No Desires?

“He who loves 50 people has 50 woes; he who loves no one has no woes.” — Buddha.

I’ve been thinking about this idea quite a bit lately.

It’s an argument for detachment, the idea that if you let go of your desires, you lessen or eliminate suffering.

How? Well, suffering is partly caused because you want things: love, money, health, iPads.

The idea is that if you don’t desire any of those things, then you won’t suffer if you don’t get them or lose them. This is especially true if you tie your happiness to something that you desire—if you think you’ll be happy if you get that new job, for instance.

When you don’t get that job, you suffer. Or, if you do get the job, you’ll be happy for awhile, but things won’t stay that way for long.

Why? Because the novelty of what you desired will wear off. Or the thing you desired will change. Change is a part of life, and it affects pretty much everything we come in contact with. So, if your happiness depends on something external, something you can’t fully control, when that something changes, your happiness will most likely be affected.

Therefore, say the sages with their long, fluffy beards, you must to find happiness within yourself, be happy with who you are, and not wager your happiness on external desires.

It sounds all good in theory, but in practice it’s difficult. Unfulfilled desires can definitely cause suffering, but removing desires altogether seems like an extreme solution. It’s like saying that to avoid catching athlete’s foot, you should cut off your leg. Sure, you’ll never get athlete’s foot again, but you’ll have lost an important part of yourself.

To be human is to desire, no? To crave, to become elated at attaining something and feel gutted when you don’t. To laugh and cry, become angry and scared, to hope and despair.

What are your thoughts on desires and suffering?

Planet Earth Narrated By Kids

 

I love the BBC Documentary Planet Earth. However, while David Attenborough is a great narrator, he’s not as cute as these aspiring narrators.

7-year-old Aiden is the best of the bunch (though the lisping, 6-year-old Brynn is a close second). Somebody give that kid a job, post haste!

Which child narrator did you like best?

Thanks to Mashable for exposing me to this brilliance.

Focus & Discipline in The Idea Factory

Discipline.

I’m starting to think that perhaps I’m lacking a tad bit of it.

Not the discipline to sit down and write mind you. I’ve been doing more and more of that lately (pats self on back). Rather I lack the discipline to stick with one idea and run with it. It’s like the opposite of writer’s block (writer’s flood?).

My brain is a factory that keeps churning out ideas, and as soon as a new one pops out of my noggin, I feel an overwhelming desire to write about it. And I do.

Recently, while working on my zombie novel, I came up with ideas for two completely different novels: one deals with a group of teens who dive into dreams and memories (memories have been a recurring theme in my last few blog posts). Their shared dreamworld is a sanctuary from the outside world, which is pretty harsh on them.

The other is a novel that takes place in a world where mythological creatures of all kinds coexist. The main character is called a Judge who keeps the peace between all of the differing factions of beasts. This novel speaks of my love of mythology (especially Norse mythology).

The descriptions above are the barebones version, of course; I’ve fleshed each out in a document. But the more time I spend on them, the less time I spend on my main novel.

So, for all the writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers, or anyone else who feels the pull of opposing ideas, how do you stay disciplined and work on just one idea at a time? Or have you come up with a way to multi-task and dip into all of those freshly minted ideas? I need to get all of the lil’ homunculus in my head working towards the same goal. 🙂

What Are You Watching?

Ah, Sundays. I can understand why so many people consider it a holy, restful day.

While I don’t observe any religions, I do take part in a ceremony from 9 pm to 11 pm. That’s when some of my favorite shows come on.

The new season of Game of Thrones is underway with a few intriguing developments.

HATE

 

Mad Men has been making me laugh quite a bit lately; can Roger do no wrong?

 

Finally, the Borgias provides with my weekly dose of papal pornography (if you haven’t watched the show, that phrase may not make sense 🙂 ).

Each of the shows above have great writing (though the Borgias is probably the “weakest” of the three), and the acting is superb.

But I’m always on the lookout for new television shows.

So tell me: What are you currently watching? What shows are you impatiently waiting for their seasons to start?

