What Matters More: The Journey Or The Result?

When you sit back and think about your life, what has been driving you forward? Is it something you have chosen? Is it society’s system? And do you wish it was any different?

Recently I had a discussion with a friend about the impact of the education system and a world where results and achievements are considered the “be all and end all”. We live in a society, particularly as we are growing up, where we are constantly taught to think about the end result – the grade, the next school and the move to college, university or work. We are looking ahead because we are told that’s how we make a life for ourselves. But what about our life in the present moment?

In my opinion, the education system never placed enough emphasis on learning for learning’s sake. It felt like every piece of content thrown our way was there to simply learn and regurgitate. And yes, many of us did enjoy certain aspects of school, perhaps because we found our own way to find meaning in what was given to us. However, why not teach children how to find that meaning? Instead of driving end results that tear down those who haven’t yet found their passion, why not teach them how to enjoy the ride?

The problem with focusing too much on the end result, such as achieving a grade or securing a job, is that the moment is fleeting. The emotions associated with success and fulfillment don’t last forever, because if we tie our self-worth to one single end goal, what will we then be without it? As much as an end result or goal may motivate us to get up in the morning and do what we need to do to succeed, it teaches us that there is nothing else out there for us if we can’t do it – or even if we can. Why work solely towards something that is impermanent – an end result simply for achievements sake? Why not appreciate a journey that is filled with permanent meaning, regardless of the outcome?

I think it’s interesting to ask others what they believe is more important: The journey or the result. It’s interesting because I think most people would say journey, but whether this reflects in their lives is a whole different matter. Do we really appreciate the journey if we let failure destroy our sense of self? Do we really appreciate the journey if we are getting impatient towards our goals? It is easy to forget that the present moment is often valuable in itself. As much as the future holds meaning and value for many of us, it doesn’t exist yet. It is only what we do now, in the present, that even makes it an eventual reality.

So, next time you find yourself working towards an end result, take a step back and reflect on your emotions. Are you placing too much of your sense of self in the outcome, or do you know you are valuable, regardless? Are you getting agitated at the steps you need to reach a goal, or are you feeling gratitude towards what you are learning along the way?

We all get wrapped up in results – it’s inevitable. In many ways, results is what keeps the world moving. But we must remember to detach our self-worth from it. We are more than what we have to show.

What matters more to you: the journey or the result?

I would love to hear your perspective on this topic in the comments.


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom [Book Review]

During lockdown, I read the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and was blown away by how inspiring and emotional it was. I knew straight away that I wanted to read more of Albom’s books, and so that’s how I stumbled upon The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

What I love about Mitch Albom’s writing is that, although it’s very simple, it encourages a lot of inner reflection. I find myself viewing my life through a different lens and finding meaning I didn’t realise was there. It keeps me philosophising and thinking and feeling in new ways, and that’s one of my favourite things to do.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven was no exception. Set in the afterlife of Eddie, an eighty three year old war veteran, his seemingly unimportant life is explained by five people who were in it, from loved ones to strangers, each one unravelling a deeper meaning. Every person he meets in heaven has a lesson to teach him.

I think this book, similarly to Tuesdays with Morrie, has endless amounts of potential to teach people how to find their place in the world. It touches on the very real notion that sometimes, as humans, we feel like we are just living every day the same. We become consumed by habits and mistakes and emotions, amongst the good of course, but sometimes we reflect and wonder how much impact we are really having on the world.

For me, the overarching message of this book was that everyone has an impactful life, whether they believe it or not. Within the book, Eddie is a man who feels lost in life; he believes he wasted his time working his father’s old job and could have made something better of himself, but it is only once he is in heaven that he realises he impacted the world in ways he had never even considered. The children would not be safe and happy if he had not fixed the fairground rides. His wife wouldn’t be a wife without him. His life was more than just his life. He was part of everybody’s life who he came into contact with.

The book is asking us to find those impactful moments in our own life, to dig deep and really understand where we’re making a difference. We must find our meaning before it’s too late, before we haven’t fully appreciated the mark we’ve left on the world, and the marks others have left for us.

What are the Five Lessons in The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

As previously mentioned, Eddie meets five people during his time in heaven, and I thought it would be interesting to compile all five lessons he learnt, alongside my favourite quotes from the section.

Lesson 1:

“No life is a waste,” the Blue Man said. “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing and no one is unimportant because everything filters into a meaning, even if it is incomprehensible.

Lesson 2:

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”

Sacrifices are inevitable. They are part of life. They aren’t always about losing. Sometimes they are about gaining in a different sort of way, but they should never be about regret.

