Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Egocentric Faith

The theme of my week has been about being egocentric.

For some reason, humans tend to live most of life in a certain egocentric mode.

For example, fear of trying to "chat up" a woman (or man). The thought is often something like "what if they think I'm an asshole or slut". An unreasonable fear, considering the approached person would likely forget the encounter if the answer was "no". And even then, outside of assault, chances are the memory fades quickly from a photographic image to "some guy/gal" in a matter of hours. Any number of usual fears can be used to highlight our general concern of the world revolving around us. A slight wardrobe malfunction, a noxious odor, an accidental remark.

Moving into adulthood, these examples of egocentrism generally become more juvenile. While a healthy adult may have these thoughts and feelings, they do not have to be controlled by them.

Of course, shame, embarrassment, and caring what others think are not inherent evils. After all, such motivations can serve to make us do great things for others. Often, they are nature's way of whispering in our ear "caring about others benefits you." We don't have to look 4 steps ahead to see how charity and manners helps us out, because we know it instinctively.

Today, I went to the doctor for a sport's injury. And on my way, I was thinking, "he's going to think I'm stupid for having bunged myself up." Funny thing, I get into the Doctor's office, and there is another young man there, who ALSO appears to be there for a sports injury. Surprise surprise. Clue, meet Fate. Then, it turns out that the Doctor is actually fairly supportive of my sport, at least on a professional level. Maybe he just has good bedside manner, but in any case I left realizing - that my concerns didn't matter.

Looking at the situation now, I just see it as an extension of so many years of brainwashing. Years of being told that I was giving God's message to the people. We were responsible for preaching the "good news" to the nations! The governments of the Earth "feared our message". Not only that, but I was personally a "representative of God". And in being such, had to "set an example" for "worldly people". I was one of the few chosen special people.

In reality, people that I talked to thought I was a misguided child, or maybe a wacko cult member, or any number of things OTHER than a "representative of God". The line that "they aren't rejecting you, they're rejecting God" was bullshit. Why? Because it'd imply that somehow the hundreds of people out there could see that a teenage boy had a divine stamp of approval in his message. But even the fire and brimstone God of the old testament gave his profits irrefutable miracles. So by our own "good book", the idea that a young boy could so directly represent God without some backing was, well, crap.

It seems I've had a few conversations in the past several weeks where the proof for God was given as "God must exist because I think it so". (Actually, maybe that's been every proof I've heard). And that "think it so" is enough to condemn me to damnation for not choosing to believe in the exact same God as you. The odd thing, is that I'm not of the "no supernatural at all" camp (a subject for a later blog post).

How can we as humans define the universe by what we "know"? To me, there is a large and unbridgeable gap between "we observe this which supports this hypothesis" and "we know this because we know this". I've always been a spiritual person. Still, my experiences and beliefs do not define what objective reality is. And the exact same is true for everyone: the atheist, the deist, the theist, the Christian. The best we can do is recognize beliefs that we commonly can not observe in the world around us and beliefs that appear to be observable in the world around us.

On it's fundamental basis - that's what "Science" is about - a vehicle which we can use to recognize beliefs and separate them out from observation. Unfortunately, dogmas developed in the religious camps that observation spoke against. (I say observation here to avoid the loaded terminology of "Science"). In seeing the failure of dogmas to observation, we lost the ground rules. And the reason, I feel, is egocentrism. The faithful insist upon the world meeting their world-view. The scientist retorts with his or hers. And yet, I wonder how much effort is wasted in the dogma and debate, when we could be doing so much more with our time if we all just accepted that others will have thoughts different than us. A fair response shows fundamentalists forcing their beliefs on others. And so, we must fight.

This all brings to mind a video I once saw, and I think it's appropriate to leave it hear at the end, enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ahhhh, stress relief...

So, I was away from the gym for a bit, and I came back today to discover we were doing.... tournament practice sparring. Sparring is cool, it's one of those times where you get to discover if you really actually have technique that might be useful against a real opponent. The school practices a couple different types of sparing, each with different rules and equipment (for safety). And we do some training on switching it up.

