September 2017

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The bell jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was recommended to me many years ago, but I never thought to pick it up. Truth is, I thought it was famous because the author killed herself. Part of me also thought it was a girl’s book, in the sense that it written for a female audience.

Recently, I was ordering books on Amazon and decided to get this one as well. These days I have an affinity for books about unsavory and troubled people. So, the tumultuous life of the author and her death made it more interesting.

Troubled people tend to be fascinating. A troubled life isn’t usually as boring as a normal life, which is why they inspire books. The idiosyncrasies of peoples lives are what draws me to books like The Bell Jar.

In the beginning, the book starts out slow and whiny. I get the sense that Plath is using it as an opportunity to get some things off her chest.

Some of the problems she talks about, I can’t relate to. My bias, as a guy, I don’t have the experiences of a woman. Especially the problems Esther seems to have.

The book gets better around the half way point. Esther’s real problems start to show, and this is where the book gets interesting. The pace speeds up and I was much more engaged and focused on reading. The second half took half the time it took to read the first half.

Esther’s life is changing from normal too chaotic. The struggles of a student, turn into the struggles of someone with severe depression. At this point, it is much deeper into her life than you’d expect from earlier in the novel.

I won’t go into any more details because it is definitely worth reading. For anyone interested in depression, people, and well-written books.

This Book Is Amazing

I particularly noticed the quality of the writing. But don’t take that lightly, any published book must be good, so this was a step above many others. Also, at times there is a sense of poetry in the words that shines through.

There is an urgency that comes along with it. This could be the author’s emotion on the page, or the connection I made with the character, either way, it is strong.

This book gave me a perspective on the experiences of women that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. When I say this, I mean it was insightful beyond what I’d expect to get out of a book.

The back cover says, “Celebrated for its darkly funny and razor-sharp portrait of a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.” When I first saw this I didn’t believe it, but the book has proven me wrong.

This is an amazing book that is well worth reading. I recommend it for the quality of writing and insights into the world of women and depression.

5/5

Looking for a challenge? Consider Trying This!

learn language

I’m taking a Japanese language class and by god is it difficult. Every week I think I’m making progress, but then the class puts me back in my place. Japanese may be extra difficult, but picking up any new language is a serious challenge.

Learning a new language messes with your brain. For most people learning something new is the only challenge they get in their daily lives. That said, as you get older and more into your ‘life’ the types of challenges you experience decrease.

Usually, we only see challenges within the domain of work. Which although challenging, usually needs the type of thinking common for work. But that type of thinking is what you use all year long so it is nothing new.

It is About Learning New Things

When you learn a new language, you are faced with the challenge of everything being new. You learn a new grammar, a bunch of words and some idioms. You also may discover new words that mean something different from what you’d expect.

These challenges go to the core of you being and affect the way your brain works. Language is one of the first things you learn as a child. So it is the basis for everything else you learn afterward. In this sense learning a new language means digging deep into the core of everything else you know.

Being forced to learn something new keeps you on your feet. The challenge is exhausting and time-consuming. You end up having to spend all your free time focused on the language. But in the end, you get something great.

You learn something fundamental, that you can build on top of. With this you have access to new ideas, thoughts and mental processes. You can also consume a whole new set of entertainment, like books and movies. Greatest of all, you gain the opportunity to talk to new people.

Learning a new language is a lifetime challenge, that you never seem to finish. But you always learn more and are making new accomplishments. At some point, you can have a conversation, then understand a TV show, then read a book. At each step, you have an accomplishment, while still having something to work towards.

It is fascinating to hear someone speak two different languages. But if they can speak two languages that means they have gone through a challenge. A challenge that you will also need to go through to succeed.

At the same time, their success encourages your success, as it proves that it is possible. If you follow their lead, you have a greater potential for success yourself. This is because you have seen it happen with your own eyes.

Hearing someone speak another language makes me think it would be amazing if I could do the same thing. That serves as a motivation for creating a goal. And as a goal, it is way better than watching YouTube videos.

