Tag Archives: challenge

Random Thoughts and Sleep Deprivation

I am running on zero minutes of sleep. No, seriously, I’m not even exaggerating. I haven’t closed my eyes in two days.

And you know what, I feel OK. Granted, I just ate a tasty wrap-thang and walked through the crisp air, hearing the Hare Krishnas sing their praises on the plaza. But overall, I don’t want to crawl in the hole and cry myself to sleep.

This comes to the point of my delirious chatting: Human beings are freakin’ resilient.  I mean, I am not even a good example, but I worked all day yesterday, all through the night and morning, presented a serious paper for Medical Anthropology, listened to a bunch of boring presentations without passing out, talked to a teacher without making a complete arss out of myself, and now I sit here in class typing away like a diligent little girl, AND I found time between all that to brush my teeth, wash my face, and apply mascara (haha). Awesome!

I know in about fifteen minutes I’ll start yawning and cursing the gods for my terrible academic habits, but for right now I want to sing my own praises.

Humans have overcome all sorts of obstacles with much less going for them than I.  We built a spaceship that rocketed to the moon!  We know how to cut people open, remove guts, and then sew them back together!  We survive in the Arctic circle with hardly more than a gas stove, long johns, and a fishing pole (don’t quote me on that)!  Humans defeat obstacles with terrible odds, and for that, I can say “rubba dub dub, Yay Humans“!  Sure, we’re nasty brutes who kill and rape and pillage the Earth and our fellow apes, but here we are, a product of all sorts of random and sweet natural selection who can stay up for days and still be somewhat comprehensible! Yay!

Although I abuse my body for four weeks out of every year (two weeks a semester at finals time), I’m appreciative of our physical freedom to do so.  And dammit, I’m proud of myself for pushing to excel at this school endeavor, despite my occasional slacking-off and inexcusable procrastination.

Anyone and everyone who has ever stayed up all night and resisted the temptation to just say F**K IT ALL, Cheers! Let’s be resilient, prove our selves wrong, and kick some a*s!!!

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No answer to suffering

I thought I’d ask the age old question: Why do we suffer?

This question came to me tonight after talking with a friend who’s recently lost his mother to cancer, who’s father is a survivor of cancer, and whose uncle is slowly dying from cancer as well.  They were all healthy, good people.

My friend is struggling for meaning in his life, for hope, for the energy to cope with the pain that’s been unceasing the past few years.  He simply cannot comprehend why this tragedy has struck his family, and it’s lead to his declaration of atheism and his overall indifference toward the joys of life.

My friend is a good man, in no way deserving of this pain, of these hopeless circumstances.

People have struggled with the problem of suffering for thousands of years.  Hindus credit it to bad past lives, to Christians it’s the ultimate mystery.  If God is so great, why is there so much pain? So much doubt? So much terribleness?

I, for one, have no idea, and will never claim to have the answer. It’s plaguing me this evening though, and I wish I had something better to say to comfort my friend.

I know that one should treasure life and live each day to the fullest, yada yada yada, but that’s not good enough. Not when so many people feel their mortality approaching faster with every breath.

Why is there so much pain? Why are entire families wiped out by this silent, painful killer?

How can one remain hopeful when so much despair looms in every facet of their life? How can one confront and challenge such despair?

All I know to do is, hold on. Hold on and surround yourself with goodness. And breath.

We don’t know why life can be so egregious, but I do know that if we still have breath, we should savor it, take it in deeply, and feel it.

Hold on.

A line from a script I read in theatre camp went something like this,

“Life is like a swing. It goes up, down, back, forth. We can just hold on and wait for life to swing back up, that there will always be highs and lows and they are in constant flux.  Hold on to the swing.  Hold on. ”  

 

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Dogs and Life

Today at the dog park my pup was injured.  He was slammed against a cement cylinder whilst running full-speed chasing one of his girlfriends.  I rushed him to the vet, who determined he either got a bad sprain or a slight tear in the dog equivalent of the ACL.

I’m ridiculously relieved that my pup didn’t fracture his hip or knee, and as he lays here next to me I’m grateful to have the resources and the heart to rush to him the vet for help.

With the stress and cost of the veterinary medicine I’m taught what a serious responsibility it is caring for another life.  This lesson is a harsh reality check but it’s made me more realistic and responsible in regards to serious matters of health and well being of others.    Without the experiences of caring for the many dogs, cats, rats, and sugar gliders that I’ve fostered at different times, I would not be nearly as conscientious of the emotional, physical, and financial commitments of being a caregiver.

I am a very maternal young woman.  I gain a unique satisfaction and love for the world when caring for animals or even people.  I believe many women get similar maternal urges when they get to their early or mid-twenties, and several women choose to get pregnant and start a family as a result.  I know a handful of women who have done just this, and that’s awesome for them.

Through the many experiences of taking animals to the vet, paying vet bills, dealing with dog-sitting, dealing with troublesome animals, worrying, feeding, loving all these creatures, I’ve learned the serious nature of being wholly responsible for another life.

For this reason, I’m waiting until I have money, education, and time to make human babies.  I want to have a child or two, but I understand how much of a commitment it can be.  If my kid has an attitude problem I can’t take him back to the pound.  If they get sick it’s horribly worrying and expensive, and we can’t just euthanize the poor bastards like many pet owners chose to do today.

I think it’s great that many women have found security enough to start a family, but I am not ready.