A couple interesting things happened today. First, for the first time ever, I was the ranking color (non-black) belt. Second, is the story I'm about to tell.

The instructor had us rotate through partners all class. Among my sparring partners was a bit of a surprise - a woman. Now, most of the people reading this will know that - 1. I'm male, and 2. I'm not exactly petite. So, as a 6'6" 230 lb guy, I have some reservations about fighting someone about the same size/weight as Janet (half my weight, a foot shorter). Not to mention, my mom and father constantly repeated the mantra "don't hit girls".

So, here I stand, ready for the start command with my new sparring partner. I timidly step up, and enter the usual sparring stance. The Master yells "SIJAK!" and the round begins. It probably looked comical, almost David vs. Goliath. But this time, David was a chic. Aha! An opening!


I kick and connect, but it's really nothing more than a light tap. The only sound is a small release of air from padding. I have visions of disapproving parents looking at me, saying "oh my, he hit a girl."


She returns a light tap to my side. Crazy, I realize, she didn't even try that time. She didn't have to. As I throw another kick, I hear her mocking cry "Is that all you can do?"

And, I realize, I'm at the gym, and I'm worried about hurting someone while wearing all this safety equipment. Why shouldn't I try to win? Damn it! This is my time to shine! Now usually, this would be a safe assumption when you weigh 2x as much as someone, but not today.


Yes! A hit! I connected. And this time not just a light tap - a full on hit. Woohooo! A point! I'm dedicated to trying at this point. As you can imagine from my even telling, this doesn't end well. You see, my sparring partner isn't just a smallish woman, she's a 4th degree black belt, and a world title holder in Martial Arts sparring. For those unfamiliar with Martial Arts, there's a concept known as "reciprocity". It generally goes like this - a Master rank instructor will spar as you do to make you better at it. If I choose to go full contact, he/she'll do the same. And, well, I chose.


Crap... The hits start to come. The details of the match aren't all that important, but let's just say the feminists reading here would be happy. At the end of the match, we bow, and she let's me know

"Wow, you've gotten a lot better"

Damn, not even a real sweat.

I smile and bow to the teacher, beaten yet having learned. (The other part of sparing a Master is that they come down to your level + 1 and try to teach you something through the match, if you're smart you know this and figure out what they're showing you...)

The awesome thing is that this wasn't out of the ordinary. But today, for some reason, either my generally bad week or crap from my family - well, it felt good having an excellent athlete teach me some new moves at the minor expense of getting beat up a bit.

So, doing the whole Martial Arts thing - one of the best decisions I've made.

Now, I'm gonna go collapse. I'd like to post pictures of the bruises inflected upon me from this match, but as I've lost my USB cable, I'll share some applicable music instead:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Psuedo - Haiku from current events

Preventable death
A battle with reason lost
Religious warfare

In reference to Janet's post. Things like this only add fuel to my ever increasing anger.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Midnight, not asleep

So, I grabbed the laptop since I was tired of staring at the popcorn ceiling of my apartment. Maybe I should go college style and put a poster over the bed. It'd probably be more interesting than counting ceiling dots. I've not been able to sleep properly for the past week, and I've taken a couple pieces of advice (including cutting caffeine/sugar).

Recently, I've just been angry. I'm not sure why, but I can't seem to escape it. It's almost a pseudo-depression. And it probably doesn't help that in my day to day dealing with people, I try to be the upbeat, optimistic one. Maybe I try to hard. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some small part of 'want-to-be-liked' in there. I'm experiencing an identity crisis. Mostly, I have no clue who I am anymore. Somewhere, lost between my view of the 'perfect person', who I used to be, who I think I am, who I want to be, and who people see me as, is myself. My parent didn't support a new and burgeoning personality, they repressed it with indoctrination and religious dogma. I must agree with Dawkins, the worst mental damage as a child came from those around me stating I was of the faith of my parents. The person I was meant to be was shackled and thrown into a lake to drown. I'm still looking for them, but everyday I loose a bit more hope.