The Greatest Lesson of All

There is another lesson you learn when learning a new language. You get to re-learn persistence and sticking with something. And that lesson could be one of the greatest lessons you can ever learn.

The key is that this is a challenge, and challenges make you great. Especially this type of challenge as it could take years to complete. But in the end, the rewards will be greater than anything else.

Getting great at something feels good and is important for your self-esteem. Your sense of self improves when you do something amazing. It also makes it easier to do other things later.

Consider learning a new language when you are looking for a serious challenge.

The Potential Future With Virtual Reality

virtual reality

The men, women, and children of the new world live in their VR’s. This is where they see what there is to see and know what there is to know. What they want, is usually something they can download.

In the evacuated suburbs, some people still live. These people are different, they’ve been enlightened to the evils of computers. They see computers as the weapon that the enemy uses to fight.

Reality has become something different.

Small communities developed around giant greenhouses. Others grew in the areas that had the right growing conditions. These communities grew in surprising places given the conditions before the event. But it often came down to temperatures and groundwater supplies.

Water became the ultimate resource, it is now difficult to find. Carbon dioxide accumulation destroyed the surface water, even to the surprise of scientists. Drinkable water now only comes from wells. Outside of the city, water doesn’t even come out of the taps.

In the city water is shipped and distributed on a first come first serve basis. This usually means long lines and limited supply. The rich can order water from suppliers, but the cost is prohibitive for everyone else. Private clubs always have water, but their supply bypasses everyone else.

People connect more than ever before, but only through the internet. No one drives cars anymore, it is too expensive and impractical. Most people don’t do things anymore, they are always hooked up to their VR sets.

Old fashion computers are only in the out skirts of reality, in business towers and on estates. Regular people have forgotten how to use them, so they are no longer needed. Computer programming is a thing of the past, AI has taken over it and almost everything else.

Food looks like styrofoam, it is unnatural in every way.

People don’t eat it, they just swallowed it, it’s pre-chewed. This is all there is to eat unless you have a million dollars to travel to a place that still has real food.

Automated life made people zombies, they wander the streets if they don’t have a VR. Everyone else is locked inside, this is the new world. Digital became real and real became digital.

There are those who try to reach the farms. But they are few and far between. They usually don’t come back, but no one knows what happens to them. It is impossible to know any other type of living.

Squatter societies develop, they occupy regions overnight. Government regulators foreclose buildings, and they are condemned. The original tenants are removed, days later the apartments are full with squatters. People wonder if the government does this on purpose.

There is never a war, but there are always battles. It is hard to know if they are real, but no one even cares to look outside anymore. No one cares about anything, life is easy if you stay in VR.

Technology gave people the dream that life would be better, but it turned into a nightmare.

Finding Our Place Within The System

fitting in

All my friends complain about their jobs, but what the hell are we suppose to do?  We live in a time where we expect to live lives that don’t matter, for a system that doesn’t care about us.

It is easy to blame capitalism, but the simple truth is that the problem is our choices. Work and the consumerist lifestyle exist for the benefit of the system. We are lead to do what is right for the system at the expense of what is right for us.

Capitalism is a system that has won us over because it suits our desires and needs. It also works to encourage a lifestyle that will lead to our collective betterment or destruction.

But still, most morning, we rush out after eating a convenient but unhealthy breakfast. We jaywalk busy streets because we can’t wait for the light to change.

Going To Work

Soon after, we cram into a crowded train filled with people in the same situation. We pass through the city in tin cans, breathing recycled air, so close together that we can feel each other’s heat.

Some mornings there are emergencies on the subway, we wait for emergency services to remove the person. The saddest part is that emergency rarely happens outside of rush-hour. You could argue that this happens because fewer people ride during these times, but I’d say it happens because life is much more stressful during rush-hour.’

Do a google search, and you will find that stress is one of the leading cause of sickness and death. The leading causes of stress come down to work and money, though they are the same thing. Our lives under these circumstances are worse because of the need for money.

Winners and Losers

The common complaints of the losers in our system, almost always point blame at the winners. It seems obvious to blame the rich, and they are benefiting the most and cheer on the current system. Unfortunately, people are only doing what they know to do in the situation they find themselves.

