kids jeer at you as they walk past your alley, where you hang your head, shivering in the cold. Your closest companion, your rat, died last night from some disease. In some ways you were glad, because you were contemplating eating him anyway.. your mind barely puts up a moral dilemma, but your surging hunger denies you the ability to not eat this meal.  The thought of chewing the hairy tail you burnt over a barrel fire makes your mouth water a bit, and you try to slap yourself back into sense.

 

I’m going to cheat a little here and look up a quote which I think you’ll find pertinent – “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” By Khalil Gibran (who I’m not familiar with. Or is it “whom”?).  The point being that the enjoyment of life is very much a matter of perspective. So we can qualify the notion of a “good” and “bad” day by looking at perspective.

 

One of my friends once said to me that most understanding in life is simply a matter of adjusting perspective. To understand others better, we change our perspective from the ego-istical self to empathetic other, to understand our own problems. (I spent about 10 minutes trying to find a great picture on perspective, which honestly I don’t quite recall and can’t quite explain, possibly because I didn’t fully grasp it myself. The concept was that there was a circle in the middle, being our problems, and it weighed on us heavily, we supported it on our backs like Atlas, then there was a line, leading away to some of our friends in a group, smaller, relative to the person himself. That is how they perceive our problems, and further away, a small tiny group, was the rest of the world. I think the picture, which was incredibly clever, had a double meaning, it represented the importance of our problems to the rest of the world as a matter of the outside worlds perspective, but also from our own perspective.)

 

I guess the problem is that 30 minutes isn’t quite enough for me to find the precise picture, but it would’ve been either poignant or confusing, or maybe trite. Those are the 3 standard responses. I think it’s understood, by most everyone, that most of their life’s perceived problems are really far heavier, far more burdensome because of the lack of insight, true compassion they have for other people’s problems. I don’t mean to sound condescending, of course, but those among us who have stepped onto the rugged terrain us youngsters call the real world, tend to put less weight on their everyday problems.

 

Those who have seen war, death, slavery, abuse and starvation; abandonment, cruelty and persecution – those who personally have been affected by these things, those who are not simply remotely aware of the problems of the world, those who are inspired into an active pursuit of a dream, to make the world a better place, those people no longer become infuriated over not having milk in the morning, those people who have travelled, seen the world, experienced the light-headedness of poverty, the supposed brutality of mankind, they might feign anger, frustration or disappointment the fact that the steak isn’t sufficiently juicy, or that there are specks of dust on their Armani tie, but inside, they undoubtedly see it as petty, pointless anger.

 

I guess, personally, I’ve lived in a relatively privileged environment. I want for little, have in excess and never experienced great amount of hardship. Sometimes I am bitter about not having experienced these things, simply because I thought, and possibly… perceived… that those who HAD were far better people than I. They were motivated, they had an acute awareness, they were conscientious.  I think our society of plenty leaves us unappreciative of the little things we have in life.

 

That’s it, my time’s up. Thank you for sticking around and may your smiles be bright and your hearts feel light.

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Reblog: Learn the Built-in Superpowers of Your Brain and Body This Weekend

 

I should preface this by saying that I am currently reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five”, and that the topics discussed are a result of reading his fictional works, combined with stale discussion about originality.

Originality. Does it exist? Yes, probably.

 

What is originality? I always find myself stuck on a question of semantics, whenever I try and address something which may appear rudimentary. What is the meaning of this word, to which I give such power, such authority? Originality is worshipped, not shunned. These are the meanings given to “original”:

 

1. belonging or pertaining to the origin  or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning.

2. new; fresh; inventive; novel.

3. arising or proceeding independently of anything else.

4. capable of or given to thinking or acting in an independent, creative, or individual manner

5. created, undertaken, or presented for the first time.

 

These rather unoriginal definition of ‘original’ comes from Dictionary.com; the definitions we’re concerned with are 3 and 5. “2” is really a restatement of the essence of the word, and doesn’t add any value to our understanding.

 

The concept is nothing too controversial. Something is capable of being original if it has never existed before, or from the perspective of the human race as a whole, something is original if it has never been EXPRESSED or ACTED UPON before. I suppose that’s entirely possible. Whether something is capable of arising/proceeding independently of anything else brings in questions about causation, counterfactuals, multiverses, quantum physics and other things I could not explain to you, or rather, myself.

 

But if we, for a second, ignore that which we do not understand, and contemplate that which we do (supposedly), then we might arrive at this conclusion: Definition 3 is capable of existence if instead of “independently of anything else”, we say that the originality arises as a result of something else; was essentially composed/derived from whatever it came from, despite being entirely separate.

 

What?

 

I guess I’m trying to bring up the point about the creation of knowledge and extrapolation. Much of the knowledge we have is extrapolated, figured out intuitively/consciously by our minds and various experiments. We fill in the blanks with logical progression, some deep seeded engine within us that determines and learns the rules of the physical world. So we are definitely creating, even if it a mere response to stimuli. But in that sense, are we just physical machines that respond to stimuli, a product of histories and interactions?

