Packing our Proverbial Suitcase

Suitcase

The end, or is it. When we pack our suitcases, it may be because one leg of our journey has come to a close, but with one chapter closing, we turn to the next. I’ll miss sitting in a classroom twice a week for an hour and a half just discussing our world views, our experiences, how we are different and how we are the same. Out of all the classes I’ve taken over my academic career, this one holds the position of being the most unique, and in some ways influential.

Perhaps the biggest thing I learned is that I don’t (didn’t) talk enough. Not to say I’ve experienced a lot in my life to this point, but what I have experienced I have always internalized. In class, sitting in that circle, listening to my peers share facts about their life that I know were hard for them to divulge (I will not, for the privacy of those student, disclose who or what these facts were.) really forced me to think about some of the experiences I have had in my own life. Plato’s Symposium discusses different world views on love, and inspired some of what I wrote a month ago in A Focus on Love. My experiences in this realm have helped to shape me and how I live my life. I live life more day to day than in a prescribed pattern as a result of these experiences. I’m, at the end of the day, happy. I got to be kid again, at the age of 16, and it was wonderful. Never loose your inner kid.

In our exploration of the scientific way of knowing, we looked at just how unique the human brain, and the experiences it makes possible, are. We explored Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, in which she discusses the blending of her perception of self and perception of her world as she experiences a stroke. The images she invoked made sense. As her left brain checked out, right brain said, “Party Time!,” and tossed her into sensory overload. Her experiences are not unlike my dreams, where my left brain seems to go to sleep, allowing my right brain to conjure up images that would not be physically possible otherwise, yet these images invoke vidid real life, causing me to wonder what was dream and what was real life, often double checking key facts such as due dates, project specs, or the date upon waking up, just to root myself back in reality. A strange thing indeed.

So, you ask the question. How did I become the person I think I am today. Good question, I answer. I believe I am a product of everywhere I grew up. Not just the house, as I show in my shrine project on display in UNCSA Workplace West III, but the people I met there. Everyone from Columbus, IN that I call home, everyone from Exeter, NH where I spend a year in the middle of my life. I wish that the lecture audio from our introduction to the shrine project was available, but alas, it’s not. That lecture, looking back on it, really encompassed what the class was about. Finding that thing, that moment, that person, that memory that has shaped everything we think about the world.

So that’s the end. If you stumble across this blog, one in a vast universe of other voices on this modern world of the internet, this is it. This is the end of this blog, until something else comes to mind. Until the next chapter, I’m outta’ here.

-Pangle

A Focus on Science

It’s all around us. It explains (almost) everything we experience every day. It constantly evolves, a moving target. Science is a large game of facts, facts we are constantly revising as we learn more, as we disprove old beliefs, as we march forward towards an explanation for every moment of our life.

BrainMaybe it’s because of science that I constantly am looking up things I know I know. The fact that anything could change at any moment. I grew up with science. My father, a graduate of the University of Central Florida as a Hardware Engineer, and my mother, also a UCF graduate as a Mathematician and later an Indiana University graduate with a masters degree in Astronomy. As I talked about a few months ago in A Focus of Spirituality, there was little to no religion as I grew up, but rather a focus on morality and kindness, so science became how I coped with the world.

I dream, but not in the way you might expect. My dreams see me stuck in places, forcing myself to move, overly sensitive to my environment. My dreams blend together with reality, to the point I find myself waking up wondering what is real and what was part of the dream world. Sometimes I can pinpoint the source material the leads to the events, other times not so much. Where are my dreams taking me there. How is the brain, of which I use only ~10%, producing these images  of which I have no worldly recollection. Watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight, I can relate to moments when her self-awareness shuts down. What she describes, “I look down at my arm and I realize that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can’t define where I begin and where I end, because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall. And all I could detect was this energy — energy.”, sounds hauntingly similar to my dreams. My left brain goes to sleep, and my right brain says, time to party! (Note to self, see if It’s possible to have nightly strokes while sleeping…).

Hmm. Why? That’s my question. Why? How is it that I can have these experiences nightly, while others have their brains sit idle through the night. Why on the nights I have these dreams do I feel the most well rested in the morning. Why?

A Focus on Love

How do we put up with the very people with whom we wish to spend the rest of our life? The intellectual question of love is as old as Plato and his Symposium, and for most it remains unanswered.

We live in a culture where 50% of people will divorce their spouse at some point during their marriage. A culture where it is so much easier to regress into our technology than to strike up a conversation with the ones we love and are close to us. When we sit in a group with friends, we feel the compulsive need to have conversations. Empty air makes the average person feel awkward. We worry such quietness will bring the final blow to our conversation, leaving us with nothing else to discuss with those around us. When someone like myself sits and observes the art of conversation, with nothing constructive to add to the conversation itself, I’m told by a friend that it makes others feel awkward. In the end, it comes down to Broken Hearteveryone looking for the love and approval of others, looking to be justified in their action.

Love. It makes the best of our memories. The lack or loss thereof makes the worst of our memories. We are slaves to our love for others, we let it control us. Some find love and never lose it, other find love and never pursue it. Some find the love of their life, but the stress and strain of the outside world drive them to leave. Still others are denied their love for another not by the other, but by an outside force that is overly controlling. So many factors are out of our control, so why should we feel that it’s our fault. Why should be feel bad that we are not loved by someone. We must love ourself, and not let other change how we see ourselves. Take a deep breath and relax.

Take a very deep breath and simply relax.

A Focus on Aesthetics

Art, aesthetics, how we visually perceive the world. It drives me insane to see poor aesthetics in everyday life. Imagery from my childhood affect how I perceive things today.

