A new start!

The title above echoes the title of an earlier post—but I replaced the question mark by an exclamation mark. 🙂

I really want to make a new start by changing one or more keystone habits. I have tried to do that repeatedly over the past year, but I failed. I like to think I am a strong and independent individual—and that my mind should rule over my body. It doesn’t. I’ve had some health issues lately. Relatively minor ones, all of which can be solved by a bit of dieting and daily exercise. But the power of habit is strong. In fact, it has been stronger than myself over the past few months. Why?

In my previous post, I noted that I don’t accept the hasty conclusions of psychologists and researchers who tell us that consciousness is just an epiphenomenon—that is, somehow, not real. Free will is real. Full stop. It emerges, somehow, in that discursive and associative logic that characterizes our thought processes and, hence, it’s as real as emotions or perceptions as far as I am concerned. I should just keep quoting those wise words on the relations between thoughts, words, actions, habits and character.

Watch your thoughts, because thoughts become words.

Watch your words, because words become actions.

Watch your actions, because actions become habits.

Watch your habits, because habits become character.

Watch your character, because character becomes destiny.

What a beautiful way of expressing how the law of cause and effect (or the law of karma, if you prefer Buddhist terminology) actually operates in our personal life ! There is a logic, indeed, in what we do and who or what we become. While, at times, we may think there is no escape from that logic, our destiny is not inevitable. We can change the logic. We take decisions. Our mind is free and, therefore, we are free.

I just need to keep telling myself that over and over again, and all will be alright. 🙂

Staying busy

Dear Sophia—

It is rather heartwarming to see your anger and passion about what happens in the US. I left Washington DC a few months ago, and I felt relieved when the plane took off so I could stop worrying about it. 🙂

I have been wandering around. The wandering included a wonderful trip with my son. We motorbikes through the Indian Himalayas—Kinnaur, Spiti, Lahaul, Ladakh, and Kashmir. My version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I guess. 🙂 I read a few good books along the way. Herman Hesse, of course. Re-reading Siddharta or Narcissus and Goldmund is always refreshing. I also bought some more recent books along the way, such as Hariri’s Homo Deus. Yes. A bestseller, and deservedly so.

I loved it. It wasn’t so much the broader picture he paints, but the little factoids (and the way he arranges them to produce a remarkably smooth story) that got me hooked. Most notably, what he writes on consciousness and awareness is very fascinating. He basically analyzes it as a epiphenomenon of our… Well… Unconsciousness. 🙂 Recent brain research (such as the research done by Dr. Morsella and his team) shows that, we think we make a decision, we are actually only becoming aware of it: our unconscious mind has already made it. The neurons light up before we think we made the decision. Before. Not during, or after. No. Before. He concludes freedom of choice is just a myth we need to ground our morals and values so we can justify why we put someone in prison (i.e. take his or her freedom away), for example.

I am not so sure the findings destroy the idea of personal freedom: I still like to think we can still change bad habits, for instance—because we can think about them in a process that is far more elaborate than just choosing this or that color, or opting for a croissant rather than a pain au chocolat today—but… Well… It made me think I should try harder, because I still have a lot of bad habits. 🙂

It also makes me think we probably need a new framework for thinking about morals and values in society—and how we can contribute by making the right choices. In that regard, all he writes about us being so ‘social media-obsessive’ nowadays surely rings a bell. In fact, I felt like switching off Facebook for a while, but then I am too addicted, I guess. 

It also made me think about what understanding really means, and I am going to think about that in the coming days. I’ll keep you posted on any insights I may or may not gain. In the meanwhile, please keep writing !

Yours—Albert

Storm Clouds Looming

20180627_180041 (1)I was working on other things while as if on purpose, I kept toggling over the word tab. The glaring white of the blank reminding me of my dereliction. My mind is not here today, it is thousands of miles away on the U.S./Mexico border. Utterly disgusted, dejected, furious, frustrated with the unbelievable and unrelenting flow of news these past weeks. A sickening wave of unbelievably heinous policies and characters tearing at the fabric of my beliefs. The retirement of Justice Kennedy the latest gut punch.

My friends are at home protesting the abhorrent immigration laws at the child encampment in Tornillo, involved in vital campaigns, volunteering to help mediating the frantic search to reunite mother and child. Oddly, my usual guilt-ridden self has been kept at bay. Instead there is a sense of relief that my hiatus includes a break from the collective sorrow of friends bemoaning the future. At least here I am surrounded by Mexicans lamenting their bleak future. While my stay here will most likely be temporary there is some solace in knowing that this is an excellent hideout from the madness that has become our reality.