Lesson 3:

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”

Forgiveness is important – not just for the other person, but for ourselves. Revenge does nothing but fuel the anger inside of us. Forgiveness is what lets the pain go.

Lesson 4:

“Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. Your nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.

Life has to end. Love doesn’t.”

The power of love, beyond the immediacy of physical life. It doesn’t falter with distance or death. It reignites with memories.

Lesson 5:

“The secret of heaven: that each affects the the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”

(My favourite quote of the book!)

Every life is purposeful, meaningful and impactful. We live in a world where lives coalesce – we can’t help it. We share our stories in more ways than we could ever know.

Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

Or are you inspired by any of the quotes I’ve shared?

Let me know in the comments below!


You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

Discovering the Purpose of Our Lives

Hello! This is Kiran from Pro Investivity. I am glad to share with you a guest post on this topic. I am a personal development and an investment blogger. I write explicitly in various ways and proven methods for personal growth and also help you with your investing journey.

I consider myself determined to learn more and engraved into development. As they say, every person is born with a purpose, we also need to discover it. Before starting out, I would like to personally thank Alice for providing this wonderful opportunity of letting me guest post in her amazing blog. 

 

Why Most People Can’t Find Their Purpose?

photo on goal
It is always easier to say that I have a stated goal. More often, we can hear from people that they want to be a millionaire, they want to have a big house and so on. I can’t see the ultimate purpose behind their statement. If you consider the statements like these as your purpose then, I have a big question for you,

What will you do after becoming a millionaire or having a big house?

In this fast pace of life, we are driven to fulfill our materialistic desire. By being in a job for long hours with a motive to earn more, we feel that we don’t have sufficient time to discover our real purpose in life. Waking up, going to school (or job), returning home. We continue the same cycle every day. Even though we make a daily routine to follow, we are deviating from it with the uncertainty of our own objectives. The wiser are getting wiser than earlier not because they are selfish but because they have found the purpose of their lives. 

I don’t have to find somewhere to find an example, as I would like to provide my own illustration. It was me stating my purpose of living as to just get a proper job to run my family. I thought this was all I had to do throughout my whole life. I would like to describe my real transformation in the following paragraphs.

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

 

How To Find The Reason For Your Life?

question mark

Well, if you are the kind of person who wants to utilize the best from your life (I know you want to), you don’t necessarily have to be an intelligent person. Even though you are in school, work, or hassling around, you can live your life with a true purpose. 

Giving sufficient time to know about yourself is the grand step you should take to discover your life’s purpose. If the problem is with time, you could think about this when you are commuting. You could go through your past and find out what you have achieved so far. 

You may raise a point here, it is easier said than done. At the time, I question you,

Does this mean we should be the slave of our false purpose?

Likewise, reading books can also assist you to find the purpose of your life, just like it did for me. Who knows if reading books would be a game-changer for your life? While reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek, I was shocked to know how foolishly I had been stating the purpose of my life. It was me dreaming of landing at a proper job and calling myself a purposeful engineer. It was a challenge for me as a millennial to get the path to my ultimate purpose. After much thinking afterward, I realized I wanted to work for the people who have been deprived of education and other basic amenities of life. Even if I could help 10 people enhance their lives, I would consider myself as a life well-lived.

Besides, learn from experienced people from different fields. They might have unfolded the secret of their growth which in turn can benefit you. I have met so many people who were dedicated to achieving the goal they believed in their life’s sole purpose. Only later did they discover it as the incorrect path and then had to change their life’s direction. 

 

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

Take your time and don’t forget to enjoy the process of finding your purpose. Live your life gracefully, with determination. I would like to sum up with the quote that has inspired me immensely, and I’m sure you would feel the same way.

 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

―  Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Once again, I would like to thank Alice for giving me this opportunity to feature my article in her marvellous blog. 

If you like to soak yourself into your personal growth and unfold the steps to overcome challenges, you may also love to visit:

Challenges for Millennials In Personal Development

My Morning Routine During this CoronaVirus Pandemic

Secrets To Personal Development As Per Your Age

‘The Shop Before Life’ by Neil Hughes [*Gifted* Book Review]

I just want to start by saying that, although this book review is gifted, I would have written a book review on this book anyway because it was just amazing. It really was.

To give a brief summary, The Shop Before Life revolves around the idea that there is a “prelife” before we enter Earth. Humans are born into the “prelife” first, where they choose what character traits they would like, from an arrangement of jars labelled “smart” or “inquisitive” or “brave” and many more. They pick these traits up at The Shop, before taking them into Earth, where they are born as a baby with these traits intact.

