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Over the past week or two I’ve been tormenting myself about what I should write about in a new blog post. I have been here a month now and feel like I have come full circle – I have passed the initial excitement of a new adventure (with a slew of overwhelming ideas); I have passed the phase of regret (the wondering of the ‘what-could-have-been’s if I had stayed in my past job and place); and I have passed the phase of being overwhelmed (and of being a bit down in the dumps because of too many choices and of feeling like I have come to a stand-still).

As daft as it sounds I feel like I have cleansed myself of the turmoil that’s been going on over the past month and I’m ready to start fresh in my new city. There, it only took 4 weeks!

Going back to the initial Venn Diagram from my 1st post, I wanted to quickly capture some of the things I have realized I enjoy (i.e. when given unlimited free time and resources, here’s what I would do):

  • exploring the outdoors, traveling
  • keeping fit, eating well
  • reading books, particularly ‘classic’ novels
  • seeing something new (either a place, a film or a person)
  • studying / summarizing / note taking
  • project work / planning
  • plants, animal, nature
  • cats (yes, this deserves its own line. I would be more than happy to be a crazy old cat lady)

Let’s call the above points Section 1 – What I Love. Having had the chance to explore my free time and after being realistic with myself, it wasn’t too hard to come up with the above. I think this is a good starting point. Reminder of the diagram:

I’ll be moving into the city at the end of this week, the day after Thanksgiving and will start looking for volunteering opportunities. Will keep you posted!

This morning I just finished reading another book, The Old Man and the Sea. (Thank you Jan Hřebíček for the picture below).

Old Man, Jan Hřebíček - TPLmag

It’s a very short read, but interesting. Although the main story is of an old man overcoming and eventually capturing and killing a huge Marlin fish, interestingly a lot of people believe the novel is about man’s struggle within nature, rather than against it. I’m going to take this as an interesting life tip from the book – life is a struggle within the environment, not against it. Struggling against someone or something will lead to an unhealthy amount of narcissism and I think this will only alienate yourself from those around you and separate yourself from the world as you try to fight against it. Rather, as an animal in the world, we don’t have the power to conquer. We barely understand it and are still very much a part of the rat race and so cannot ever think to struggle against the world and win. This includes struggling against other humans. But regardless of this ‘kill or be killed’ attitude, Hemingway still notes that a “man can be destroyed but not defeated”. This is the key – we can always struggle to gain pride and honor. Pride is natural to us. No matter what our hurdles, we (as man) will always have that small but mighty flame of instinct inside of us, which will keep us fighting for our pride.

It depends on what you take pride in (and consider important) that will help us lead the most fulfilled life. Once we figure out what gives us pride, it will be easy to kindle the fire.

Some other books I’ve just finished:

  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

These were both excellent reads and I hope to write a post more dedicated to them in the future. They have very interesting and relevant themes:

  • class and the money debate – do you need money to value the most important things in life? Is what you value actually lying in front of you all along? Pip’s final realization in the book is that loyalty, affection and inner personal values are so much more critical in life that class or wealth. Why is it we strive to be successful (which we normally read as ‘earning a lot’?) and have a high social status? Social status is not connected one’s true character. The novel has a strong theme of self improvement too which rings a lot of bells for me. Perhaps my ‘expectations’ of the future are too ‘great’, too.
  • nature or nurture – if we were all given the same experiences, or at least given the full picture, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Is it already too late for me to become say, a genius, or do we all have that ability in us? This was touched upon in the Freakonomics book too – do what parents do to help their child in growing up really matter all that much? Studies show that parents who take their children regularly to museums or children that regularly watch tv unfortunately don’t affect the child’s school test scores, positively or negatively… (Of course, this opens a whole kettle of fish as to how important school test scores are as a measure of intelligence but I suppose it is one of the few quantitative measures the authors had).