Jun 28, 2011

Natural fears

I have not been myself lately. I notice I’m changing. I notice my mind is changing. I’ve noticed myself doing a few things that I’ve never done before, that could've never occurred to me before. It’s my brain rewiring itself. It’s scary.

The thing is, who the hell are you? Have you always been the same person? Do you think you can change or are you the kind of people that think you should be accepted just like you are? Like Bridget Jones or something…

Have you ever thought that you could be better? That you could accomplish bigger things? That perhaps you could be a little more open minded? Perhaps you could procrastinate less and be more disciplined? Perhaps you could look a bit better, get cooler clothes, or a bit more original hair cut for a change? Perhaps you could improve your relationships? Perhaps you could be a better lover for your partner? Or a little less stubborn and conflictive, perhaps you could be a bit more understanding? Perhaps you could take bigger risks and break through the comfort zone to take advantage of better possibilities?

Sounds awesome, huh? It seems not so difficult all of a sudden? To become a better person, the best of who we are!

Do you even think about it? That you could be better than who you are right now? That you could change for the better of yourself and your people?

Do you want to be a better person?

Do you know what it takes to become the best of what a person can be? It's not a matter of going to university and reading more books. It's altering and reshaping the damn brain, it's a behavioral thing.

I’m changing, I can notice it, I can feel it.

I’ve changed before… if you know me, if you’ve read my blog before you should know about that. The thing is, that then, even though I wanted to change, I kind of wasn’t aware of the process… when I noticed already a lot had happened. But now I’ve grown more mature, I know myself better, and I can see me in the process of transformation.

However! That “the best of what a person can be” is a EXTREMELY relative thing. It is subjective to a person’s history and life experiences, a person’s personality, a person’s way to see the world. In here, “the best” actually means a state of complete satisfaction with your own self, a place of no regret, of harmony. The concept of harmony is also EXTREMELY relative for the same reasons.

I’m scared. Because I’m like a bat. Yeah, like a lost bat. A lost bat that has been flying on a sunny day… but dusk is approaching. The sun is caressing the horizon. And I’m hungry, I’m really hungry. It was a really hot and sunny day. I’m fed up and kind of cranky… The sun and the daily creatures have made me upset, I’m on the brink of rage; the day was ignominious, those diurnal creatures offended me. I have to settle the score, I have to set things right. The first blink of the brightest stars is piercing through the darkening sky. I might lose control blinded by the exhilaration that the forthcoming night promises. The cooling air infuses new power to my wings and to my heart, and I like it. It’s been too long of a day. I fear I might go berserk tonight. No, I will go berserk, I know it. Welcome to my Kingdom of Night.

Jun 22, 2011

The Code of the Samurai or the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shiesuke

I’m in the search for wisdom, and this search led me to a book called The Code of the Samurai or the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shiesuke; a book that was written about 400 years ago. Is there anything to learn from the ancient Samurai class of Japan and the code of the warrior?

Reading the little book, two things hit me hard. The first one is at the very beginning of the book. The author opens the book saying the following:

"One who is supposed to be a warrior considers it his foremost concern to keep death in mind at all times, every day and every night, from the morning of New Year's Day through the night of New Year's Eve.

As long as you keep death in mind at all times, you will also fulfill the ways of loyalty and familial duty. You will also avoid myriad evils and calamities, you will be physically sound and healthy, and you will live a long life. What is more, your character will improve and your virtue will grow."


Isn't it counter intuitive? Isn't it a beautiful piece of wisdom? Then he goes on explaining like this:

"Here are the reasons for that. All human life is likened to evening dew and morning frost, considered something quite fragile and ephemeral.

If people comfort their minds with the assumption that they will live a long time, something might happen, because they think they will have forever to do their work and look after their parents―they may fail to perform for their employers and also treat their parents thoughtlessly.

But if you realize that the life that is here today is not certain on the morrow, then when you take orders from your employer, and when you look in your parents, you will have the sense that this may be the last time―so you cannot fail to become truly attentive to your employer and your parents. This is why I say you also fulfill the paths of loyalty and familial duty when you keep death in mind.

In any case, when you forget death and become inattentive, you are not circumspect about things. You may say something offensive to someone and get into an argument. You may challenge something you might as well have ignored, and get into a quarrel.
[...] You could lose your own life, get your employer bad publicity, and cause your parents and siblings difficulties.

When you always keep death in mind, when you speak and when you reply to what other say, you understand the weight and significance of every word as a warrior by profession, so you do not engage in futile arguments. As a matter of course you do not go to dubious places even if people invite you, so there is no way for you to get into unexpected predicaments. This is why I say you will avoid myriad evils and calamities if you keep death in mind.