Faythe is one of the few people who decides to live in the “prelife”, before heading off to Earth. That is until she gets hired as the new Apprentice at The Shop. She has so many questions about the traits, how they were made, and how The Shop started – questions which no one will answer. But she resolves to find out.

I loved this book simply because of the concept – I was drawn in straight away by the characters, whom are unique but also relatable in their own way. However, it was the connection this book made with the real world that really got to me. This wasn’t just a novel about the world Neil Hughes created himself; it commented on human life as a whole – the way we think, the way we feel, and why we do the things we do, even if our actions seem incomprehensible.

I think the idea of picking traits is so typical of human nature – we see others with certain qualities and we naturally want them for ourselves, because we have this notion of the perfect human, or at the very least a perfect version of ourselves. We often don’t know who we are but we know who we want to become, and a lot of the time we don’t actually know how to get there. I thought it was interesting how this picking of traits in the book acts as a solution to this, whilst simultaneously not providing a solution at all. I guess humans need weird illogical systems to function.

I don’t want to give any spoilers in this review, because I really do think everyone should read this book and figure it all out for themselves, but, I can say, that this book really does reflect on the power and importance of belief. There was something about it that I just connected with. Perhaps it’s because I’m at a moment in my life where I’ve been working hugely on my confidence – I’ve realised that belief in myself really does go a long way – but also because the only way life moves forward is due to belief. No one has any idea what they are doing, as is reiterated numerous times in the book, but by believing we make changes to move forward in our lives anyway. Without belief, we would all be sitting back and feeling sorry for ourselves, and that doesn’t get us anywhere. The Shop Before Life is like a reminder that we can attract anything if we really believe we can do it, similar to the notion of the law of attraction.

I feel like some of the points I’m making here might not make full sense if you haven’t read it, but if you’re intrigued by my ramblings and want to understand more about the topic, then I guess you’ll have to read the book then!

There are so many good things I can say about The Shop Before Life because I feel like it really does focus on some of the most interesting questions about humanity and the universe. As someone who is a huge fan of philosophical topics of conversation, I loved this element of the book and I think that’s what made it so great to me – that the characters and subjects it raised existed beyond the book itself. And I think the greatest books are those that remain in your mind as you step back into everyday life, changing the way you see and understand things.

This is one of those books that I’m sure will stay with me for a while, if not for the rest of my life. There’s just something so unique and real about it and I just felt very connected to the themes it presented.

I thought I’d end this book review with a few quotes, if I haven’t convinced you of its greatness already.

“Why should we remain within the limits we are given?”

“Perhaps you’ve realised that not everybody is interested in how the universe works. To me, it always seemed unambitious to simply accept how the world is, without asking questions.”

That you choose is more important than what you choose.”

“…consuming is trivial, and it’s creation that’s the real magic.”

 

Go check out the book on Amazon here!

And follow Neil Hughes on twitter!

You can also find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

 

Answering Questions on Interesting Philosophical Concepts!

So for my 2 year blogging anniversary I asked you all to ask me questions with interesting philosophical concepts and I actually couldn’t have asked for better questions; you guys were great! So here are my answers and feel free to agree/refute/share your own view in the comments.


 

1. What do you think is the meaning of life?

I love this question because it’s so broad and there’s so many ways you can take it, but at the same time I have no idea where to start. If the world started by chance then ultimately there is no meaning to life, but if the world was started by a higher being, such as God, then maybe there is a purpose. Personally, I don’t really have an opinion on how the world began, not because I’m a cop out but because I like to have experienced the evidence to believe it, so instead I leave my options open. This makes it very hard to judge what the meaning of life is. However, in terms of the meaning of life for each individual person, it is completely subjective. For me, it is to be happy and to live my life to its fullest extent. In terms of humanity as a whole, I have this unexplained feeling that there is no meaning to life at all, yet this is why we need to drive ourselves to find our own meaning, otherwise we lose ourselves to this empty void.

2. What does it mean to live a good life?

This is such a difficult question because “good life” is likely to mean something completely different from one person to another. In terms of morality, there are many debates about whether one mistake makes your life bad or whether you can redeem yourself. I think a good life in this sense is if you’ve lived your life in the best way that you can. Even if you’ve made mistakes, if you’ve learnt from them and come out as an all-rounded good person then I would say your life is good. If we’re talking about a good life in terms of the present, I would say you have a good life if you have lots of reasons to make you smile and be happy. For some people, even in their worst of times, can find reasons to be happy and so a “good life” can seem like a “bad life” to someone else, or vice versa, but all that matters is how you view it yourself.

