Post 1, 2022
Introduction–In Media Res–to “’Mr. Turtle’s’ Journey,” A Story About Career(s), Coding, And Resilience
“TL;DR:” No, my dear job-seeking friend; you are NOT a “failure,” or “odd,” or “cursed,” or “weird,” etc.; hang in there, good lady/sir; your Ithaca awaits.
Over the past seven years, I have grappled intensively with the phenomenon/process of career-satisfaction and professional development. In fact, I discuss it at length in my upcoming book (linked here), given its role in my internal dialogues over the past several years (after all, the book presents an autoethnographic analysis of self-communication; i.e., communication within or between one’s self/selves).
Moreover, such job struggles are particularly hard for individuals who are confident of their prowess in their given professional fields—i.e., based on good evidence (especially other people’s feedback), versus Kruger-Dunning-effect-type delusions. And unfortunately, at some point in my academic career—especially during my doctoral program at Drexel U., I became convinced of my talents, confident that I’ll have my pick of the litter of tenure-track communication-studies jobs across America. Alas, the harsh reality has since hit me hard. And in reaction, I have gone through a process similar to the so-called “grieving process.” But thankfully, I believe I have finally made my peace with my misfortunes and mixed blessings.
“Long story short,” that coveted tenure-track position did not materialize, neither did I manage to land an alternative corporate, government, or nonprofit role, etc. And boy oh boy, that misfortune took quite a toll on my mental health. After one gets rejected so many times, s/he starts to wonder if the reason is related to their oddity; perhaps somehow, people can tell that I am a damn mess?! One starts to question their intelligence and productivity; perhaps I’m not as intelligent or as productive as I have been led to believe?!
But along the way, I also continued to learn and grow. And in the end, I have landed in fields in which my talents are well-utilized, and with which I get to help other individuals to avoid the heartache(s) I’ve endured. As of writing this article, I am a mental-health recovery facilitator, as well as a project-manager and software-development trainee. In all these roles, I strive to inspire individuals to persevere; to solve problems; and to work together in furtherance of various worthy initiatives (clean and free water and food, anyone [GitHub Link & web-app]?).
So the good news dear madam/sir—my job-seeking friend, is that you’re not a bad person, or a failure, etc. In fact, those intense struggles you’re experiencing might result in achievements that you never dreamed to be possible. After all, here I am (“little old me!”), teaching statistics, developing software applications, learning and enjoying data-science, etc.
>> Relevant Link 1
Software-Development Portfolio Site–In Progress As of SP 2022
>> Relevant Link 2
Sure, I thought I was talented, but I didn’t realize that these are also strengths that I have within me. So again, my job-seeking friend: hang in there. Sure, learn to humble yourself. But please keep pursuing your dreams, embracing your creativity and unique (even “quirky”) personality, and please bear in mind that “success” isn’t a “one size fits all” concept; each of us has our own unique life path.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.
—Constantine P. Cavafy.
Post 2, 2022
An Ode to Mental-Healthcare Workers, and Other Unsung Professional Toilers
**“This Too Shall Pass” (Or Will It?!)–Part II**
And so it came to pass that the spring slowly crept up on summer in the year 2022, and we approached the middle of the year. And here I am, again, pondering the phenomena of life and careers, mental health, “hard work,” creativity, perseverance, knowledge vs. wisdom, and mindfulness.
For instance, having worked as a mental health para-professional from December 2021 to June 2022, I’m not sure that most mental health workers take adequate care of their own mental health, and/or that the society they serve offers them the help they themselves often need. Surely, “healer, heal thyself (!)” shouldn’t be our dismissive assumption.
I have also realized that there seems to be a plethora of good-intentioned roles in the field of mental health and “human services,” yet somehow, our cities and countrysides are still filled with folks in desperate need of mental-health assistance. Making matters worse, a good number of leaders and people in key roles seem not to understand that details matter. And that these individuals—i.e., leaders and key-role-bureaucrats—are in positions of solemn responsibility, in which careless managerial mistakes can trigger or severely compound the mental distress of the individuals under their leadership.