We could blame the rich, by saying they are winning at the expense of everyone else. But by that logic, we must also blame the poor, as they are losing for the benefit of others.

The winners and the losers are in the game for the same reason, and they do not have a choice. Everyone takes the cards they’re dealt and plays by the rules they know. People do what they should do, or at least what they think they should.

It Is Up To Us

The system sets the rules and deals the circumstances. We move forward from our starting points, doing what is best. But we shouldn’t blame people for doing what they think they’re supposed to do. We need to change ourselves so that we do what we are supposed to do, fulfilling our purpose. By this deed, we make the world a better rather than worse place.

By learning and accepting that the system exists, it is up to us to discover for ourselves what we must do. Finding our purpose is a good start, but figuring out how to put it in place within the system is more difficult. Still, this is what we must do, and this is what we must strive to accomplish.

The Ups And Downs Of Millennial Life

Ups And Downs Of Millennial

Since I was a child, I’ve felt there was something significant I was meant to do, something beyond what I was doing. At times the feeling would take over, and I’d split between despair and hope that one day I’d discover my dreams.

Flash forward, I’m 35 and still working towards the expectations of my childhood self. I’ve since graduated high school, university, and college. All this happened despite what my middle school principal told my parents. In his defence, he was working within a broken model of public education. 
Over the years, my parents spent a small fortune sending me to a private school, but that was also a turning point. At 12 I couldn’t read or spell, but the private school had different methodologies that worked for me, I was lucky. Onward to high school, I was able to succeed based on my expectations. I got good marks and was admitted to all the universities I applied for. 

Everyone told me the first semester at university would be stressful, and I would suffer but come out stronger. Those words affected me. My first semester wasn’t too hard, and I did all my work and got decent marks. Unfortunately, due to these false expectations school wasn’t as scary as I expected. Afterwards, I didn’t have as much of a will to try so hard.

Schooling is Over, What Is Next

At this point, life became a more difficult because there was no longer a defined path. It was a matter of my choices, and I didn’t care very much. At some point, I got a job at a call centre and stayed longer than anyone would’ve expected, myself included. My brother got mad at me and told my parents I was wasting my life, he was right.

So I got the idea to teach English in another country, I quit my job and went to Korea. Life was exciting again, and I was forced to find myself. Through that, I overcame my shyness and became more outgoing. Afterwards, I took a trip to India, and my brother warned me ‘Be careful, you can be a too fearless.’
On my return, I went to college and learned something interesting and useful: how to make websites. I was an excellent student and got superb marks with relative ease and little effort. But I wanted something more, my childhood dream was back, begging for more.
College leads to a mediocre job, and after a few months, I get laid off. I find myself looking for another job thinking I could do some amazing if given a chance.
On to another job, five years in, I’m still waiting for a chance to show my real potential and take a great leap. Life seems to teach us to wait, but instead, we should leap into new things and make a better life for ourselves.

Now Is The Time To Do Something

A few months back, I decided to take my childhood dreams serious. Since then I’ve dedicated myself to writing. I’ve written a short book and have been writing articles for my website and medium.

I’ve also gone about learning the business side of writing and tried to do some marketing.
The point is, that life is a series of ups and downs. There are times when we are doing all that we can, so we are continually improving and moving forward. Then there are down times, where we feel we have lost our way.
During these downtimes, we get time to redefine our direction and figure out what we need to do. These times give us a chance to see where we need to go next. It also gives us a chance to refind some of our momenta again.
The challenge is to realize that when you are down, it means you can only go up. Also, when you are up, there is a chance that you could go down. But both directions are a necessary part of life, and something you must go through.
The most significant thing you can do is be ready for what comes next. With this knowledge, you can prepare for the next phase, whatever it may be.
If you are up, you need to be sure your motivations are in the right place. You need to build savings and be ready for a crash. If you are down, you need to figure out how to get back up again. That could mean learning new skills, changing jobs or starting a business.

The best thing you can do is aim to be amazing. If you are heading in all the right direction, you can always handle what comes.