3. What should be the goal of humanity?

For me, the goal of my life is to be happy, and I think this should be the goal of humanity too. Of course, it’s unrealistic for everyone to be content with their lives, but I think to pass on a world that gives the greatest amount of happiness it can to future generations is what life should be about. Otherwise, what’s the point?

4. If you could teach everyone in the world one concept, what concept would have the biggest positive impact on humanity?

This is so hard because I feel like there’s a lot of important qualities we should have as human beings, such as kindness, selflessness, etc. but I think the one that would make the biggest positive impact is respect. In a world of so many different kinds of people it is impossible for everyone to agree, but I think it’s important that we respect each other’s opinions regardless. With this kind of respect comes equality, greater happiness and confidence and I think these things are really important.

5. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond?

When I first read this question, I had no idea what it meant, but I loved it because I enjoy trying to unpick metaphors. To me, the big fish is someone who’s happy, successful and has everything in life, but they are in a small pond so they have nowhere to travel to. The small fish is someone who is only just starting out, doesn’t have everything they want and are hardly successful, but they have this big pond to roam about in. Instantly, I thought it would be better to be the small fish, because what’s the point if you already have everything? I think the whole point of living is to grow into the best person you can be through finding new experiences and allowing yourself to roam around the big pond of life, rather than starting out great but being limited in places to go. To me, there is so much more achievement in actually working for something rather than it being given to you and it 100% makes you a better person for it.

On searching the internet, I found the meaning of this question was similar but also slightly different to what I had taken from it (story of my life). It’s the idea of whether you’d rather be with people that are above you in standard (big pond) or in a group of people below you in standard (small pond). I would still go with the small fish though and for the same reasoning too – without people smarter than you, how would you grow intellectually as a person? Your worth might seem insignificant but in the long run you may end up becoming the big fish in the big pond. It’s all about putting in the effort.

6. What happens after death?

Ahh what a classic philosophical question but I love it all the same! I’m one of those people that doesn’t have a certain belief about life after death. I love contemplating all the different options and there are certain ideas that appeal to me, for example in reincarnation the idea of living again and again sounds fun because the concept of there being nothing after death scares me. But I don’t necessarily believe it is true. All I hope for is that my death is peaceful and I end up in a happy place.

7. Why is the sky blue?

Damn now I’m going to be contemplating this every time I go outside. I’ve never really thought of why the sky is blue because it’s something that we’ve just got used to as humans. I guess it’s just like the colours of everything. Why are plants green? Why is my hair brown? It’s just a lucky draw and that’s how it is. But there is also the debate about colour where one thing might look like one colour to me, but a different colour to you, yet we universally call it the same colour. If I’ve confused you look this one up! It’s actually so interesting to contemplate.

8. What does it mean to exist?

For me, existing on a basis level is when you’re alive and have a heartbeat. However, when thinking about people who suffer from illnesses such as Dementia, are they considered as existing? I think existence, from this perspective, revolves around memories. Combining all these aspects I would say to exist is to have a heartbeat, to be able to feel and to be able to have memories.

9. Do you think cats are truly the gods of the universe, as ancient Egyptians believed?

Hahaha I love cats but I don’t think they’re the gods of the universe. I’m not sure anyone is really the god of the universe.

10. Why do we think and feel?

Hmmm I think we think and feel because we’re human and we’re in existence. If we couldn’t do either of these things, quite frankly, we might as well be a stone.

11. Just out of curiosity, do you have any favourite philosophers?

Ooh this is a tough one. There are many philosophers I find really interesting, such as Plato’s analogy of the cave and Freud’s analysis of the unconscious (despite how weird he is at times). I don’t think I have a favourite philosopher though because I think philosophy is all about looking at things in different ways and so it’s good to have knowledge of all different kinds of people. Therefore, they’re all kind of my favourite. They all unlock new ideas in my brain and I appreciate them all in different ways.

12. What do you think is the hardest question to answer?

This one? Nah I’m kidding, but this is pretty hard… I would probably say when people ask you what your favourite is of something, like your favourite book or your favourite movie. It’s not just because I’m indecisive (because let’s be honest I completely am), but because I think everything is valued in different ways and so it is impossible to have one that you value the most – and if you think you do, it probably isn’t accurate.

