Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Writing Lab: All the Answers

Prompt: "Do you think life would be boring if we had all the answers to our important questions?"

I don't know if boring is the word I want to use to describe what life would be like if I already had all the answers. I think life would be easier. Stress would be a thing of the past if I already knew the easiest, most effective way to earn a living, become financially independent, or win people's lasting respect. I can't truthfully say I wouldn't love to know what it's like not to feel like I'm constantly beating my head against the wall when it comes to those things.

On the other hand, a life that doesn't include opportunities to wonder, think, and discover hardly seems worth living. One of the only things that consistently makes me feel alive is the act of thinking. No, I don't like the tedium of solving everyday problems or dealing with practicalities, but I enjoy contemplating abstract concepts very much. I love wondering about God, and heaven, and hell. I love figuring out how things work and learning new skills all on my own. I love asking "what if" and exploring the possibilities I come up with through my writing.

I especially like that the future is open-ended and could hold absolutely anything, including the prosperity, peace, and security I crave so much. That said, I don't know if life would be boring, but it would certainly be different in ways I'm not sure would be good for me. My brain would have very little to do, so I'm sure it wouldn't take me long to become incredibly depressed. (Or at least more depressed than I already am.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

On the Conundrum of Generosity

Something I've always hated about the phrase "giving back". It takes it for granted that something has been received in the first place. It's also something I hear from other people a lot when they approach me looking for favors or advice right after I politely decline their request: "Don't you want to give back?"

No, actually. That's what happens to a person when they've spent their entire life surrounded by people that were constantly trying to gauge just how little they themselves could get away with doing for others. They don't exactly come out of that experience with a generous spirit that's just bursting at the seams with love for their fellow man. They are probably pretty stingy with their resources and they are very choosy about who, if anyone, ever gets to see that gracious, giving side of their personality.

I'm much more passive and reactionary than people think I am, meaning I almost always treat others the way I feel they've treated me. That said, if you've known me a long time and you consider me to be stingy, or manipulative, or distant but can't seem to understand why, it's probably because I feel you've been that way with me. (Either that or I legitimately just don't like you and want you to go away, but that's a whole other topic for another day entirely.)

On the flip side, it's important to me to feel like it's safe to be generous with the people I do allow to be close to me in life. Part of how I show my love for someone is by sharing everything that I have with them and by lavishing them with attention, kindness, and praise. But there's a catch... a condition. I expect to receive the same back from that person. If I put them first, I expect them to put me first. If I make them my first choice, I expect them to make me theirs. If I don't feel like I'm getting back just as much as I give or more, that connection's days are numbered. It doesn't matter what kind of relationship it is. Even family -- hell, especially family -- aren't safe from having to fulfill that condition. 

On another note, I've been feeling the need to make my Blogger blogs harder for just... people from my life to find. They're still not "secret" blogs and I'm still not particularly concerned with who reads them. But I'm tired of linking to them from profiles my real life family and friends follow. I want those people to have to work a little harder to locate my writings here, as I've grown to like coming here to just vent in general without having to deal with a lot of feedback from people I actually know well. So I suppose it could be said that I'm slowly sliding back to a place where I'm stingy even when it comes to access to my life. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Writing Lab: Tell or Be Told

Prompt: "Do you like to observe things for yourself, or do you prefer people to tell you things?"

I prefer to observe things for myself. I don't trust other people's ability to be observant enough to paint an accurate picture of something that's happened. I really don't trust others not to embellish or twist facts to suit agendas of their own. Far too many people get creative when telling stories because they want to look like a hero or seem better than they actually are.

When I really want or need to know something specific, I probably don't have the time or the patience to sort through whatever was said and make guesses as to how much of it was bullshit. I want to know the facts so I can get right to work making decisions, writing articles, or whatever else I may be looking to do based on the situation. If I do my own homework and make my own observations, I never have to doubt the reality of the situation, as I trust myself implicitly.

I wasn't always this way though. Most people that know me at present really can't picture me being like this, but naturally speaking, I'm a complete Type B personality. If we lived in a perfect world, I'd far prefer to follow rather than lead. I'd prefer to let other people make the great majority of my decisions and take care of things for me. I'd definitely rather not be the one to take the initiative or stick my neck out. But unfortunately this isn't a perfect world. Trusting, passive people like I used to be wind up getting used, especially if anything about who they are could even remotely be considered useful or valuable.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Writing Lab: The Very Knowledgeable vs the Very Strong

Prompt: "Do you believe that knowledge or strength is power? Would you rather know a lot or be very strong?"

Both are forms of power, but given the choice, I'll always choose to be very knowledgeable over very strong. Part of that is just my nature. I'm a bookish person whose life revolves around knowledge. I not only earn my living by being a knowledgeable person, but most of my free time is spent adding to that knowledge as well.

There's a reason why I spend my free time with my nose buried in a book instead of working out at a gym though. Physical strength is great as far as the power it might bring you. You can defend yourself and the people you love when the chips are down if it ever comes to that. If you look as strong as you are, you might even be able to avoid having people mess with you in the first place.

Unfortunately though, I'm not the Rock or the Terminator. Even when I was in the best shape of my life, I didn't look the least little bit intimidating, so strength has never really benefited me very much. But I can and always could outwit and out-think even the smartest people I've dealt with in my life. Half the time, I'm so smooth as far as how I go about it that people don't even realize it just happened. I know what to say to get what I want and need out of other people. I can think my way out of almost any problem. A lot of the time, I'm knowledgeable enough to avoid problems altogether.

That's the kind of power I prefer. That's the kind of power that solves (or circumvents) the sorts of problems I wind up dealing with in life. It's truly a gift and a few muscles really don't seem like much of an alternative, to be really honest with you. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how strong you are physically if someone else can outsmart you with their mind. You'll lose.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Writing Lab: On the News and Where It Comes From

Prompt: "Has the place you've gotten your news changed over the years? Where did you get it 10 years ago?"

As much as it pains me to say it, I didn't even care about the news until a couple of years ago. Intellectually speaking, I was interested in the past (history), but found the present (news) to be insufferably boring. The fact that it was happening right here and right now to the same everyday people I see on the streets made it ordinary to me and I wasn't interested in the ordinary as a young person. That said, I probably got what little news I was actually exposed to from friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. I never voluntarily read newspapers or watched the news on television though. Like I said, I really just didn't care.

The past few years have found me really interested in becoming a well-rounded, informed person for a change though. Digital media and inexpensive all-you-can-consume subscription services were making it so easy for me to explore new topics of interest, so I thought "why not". That's when I started reading news magazines like Time and Newsweek on a weekly basis. At first I really had to force myself to do it, but now I look forward to checking out one or both of those each weekend. There's just so much to be interested in -- medical/scientific advancements, social issues, archaeological discoveries. Politics and diplomatic relations are only a small part of the equation, although those topics can be interesting at times as well. 

Actually exposing myself to more news from trusted, impartial sources has changed me a lot as a person over the past couple of years and I'd like to think it's for the better. I'll always be kind of a recluse that's more interested in my own little world than the bigger social picture, but I've also come to feel I have a duty to stay informed. Anyone who dares to call themselves an intellectual does. The world is actually a pretty interesting place, even right here in the present. Who knew?