Discipline

‘Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.’ ~Lao Tzu

This blog was meant to have been filled up with posts by now. That’s how it always has gone with me. With a clear, glossy picture in my mind of some beautiful thing I want to achieve; I set out, chin held high and dive into it. After a time I lose that drive, the motivation is drained from me. I fizzle out.I suppose this is normal to some degree. But not like this. This isn’t quitting so much as losing purpose. It is forgetting why I started.  

I’ve lamented in the past, and I’ve been lost in my fantasies of the future. Now is the time to be accountable. When the real action must be done at this moment. Not someday, today…everyday.

I’ve had this ever-present struggle, this conflict between idealism verses pragmatism. In other words I’ve had the interesting ideas, or queries if you will, but not always fulfilled into the action that follows those initial thoughts.

The goal is to act with purpose instead of constantly overthinking. I found I have not been conducting myself in the way I wish. To act effectively on my values.  I want to be the best version of myself. To be whole. To be authentic. To make the thought with action.

I will prove to myself I can be competent. Discipline is what I need. I’ve started a personal development journey. I am done being the old version of me, who reads half a book. Who didn’t keep his word when it meant a lot. I will strive to find, and embody, the values I care about. To choose the wholesome meal and remove the fluff.

It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it.

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Why I do Philosophy?

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‘I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.’ ~ Socrates

I always had certainty. In what was and what was not. How it should be. How it should not be. I was determined and sure of myself. I just knew I was right. That’s how I was…until I came to learn philosophy. And ended up making it my major. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, ‘What can you do with a philosophy degree?’. Or seen someone conveying a literal or figurative rolling of their eyes at a Bachelor of Arts. Well,  it’s not a trade. I’m not going to have a typical job, producing a generic consumer product. It doesn’t lead me into a specific job, so it’s not clear what I’ll obtain. Generic is not what I want from life. Money is not the most important thing to me. The ‘product’ of philosophy is ideas and teaching people to think better. I follow my passions. And they’ve done well for me so far. I once had the plan of working towards being a history teacher; with no doubts. As I’ve learned it’s important to have confidence in yourself, but not excessive confidence. Philosophy has taught me doubt, and doubt is humble. An invaluable lesson. that I will always cherish.

I had a spot to fill in my schedule, at community college in mid 2011, and was given a choice between philosophy or psychology. I knew Socrates was a philosopher in ancient Athens, one of my favorite historical periods, so I figured it would supplement my history degree. But I was completely blown away by the information I was exposed to in that Intro to Philosophy Class. Nothing teaches you such profound lessons like philosophy does. The Meditations of Rene Decartes, the writings of Bertrand Russell on Realism versus George Berkeley’s Idealism, the dynamic between the two main ethical theories, of John Stuart Mill’s Consequentialism  and Immanuel Kant’s Deontology discussing how to make the right decision. What is right? Why is right good? How do we determine what is good? These and other examples made me think like I never had before. Suddenly the definitive sureness of nearly everything I had known, was drawn into question.  What’s really true? How do we know what’s true? What is true? Such simple, deep and beautiful questions.

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I do philosophy because it is evocative, innately meaningful and valuable. It makes you think, begs you to question and, at least with me, awakens an urge to know the answer. As my first handout, I was given on day one, says ‘Philosophy is the rational attempt to formulate, understand and answer fundamental human questions.’ At one time or another, in all of our lives, we ask such questions. It is an intrinsic part of the human condition. I’d consider my life a good one if I could spend it in discussions and helping others analyse such questions and ideas, cultivating our minds. Just enjoying the ability to do so. Studying these ideas has helped me clear my mind of contradictory beliefs, as well as remove those I’ve determined to be wrong. It has bolstered the positions and opinions I still hold. It has lowered my defenses by being open to alternatives and has taught me to empathise. To see an issue from two points of view; knowing full well that I could be wrong in any belief I hold. In other words; it has reined in my arrogance by teaching humility. That is the ideal, and I have far from mastered it in all areas. Yet overall, philosophy has changed who I am for the better and continuing to learn as much of it as I can will only make me an even better person. I am eternally grateful for having such a valuable path to learn and evaluate information as well as the profound effect it has had on me. I highly recommend philosophy to everyone; it can supplement anyone’s life and education immensely.

Why Do I Write?

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As a kid, everyone knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Once we arrive at university though, the general consensus seems to be that no one has any idea what they want to be. Any job you end up doing is helping at least one another person in some way. Choosing a job is deciding how you can help others in the best, most enjoyable way. We all work together. For each other. And can find meaning in that. So naturally I feel like writing will be the most enjoyable way for me to help others…but why? It is the catalyst to voice my thoughts and ideas. It allows me to communicate and engage with others, as well as potentially entertain. Speaking of entertainment, I usually think in movie and TV show quotes. And this is one, from Picard on Star Trek, is what I have used to choose a job path that I’ll enjoy.

‘We work to better ourselves and the whole of humanity’.

Idealistic I know, that’s a general tone I have. So I’ve thought of this quote as a guide. My issue has been that I have too many ideas. I want to be a writer, a filmmaker, an astronomer, a teacher, a journalist, an editor, a philosopher, a politician, a policy writer, work for the United Nations, a member of an international charity, a chef, a public speaker, an activist.  How best can I better myself and the whole of humanity? All these options and one life to live. Despite this existential crisis, the days keep going and we choose one or the other for a myriad of reasons. As I’ve recently learned, some focus goes a long way. By choosing to write, I am focused. And in a sense I am choosing all of them, by being able to write about anything I want, by putting words to a page.

Writing (as well as reading and watching) stories allows me to create and experience the fantasy of living another life. To imagine and play in a life that I won’t be able to live; just as we did as kids. This is why writing has come to the front of my interests. Writing is so open ended, so many opportunities to explore and engage every topic and interest; be them frivolous or serious. Doing so is rewarding and therapeutic to me. Even if no one reads my personal journal it helps me condense and collect my thoughts. Not to mention with every piece of writing I do I get a little bit better at it. It improves me, and I hope others can benefit in some way from my writings as well.

Simply put I write because it can be what I need it to be.

The Interesting Queries

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For my whole life I’ve always followed questions. This curiosity has shifted as time has gone by. Yet I’ve always been driven by a desire to know. I want the truth; wherever that leads. ‘The Interesting Queries’ is broad in scope, as am I. My blog will be adaptable to becoming what I need it to be. I will post my thoughts, feelings and reflections on everyday life, as well as about my interests in: philosophy, writing, history and my hobbies: video games, books and hiking to name a few things. This blog is about finally taking action, showing up and improving my writing ability. I hope you enjoy reading my writings as much as I enjoy writing them.