13. Do you think freewill is real or just an illusion?

Ahhh this one completely trips your brain out just thinking about it. It reminds me of the film The Adjustment Bureau which has such an amazing concept but it actually scares me to think someone could be controlling me. I know I would like to think freewill is real, but to be honest we actually can’t tell…

14. Where do you find the meaning of the life?

This is very similar to the first question I answered and at first I thought it was the same, but it’s actually asking where you find this meaning, not what it is. I think where you find the meaning of life depends on your outlook but I believe that to find meaning in your own life you need to look and appreciate all the little things – these are the things that make your existence worthwhile.

15. Do you think animals have the same life meaning as humans have?

I think this ultimately depends on what you believe the life meaning of humans is. As I’ve said above, to me my life purpose is to be happy and from this perspective, I would actually say the same for animals. I spoke to my friend about this question and she said that we won’t ever know whether we have the same life meaning as animals unless we have experienced it because we can’t truly understand. And I completely agree with this. There really is no way of telling.


 

I apologise for the amount of words this post has because I really did go overboard on my answers, but they were just so interesting! I hope they were as fun to read as it was to write. I’d love to know your view on these questions too, so please do leave your opinions in the comments and we can start a discussion going!

Uni (Y1 S2): The Books I’ve Read This Term

Back in December, I posted a list of all the books I had read in first semester and my thoughts on them, so I thought why not continue the process? So here are the books I’ve read second semester and although interesting at times, I definitely prefer those from last term…

 

Image result for the garden party and other stories
classic book cover

1. The Garden Party & Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield – At first I wasn’t sure if I liked these stories; there are a lot of characters and it’s hard to really get into their mindsets when they’re so briefly touched upon. However, there were particular moments that really resonated with me, either because they had interesting concepts or they were surprisingly relatable. There is one part about an insect and it reminded me so much of the film ‘Shutter Island’ where they talk about an insect in the brain – a concept I really love. Another part also talked about being on a stage and acting in everyday life, reminding me of the film ‘My Dinner with Andre’. Moments like these made the collection enjoyable for me, but I have to say without them I don’t think I would have been as interested.

2. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo – This book was a big let down for me, to be honest. I liked the premise and it started off as really interesting. There were moments where I really liked the language and the way it was written. However, it was ridiculously confusing. It switched between characters and perspectives and past and present so much that I really had no idea what was going on. And the ending didn’t even resolve the whole point of the book.

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another classic book cover

3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Before I started uni I really wanted to read this book, but wow did I underestimate how frustrating it would be. First of all, it’s ridiculously long. Secondly, I feel like I know way too much about whales because it won’t stop going on about them. And finally, although it’s 500 odd pages, barely anything actually happens. It could have been a lot shorter than it actually was because most of it went over my head and if I had to retell the plot right now I probably couldn’t, despite having spent the last 5 weeks reading it. However, when it comes to analysing it, it can actually be pretty interesting. So I’ll give it that. And it also inspired this post which got me thinking pretty deeply about whether pain has a body so props to Melville for that.

Image result for montaigne
Why have a serious photo of Montaigne when you can have this?

4. On Experience by Michel de Montaigne – I really enjoyed reading this one because it was very philosophical in thought and whilst you’ve got to be focused to read it, once you are you can get a lot out of it. Having studied Philosophy and Ethics at A level, it was nice to return to the familiar names of Aristotle and Plato and it reminded me of how much I actually miss studying it. It’s interesting how ‘On Experience’ is actually an essay but it reads the same as a novel. It seemed more contemplative than critical, as he’s using extracts to further his own thoughts rather than analysing extracts to create thoughts (I guess that’s the dream, right?). I also liked the lecture’s focus on the Commonplace Book which I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s where you write down extracts from books you’ve read. It sounds like a really cool way to give yourself future inspiration and perhaps something I’ll try out someday!

5. The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith – If I’m being totally honest, this is probably the most boring book I’ve read so far on this course. I just never had that moment where I felt connected to the characters or the writing style at all, not even a tiny bit. It’s also meant to be comedic and yet it seemed so serious whilst I was reading it that it didn’t really make much sense. There’s not much else I can say really other than, if you do read this, don’t expect much.

6. Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass by Fredrick Douglass – This is a book from the perspective of a slave in the 19th century and I don’t think you can actually not enjoy this book, simply because even if you don’t like the writing style, it’s still interesting because it’s completely true. Slavery is something that most of us can’t really understand and so I really liked delving into a text that gave me insight into an area which I was short of information on. I would say that I expected it to be more emotional in the way that he spoke – and it was at parts very saddening to read – but for some reason I wanted a bit more. However, I’m sure he wrote it mostly just to share his story. I thought it was overall a good read.

