Monday, December 11, 2006

"Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life." Goethe.

“There can be no me in isolation, to be considered abstractly: I am the totality of roles I live in relation to specific others… Taken collectively, they weave, for each of us, a unique pattern of personal identity, such that if some of my roles change, the others will of necessity change also, literally making me a different person.” Henry Rosemount.

“In their efforts to mediate all of the stimuli and accommodate all of the possible connections, young people continue to create new sub-selves and meta-selves-in effect, giving over bits and pieces of their persona to each new relationship just to stay engaged in all of the networks that surround them. The fear is being excluded… In an era of global connectedness, the old idea of a fixed, self-contained, autonomous consciousness is giving way to the new notion of the self as an unfolding story whose plot lines and substance are totally dependent on the various characters and events with whom one enters into a relationship.” Jeremy Rifkin, Universalizing the European Dream (think of Facebook!)

"Actually I was angry at my father because he had not led a life like mine, because he had never quarrelled with his life, and had spent his life happily laughing with his friends and his loved ones. But part of me knew that I could also say that I was not so much 'angry' as 'jealous', that the second word was more accurate, and this, too, made me uneasy. That would be when I would ask myself in my usual scornful, angry voice: 'What is happiness?' Was happiness thinking that I lived a deep life in that lonely room? Or was happiness leading a comfortable life in society, believing in the same things as everyone else, or acting as if you did? Was it happiness, or unhappiness, to go through life writing in secret, while seeming to be in harmony with all around one? But these were overly ill-tempered questions. Wherever had I got this idea that the measure of a good life was happiness?" Orhan Pamuk

Addicted to be Linked

As far as I remember from my theology class, the road to happiness in Zen philosophy is to lose, forget yourself in whatever you are doing. I think writing is the closest I get to that. There are moments when I write that I can totally concentrate on what I'm writing, especially if I left it to the last minute (and those moments are very rewarding.) Often enough, though, even my writing experience is disrupted with expectation to be remembered, acknowledged, loved. I listen to music - I always find something in the music or lyrics that relates to my relationships. I check my E-mails. I check Facebook. I check my cell phone to see anyone wrote me. I get upset if nobody did. I get more upset if I was expecting a text or e-mail from someone. I write E-mails. I text people to figure out the details of what we will do that night. I get jealous if the person studying next to me gets a call. I'm walking around with this "overall fog" around my head that constantly distracts and confuses me, the need to stay connected and included never seizes.

I was thinking this phenomenon was borne out of my own insecurities, I sometimes feel like I used all my intellectual energy when I was a teen and now is the time to catch up with everything else. But whatever their reasons, some of my friends are also suffering from the same symptoms.

One friend told me that she used to be an introvert child, completely content in whatever she was doing, actually getting angry if anyone tried to intrude. As she grew up, she started going out and interacting with people, and now she has difficulties concentrating. Another friend said he constantly feels the need to be out and about, and whenever he has free time between two things he has to do, that's when he reads. We started questioning what might be the reason. Why do we feel horrible if we stay home and read on a Friday? My friend offered that it could be the "consumerist society" that gives the message that we have to go out and do things with people. Sometimes even our social interactions turn into a rat race.

I don't see how this constant dependency on connections will bring me success in anything. I need to learn to focus and stand on my two feet.

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