Monday, April 24, 2017

Grey Areas

So earlier today I was listening to the latest Freakonomics podcast episode called "Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable?" and one of the guests said something to the effect of "any argument that puts something as entirely good or entirely bad is incredibly naive," and I found myself nodding along to the statement.

Just a couple of hours after listening to that, I watched Anugerah Meletop Era on tv with my parents, and even though a large portion of the show made me cringe, I was reminded of the above quote when my father said in passing that the award show was a way of redistributing wealth. I found myself nodding along to that as well.

For all the ads both on and off ad-breaks, it did provide a platform for musicians to work. It gave the performers, stage hands, costume designers, make-up artists, producers, camera crew, lighting people, etc. an income. It allowed people of all stars and stripes who just want to get by, get by. For all the promotion of consumerism that happened on the show, it allowed a whole bunch of people a way of fending for themselves in the capitalist system they live in. And for that, one cannot say that the show is all good, or all bad. It occupies a grey area.

And I think most things in life are in the grey area. Most things are not all good, nor are most things all bad. Living a life of prayer is "good" in the sense that one might position themselves better in the sight of their chosen deity, but time spent in prayer is time spent away from helping fellow people, and service to others is real important too. And any time taken engaging in community service takes away time from family. And time spent with family isn't spent working to earn a living income to pay the bills and put food on the table. And so on and so forth the arguments go.

The sign of an enlightened mind (at least in my view) is a mind that is on the lookout for good things in bad things and bad things in good things. The first step of course is to be able to acknowledge that such a reality exists. Once one is able to accept that reality, it becomes easier to spot those shades of grey. I'm not saying it's easy (it gets super tough a lot of the time), but it does get easier.

One thing I don't like about it is that thinking this way makes me doubt a lot of things. I am filled with self-doubt about most of my decisions in life because I know there are bad bits that come with the good bits, and I'm not confident enough in my own judgement to be real sure about any of my own judgements, which is why a team is always helpful in any of my endeavours. They allow me perspectives outside of myself to lean on in times of doubt.

Which is why sometimes I am jealous of people who aren't aware of grey areas. Some people seem to be able to see the world as black and white and there isn't much wiggle room at all in between. People who aren't aware of grey areas are able to live less doubtful lives, and are able to make more confident decisions, I feel like. I used to be like that. I used to live believing that I knew right from wrong all the time, and right can only be right while wrong can only be wrong, end of discussion.

But that view of the world lacks empathy, it lacks kindness, it lacks awareness, it lacks perspective. And given a choice, I'd probably want to be aware of grey areas. While I do live most of my life in doubt, nowadays, I also get to be all high and mighty in my head because I am aware of grey areas, and I can sit on a high horse and pity the people below me who don't have the perspective that I do. Berlagak kan? Ugh, I disgust me.

So yeah, grey areas. They're a lot more of a thing than I'd like them to be, but we've got to live with them, a lot of times in them.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Mindfulness, I Think

So hello again.

I had a school meeting earlier today, and because I'm terrible at paying attention during meetings, and because I didn't bring a book with me to read, I decided to reread some of my own blogposts (because I'm a narcissist).

The first thing I wrote this year was about trying to be more focussed, and establishing that I could only focus on doing one singular task for twenty minutes at a time. At the time of reading earlier today, I had completely forgotten that I had had that thought, that I had made up a strategy to regain control over my own day-to-day productivity. I was (and still am) disappointed in my current self for forgetting that real simple thing, but also somewhat proud of my previous self for having written that thought down so that I would be able to remind myself of it.

As is obvious, I have not been keeping to that plan. I've stopped writing for a long while now and I'm certainly not proud of that. I don't know what I've been doing, really. A whole bunch of school work, some watching of Netflix shows, reading some pages of the book of the month every now and again,  but mostly just looking for Youtube videos to watch and refreshing Twitter a lot. I shake my head at myself. Shake shake shake.

Life was a tad more productive in the twenty-minute-at-a-time phase of my life (now I'm speaking as if it were years ago, padahal baru berapa bulan ja). I think I'll go back to that. I'll have to readjust my cycle of tasks in life to twenty minutes again and try to stick to it for more than a couple of days this time. And probably try to write more in the process, too. Let's start with this post.

You reading this would not be privy to this, but I just took an undeserved Twitter scroll-through. I even indulged in watching a five-minute Twitter-video I didn't need to watch. This is exactly what I'm trying to combat. My own unmindfulness of what I'm engaging in in contrast to what I'm supposed to be engaged in while going through life.

I've got to try to be more mindful of what I'm doing at any given time. And as much as I like listening to Tim Ferriss' podcast who talks about it with a lot of his guests, I find that when I try to put it into practice, I disappoint myself more often than not.

One of the ways in which he recommends to increase mindfulness is to meditate every day. But as much as successful people like to talk about how the practice has helped them with their lives, I still don't see myself as a person who meditates. But if I'm honest with myself, the issue isn't really about identity. It's me being lazy. It's me being unwilling to spend an hour of my life sitting down with my eyes closed and spend it thinking about my breathing. I know I'll get restless, I know that my mind will wander to all sorts of places, I know that I will fail, and thus I don't even start.

It's a recurring theme in my life. Things that I think I'll be bad at, I won't engage in. I have to have some sense of confidence that I can achieve a thing before starting doing a thing. I place this unproductive emphasis on confidence in my starting of doing things that it stops me from doing things. I lack courage. The courage to try and fail, the courage to do something that I might be bad at, the courage to be humiliated. I'm a coward in that sense, I believe.

This would be the part of the post where I try to come up with suggestions to improve myself. Something like "I should find the courage and be less afraid of failure, because the path of successful people is a path of getting up after multiple failures". But I'm tired. And I don't know. I just, don't know.