Image result for lolly willowes funny
just love this aesthetic

7. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner – This was honestly such a funny book even though I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. It starts off with the lovely innocent story of a woman in her forties who hasn’t married and lives with her family, before she decides to move away and start anew. Then, she enters a compact with the devil – completely out of nowhere – and turns into a witch. So yeah, it got dark pretty quickly. I’m not sure if I like it or I’m just really intrigued.

8. The Black Atlantic by Paul Gilroy – Rather than a fictional novel, this one is actually a critical book on black studies. There are some parts that are really interesting (once you’ve spent hours trying to figure out what’s it’s actually trying to say) but my god is it the hardest book I’ve ever had to read. The way Gilroy writes is so over the top and unnecessary. Why use all these complicated words and write sentences as long as an entire paragraph? How does that help me understand your point?

 

There were a few other books I read too (Madame Bovary, Pere Goriot, Henry IV) but to be honest I didn’t really have much to say about them and I left it so long to write up my response that I actually forgot what they were about (so clearly they didn’t make that much of an impact).

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

In the midst of life or death. [flash-fiction]

I read this quote in a book the other day: “In the midst of life we are in death…in the midst of death we are in life.” and instantly felt a connection to what it was saying and so had to write something about it… 

We tread through the long string of streets and stairs to places unknown. We let ourselves follow this imaginary line as if we ourselves are tied to a string. We’re pulled and yanked into different directions. Unconsciously. Subconsciously. It’s hard to know where we’re going when we have no control.

But in this moment we feel the warmth of the sun on our backs as if we’re guided by our inner strength and happiness and our own power to defy the universe. But what if we’re not? What if we’re just a mechanical object born to feel like they can feel but they can’t? What if we’re simply the opposite of what we think we are and so are, in fact, a paradox? Would that mean that we’re not really anything at all? Would that mean we’re simply a concept?

When you feel like you’re pushing yourself forward ask yourself, are you really being pulled? Are you moving forward into life and yet simultaneously being pulled by a force outside of you that makes it really nothing of your own doing at all?

Because sometimes I tread through the long strings of streets and stairs to places unknown and I don’t really feel like me at all. It’s like the whole world is moving around me – blurred voices and funny figures – and I’m a ghost between the madness. Sometimes I tread through these streets and wonder if in the midst of life we are in death. Or if in the midst of death we are in life.

The Experience Machine [Philosophical Ramblings]

A month ago I came across ‘The Experience Machine’ – a theory by the American philosopher Robert Nozick – and since then I’ve been meaning to write up a blog post on it because I find it really interesting and I miss studying philosophy!

The idea he puts forth is this: 

Image result for robert nozick the experience machine

“Suppose there was an experience machine that would give you any
experience you desired. Super-duper neuropsychologists could stimulate
your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel,
or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would
be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you
plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life experiences? […]
Of course, while in the tank you won’t know that you’re there; you’ll think
that it’s all actually happening […] Would you plug in?”

On first thought, this kind of reminded me of the book ‘More Than This’ by Patrick Ness (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it). It’s weird to think that you could experience something exactly as reality but it to not actually be reality. I guess the closest we can get to this sensation is in our dreams, and yet we never feel completely alive – it’s never quite the same.

I love thinking about ideas like this because it’s interesting to debate with people and I think it tells you a lot about a person in how they respond to this kind of thing. They may not be interested; they may give you a really long in depth answer; they might say “yeah I’d give it a go why not”; or maybe they’d say “no way” and that would be it. Either answer is nice to hear because it reminds us of how we all think differently in terms of the world and what our own individual priorities are.

If I was in the position of trying out The Experience Machine, I probably wouldn’t take it. It definitely intrigues me and I’d almost want to try it out with something simple like eating a doughnut just to see if it actually works, but there’s no way I would want to go any further with it. I feel like creating a false reality is quite a dangerous thing to do, especially if it’s a higher and anti-suffering reality. That kind of world screams reliability, and once you become reliant on something like that you’d never want to come back to the real world.

However, in a way, if The Experience Machine was eternal, then couldn’t you eternally live inside it? Then you wouldn’t even have to return to reality and so it wouldn’t matter if you relied on it. I guess this would work for some people. I know I’d definitely be too paranoid to even want to risk it. After all, it’s not hard for a machine to break down or malfunction.