How do you decide when to run and when to fight? It’s easy for me to make excuses for sitting on the sidelines and no one would question them or expect otherwise. Its an easy pass. For someone who was happiest in the trenches this new role as a voyeur is an adjustment. I’ll have to figure out new parameters for contributing because I know this is not the time to retreat and lick our wounds, there is too much at stake. After November, that may be another story.

Here’s to Trying New Things.

I am a fraud. Even in blogging I have been an imposter.

I have said all the right things, laid out the foundation for true introspection but continue to edit thoughts in my head; sifting through words like an interior designer considering paint swatches. My need to analyze, control, evident on the page. Writing from the heart should induce word vomit. A desire to expel thoughts onto the page which forces my fingers to flay wildly across the keyboard in order to keep up.

I am approaching my trial relocation with an open mind, eager to try and learn new things. There are lots of people here willing to help you reconnect with your body and spirit. I am learning about chakras and numerology. Here again, mental me struggles not to dismiss their hippy dippy propositions for positive change outright. Some I have adopted. I now talk to cannabis, asking my weed to heal me and inspire me before partaking (can’t hurt). But there are limits to my inquisitiveness. When I was asked during yesterday’s massage if I would like spearmint dabbed on my clitoris? “Why would I want that?” I asked, decidedly certain that I did not know this woman well enough. Some explanation about energy and a slight burning but all I could think of was why she would want to fish around for any of her client’s clits?

Not what I set out to write about today. Am I writing from the heart or stalling?

Pushing the Reset Button

A lady I had never met told me today she loved living near the ocean, “when I am feeling sad I come to the  beach to cry. My tears wash away and I can get on with my life” she said pointing into the vastness of the Pacific. I’m not sure why she chose to share this with me but it makes perfect sense, our bodies need to release, purge, detox, whatever you want to call it, in order for our minds to be clear.

My new massage therapist/ spiritual advisor also had a long list of recommendations for releasing years of toxic buildup; liver detox, visit to a temascal, vegan food. But I rather like the idea of my tears swirling around in the ocean, riding the waves and colliding occasionally with similar sorrows abandoned by their previous owners.

This space is my place to detox, to shout out into the vastness of the internet, regardless of who is listening, perhaps colliding with other thoughts cast away by those with their own stories.

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Mangos Make for a Great Day

Dear Albert,

I didn’t want to fail miserably on my first day of my latest blog journey so here it is 11:14 P. M. and I am making good on my promise to write. The highlight of my day was a trip to the market, the kind with narrow passageways brimming with intoxicating smells of fruit demanding to be eaten at once and the cacophony of people busily going about their day. I wanted one thing above others MANGOS! I greedily scarfed down two and came home more for tomorrow. That makes me happy!

The other interesting thing was a conversation with my massage therapist who told me I was too mental, that I needed to approach things with my heart as well. My massage was combination physical relief and impromptu counseling session. Her words continue to tumble around in my head. She elaborated that I needed to find outlets to express myself. While I came here in search of reviving my body I am routinely reminded the brain runs the show.
More tomorrow…..

Warmest wishes,

Sophia

Here’s to Getting Up Once More…

 

20180619_144101 (1)Dear Albert,

Your letter was a great gift today. Of course, I always love hearing from you but in this last letter it is especially great to hear your resolve and optimism for the adventures in store. I have also been in a somewhat transitory state. I am occupying my latest perch on the 20th floor of a high-rise tower. My attention veers distractedly from the computer screen to the slate grey waters of the ocean outside my window, the dozens of people swimming, motoring and lounging about deliberately disregarding the looming storm.
I am also here in search of change, thinking perhaps a new country will provide two important variables in my life, motivation and mobility. As I write these words I realize how self-indulgent and snooty this all sounds. I am incredibly lucky that my family has allowed me to be such a priority, allocating resources and uprooting our lives, dog included for this two-month trial.

Your words not only serve as encouragement, they also serve as validation of my initial efforts. I have always struggled with the imposter syndrome, waiting for everyone to realize I am flying by the seat of my pants. My motto is more along the lines of “fake it to make it”. I hope these thoughts don’t also plague professionals with hard skills such as brain surgeons or plumbers.

While I am trying out new things I have decided to take a new approach to writing in this blog. I will pledge to write something every day. I don’t promise it will be pretty so bear with me. I know that in the short life of this blog you can read several inferences of that same sentiment. I look forward to propping each other up as we get up yet once more!