Another question: depending on your skills, intentions, and other factors, who should be allowed to work where, how, and why? Over the past seven years and counting, I often seem to come to junctures (such as the present) where for one reason or another, I have to readjust my career expectations and/or goals. These situations also require a substantive amount of soul-searching vis-à-vis my own strategic decisions and arguable missteps (if any) over time, and the fact that instead of being bitter and/or pessimistic, I need to somehow tap into my own **sensemaking**, creativity, and **resilience**. I am putting emphasis on those two words—sensemaking and resilience—because they are the “variables” or traits I studied among Rwandan genocide survivors for my Ph.D. dissertation.
The theoretical- and empirical-research study was very hard, but my own lived reality—i.e., of having to enact sensemaking and resilience on a day-to-day basis, regardless of the constantly dour odds—is even harder. In other words, knowledge/intelligence and wisdom are not the same thing, I am learning the hard way!
In any case, here’s a toast to all our mental-healthcare workers out there that valiantly support us and comfort us, despite their own vulnerabilities and mere humanity. And here’s a toast to all my fellow professionals, entrepreneurs, craftswomen and craftsmen, and “professional-thinkers”—both here on LinkedIn, and in the world at large, who continue to persevere against the odds, and who continuously eke out hard-won and impressive victories, one day at a time.
Weekly Public Journal Challenge 2021
Post 1; 01/10/21:
Over the years, I’ve journaled erratically, privately. And from time-to-time, I have written blog posts here-and-there. To me, that fact is regrettable, as **consistent** journaling is a proven way of helping us with many personal intellectual, emotional, and other challenges, not to mention its value in improving our writing skills.
Hence this 2021 challenge. Serendipitously, I am also working on a partly* auto-ethnographic intrapersonal-communication and cognitive-science book (*I will also glean results from a literature meta/content-analysis), scheduled for launch around late 2021 or early 2022. Thus, one of my goals is to synergize these two endeavors—public-journaling, and my auto-ethnographic analysis for that book.
But even beyond June (2021)—the deadline for submitting the book manuscript, I intend to keep up this habit of journaling publicly. Whereas my private journal entries are uninhibited raw reflections on my pains and joys, I believe/hope this public journal will help me hone a literary voice that balances authenticity and professionalism. I also hope to somehow help, inspire, educate, or entertain anyone on the web that will somehow come across this page.
Here goes nothing!
Post 2; 01/16/21:
The Challenge Lives; Long Live The Challenge!
Yes, that title is dramatic, and that’s part of the point, although I’m not sure about the use/role of that drama for this post. Then again, maybe I do (?); the drama is a good demonstration of the magic–so to speak, the metaphysical and yes, **dramatic** nature of challenges. In this context, a challenge is a self-dare, a goal one sets for themselves, meant to be accomplished within a certain set period of time.
Case in point? The journaling challenge of which this post is a product! As of this moment, I have enrolled myself in lets see…1, 2, 3 three challenges, grand-total, namely, 1) “the 90-day (software-development/) coding challenge,” 2) “the 2021 week-end/beginning journaling challenge,” and 3) “the reading challenge of the week of 01-16, to 01-23.”
Sometime last year, in an essay for a fellowship competition, I discussed the power/utility of figuring out our psychological profiles, as well as the psychological tricks we can use to jam-start our brains into accomplishing tasks. For instance, if you love binge-watching shows on Netflix, then you can set yourself a certain number of goals, and make a promise to yourself to binge-watch your favorite Netflix show, only **after** you finish accomplishing those goals!
But one of the interesting features of self-set-challenges is that you don’t even have to have a “carrot” to reward yourself with. I guess the “magic” of the self-set-challenge–at least for some of us, comes from the disappointment you’ll feel about yourself, if you let yourself down! Well, regardless, here’s a verbal/journal-toast to the magical power of challenges, which when combined with that of “to-do” lists, can create productivity super-heroes out of the most ordinary of schmucks, such as Yours Truly! 😊
Post 3; 01/24/21:
Life On Autopilot
One of my favorite undergraduate English professors (Dr. Connor, retired Prof. of English at Kean U.) used to enjoy fostering debates among his students—i.e., during his class sessions—about what we believed in more, fate/determinism, vs. free will. At the time, I don’t think the early twenty-something version of myself had a strong opinion about the topic.