Nozick’s argument following this is:

  1. If all that mattered to us was pleasure, then we would want to plug into the
    experience machine.
  2.  However, we would not want plug-in.
  3.  Hence, there are things which matter to us besides pleasure.

Obviously the second point is a slight assumption – I’m sure a few out there would want to plug-in – but Nozick does genuinely make a good point. The fact that we would reject ultimate pleasure says so much about us. In a way, it’s kind of an acceptance of our suffering; that we’re at peace with our lives even though it’s hard. Perhaps if you would choose to enter The Experience Machine that says you’re dissatisfied with how you’re feeling. In a way, entering it is a form of “suicide”. Nevertheless, it shows that pleasure isn’t all that we crave, even when we think it is. Many set out their life aim to be happy, me included, and yet it seems that it could be a lot more than this.

What do you think of The Experience Machine?

Would you try it?

The Solipsistic Space of My Mind [Flash Fiction]

It’s soft against my palm – this cardboard. It’s soft, but sturdy. Breakable, yet strong. Kind of like a brain.

Kind of like your brain.

I’m feeling trapped – ha, I guess you could say that. Arms are barely stretched out either side of me. Palms are out like I’m giving out some sort of signal.

Let me out signal let me out.

A box of the mind – that’s what they call it. My fingers were running across the keyboard searching for it.

Soli –

Solipi –

Solipsism. The philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. Wikipedia says so. Wikipedia doesn’t lie.

But does my own mind?

My nails can scratch at the card and it feels real, honestly. I can taste that newly cardboard smell like freshly delivered parcels to a home that, perhaps, doesn’t even exist. My toes are squished against my shoes that are probably my mind’s idea of keeping my toes to myself. Because who else would want to see my toes? Because everyone else is real, honestly.

Honestly honestly aren’t they.

Maybe the voices that are drumming inside my head are only practice games. Practice conversations before I allow them to bounce into the world. They pound on the cardboard bruising my brain and I hear these echoes echoes echoes and I call them people.

But what are people.

Do I live in a box and call it a world because I have nothing without it? It seems there is no proof that I really sit on this chair and type my way into a blog. It seems there really isn’t any proof that any of you exist. Oh not really.

Not really at all ever really.

I’m stuck scraping this cardboard – that sickly ghastly scratching of cardboard – ripping your ears until they shred your sound into dust. It’s all goddamn dust. I’m making a world of my mind in the hope that maybe this one will disappear.

I can’t be the only one to exist

I can’t be the only one to

I can’t be the only one

I can’t be the only

I can’t be the

I can’t be

I can’t be.

Answering “big talk” questions!

A week ago I published a blog post about why I hate small talk and why we should “big talk”. I gave you all a list of questions and some of you answered them which was really great and I enjoyed looking at it from a different perspective. Here I will be sharing my own answers in response to the questions so you can learn a bit more about me in return 🙂

1. Do you believe in life after death? How would you want to live on in the afterlife? How do you think you’ll live on?

To be honest, I’m unsure of whether there’s a life after death. I’m the kind of person who needs proof to completely believe in something and so I have no real conclusion about it. However, it does scare me to think that when we leave this world there is a void of nothingness, so I like to think that there is some sort of purpose. Ideally, I think it would be cool to be reincarnated and live again in another body. I find it quite hard to comprehend at times – the idea of not remembering a past life is a confusing thought – but I still like to think that it will happen, just so that I have some sort of purpose or that I can come back and change things I would have liked to have done before.

2. Do you think there is an alternate reality and if so, how does it correspond to this world?

Again, there is no proof of an alternate reality so I am neither a believer nor non-believer, but I love thinking about the concept of one. Sometimes we all have days where we feel happy or down for no reason and perhaps that corresponds to an alternate reality where we feel the opposite of our other self. The idea of there being another version of me is pretty weird, but also kind of exciting. I don’t know. Maybe it exists or maybe it doesn’t. But maybe someday we’ll find out!

3. Do you believe in soulmates or having more than one?

I’m not sure I really believe in soulmates, however I do believe that there are some people you have an instant connection with – whether that is as friends or as a relationship. Some people you easily click with and others you don’t. Some people you become closer too quicker than others who you may have known for ages. It’s unpredictable. Therefore I think if you considered these connections as “soulmates” of some sort, you can have more than one, yes.

4. Is anything in this world real?

To be honest, it isn’t guaranteed that it is. This is all we’ve known so how we would know otherwise? We could be part of a video game. We could be a made up dream inside someone’s head. Maybe I’m the only person who exists in this world and everything else, including all of you guys, is a figment of my imagination. But either way, to prevent myself going insane, I have to pretend that it is all real. And after all, it is real enough. If we haven’t known any different, it has to be considered our reality.