At a young age I was reading books like Harry Potter or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy. I was watching the news on television, and looking at newspapers. I was watching television ranging from Winnie the Pooh to X-Files. I was taking in so much content, but producing very little. I was a consumer, not a creator. It was around the fourth grade that aesthetics clicked for me. I looked at things like my school work, and realized how much cleaner it could all look. I Booksadopted a consistent format for every assignment I would write, with header, organizational systems, etc.. I began typing all of my work, not because I disliked writing, but because I perceived the difference being the clean typography of Times New Roman being that much more professional looking than that of my fourth grade handwriting, which wasn’t very good. I actually got a C- in handwriting in the 5th grade, the first grade below an A I had every received in school. (I guess it was downhill from there…) Mythology like that from X-Files piqued an interest in me. Was everything as I was told it was, or was I disillusioned to believe what I did for the ‘greater good’. These were questions that stuck with me. I guess from an early age I learned to question what did not seem right.

Looking at and listening to ancient mythological and biblical stories, and talking with classmates, I noticed something peculiar. What many of them took for granted as bedtime stories from their childhood, I had not heard of, or had only been exposed in an educational environment. It was odd to hear peers speak about how such-and-such myth shaped their childhood. I always looked at characters like Harry Potter or Arthur Dent not as role models as much as people who gave me a window into their lives, to observe them screwing up or getting things right. To learn from, but not to worship. In my life my role models are people that are or were living, not characters from a book.

Looking into the future I hope to expand my horizons. I’d love to revisit the myths of the ancient Greeks, not for academic purpose as much as for the purpose of understanding that these pieces shape so many of those around me, even if I see them simply as stories, they mean a lot to others. I’d like to think others would do the same for me.

Be us young or old, we all draw our world view from somewhere, generally physical in some way. Be it stories or people, places or events, it matters. We are who we are because of who we have been.

A Focus on Spirituality

Spirituality. Mythology. These are words we so often associate with religion. With belief in higher power.

I grew up in a household that didn’t go to church. We practiced no religion, we prayed to no god. Rather, we were taught good manners and how to be a good person. Timeouts were given for our bad behaviors. It worked. While someone in a religious household also learns the same principal of manners and being a good person. While the teaching methods are very different, I’ve never felt separated from my religious friends. I’ve attended several church services with girlfriends and their families in the past and was nothing but pleased with the people there and the messages preached. They matched what I grew up with. Always treat others as you would like to be treated. Appreciate people around you. Allow other’s opinions to coexistIcarus with yours. As I said a few weeks ago, I see myself as a spiritual person. I reflect on my day in quite before bed every night. When I’m stressed, I take time to gather thoughts and let negative energy leave me until the positive energy is in control once again and then I continue with my work. I’ve never seen spirituality as being mutually exclusive with religion.

From a young age we are taught myths like that of Adam and Eve or Icarus and his wings as true stories to learn from, but we rarely stop to see that these are myths. As kids we simply see them as stories teaching lessons. Don’t disobey authority, don’t fly too close to the sun respectively. But only this last week did I ever think about the face that these stories are, as their genre would imply, myths. Mythological. Stories written simply to teach lessons. It is a strange context shift to make, but a logical one that I question why I did not have sooner.

I’d love to look deeper into religion. Why people have religion, and why those reasons can’t be satisfied without a greater power being present in their beliefs. I’m spiritual, which I often see as religion without the belief in higher power.

Spirituality is not just about religion, it’s not just about being ethical, or moral. It’s about reflecting within yourself and really just understanding what your actions mean in the grand scheme of things.

The Person We Think We Are

Suitcase EmptyI’m a media creator and consumer. I’m consumed by the very media I use in life every day. As we connect with more and more people, I feel more and more distant from them. I live a life of stress in which the escape from such is one and the same with escaping technology, yet I continue to add technology to my life. I embrace it. I grow closer to those further away, yet further from those sitting next to me. The art of conversation is dying, our world is changing.

How did I become the person I think I am? How do any of us become who we think we are? I am a product of my childhood, there is no doubt in my mind. I grew up in the largest small town I know: Columbus, Indiana. I was born in Charleston, SC. I’ve lived in Groton, CT and Exeter, NH. Now I live in Winston-Salem. Every city contributes to myself as a person. Different cultures, foods, and ways of living. In ways I’m still a child, still growing. Still learning from these experiences. I’m still growing. I became the person I think I am through interactions with people. Real people, not this digital communication long distance friends thing that so many people do today. I see everything I do as art. I take pride in everything I do, because I believe if I am to be held to it, I must do all I can to produce results I want associated with me. I’m not religious, but I am spiritual. I sit and meditate on what is happening around me. I conduct myself if a moral and ethical manner, as most religions would have its followers do, but see no need to recognize a greater power. I have the power to shape my future. I had the power to shape my present self. I’m happy with how I used those powers. I engage in conversations with everyone. I talk with my friends, those I like. I talk with those a despise, and they are unaware of my feeling towards them or their lifestyle. If someone has not wronged my, who am I to be rude to them just because I don’t enjoy their company. I carry polite conversations with anyone; friend, foe, or stranger alike.

There has been much discussion around technology and how we communicate and learn and think. Around the world we differ on these points. Spiritually, some parts of the world put value in family, others in money, still others in self-fulfillment. Aesthetically, some people take great pride in their work, while others simply do the least to get by.

As humans we must ask ourselves how we became the person we think we are, not because the answer itself is important, but because we must understand who we are. Who we think we are affects our decisions. Everyone can go to a party, but only some people do, while others stay away, all because we know who we are, and whether that party is something for us.