But I do now, after going through the past 13 years of graduate school, work, and life in general. And while that life experience is the primary source of my evaluations/judgements or basic analyses of the topics, I am also aided in my thinking by a better understanding since those undergrad years, of various philosophical and social-science topics, including (among others, in random order): existentialism, pragmatism and symbolic interactionism, and critical-realism. With all that said, below are some of my thoughts about the roles of fate/determinism, as well as free-will, in each/most of our lives.
Unfortunately, many of us are born with the odds stacked against us. You don’t choose to whom, where, and when, you’re born. You could be born to an indentured servant early in the previous century, or a fisher-man/woman in some poor part of Africa today, or you could be born into luxury as a royal prince in any time period, or to a billionaire or millionaire today, or in any century.
Unfortunately, those of us who are born in such “short end of the stick” situations—e.g., to poor folk in any era, and/or to anyone (rich or poor), but in an era in which science hasn’t advanced to help us avoid unnecessary diseases—will have to “work twice as hard” to overcome our disadvantages. And of course, even those of us born with fortunate odds—e.g. rich, or in advanced economies with good health, education, and social safety-nets—still have to work hard, and/or “work smart” to achieve “desirable” lives.
What is or isn’t a “desirable life” is a topic for another journal/blog post. Regardless, here’s what I’ve noticed or deduced about all our lives, in relation to the above concepts:
- Regardless of how hard you work, someone, somehow, often/always gives you a helping hand along the way. It could be the government, a kind benefactor, that one teacher who looked out for you, etc.
- This is a key point, something I’ve been considering for a few months/years to date: Regardless of the quantity, or the quality of those fancy plans we make for our lives, there seems to be a natural unstoppable and unflappable rhythm which pushes our lives forward. In the end, yes, we often achieve our goals. But the road to those achievements is most often a meandering one. This is the context in which concepts such as habitus, probability, sensemaking, and existentialism, can help us navigate our way through the world. Based on the society and family in which you were born, do you know why think/believe what you do, and—most importantly—how those thoughts/beliefs positively or negatively influence your life on a regular basis? How well do you “play the odds”? I believe a famous baseball player—Babe Ruth, is it (?)—said something to the effect of, the more pitches you make—sorry baseball fans, I’m not very good with the linguo and rules—the better your chances for scoring higher.
- The need for humility, and perhaps—perhaps (!)—belief in forces/powers “above/beyond self”: All that wealth and power you have can one day just disappear. Think of that archaeological discovery, of mummified rich Italian ([?]/Greek) rich masters dead because of a Volcanic explosion, right next to their poor servants. In the end, we’re mere creatures in a vast universe, which is both predictable and also (very) unpredictable!
Post 4; 01/31/21:
It’s Always Worth A Try
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an entry in this public journal about a productivity hack I’ve discovered in the last few months—i.e., the challenge (to oneself), which I have used for a few months to date, with fairly good results so far. Another productivity trick I can personally vouch for is the famous “to-do” list. A public promise—or a promise to (a) specific someone(s) to whom you owe a deliverable—is yet another effective trick in my experience.
Great, thank goodness for such hacks/techniques. But what does one do, when sometimes (and yes, those times inevitably come up throughout life, here and there), many/most of those tricks are ineffective because of low motivation, which is in turn caused by numerous factors? For let’s face it, in such circumstances, to-do lists and self-challenges are rendered weak.
I guess one of the quick solutions for me, for those low-motivation situations, is the use of the other techniques mentioned above, which involve staking your reputation through public promises. For me at least, that is a good motivator; how do I let myself lose face, when all I have to do is simply do X (/“fill in the blank”) for my students, or a friend, colleagues, family-member(s), etc.?
But even then, I suppose one can fail in their obligations because of other good reasons outside of our control, as opposed to laziness or lack of motivation. And sometimes, chaotic situations cause us to abandon our fancy plans; in this vein, I really love that Mike Tyson quote, “everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” Yikes.
One of the answers that come to mind in response to the above dilemmas, is this: it’s okay to fail. But there’s also a caveat to that maxim: it’s okay to fail, **but only if you at least try, or make a good faith effort!**
I believe most folks reading this journal entry can recall those numerous times in which they just didn’t want to get out of bed, didn’t feel like writing that paper, etc. At the end of the day, one can only entertain those failures so much, before eventually paying for that mistake—i.e., of easily entertaining failure.