 

Sometimes, all you need to motivate yourself is the threat of an ass tattoo. Ann’s blog is hilarious; all the cool kids are reading and following her, so you should too. 🙂

27 in Twenty Twelve

I didn’t plan on attending my graduation ceremony. It’s at 9 a.m. on a Sunday. And it’s for a 2-year program that I stretched into 5. But then Greg’s dad (Glenn) convinced me into going.

It wasn’t all the noise about my parents being proud, blah blah. It was when Glenn told me that grad students wear hoods at their ceremony (and yes, we are allowed to eat Skittles as well.) Apparently, grad students get attachable hoods for their gowns. Each different major has a different color hood. The Media Studies one is crimson. Boom. I was sold.

But the hood might be the only thing that fits.

When ordering your gown, you have to submit your weight and height. Before I could think about it, I impulsively entered 120 lbs.– 20 lbs. less than my real weight. Why? Partially because gowns are god-awfully penguin-like and hideously too big. But…

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A Master’s Work: Deceivingly Simple

I’ve always been fascinated by Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting. I suspect he sold his soul to the Devil for the ability to create masterpieces with little effort (and for his epic afro).

However, Bob Ross is an example of a master of his craft: he makes painting look easy but in fact it takes skill and practice to do what he does. He makes viewers believe that if they just take up a paintbrush and set up an easel, they too can graze the canvas with brushstrokes to create happy little clouds and snow covered mountains. But it must have taken him years to perfect his methods.

This seems to be a sure sign of a master; no matter how difficult the task, he/she makes it seem so simple. I’ve found that to be true of authors as well as actors and painters.

Good writing is so fluid, so well put together, it gives you the impression that the author wrote her book with no difficulty at all and got it right the first time. What we don’t see are the countless drafts, the time spent editing and rewriting, and the frustration the author must have experienced to produce the book we hold in our hands.

The same kind of magic is on display on cooking shows. Ever noticed how your favorite cooks are able to chop those vegetables so easily and create scrumptious dishes with a wave of a knife? Try doing it yourself, and the Giada’s 15 minute recipe turns into an hour long gag-fest . . . if you haven’t been practicing your cooking enough.

So the road to mastery–if it’s even a goal we can ever truly reach–is a long one, paved with repetition, hardship, and error, but the end result never betrays the hard work involved. It makes you go “hmm, I could do that!” And you can, but only if you put the work into refining your craft.

And as I resume work on my novel, that gives me some comfort. 🙂

What do you think are the signs of a master?

Triggering Memories

Phew.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity. My twin nephews, who are the embodiment of energy and chaos, stayed with me for a few days.

Parents, you are all saints for refraining from strangling your children.

Since I couldn’t get any writing done with one of my nephews begging me to put on the Annoying Orange videos, I didn’t get much writing done. However, when they left, I experienced a moment of Zen . . . and also heartache as I do miss them.

But that’s not the topic of this post–reminiscence is.

I’ve written about memories before, but not in this context. I’ve been experiencing “triggers” lately that transport me back to a completely different time and place. Yesterday it was the sunlight coming through my window and a cool breeze flowing through my apartment.

Today it was a song I was listening to on the subway to work.

But my reminiscing isn’t as simple as just remembering events or even remembering how I felt. I actually feel the exact potency of emotion as I did that day.

Since I don’t have access to anyone else’s memories or emotions, I can’t tell if everyone experiences memories the same way. People certainly get sad thinking about sad things or happy thinking about happy things, but is it because they’re feeling the exact same joy or sadness they felt that day or are sad or happy about the memory?

It might seem like an arbitrary difference, but I’d argue it’s vital. My memories are so clear most times: I remember every little detail, and remembering becomes more about reliving.

I suppose that’s the real distinction, and how memories can be a curse as well as blessing: I relive those moments–smell, taste, touch, sound–and I physically feel the anguish or joy or fright I did then. It also leads to an avalanche of other thoughts and emotions.

The sunshine and breeze in my apartment reminded me of riding the school bus in 6th grade. We’d ride down a boulevard that faced the morning sun, and the glare was fierce yet comforting. Sitting in a green leather seat, I’d hum this little tune while staring at the sun. I felt such wonder about the world (I was a weird 10 year old). I remember how pure my thinking was at that time, about myself, the girls I liked, my family. And I relive that experience when I think of  today.

Ok, enough of that. 🙂

What triggers memories for you? How vivid are your memories?