People of all social classes, high and low, over eat, drink too much, and indulge in their desires to an unhealthy degree, all because of forgetting about death. This puts strain on their internal organs, so they may die remarkably young, or else become sickly and invalid.

When you always keep death in mind, even if you are young and healthy, you already know how to take care of yourself. You moderate food and drink, avoid sexual addiction, and behave prudently. As a result, you are physically sound. Because you are healthy, you will live a long time.

When you assume that your stay in this world will last, various wishes occur to you, and you become very desirous. You want what others have, and cling to your own possessions, developing mercantile mentality. When you always keep death in mind, covetousness naturally weakens, and to the degree a grabby, greedy attitude logically does not occur. That is why I say your character improves.
"

It makes a lot of sense to me. We are not Samurais, but we are somehow warriors in the battle of life; and as the Samurai had an employer or master he was willing to give his life for, our master should be our dreams we fight for, the path to our fulfillment. So let's do our best today, because our life may not be certain in the morrow.

The second part that called my attention a lot is about the heart of the warrior and when this gets corrupted. The author compares the heart of the warrior to a white jacket that gets dirty with use... the heart of the warrior might get dirty with time, because of bad habits and practices. So he says:

There is a variety of detergents used for cleaning white jackets. Similarly, there are various practices that are like detergents for cleaning the heart of warriors. What are these practices? They are loyalty, duty, and courage. There is dirt that is removed by the detergent of loyalty and fidelity, and there is dirt that is removed by the detergent of faithfulness to duty. When the stain remains stubborn even after washing with loyalty and rinsing with duty, then you use the detergent of courage, and make a determined effort to scrub it clean. This is the warrior's ultimate secret of cleaning the heart.

So if in the battle of life and in the battle for the accomplishment of your dreams, you lose your way and your heart becomes dirty: you must remember to be loyal to your goals and believes, to your path; and always be dutiful with regard to them, do whatever it takes to get there. But if everything fails, when you are losing all hopes, then use courage, remembering never to give up, never. That is the warrior's ultimate secret.

Code of the samurai

Jun 20, 2011

Portrait




just a few words
a whim of prose
a speech and a whisper
three poems
of youth
a flower
the rain





Jun 15, 2011

My path and career choice dilemmas

I have always felt that I'm destined to do great things. That my path has always led to a higher destination. That my life is there for a greater cause, a life far above average in every way. I don't know if everyone feels like that, I guess you never really talk about this because of what people might think: "don't be ridiculous!" Some might say. I don't really know why I have felt this way, perhaps because my parents inculcated it in me, unconsciously and unaware, by the way I was raised, by the way they talked to me, by the way they gave me freedom, by the way they encouraged me, by the way they treated me, perhaps they trusted me at a deep subconscious level with the dreams they could not achieve. Or perhaps I feel this way because I have felt not average, unfitting of my surroundings, maladapted to the environment I was born, socially and intellectually. I have no idea.

At school I did pretty average, I was never at the top of the class or the best student. As a matter of fact, during a time in high school we were graded with numbers and rankings were published every three months; my personal best, on a class of more than forty people, was a modest fifteen place and a couple of times I went way below average. At university I did not do any better, I was not at the top of the class either, just alright, I didn't get a Magna Cum Laude, I didn't graduate with honors. On the other side, however, I never had to repeat a year at school nor I failed a single class at university, which allowed me to obtain my undergraduate degree at twenty-one, an age when many European students are just starting to decide what to study. Not that it makes me a genius or superiorly intelligent.

I went to Sweden to start a PhD; I guess that alone does makes me a little exceptional compared with most Colombians of my same age range. In my lab in Sweden I was the youngest member for quite a few years, which could be considered a little exceptional too. On the other hand, I did not do particularly better than any other PhD student in my lab, I had five publications in my thesis, quite OK, but actually most of PhD students that graduated before me had more than five publications in their thesis. I did not publish in the best journals, I did not discovered anything particularly amazing either.

So why do I get this feeling? Why do I want greatness? What is this fire that burns within me?

I was having a conversation with my old supervisor in Sweden. I was telling him that soon I would start looking and applying for a job to continue with my science career after my contract in France ends. I mentioned a few labs I was aiming for, some of them were pretty famous labs (if there is such a thing as a famous lab in this world), or as he called them "super top laboratories". He implied that in order for me to apply to such kind of labs I should have been "mega successful" in my postdoc, to put it in his own words. I have done as usual, quite averagely... funny enough. He said to me that I should identify and know at what level I am and aim for that level and try to position myself there—sounds quite reasonable. He said to me that it is better to be a big fish in a pond with smaller fish than a small fish in a pond with bigger fish.