My heart pounded and I had to swallow tears because my pup injured his leg, and the vet put me out almost two hundred dollars.  If I didn’t have the money, or if I didn’t have a car or nerves, I would have been totally screwed.

It’s hard for me to imagine having a little darling baby, so fragile and precious, who may need health care right off the bat.  Not too mention clothes, diapers, education, food, housing…

Babies are no picnic!

I’m thankful to understand the seriousness of caring for another life and to have had so many wonderful animals to teach me this lesson.

I’m happy taking care of my doggie and taking him to the vet, and as a result I’m waiting quite a while to have a child.

Bernard, my love

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A little help goes a long way

Today I woke up, groggy and annoyed by that certain I don’t know what.  I had a HUGE list of things to do. Write a resume, read a billion pages, write three papers… fun stuff.  So, naturally, I sat on the couch and watched football.

The anxiety continued and I just felt “ugh”.

I finally plopped down with bad TV on in the background and began typing up a resume I’ll be needing for several endeavors in the coming weeks.

It was being a complete pain in the ass. Do I say this? Do I add this? Do I sound too vague here? Do I sound like an egotistical turd here? I had no idea what I was doing.  On top of that, getting the format just right had me so frustrated and mad I had to open the window to let the Autumn air cool my boiling blood.

Then, like a little answer from the spirits above, somebody came home and with only a smile and a bottle beer, turned my horrible mood around.

We sat on the couch and while he watched some silly action flick, I continued to type away, and as I encountered a roadblock and made disgruntled noises, my friend would say “Lemme see. Try this, or this… that looks good, change that…”

Slowly but surely, a beer, one glass of wine, and a couple slices of pizza later, my resume was complete.  And it wasn’t awful, in fact, it was pretty alright, and I feel fairly confident in applying to a program mentoring troubled youth tomorrow.

I know I could have done this myself, but the truth is that my friend helped me more than they know.

It’s wonderful how kind words of encouragement and couple helpful pointers can truly transform a daunting and unenjoyable task.

Thank you friend, I owe you one.  And if I get accepted to this program, I owe you a dozen.

It’s wild how one person, a couple kind words, a little help, and good company can really brighten someone’s day. How much it brightened mine.

Humans really are social creatures, imperfect creatures.  And sometimes it’s not wrong to ask for a little help sometimes.

My father has always told that people depend on each other, and it’s okay to ask for help.  You’re right Dad, I have to say, you won that one.

Tonight I would’ve ripped my hair out and cursed a bunch and killed a puppy (just kidding) if I hadn’t had a little help.  So many other nights too!

Whether it’s schoolwork I need help with from a professor, man-advice from my best girlfriend, life-advice from my parents, or spiritual advice from a dusty book on my shelf, it’s there to be lovingly used.

A little bit of help goes a long way, and I am so thankful to have these resources.

Thank You.

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The Silencing of the Humanities in Our Education Systems

In my experience the arts and humanities are often seen as fun and interesting, however a dead end if one wants to earn a living and buy the newest gadgets and biggest homes.  We may absolutely love writing fiction and debating philosophy, but what in the world will we do with ourselves post-college if we don’t start a business or join corporate America’s zeal for materialism? After all, making money is the key to happiness and sustaining a healthy democracy, right?  Get a job and make money. Consume, vote for the prettiest politician, listen to your elders, obey the law, pay taxes, shop, and then shop some more.

As a society we’ve grown accustomed to this pattern and expectation.  We watch the news as if it were Divine information and command, without asking, what is really going on here?  What is the true situation over there in the Middle East or what does this politician REALLY stand for?

We take so much on faith because someone tells us it’s the truth.  Rarely do we engage in healthy, logical arguments and discussion over topics as important as war, the effects of consumerism, the accuracy of our historical texts, or the actual beliefs and practices of our foreign “enemy”.

We engage in “othering”, in seeing the person on the other side of the world as separate, as less human, as associated with disgust, alienation, and lower bodily functions.  Our authority figures tell us it’s this way or that, and just because they studied at Harvard or are grossly rich, we believe them and go on dehumanizing people different from us.

I’ve begun reading a book entitled Not For Profit, by Martha C. Nussbaum, which discusses the importance of a well-rounded education including not only technology and science (which are indeed very important) but one that involves creativity, imagination, constructive debate, arts, and writing.  Too often in the face of budget cuts and pressures to make more and more money, crucial aspects of a well-rounded education are being forgotten.

The arts and humanities foster individuality, critical thinking, discussion, and also involves the studying of different religions, cultures, and practices all over the world, teaching compassion and understanding.  With this compassion and critical thinking students learn to respect others rather than “othering” them, and are equipped with better skills to analyze political debate and think for them selves rather than take orders from an authority figure.

In a compassionate, kind, and Socratic learning environment, members of a society are taught to self-examine as well as challenge norms in day to day life.  Nussbaum explains how easy it is to fall into a subservient and sheepish mode of living, simply absorbing what is the supposed truth.  We see time and time again the dangers of blind following, as in the case of the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and even with such experiments as the Philip Zombardo prison experiment.

Technology and science are increasingly important facets of the education system, and with good reason.  However we must not forget the importance of creative innovation and the art of the argument.

We must constantly question authority, question what we see on TV, question what our professors tell us, question what we read, CHALLENGE what we think we know.  Foster debate within your self and within your community.  Question yourself when you stereotype, when you hear yourself  “othering” a person that is different from you.

Transcend the norm and rise above the obedient follower.

For further investigation:

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9112.html

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/06/hbc-90007141

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbcGbflpFzI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

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