But again, the good news is that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn every day, or write a perfect paper every time. All you have to do is **try**.
So, here’s a promise to myself for this year: I promise to at least try, surely. And try again if I fail or don’t perform as well as I wanted to the first time; and try again after that, if I have to, until I achieve whatever it is I am trying to achieve.
Post 5; 02/08/21:
Of Poetry And Minds
Theme 1: Can *I* Write Poetry?
Another week has come and gone,
and in yet another we toil.
The world hums on;
tears, happiness, fullness and nothingness.
Time is both our best friend, and our worst enemy,
as are our very minds,
from whence we compose both boring and/or stirring prose,
and boring and/or stirring poetry, alike!
And as the world and time hum on yet,
new minds spring forth,
and some old fall yonder;
another week has come and gone.
My Self-Awarded Grade-Range For Above Poem: C+ — B- [😊]
I’ve been meaning for a while to write one or more entries on my experimental learning website-journal—i.e. “Aspiring Polymath,” about poetry. Three themes in particular are on the forefront of my mind about the topic/subject of poetry: 1)–How is it done/learned, and can *I* learn and do it well? 2)–The second theme is very abstract and is hard to articulate, but it is connected to the latter theme about the essence of the art of poetry; and an *art* indeed it is; but is it also a science of sorts? 3)–Is there a clearly identifiable midpoint between poetry and prose? I should point out in earnest by the way, that these thoughts were on my mind long before the celebrated performance by Amanda Gorman at the President Biden’s inauguration.
How or why exactly the topic (of poetry) came to my mind when it did, I cannot remember or explain. One truth I’m certain of however, is this: arguably much better than prosaic journal entries, poems—written by and for our amateur selves, can really help us in many respects vis-à-vis collecting our thoughts, meditating and reflecting, and even planning, without the neuroticism that to-do lists can trigger if misused, as they often are.
Also On My Mind, This Week:
- A rather funny(?)/quirky story: I shared one of my productivity hacks—“the promise, with a self-imposed deadline” (i.e., promising someone[s] to whom you owe a favor or obligation that you will do whatever it is you owe them by a certain date)—with some colleagues, right after using that very hack on them! As in, I made “the promise,” then told them about how effective “the promise” tends to be! And oh by the way, it worked; I delivered on my promise to said colleagues, before my self-imposed deadline.
- I’m continually grappling with the concept of recursion and self-reference, in relation to my upcoming book’s research. The question isn’t if self-reference and meta-cognition/analysis are effective research tools. Rather, the question is **how** can/should we effectively make use of them?
- Fluidity of mind-based, pre-verbalized concepts: E.g., the/a connection—or lack thereof—between the above two points. I happen to have written the outline of this journal-entry sometime late last week, sans the poetry part (although as I note in the first paragraph above, it’s also been on my mind for weeks or months). And the question that arose clearly in the forefront of my mind after writing the above two points on the outline, was the first sentence of the current paragraph/point: is there a connection between the above two points? If “yes,” what is it, and how did it arise and help in the composition of the next point(s)? And if “no,” how/why do our minds produce such random, ordered, or other (e.g., a combination of random and ordered) thoughts that come into clear focus in said minds?
- Links between professional failure or success, excellence or giftedness, and regardless, the need for benefactors to give you a helping hand. For many reasons, I tend to intensely dislike cliché advice or boasts about “working hard.” Example: >> Qn.: “How can someone succeed in your [“fill in the blank”] industry?” >> Ans.: “By working hard.” Like gee, “thanks, captain obvious!” As I mentioned in an older entry, I’ve realized over time that no matter how gifted or hardworking you are, you’ll more-than-likely need a helping hand somehow, somewhere along your professional (and life’s general) journey. And I for one will never cease to be grateful to the folks who’ve helped me get to where I am. I also hope I’ll continue to encounter such kind souls. Perhaps most important, I really hope to pay it forward in the future.
