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Category Archives: philosophy

too lonely

“Ring, ring”
You’re quiet, aren’t you?
I’m quiet, amen’t I?
But you wouldn’t know that
I’ve made sure of that
I have stifled my sobs
And caught my tears.


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Posted by on Tuesday, December 20, 2011 in philosophy, poetry

 

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Hibernation

IMAG0088

After an almost Sabbatical period of blogging lately, this seems the prime time to do some good ol’ fashioned spring cleaning around here.

Why?

My blog has served miscellaneous personal goals up until this point.  Part of the reason it petered out lately is due to a shifting goal that never usefully transpired.  I don’t disown those goals, yet it is beneficial to recognise my life has moved on since then, and it is time to reach for higher goals.

Why now?

I’m thankful for a providential event in recent months that is giving me a whole new outlook on life: I have discovered I am gluten intolerant. Since eating gluten free for over three months now, I am feeling remarkably more energised.

You probably don’t want to know all the details about how I’m dreaming more now, and all that… but suffice to say, there’s more creative juice in my bones now than there has been for a long time.

Why me?

I still can’t resist the wordsmithing urge.  🙂 I feel it benefits my own thought processes to have a directed goal for those attempts, governed by external constraints that keep me accountable.

Why write?

I believe using words to communicate effectively is an important skill to be nourished and practised, not merely as a professional, but as a Christian.  It is not without significance that our Lord is called “the Word” and hence I remain convinced of the central importance of communication in developing our relational selves in the image of God.

So… what’s happened to the old stuff?  (Not that you care!)

It’s all still there!  I’ve re-categorised, and re-tagged it all.  I will be choosing not to highlight significant sections of my previous blogging experience, but I’ve not removed anything from the record.  I believe it continues to have a personal purpose.  (For full disclosure, that purpose involves being a reminder to me of my psychological ups and downs throughout a significant chunk of my life.  I continue to learn from the way my Providences shaped me, and even in the demonstration of much weakness, God has been working all for my good.)

What next?

Ebenezer means “Hitherto hath the Lord helped me.”  Please rejoice with me in His goodness to me.

Pray with me that I can transform this space into a more honourable reflection of His glory in this sinful world.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in philosophy

 

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Jones

I’ve never really cared about keeping up with the Jones.

Over the way we have a family of them.

When they park their lovely BMW in their driveway, and park their scruffy work van with glaring small-firm-branding across the road just outside my place. My kitchen window looks out directly onto that van, and I must say it gets rather tiresome.

I could cope with the ladder on top just fine. But recently he’s taken to leaving his flourescent vest-jacket thing hanging over the end and just drives along like that. The temptation to “vanish” the yellowness is getting rather more pronounced.

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Posted by on Monday, July 27, 2009 in philosophy

 

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Disappointment

For weeks now I have been looking forward to receiving the latest book I ordered. It has an intriguing title: “The thin book of naming elephants”

So… just how can a book with a title this interesting have a cover like this… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 in philosophy

 

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Studying made Fun

I was asked recently how I would address this topic, and I was caught off guard…

Well, why would you enjoy any kind of torture… you’d have to be mad!? Ok, I admit in some of my geekier moments, I have indeed enjoyed studying. But to actually set out with the express purpose of enjoyment… well, hey, I prefer chocolate. 😛

But, being up for a challenge – especially one involving a word-count 😛 – I thought I’d divulge my 3pence worth…

So… You will need a healthy base of curiosity

When you stand back and look, Curiosity stands out squealing “Me, me, look at me!!” I’d say it is pretty much the fundamental pre-requisite to the most productive learning.

Yet it is so easy to loose sight of this. So much studying is originally motivated by less inspiring concerns: “Got to pass the exam”; “Need to know it for my new work-assignment”; “Want a flashier-looking CV”.

The traditional analogy here seems insufficient for me: if you think of learning like a sponge, then all you got to do is sit there being cork dry, and you’re ready.

I prefer to think of learning as tucking into a delicious meal. Yes, you may not have to prepare the ingredients or concoction of the meal yourself, but you’re not going to enjoy it fully if you don’t come with a good appetite.

Curiosity is what makes you ready to learn: an inquisitive mind is armed with questions, ready to accept, interpret, correlate and judge the values and worth of what is presented. Looking not just for answers, but answers that make sense, are complete and are internally consistent.

Gaining answers to such pressing questions becomes immensely satisfying… fun, even 🙂

Then… a wave or two of Humililty

Much of learning involves realising exactly how much we don’t know, as opposed to what we do.

This can be at times a painful and frustrating process if we’re not prepared to tie up our pride to a stake outside. However, if we start off being humble right from the beginning, we are more open and receptive to the wide scope of what we could potentially learn. The whole process begins to flow smoother and more musically when we do.¹

While I can’t fully measure or define or explain it, nevertheless I consider humility to be fundamental to effective learning… and surely we enjoy learning more when it is effective? As Einstein once said:

“Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.”

And finally… a fizzy splash of creativity

Learning by its very nature is not just a transient short activity. There are things that seem to “click” almost instantly, yet even in this case, it is the result of thorough groundwork that is only now paying off.

Normally, there is a large time-commitment. Intense concentration is required, along with the motivation to be engaged with the subject area at the appropriate opportunities. But there is the rest of life going on to one side too: learning will of necessity be interrupted, or be deliberately put to one side as occasion arises.

All this sounds like a bit of a slog. But to refresh our minds about where we started, it is possible to enjoy studying, despite the many times when we do not. So what accounts for the difference of experience?