I want to dream. I'm tired of nightmares brought on by years of abuse. As memories of my childhood begin to surface, I realize why I forgot. To be the constant freak, the eyesore of all, for simply following a religious mantra. Year after year of no extra curricular activities, missed dances, ignored romance, and lost opportunities. And, to end up an adult, bruised, broken, beaten. Where even simple physical contact is difficult at best.

Why is it when things go well I feel like shit? I'm more convinced it's because some part of me still thinks I shouldn't enjoy the successes I've had. Because my life is now material, or sinful. Professionally, I'm respected, at the top of my game, and working in a top company with fierce competition to get in. Yet, my family won't talk about any of that, because I refuse to follow the path of their damn church.

I'm staring at a letter written by my family informing me that God will always be there for them, and that noone in the family can separate them from that. It's the first time in nearly a t year I've heard from these people, and that is what I get. I so badly want to tell them what's really going on. My mind is screaming to be heard. And yet, I live with the knowledge that this family of mine will never talk to me again if I am. How does a mere mortal fight with God himself? Yet, I know this is not "God", but an idea of religion from the minds of men.

Waking from great trauma is extremely painful, which is why I suspect dragging my sunken personality out of the depths continues to be so difficult. Building a life from scratch is so very, very difficult - and it's left me tired. I'm tired of forcing myself into so many things that I just don't have the energy or desire to do. Yet, I continue trying because I won't be satisfied until I find and help my true self come out. I wish it wasn't so fucking hard.

Back to counting popcorn.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Grrrrrrr stupid fracking family

Being single sucks (a repeated theme of this blog). That said, I'm generally happy that my bathroom doesn't look to have multiple medieval torture devices - hot wax, burning irons, curved scissors and picks, etc... Not to mention, I have the ability to go out with the guys or to the gym without hassle. Despite my being generally happy about my living situation - I'm not entirely satisfied. And, I really see nothing wrong with that. As soon as you are entirely satisfied you are either dead (and have proved the existence of Heaven) or stagnant and boring. I don't expect to ever be entirely satisfied, there is ALWAYS something you can be making better about your life, or relationship, or yourself.

I don't live in a constant mope/depressed state, but I'm getting close to living in a constant pissed off state. For whatever reason, there are waves in my life where everything seems to start coming together to remind me that "I should want more". And then I dip my toe in the water, and realize how much things suck being single. In short, I'm happy so long as people don't throw it up in my face. Cause then, you can easily forget the good things about being single (no nightmares about "I'm late!" or "why can't you spend more time with me?"), and see that there is more out there.

Why do I bring all this up? Because, for whatever reason, several people in my life seem to want me to settle down and have children. The 'have children' part there is the critical part, the 'settle down' is just required for that.

I don't want children right now.
I don't need children right now.
I'm not in a good place to have children right now.

I don't have someone to have children with right now.
I don't want to rush into finding that someone.
I'm not even sure I want to find that someone.

And yet, EVERY fucking time I'm on the phone with multiple different people. I'll get asked the question: "So, are you dating anyone yet?"

Fuck no, and you don't have to fucking ask me every time, I'll tell you if I am. Damn it.

My mom is OBSESSED with grandchildren. My grandma is obsessed with great grand-children. And now, I have another woman (who is reasonably close to me), attempting to set me up with someone (I'm not interested). Why? Cause SHE wants grandchildren and can't have them otherwise.

I feel like the guy in Wicker Man, surrounded by women that want some sick form of human sacrifice. They need something to give the marriage gods. Well, it's going to take someone very special for me to go down, and it won't be without a fight.

Damn it, what I do with my baby-maker is my own damn business(unless you are a reasonably attractive woman with very adult but hold-off-on-the-marriage-and-child-for-now ideas, then we can discuss it). I don't mind introductions, but don't pressure me to do something I'm not ready for, or sure about...

*muffled yell*