Post 6; 02-15-2021:
Of Thoughts, Work, And Pure Existence
- Highs and lows of life
- Use of work to navigate them
- Ability of thoughts to attend to all our lives’ time-periods
To win and to lose, persevere, and hoove,
From platters with ’bundance or crumbs, we choose,
And in toil we march, and for better odds we hope,
[Uuurrrgh! I hate this damn “writers’ block”! **Sigh** I guess I’ll finish this poem–an attempt at iambic-pentameter–later…]
Apparently, I’m starting this week with neither a tabula rasa, nor full mind. Instead, I’m attending to my mind with caution—in two senses that is; with care, and to warn my self: “Beware, self!” I seem to be saying. “Don’t get so caught up in all the ‘business’ and daily struggles!”
Instead, I should pledge perhaps to take solace in my work, no matter the odds of success as they might seem in the present moment. Besides, instead of overworking that mind-machine, shouldn’t we both work with it reasonably, but also behold its magic? For yes, that is almost truly what it is—magic. We can live in the past, or in the future, or two or all tenses/times at once.
But in my humble opinion, in concurrence with the virtues of mindfulness—so to speak, the present is unrivaled in its power. Moreover, that power can be multiplied through earnest efforts to behold with suspended judgement. No past, present, or future moments are “good,” “bad,” “sad,” “happy,” etc.
Time simply exists, and we exist in it. And we can choose to label its pieces—those moments from which our “lives” arise, as we know them—or simply savor them. And I’ll admit, I for one keep grappling with the seemingly paradoxical face of mindfulness. It often feels impossible to savor without labelling. And how can you tell a proud parent of a smiling gurgling baby not to feel happy in that moment, as that baby smiles at them?
In any case, work, by default of its very nature, can surely help us to “simply be.” Perhaps we shouldn’t strive to enjoy our work (?); perhaps we should simply attend to it carefully, to the best of our abilities, no matter how grueling or fun?
I don’t know. I am choosing to simply “be,” indeed. Wishing you all a
happy work-week! 🙂
But alas, therein, in those thoughts,
Lies our foe. That unending and most unyielding of monsters, we brawl.
So behold, and be; simply let be.
Post 7; 02-22-2021:
A Meta-Cognitive/Philosophical View Of Writing, From One Writer’s Deck
Note: Interested in a brief list of “behind the scenes“- or “story of origin“-style editorial notes for this entry? If “yes,” please visit:
TL;DR Version: Focusing attentively on the way we think, work, and write (AKA metacognition), reveals several essences of our humanity. In many ways, we wouldn’t be the awesome humans we are today, if it weren’t for the concept and activity of literacy.
Over the course of history, humans in the East, Middle-East, and West—among other places—discovered or invented a clever technique of working. This technique allows humans to efficiently use their minds and other tools (e.g. quills with ink, and parchment, or computers today) to virtually travel through time; preserve for the future, or retrieve from the past, or even create and (re-)visit new/hypothetical eras that don’t quite belong to the past, present, or future.
In addition to that **magical** (for lack of a better word, really) use of this working technique, humans became creative in many other ways. The technique helped us create more forms of literary and other art-works. In fact, even “science” as we know it would probably not have evolved to the sophistication it has, without the technique in question.
Fine, I’ll drop the coyness here, and clearly state the technique in question: writing! Apparently, this art—the art of writing that is, tends to unite numerous concepts and practices.
As I’ve already mentioned, writing necessarily involves the concept and practice of work. But I for one am also fascinated by the way writing complicates “work.” Once, during a grant-writing workshop (at Fort Hays University in Kansas), a colleague decried the fact that grant-donors often demand productivity-reports from scholars (and/or other grant beneficiaries), yet the value towards art, and/or science, and/or other fields from writing and other cognitive works is often hard to quantify.
If I spend a good amount of time and effort on an experiment which eventually doesn’t yield good results, can I be judged to have worked hard, regardless? We can also segue to the concepts of arbitrariness and standards here. For instance, I believe (based on education and experience) the concept of “good” grammar is decided by convention, more-or-less. And by what or whose standards should we judge a poem, or a fiction or nonfiction story?
Relatedly, let us consider the concept of coherence: if you don’t understand a poem or rap song*, does that mean that poem or song is meaningless? (*Side-note: “track” or even “piece” might be the appropriate word, if you think rap doesn’t qualify to be called “music.” But I wonder if in this day and age, some folks still believe that?) This question also reminds me of the concept of internet “virality” nowadays. For instance, as Daniel Abrahams mentions on his LinkedIn profile, his goal is to simply write—I guess for his own pleasure, as well as that of those of us with whom his writings resonate (?), not for virality. And yet, his works often do go viral!