(Yes, I’ll get to Creativity in a minute… I haven’t forgotten!)

Since studying can be enjoyed without any deliberate decision to do so, there is another factor at work here: being “in the flow” – the same type of intense experience athletes or musicians would describe. So, why don’t we just go with this as a solution: just get in the flow and get on with it? Well, I’ve happily bought that line until today, but now I see two reasons to improve on it.

1. It is not always easy to get in the flow about anything at any time (in fact, I would say it was a clear exception rather than the rule).
2. Being in the flow has serious clashes with interruptions: it only lasts as long as one occasion of study; coming back later and you have to start from scratch, yet maintaining long study periods is not always practical or appropriate.

So, yes, Creativity…
Creativity is invaluable to keep the flame burning. Creativity tells you to sit in your other favourite chair next time. Creativity gives you flexibility of scheduling and environment, that while you have to start making tea in 5mins time, it is possible to file away your most juicy question for later calm reflection. Creativity reminds you to buy fresh fruit juice to enhance your physical alertness while studying.

And creativity can be as fun as you like 😀 Suggestions welcome, of course!

¹I will admit an explanation of “how” or “why” eludes me, though I’ll give it some attempt: It is difficult in teaching to have the orderliness to teach first the concrete, then the abstract (in all its various levels), yet it appears that humility is what enables the learner to more easily intuatively grasp the higher rungs on this ladder of understanding.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 in philosophy

 

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What is a supercompetence?

I remember as a kid we got taught something boring and entirely unimaginative under the guise of personal development. They called it transferable skills; I thought it sounded like wearing an uncomfortable uniform.

In English you learn how to write. It is very important you pay attention in class, because when you grow up, you will have to write many many things. It will be a “transferable skill”.

That made me cringe. Not only because of the clone-CV overtones but also because I envisioned a far prettier rainbow lurking behind all this meaningless foliage.

The Pixar culture seems to have caught a glimpse of this rainbow:

The skills we develop are skills we need everywhere in the organization,” Nelson said. “Why teach drawing to accountants? Because drawing class doesn’t just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There’s no company on earth that wouldn’t benefit from having people become more observant. {Source linked in footnote]

It has always intriuged me to learn something entirely unexpectedly as a side-effect of learning something else. I think the most valuable experiences are those that ‘discover’ skills that are difficult to teach, and/or measure: the kind that would earn someone the accolade of “a very practical, useful sort-of-person to have around”. 😉

Apparently in Danish¹ they have a word for this, that is roughly translated “supercompetence”. But in English it sounds too straightforward a word to describe so mysteriously enticing a concept… so my challenge is to discover something better… “Serendipitous experiential learning” might cover it, but that’s a bit of a highfalutin’ mouthful.

Surely someone out there knows a better English word for it? Maybe one that could do with the dust blown off.

Suggestions very welcome 🙂

¹ Thanks to Christoffer Hallas for sharing 🙂

 
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Posted by on Thursday, September 4, 2008 in philosophy

 

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the 101 of my mind

Recently someone mentioned the word ‘malaria’ to me, and so one whole flood of memories came pouring back.

I remembered about a promise I’d made a while back, relating to a real experience that came closest to “my worst possible Room 101”. ¹

I remember the crickets. They were the switch. When the crickets came on – sometime between the breathtaking daily thunderstorm and the darkness painting over us – then the nightmare reasserted itself… without warning, without delay, without kindness.

Instantly my blood boiled, my joints creaked, my stomach rumbled, my nose twitched. And my skin prickled. I was really ill, and my body told me so.

But it was all in the mind, really… My mind, only my mind.

And that was the scary part. You see, apparently Larium – the anti-malarial I was taking – can “do that to people”.

It was completely uncontrollable… like, stepping out of your body, and watching it happen to yourself without you being able to do anything at all to stop it. All the “physical symptoms” were purely imaginary… but no matter how wise you were to that, you could neither fight them nor accept them; only panic at your increasing entrappment.

The strangest part was the way it would turn on-and-off at night. I’d switch-on-terrified at dusk… then, in the morning, the world would all be a new fairytale again – gloriously pretty, deliciously t-shirt-temperature and with the pleasant buzz of a community all waking up at the same time and getting settled for another harmonious day together. Hardly a starker contrast.

But by evening I knew it was coming again…

There were hours of sleeplessness. Once I tried staying awake all night. But I hadn’t counted on the lights running off backup generators that got switched off sometime in the early morning. chains++

There was a quandry of pill-swallowing: do I take the next scare-mongerer, or do I meet a mosquito round the next corner? (I’m sure I inhaled a healthy dose of insect-repellant while I was at it.) And, well, rationally, I’ve no justification to not-take medication… handcuffs++

And the agony of lonliness. Whoever wants to share someone else’s mind with them!? Most especially when they’re having an off-day. Prison-cell++

But then again, I’ll admit the larium-induced state was only the most miniscule of windows onto some crazy alternative reality. But even a window is sufficient to demonstrate the terrifying situation.

My worst Room 101 would therefore be: being in a state of having no control whatsoever over my mind (and, by extension, over my body, and potentially entire being) and yet having to “live through it” by watching myself live: hearing my deranged thoughts; watching my unjustifiable actions and even having to bear the consequences of a life I hadn’t “authorised myself” to live.

And, yes, I even did get malaria in spite of it all…!

¹When I last wrote around this topic, I wanted to maintain the clique-iquette of sticking to our agreed ‘rules’ of putting stuff in a room… but I always wanted to come back and really try to scare people 😛

 
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Posted by on Thursday, July 31, 2008 in philosophy

 

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