 

As for robots… apparently we’re all basically machines, being formed of the same substance at our core. Our consciousness does not separate us as sentient beings, it is merely an advanced decision making machine. We’re all really just robots, with cogs and such things powering us, making us function and operate, and as such, the future is already determined, because we are the sum of our parts, and all our actions are already determined by whatever circumstances we force ourselves to go into.

 

This somewhat depressing view on life truly makes us aspire for a religion, a deity separate from ourselves, independent of “causation” and ‘quantum mechanics’; something which, like the 4th dimension viewers the Tralfamadorians (Slaughterhouse Five reference), unrestricted by time; omnipotent (setting aside all logic-limiting arguments like “God can’t make an object so heavy that he is incapable of lifting it.”) and maybe more. Of course, this desire to explain away something is merely the desire to fill the hole in world view, to feel comfortable about the reasoning behind natural phenomena.  

 

Then again, imagine in your mind a person. You have full control over that person’s limbs, their history and their future. You can determine if they dance, live, grow or change. You are effectively their god. Is there any capacity for you to give that creature free will? More importantly, can you control the scope of time for the person in your mind? You can see everything, from their beginning to their end, and you can determine everything that happens to them in between. Maybe that’s what it’s like to be a god.

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Greatness. Everyday, in pictures, in magazines, on the internet, we encounter greatness. We have access to magnificent feats of strength, wisdom and willpower; we can find role models, mentors and legends. Being inspired is merely a click away, and we are inundated in the achievements and accomplishments of the gods who walk among us.

But amidst all the greatness, we are constantly reminded of our own painful mortality. We look upon our own lives and recall bland histories and bleak futures. We feel the weight of the world upon our shoulders, the urge to immortalise, and yet a sense of … futility in our actions and thoughts. We achieve moments of delusional grandeur, transient feelings of omnipotent, then we lapse into misery. We lament our physiognomy, our genetics, our upbringing, our faults and our weaknesses. We replay the dark scenes of our past in our minds, the discontentment in our present and we feel defeated in our future, though we have yet to begin.

That is the beginning of progress. The realisation that we are, in this moment, imperfect. We have not achieved our full potential. We are works in progress, always; and perhaps that we may forever be attempting to reach our peak. But maybe we are lost, maybe we are deprived of purpose and direction; maybe life in this moment is “trying to find what you’re searching for”

For what does it mean to be great? Greatness is seldom anything less than a collection of superhuman accomplishments. Greatness is work so fulfilling it feels like growth, it is pushing the boundaries of personal and societal comfort zone, making difficult decisions and defying the restrictive bonds of fear. Greatness is distinction that arises from perserverance, passion, and an idealism forged in your own body and mind that embodies your truth and purpose. There is no single greatness, but those who achieve great things invariably do so as a manifestation of human willpower.  

Some say luck is involved in greatness. If every person reached their full potential and achieves all that they could ever achieve with the time that they had, would you say they were all great? Doesn’t the concept of “greatness” lose its value? Luck and chaos must play their role in achieving greatness; Is not greatness necessarily tied to the concept of rising above normality, above the status quo, and triumphing over opposition? Maybe, but greatness exists in more than one form – like Rudy, the football runt had his moment of greatness; perhaps objectively meaningless to the football game, but a reminder of greatness in character.

I once wrote that achieving your full potential was a matter of no longer being selfish, but existing for others, but not  at the expense of your own desires and achievements? Some of us forego supposed “vanity” and self improvement, physical activity and mental development;  emotional stability and improved consciousness to focus on helping others. That is admirable, but does it mean we have foregone our optimal persona, or does it mean we have abandoned the self to devote ourselves to a happiness from helping others? Are we merely riding the wave of decadence that allows us to ignore the ever-present need for self-improvement, or are we merely so evolved, so economically wealthy that our satisfaction necessarily become embodied in the aid of those less fortunate.

Perhaps the two can be married. Maybe the improvement of the self necessarily involves developing compassion for others, strength and ability to help others, and a passion for the welfare of not just ourselves, but the entire human race. We are mortal, but through others we are immortal; we may not be great right now, but it is our desire to become great that makes our species as a whole, great. Greatness inspires others, it is both an achievement of the self and an achievement for the world. Each person who strives brings a little piece of their own greatness to our collective persona.

So despite all the rhetoric, it comes down to a matter of perception. To be objectively great is to exceed the expectations of merely existing in a society; the conception of greatness, however, is defined subjectively. Though each of us may aim for different aspects of greatness, so much so that the term loses its value, we know one thing about greatness: “Nothing in life worth having comes easy.” – Bob Kelso;  For each and everyone of us who yearns to be great, the final message is the same.

Never give up.

Endless_Fever - never give up