5. Is evil born within someone or does it grow with age?

I don’t think that anyone was born evil; I’m pretty sure we were all born somewhat pure. Society and other people’s influences on our lives is what shapes us into a good or evil person. Everyone has the potential for goodness and everyone has the potential to be evil. Some are just unlucky in the path of life they’ve taken and things have caused them to become a worse off person than they could have been. However I do think that some people are more susceptible to becoming evil than others, depending on their personality. This is not something that can be helped and so really the person themselves cannot be blamed, but there are certain traits and attributes which might make someone more vulnerable to aspects of life, and thus lash out in different ways. Considering this, I therefore believe that no one is actually born evil, but some people are born with a higher susceptibility to become it.

6. Does true freewill exist?

Again, this is something that is pretty debatable because there is really no way of knowing whether we have actual freewill. We like to think that we do. When we make decisions we are pretty sure they are coming from our own brain. But really, how can we prove that they are? Perhaps our future actions are already determined and there is a higher being that knows exactly what route we will take – has chosen what route we will take. It’s inevitably impossible to know how free we really are.

7. What is considered art?

This is a difficult one because in some sense, everything is art. When I think of the concept of art I see it as something that I can extract a meaning or story from. It expresses an emotion or an experience in perhaps an abstract way. Holistically, anything can do this. You can take a meaning out of anything in this world and give it a life if you choose to. However I think what makes true art is something that someone has created from within the realms of their head, rather than something that is natural. It goes against the laws of nature and becomes a mind-process rather than a physical process. This of course rules out nature, but for those who believe in God, nature may be believed to be designed by Him so surely that is art too? Even a bottle of hand soap, for instance, was designed by someone so isn’t that art too? This makes it quite complicated to draw a line between what is or what is not art. Therefore I think it is conclusively a subjective concept. What you think expresses meaning is meaningful enough to be art for you. It may not be art to someone else but it is still art. Really, there is no way of proving otherwise.

8. Does complete happiness exist or is it just an unobtainable concept?

Without trying to sound completely cynical, I don’t think complete happiness can ever really be achieved. I think happiness as a concept exists – of course it does – and there are many things in this world that make people smile and cause a sense of enjoyment. However the fact that the opposite of these things exist too – that we are also weighed down by sadness and stress and tragedies – means that there is no way to completely clear our head of what is “bad”. And without clearing our head of what is “bad”, how can we be completely happy? We can become close, but we can never actually reach it.

9. Is there ever a right or wrong? Is anything really objective?

There are lots of things in this world that are seemingly objective – government laws and educational grades – however when you really think about it, these aren’t really objective at all. If they were initially created by people, they were initially created by an individual thought which in itself is a matter of opinion. Not everyone has the same opinion – it is impossible to – and so really the creation of laws were a matter of subjectivity. We have been forced to follow them objectively despite their roots and have become accustomed to not do otherwise. We can even think about language itself – it is objective as in there is a right and wrong way to use it, however it was once created by people just like us who made it up out of nowhere. It was merely a sense of imaginative thinking. Everything that exists today originated from a sense of subjective thinking and so can anything really be considered right or wrong if it all stems from human intuition?

10. Can we really believe anything anyone says when we have only experienced our own conscious reality?

This last question kind of links to the previous one in that it questions the strength of a sense of duty in this world, however it also mentions our own conscious reality and how we see things. I find it really interesting how we can never really see anything from someone else’s perspective, no matter how hard we try. We can come close to it, but it will never be the same because, as the question says, we have only ever experienced our own conscious reality. This makes it difficult for us to believe in what people say because ultimately we can’t really trust anything when we have no complete proof. However I think that we have to trust to some extent because that is the only way to move forward in our lives. We may not ever understand the reality of others but we can get to know them from an outsiders perspective and for some, this is enough. Whilst I often wish I could delve into the lives of others to know what it’s really like, I know it’s not possible (or not yet, anyway) and so we must make do with how things are. Maybe some people are not genuine but that’s just how life is.

So overall, this post turned out a lot longer than I expected. I’m sure most of you won’t have read through all of that but I am going to post it anyway as I think it’ll be nice to look back on this in a few years time to see if any of my views have changed.

I hope summer is going well for you all and I wish anyone who is getting A level results on Thursday a lot of luck! I hope you all get the grades you deserve! 🙂