It, of course, has made me think and reflect a lot... what kind of fish I am? Am I a small fish or am I a big fish? What is my true level? What is the best I can achieve? What is my potential? How do I compare with most people? How do I compare to Einstein? How do I compare to Darwin? How do I compare to Beethoven? How do I compare to Shakespeare? Can I be like them? Do I have what it takes to be like them? Were they actually that different from most of us? What was about them that made them great? Do I have that in me? Can I handle the best laboratory on Earth? Can I come up with great scientific ideas that could change the world? Or am I just an average twenty-eight years old guy, destined to live an average life, to marry an average looking woman averagely smart, and live in an average house, send my kids to an average school so that they can have average lives and work average jobs? Is that what it is? Am I being foolish?

I refuse average, I reject average. I want greatness, I want the best, I desire it. I must not give up until my word has been heard, until my influence has been felt, until my full power has been exerted. Like the Japanese said, there is no genius that a disciplined, diligent, and hard working mind can not overcome. What I lack in geniality I'll made up in discipline and patience. If I’m not disciplined and patient then I'll become. If my personality gets in the way then I'll change. If I make mistakes I'll correct them. If my mind is too narrow I'll broaden it. If my resolve is too weak then I'll make it stronger. If I walk astray this path I've chosen I'll find my way back. If there are insurmountable obstacles I'll overcome them with immeasurable tenacity. And if I find enemies on my way I'll defeat them, because I shall not give up until I have reached my destination. I'll not give up, I'll never give up my dreams. I'll always aim a step higher, always a step higher. That is my way of life, my choice, my path.

Jun 14, 2011

Save Earth!

Life on Earth is threatened by a terrorist invading species from an unknown planet in the furthest reaches of the Milky Way and you are the only one that can save us! Your mission is to decode the following encrypted message.  Once you have decoded the message, send the original text to Emperor Tanai, supreme ruler of the Solar System, so that he can defend us from the aliens with his extraordinary superpowers.

What intelligence has discovered about the code is this:

The decoded message is written in English and the encryption works similar to a genetic code, with only three different nucleotides (numbers) encoding for twenty-seven different amino acids (letters). However there's only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet!

Please save us! Save us!

This is the encrypted message:

202022012000202100111012000022001201000010120111012000202120000011012201202200120221
000202022120201012000210021110221000001112011000011210111002000022210111001112201

022120212000202022012221000011001200012000202120000010001110110000120210200
000002012001210202100020210110000021001110001220221000202022012000111100110102221
000212001221

022120212000001002201210200011000001112011000011012121110120200001002110012

202022012000120112012000001112011000120112110221000202200210012000112001111012
000120020000202022012000021001110001220221000100201000202022012000002001112001112001
000212001221

202022012200012000100201000112120202022100112021000111120200012
000011012110100010100120210201000202022001112000202022012000201212012012202
000002001112001112001201000020200120111000121110001112012202
000011100121110120011120010210201

100112000202012112000011001221201000212012000212100110110
000011100201100112202012021200001202012000202022012000201120110001200
000201221201202012111000212100202022000120210200000001112202100111001202202012200
000111100201201100110012201

202022012000111100201201100110012201000001200012000120200002100202100112021
000202022012000121110001112012202000202022012221000010001110110
000112012121202210112012

20120221012110001100002221011100111220100000221200102200102200102200

Jun 8, 2011

An example of a love letter

Dearest lover,

This is a confession of my love. Of this love that rages within me like a thunderstorm sweeping furiously all the valleys of my existence. This love can not be contained, it can not be ignored, it can not be denied. This love is too loud, it is too savage, it is uncontrollable.

But you know this all too well; you have tasted it, you have been consumed by it, you have been devastated by its indomitable power. We are defenseless against it, there is nothing we can do to stop it, it has taken a life of its own; its existence is too certain, it is overwhelming. How it devours us, how it chases us relentlessly.

When I first saw you I knew immediately who you were. I saw and understood the history of your life in that tranquil smile, in the intensity of your eyes. I saw the pain, I saw you falling down on your knees and I saw you rising up victorious, undefeated by life. I saw you understood that love is your freedom, that love is to be celebrated and not a sure path to misery. That is when I first knew that our meeting was unavoidable, that our love was written in the book of fate with letters made of the purest gold.

And here we are now, now in this very portion of time, of life. Here we are glorifying each other, celebrating each other, loving each other. What is the future but nothingness? What is the past but a hollow memory? What is more real than now, than you and me unbreakably bound together? This is it; this is what some call true love. I know now that true love can not be measured with a time scale, our true love is this present, this reality. Please do not gaze into the future, it is pointless. Abandon the past, let it go to oblivion where it belongs; let us forever forget our oceans of sadness. Let us honor this very moment, this true love.