Considered in relation to the above questions of literary aesthetics and meaning as well as arbitrariness, one can suppose/imagine that in an alternate universe, the works of Shakespeare are simply another set of obscure literary art-works by some obscure/unknown Elizabethan-English playwright! And of course, some of the real and rhetorical questions posed above (i.e./e.g., about literary meaning and hard work or creativity) can be answered by this response: “it depends on the purpose for which the writing is done.” If a playwright composes a comedy play that audiences find humorous, then we can perhaps judge that he worked hard, and/or is creative.
And regardless of our evaluations of the aesthetical value of the works of individual authors and other artistic/scientific/other creators, the art of writing (and the fields of art and science in general) also make use of typologies to help humans make sense of things. Hence the existence of “genres,” “taxonomies,” etc.
In the end, focusing attentively on the way we think, work, and write (AKA metacognition), reveals several essences of our humanity. In many ways, we wouldn’t be the awesome humans we are, if it weren’t for the concept and activity of literacy.
Post 8; 03-01-2021:
Of Connections And Chocolate
And thus it came to pass, that February 2021 ended, and March began. New news stories will be published/broadcast, and new government- and other organization-collected statistics will be released.
What role do I—and you—play in all of this? Are you employed or unemployed? Have you caught and luckily healed from the Corona virus, or did you (G_d-forbid) lose a relative to that dreadful disease?
As a social-scientist, I have always wondered about those interesting moments and interactions in which the micro—that’s you and I, meet the meso—that’s our groups of neighbors, as well as the macro—our countries, and the world.
Some random examples stand out in my mind: getting pulled over by a cop, visiting the DMV or passport office, voting, etc. But many—perhaps most (?)—such moments and interactions are easy to miss. You being friends with someone who will later become famous, you writing that paper that will later be very useful to that student somewhere, somehow, someplace.
The possibilities and links are endless. I guess Forrest Gump was right about life being similar to “a box of chocolate,” indeed.
Here’s to a great March, 2021!
Post 9; 03-08-2021:
To Seek Or Not to Seek Perfection:
That Is A (Not *The*) Question
Would you ever ask a heart-surgeon, who’s about to perform a delicate surgery on you, not to seek perfection? I suppose under ordinary circumstances*, anyone in their right mind would have to be suicidal, if they answered that question in the affirmative. (*But if the surgery has to be performed in the middle of an unprotected battle-field, clearly, one has to lower their expectations.) But should you, who’s writing a research paper, seek perfection, and without it, fail to start/complete said paper? A variant of the above question occurred to me while jotting down a quick entry in my research notes for my cognitive-science book project.
The topic of said entry: over the years, I adopted the use of a placeholder—“XX,” whenever I couldn’t think of the appropriate word in my writings—be it an email, or paper, etc. I will then come back later to fill in the appropriate word, depending on my intended meaning.
At the end of the day, I suppose we all have to decide—depending on the task at hand, whether or not we should indeed aim for perfection, or just “get the job done,” so to speak. And I suppose I am conflating two ideas here, namely: 1) getting started with a task—whether or not one seeks perfection, and 2) performing said task with a given degree of rigor.
In other words, the search for perfection is mostly relevant to number two above, but perhaps number one as well, depending on the situation. Regardless, I for one decided a long time ago to mostly follow the Nike slogan, “just do it;” start the task, then keep improving it over time^^.
So, are *you* a perfectionist? Why, or why not?
Post 10; 03-15-2021:
^^Speaking of Time,
What Is It?
Link to the above article:
For one reason or the other, my curiosity was piqued at some point yesterday, about the concept of time. What is it?
And so there I was, reading about its definition on Wikipedia: “Time is the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future,” the article begins. And in a right margin, Wikipedia provides us with some related concepts, under the topic-subheadings of “major concepts (“Present, Present, Future”),” “fields of study”—including history, archaeology, and horology among others, “religion and mythology,” and “measurement/standards,” among others. Inevitably, the article also discusses complex theories/frameworks such as spacetime.
