Hiking Los Angeles//January 7, 2018

 

Today I went on a hike on my own, which was freeing and relaxing. Though perhaps “on my own” is a generous phrase, as it was a bit busy in some parts of the hike. Thankfully, it’s a tough hike up so by the time I reached the summit of this particular area, it wasn’t so bad. Found my favorite area to be empty so I sat there for some time, recovering and took some photos. It was so serene and quiet, with the trees swaying gently with the wind, leaves rustling quietly, and birds chirping. Such a relief to be out there after a long unfortunate break. Let my mind work through some things and then thought about “silence” as a concept, as I periodically do.  (I’m fun.)

How would you characterize silence? Dictionary definition defines silence as the absence of sound. This seems true enough, though it does not capture the full complexity, meaningfulness, and implications of what silence can be.

When you think of communication, you think of language. We use patterned sounds to get your audience to react and act; those sounds are meaningful. They form languages. Those languages are intended to be used as a common ground standard to communicate thoughts and intentions. Can the absence of sound be meaningful?

First, I think we need to understand what we mean when we use silence? Consider these examples:

On my hike today there were a few moments of what I immediately thought of as blissful silence. But that’s not quite accurate. What I meant was there was an absence of the usual I have in my day-to-day. Can’t quite describe the blissful effect that sort of silence had in my mind.

Maybe you’ve been guilted into baby sitting a child who is prone to severe separation anxiety. When their parents leave, they wail for hours. Nothing you do will stop the child from crying. Finally the parent arrives and whisks their child away, leaving you in total silence. Bliss.

Someone or something (a dog for example) in your day-to-day life has passed away. Their presence and conversation were a source of comfort from the world, but now that they’re gone the silence of your home is cold and overwhelming.

Now contrast those examples of silence with the following:

Say you and your colleague are venting frustrations about your boss. Jarringly, you see your boss appear behind your coworker and you drop silent, signaling to your conversational partner that they ought to stop venting now; a warning.

You are on a date with someone. It’s going well but then your partner signals they want to have sex with you. You say “no”. They hear you, but either because they didn’t understand what you said or understood and didn’t take it seriously, they rape you.

All of these examples collectively begin-and only just- to show the complex nature of silence. The first set were indicating an internal state of mind as a reaction to the environment. The second set were examples of linguistic silence. Silence, perhaps counterintuitively, is both complex and meaningful. The meaningfulness to silence and our reactions to it vary depending on context. In this way, I think “silence” as a concept deserves more attention for study. It’s beautifully intuitive but simultaneously surprisingly layered So though I’m not answering my own question, I’m beginning the process of understanding.

 

Here’s to many more blissful moments of silence.

 

And so, I became free

Growing up, silence was a safety mechanism. As an adult, thanks to a couple of wonderful people, I’ve used that silence in more powerful ways while concurrently developing my voice in different ways. Last few months, I began to paint. Here are the last ones of the year.

I’ve been less afraid to be both vulnerable and assertive; to have my heart open and to be a badass (badassery in my mind, not quite there yet). I’m more trusting in myself to show my weaknesses so that I can grow. Pain will come, but so will love. I’d rather experience both than nothing at all.

2017 was challenging, but thanks to a lot of love I have grown so much. Here’s to 2018, filled with Hygge and imbibing and delicious foods.

Happy New Year!

Gratitude

I’ve heard a lot about “manifestation” in the last few years. The way it’s been explained to me  is that if you think of a goal or something you want and “put it out into the universe”, those wishes will manifest. Seems to be concretely tied with mysticism. Problem with this is there’s no true answer as to why you don’t receive what you wish for if that manifestation doesn’t work.

From experience, there’s a different explanation: Or perhaps better phrased, a more subtle explanation. Understanding what you have and having goals to work towards are key in achieving goals. What do I mean?

If you have a project you’re working on and you keep thinking of all the things you don’t have to achieve them, that’s time and effort you’re putting in to a negative abstraction you can’t change. Additionally, hoping for things to happen won’t always (probably rarely, at least from my experience) make things happen. This is more tied with luck.

Looking around, seeing the tools you have at your disposal, and figuring out ways to use those tools to achieve your goals is what will push you forward. Moreover, having a goal is important in keeping you focused. Those goals can change as you progress, but having a guide post that you reinforce in your mind will help you focus your tasks and tools to help you achieve those goals. This is where “putting it out there” may help you. Forming concrete ideas as to what or where you want to be will help you use what you have to achieve those things, much like a blueprint. It would be very difficult to build a tower without a blueprint.

What I lacked early on in my life, and what was especially hindering, was my lack of gratitude for the smaller things in my life. Having gratitude for what you have, no matter how little, will help you see the full potential in everything you have. Understanding potential will help you use the things at your disposal to their full capacity, even if it’s an unintended use (As a trite example, I use my pens all the time to secure my hair up).

Manifestation in-and-of-itself isn’t an effective tool. Just wanting things won’t (probably won’t, some of us are lucky) make it happen. Again this isn’t a criticism, rather an offering of an elaboration of an idea. For if your goal (whether it be a car, or career change, or whatever the case may be) isn’t happening, understanding why that isn’t happening will help you adjust. The idea that you just aren’t putting it out there with enough intention just isn’t a satisfactory answer.

Moreover I do not intend to criticize religion or mysticism. The world does function in mysterious ways that none of us can understand right now. However because of this, we should put ourselves in the best possible position to understand the world around us so that we can maneuver through. The way I look at it is I find it exceedingly helpful to “put it out there” so that my mind knows, but also everyone around me knows what I am working towards. You’ll find even the people around you like to help.

Additionally, I like to reflect on what is going right and what is going wrong in my life; I like to take lessons from everything that I can. For example, I am not religious in any way or exceptionally anti-religion. However one of the most useful meditations I have is from Christianity, known widely as the serenity prayer. I altered it to my world-view. It goes like this:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can’t

And the wisdom to know the difference.

In saying “grant me…”, I’m not asking someone to give this to me. Rather, I see it as a useful reflective meditation. I am using the phrase to ask myself to remember to have serenity, courage, and wisdom. In doing this, I’ve used my frustrations, insecurities, and fears less in reacting to situations and using my strengths to react to difficult situations. The difference is astonishing to reflect on.

How do I go about this? When I first started out with this meditation, I thought of all the challenging things that have happened in my life. What were the things I couldn’t change about my past? What were the things I could have changed? What lessons could I have learned from those mistakes I made? This helped me accept my past for what it was, forgive the people who had harmed me, let go of toxicity that was harming both myself and the people I cared for, and begin to trust myself more. Not just with making good decisions but also trusting that I’ll recover and learn from my mistakes.

As I’ve progressed, I’ve been able to move from the grander things that have weighed on me from my past and move into my daily routine. What about my day should I have serenity about, what should I have had more courage for, what are the lessons I can learn from the day?

Finally, I don’t want to make this seem as though this is my no-fail solution to success. The reality is, life is hard. No matter hard you work, how intelligently you put everything together, or even how lucky you are-you can fail. But that’s ok. What I am trying to do for myself is to put myself in the best possible situation to succeed with my ambitions. It may not work, but I’ll always know I tried my damn best every day. I’ll have some bad days naturally, but I hope these good ones will put me to where I want to be. In doing that, I wanted to share my experience and reflection with others. In hopes that perhaps my experiences will help someone else.