And here you are lying by my side, sleeping so placidly. I can feel you breathing, I can feel the heat of your life, I can feel your raw humanity palpitating. I am impregnated with your smell, its exhilarating… it makes me feel as if I have suddenly transformed into you. Is this what people call poetry? Is this feeling and this body the true essence of beauty? Is this the human form of pleasure?

Know that I love you, sublime lover, I confess it, I confess it. This love is true, time is irrelevant,

T.

Jun 7, 2011

Labyrinths

This is the path to my heart:

No, I'm kidding... I'm not that complicated. If you solve it I take you on a romantic date: that is if you are female, smart and beautiful. If you're not, how about a high-five!

The rules are: 1) you get one minute; 2) you can't lift the pen, if you miss the way you got to retrace it back.

No, I'm kidding... Here, you get another one, this is easier one so you have only thirty seconds:


To tell you the truth this is what happens when is late at night, I don't want to sleep, I don't have internet connection, my computer is broken, and I don't really feel like reading...

See you soon!

Jun 6, 2011

The Flow of Life

It makes part of being human to experience suffering, to feel worried or stressed, to feel anxiety or fear, to feel insecure or embarrassed, to get angry or jealous, to feel alone or desperate. It is also true that most of the suffering we experience is unnecessary. We worry when everything is fine; we become stressed if we have an extra heavy load of work or we are with no money at all; we might fear losing a job, losing a girlfriend; we feel insecure of our looks, our intellect, our economical situation; we try to keep in control and rigid at all times so that we never make a fool of ourselves; we become angry for a meaningless nuisance and unjustly to people without fault; we cling to vicious or dead relationships because of fear of being lonely, unable to let go; et cetera. Most of human suffering is utterly useless and completely pointless.

If most of our suffering is useless and pointless, then why do we suffer and where does this suffering come from? We suffer because we do not understand the mechanisms of life, the true nature of life, the ways of life. It comes from our misunderstanding of the meaning of life and this misunderstanding endures true a person’s lifetime because lack of knowledge and reflection on our individual life and experience. It means that by understanding the ways of life it is possible to eliminate most of our suffering; it means more happiness, more fun, better relationships, better health, and a longer life expectancy.

So what is the true nature of life? What are the ways of life? Life is complex; to understand life we must observe it with detail, we must acknowledge and be aware of its existence, we must love it. One of the many aspects of its nature is what I call: “The Flow of Life”.

Life is like time: time flows unstoppably and life flows unstoppably. Life flows… life flows… life flows… so let it flow. Life must be lived one step at the time; just as time can’t be sped up to make seconds go faster, the same applies to life, there’s nothing we can do to speed up life. So let’s not rush it, let’s not be impatient, there’s no need to hurry up: all the men or women of the world won’t disappear tomorrow, all the money of the world won’t go away tomorrow, all the dreams and goals won’t have to be realized tomorrow. The opposite is also true, just like time can’t be slowed down, the same goes for life, we can’t stop its flow: if we feel we’re not doing the best we can do of our lives and we feel that life is escaping away from our grasp… hey! Don’t worry; there will always be one new day and one brand new opportunity.

If the lady at the other side of the desk is unhelpful and rude: whatever man, just let it flow… there’s no need to get upset or angry at her. Probably it’s not even her fault and most of people have shown her little or no respect. Just be patient, smile, be calm… life flows.

If the seven years relationship has become monotonous and boring and the passion has been replaced with arguments, there’s abuse and the beautiful memories have long been eclipsed by dullness or resentment… just break up, just let go… there’s absolutely nothing to fear, let life flow. New people will always come, new beautiful and better relationships will always be born again. It is the flow of life.

If work is going crazy, lots of things to do, too many deadlines, too little time… whatever man, what can we do? Just let life flow, the best we can do is to do one thing at the time, one thing at the time. Everything will get sorted out eventually, that’s how life works baby! It’s the flow of life, no need for stress. We won’t die if we miss a deadline, we won’t get a terminal disease if we can’t finish today, and we won’t starve and die of dehydration if we take a break or take it easy a little.

It is essential to see the flow of life. In order to see the flow of life we must master the art of patience. To master the art of patience we must carefully observe and study ourselves in relationship to the people around us, we must find the similarities between the people around us and us, we must be aware of what makes us different too, thus we will gain a better understanding of ourselves and our lives and others and their lives too. Then, by learning to see what we really are and what people around us really are, we will learn to be truly patient; and only by mastering patience it is possible to clearly see the flow of life.

So, just let it flow, it's alright.