Late spring. Just after the last frost. I was walking home barefoot, facing the sun. Above one yard with plenty of white dandelion heads I saw in the polarised light golden motes dancing, circling each other, bobbing and teasing each other. They looked like golden fairies.
Posts tagged with life
I was riding a bus through the western United States. From the eastern border of Wyoming down through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, … onward to my destination.
There was a young man who rode with us for a while. He came from Gillette, Wyoming: pop. 29,087 or 2.4 people per acre.
He told us that
- He had already tried dating every girl in his town
- He was riding the bus on a mission of love. He had saved up enough money by working in the oil fields to “rescue” his long-distance girlfriend.
Rescue her from what? was the response from most of the women to whom he told this story on our journey.
His girlfriend lived 3,000 kilometres away. They had never met in person. She was living with her ex-boyfriend, who, according to the young man on the bus, was still having sex with her (but she didn’t want to).
To the many women to whom he told this story during the 30-hour bus ride he relayed varying stories of the ex-boyfriend’s jerkitude, as well as of the strength of his relationship with this young woman.
- They had talked every day for a year and a half.
- She told him she loved him.
- He was going out there to save her and bring her back to Wyoming to live with him.
- (By the way: having given up the oil fields for some reason that slips my mind, he was working at a petrol station doing stuff like preparing pizza, slicing deli meats, and mopping floors. He lived with a roommate but I believe the roommate was willing to move out once he brought the young woman back to Gillette, Wyoming.)
To say the story was met with scepticism by the female co-Greyhounders would be a gross understatement. Many, ranging in age from (I guess) late teens to middle age, tried to warn the young man of the error of what he was doing.
- He was missing the obvious signs.
- She lives with the other guy.
- You’ve never been next to her in person.
- She’s lying to you, or to him, or both.
- He was just lonely (and, they were too polite to add—ugly and lacking in social sense) to see things clearly.
But he was resolute. He had saved up enough money to rent a car to drive both of them back to Wyoming. He had brought duffel bags for her belongings. He had arranged for her to meet his foster parents in Colorado on the way home.
I never got to hear how the story ended.
I’m bored of
#ff meaning follow Fridays. Let’s do Failure Friday instead and talk about things we’e failed at.
- I failed an arithmetic test.
- I failed judo class.
- I failed to attract interest with my CV.
- I failed to be married or have a stable job by my 30th birthday.
- I failed an entrance exam.
- I failed most of my writing assignments.
- I lost an important contest.
- I lost a race. Badly.
- I lost a client I thought I had secured.
- I failed a client I thought I could help.
- I failed to get paid what I thought I was worth.
- I failed to be honest in a romantic relationship.
- I failed to do anything cool for a few years.
- I couldn’t walk on a mountain because I was so out of shape.
- I failed to wear sunscreen.
- I failed to read the prospectus.
- I failed to get into my preferred university.
- I failed to get someone to fall for me.
- I didn’t know what I wanted or how to get it.
- I failed to keep in touch with old friends.
- I failed to impress people.
- I failed to advocate for myself.
- I failed to do things on time.
- I lost Other People’s Money.
- I failed to come up with good ideas.
- I failed to give it my all.
- I failed to lose weight.
- I failed to meet expectations.
- I failed to look “put together”.
- I failed to stay organised.
- I failed to Get Things Done.
- I failed to cook a good dinner.
- I failed to recognise the obvious signs.
- I failed to learn what I was trying to learn.
- Things did not go according to plan.
NB: I don’t intend Failure Friday as a pity party. It just bugs me when people try to act flawless and successful. Infinitely wise with inerrant self-command. Even apparent failures are successes in disguise. Sorry stories modulate into major key as the lessons learned were invaluable rungs on the ladder of upward progress so in the end it all worked out for the best.
What is that? You’ll probably just make people who are already down feel worse by doing that. And not make anyone feel better.
This was a rhetorical question our chess teacher used to ask us. It’s a reminder that even though materiel, position, and tempo are worthwhile achievements that advance your interests, the goal is to check-mate the King.
For example the Blitzkrieg or “Scholar’s Mate” doesn’t capture materiel or obtain an advantageous position. It just goes directly for the kill.
It’s worth asking this question whether you’re just out the gate or mid-game. Is there a way within a few moves that you could mate early? Never forget to look for that in the quest for materiel or position.
- why am I doing this?
. Getting money, obeying authority, learning things, obtaining credentials (résumé builders”), maintaining a low weight—all are “good” goals which advance my interests. But why? What is it aiming towards? What am I really trying to do?
In chess the goal is well-defined, whereas in life one can choose one’s own goals. In particular they can be
- continual (“Go for walks”)
- or circular (“Raise kids, so they can raise kids, so they can raise kids, …”)
- rather than once-and-done (“Get thin”, “Mate the King”).
- (And they needn’t be zero-sum.)
I think that makes the question What is the object of the game of chess? even more important.
That’s something that helps me and I hope it helps you. I’m going to pause now for some quiet reflection.
But there were also more profound features, which took me a long time even to notice, because they are so at odds with modern experience that neither New Guineans nor I could even articulate them. Each of us took some aspects of our lifestyle for granted and couldn’t conceive of an alternative.
Those other New Guinea features included the non-existence of “friendship” (associating with someone just because you like them), a much greater awareness of rare hazards, war as an omnipresent reality, morality in a world without judicial recourse, and a vital role of very old people. …
Many of my experiences in New Guinea have been intense—a sudden encounter at night with a wild man, the prolonged agony of a nearly-fatal boat accident, one broken little stick in the forest warning us that nomads might be about to catch us as trespassers …
Jared Diamond, The World Before Yesterday
There is an … interest in providing frictionless experiences, making life extremely easy. However, sometimes at least, we require friction in the same way that we require sadness….
A frictionless start of the morning would be to have an instant coffee (anathema) or to have an automatic machine with a timer that grinds the coffee and makes a ding! sound that wakes us up. This machine would also produce a perfectly consistent cup of coffee. There would be no ritual involved.
In my start there is pouring water in the bottom of the mocha pot, setting the coffee container, filling it up with ground coffee (but not compacting it), carefully cleaning the borders, and screwing the top part of the pot. Then I turn on the stove, wait a few minutes (until the top container is between half and three quarters full) and removing the pot from the stove. One can see the crema on top of the liquid. I will have some milk and (little) sugar with it.
The coffee is never exactly the same, never perfect. It requires some work and distracts my mind for a moment. I don’t want to work on improving it…. I will not spend a lot on a ‘brand’ mocha pot, or on sophisticated cups, or on a spectacular coffee grinder. It would be transforming the ritual into religion, which is not the point.
warning: THIS VIDEO GRAPHICALLY DEPICTS DEATH
The reporter’s voice singing the prosody of her profession, we are notified of several facts: millionaire, Wall Street, financial ruin, arson, scuba suit, Mount Everest.
- Noun (phrase) used to identify victim of suicide: outdoor enthusiast.
- Method of execution: cyanide pills.
- Number of eyewitnesses to Marin’s death throes: more than five.
- Ashamed that I watched such a private moment on camera?: Maybe.
- Disgusted that I want to watch it again?: Not really.
- Reasons for interest:  fascination with death  examining my own empathy / sympathy / lack thereof  the media made me watch it  the expression on the face of a man who has just decided to take his own life  videotape of physical act which begins the process of self-murder.
- First comment by a G+ acquaintance: “Justice served? or averted?” Anti-Wall Street sentiment.
- My feeling: Who cares? I hate to see someone at that level of suffering.
(Source: Los Angeles Times)