Unfortunately, the paradoxical nature of some topics—including time—renders them somewhat “un-study-able,” or un-understandable, so to speak. However much we study the topics, we can’t seem to definitively understand them. Our understandings might incrementally increase or improve across time and generations, but we can never claim to fully grasp such topics and their implications.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t study the topics. No, far from it, in fact. It means we need to keep studying them, but with a humble stance.
And if that argument doesn’t convince you—as in, you don’t think we need to keep studying complex topics such as time, perhaps this will: we have no choice. Otherwise, I can guesstimate that around—or, **at least**—half to two thirds of today’s modern technological and other conveniences wouldn’t exist.
Besides, in addition to practicality/pragmatism, what would the world—and/or humanity—look like without wisdom? And without learning—including the study of complex topics such as time, wisdom wouldn’t exist.
In the mean*time* ( 😊 ), I hope you and I both use our time wisely this week. Let’s not waste it; apparently, it is so precious and priceless, we can’t even truly measure it! And yet, as every second ticks by, our bones and muscles—as adults, that is—grow weaker. And sometimes unfortunately, our minds are also lost. Thus, let’s make it count, this precious time we’ve been offered by the universe!
Post 11; 03-22-2021:
Of Time, Existence, And Questions
In a continuation of last week’s topic or theme, I find myself pondering a few things about time. For instance, if time has no beginning and end, yet all living and non-living things are constantly changed by time—with many eventually ceasing to exist, what does that imply for what we should do with the finite time we have in the universe?
I suppose a related or similar question to the one above is that of meaning. What does or should it mean to be alive, or to exist? Before proceeding with this line of inquiry, I feel compelled to point out to anyone reading this, that no, I don’t know why I am asking these questions. And in the end, they might be useless questions. But “let’s just say” that “something tells me,” that I am not the first person—nor will I be the last—to ask the questions.
A temporary answer to the above existentialism-related questions: unless one chooses to foolishly believe that they have the right answers to the questions, I believe some of the ways to correctly try to deal with the questions and their implications might be: 1) To continuously ask, answer, re-ask, and re-answer the questions—in other words, to keep searching for the truth about our existence, 2) Strive to rigorously live in the most ethical of ways, 3) To balance number one above with an effort at finding contentment with what we have here and now, versus what we seek in the future; and to enjoy and learn from the past, instead of yearning for it or regretting it.
It’s funny/interesting how this entry evolved from a consideration of the concept of renewal from mindful repetition. I was thinking about how every time we mindfully close our eyes and savor our breath before opening our eyes again, or start a new “to-do” list at the beginning of a new week, etc., we are somehow renewing our existence. How in the world did my mind go from that concept, to one of existentialism as explicated above?
Post 12; 04-01-2021 (In Lieu Of Missed 03-29-21 Entry):
Better Late Than Never
And so it came to pass, that I technically missed my first entry of this journaling challenge. “Technically” indeed, as this post should make up for it.
And the reason for that tardiness? A deadline that was approaching fast and came to pass last night, for submission of papers for the NCA 2021 convention (to be held in Seattle, WA).
And did I beat that deadline? Yes, but ever-so-barely. With **literary** ONE minute to spare–at 11:58 PM (US Pacific Time), for a 11:59 PM deadline, I successfully submitted two out of the three papers I had planned to submit. Better late than never, indeed.
Post 13; 04-06-2021:
Of Aging And Hobbies
I was thinking about the truism–or should I call it a cliché (?)–that “time” does “fly” indeed. It sometimes feels as if one day, you are/were 6 years old, blinked, and you’re now 36 (“all of a sudden”)! And kick and scream as you might, nope, the clock cannot and will not move backward. Luckily, that wasn’t “Yours Truly’s” attitude this past Monday (04/05), as I turned 36. In fact, I instead found myself taking pictures of nature, and in some rare cases, of the people and people-built structures and other artefacts that inhabit said nature.
Again, speaking of clichés, if “life is short” indeed, then we might as well (at least) try to enjoy it!
Post 14; 04-12-21:
Of Those Nice Quotes About Time, And of Meta-Metacognition*:
A Barely-Coherent and Random 10-Point List
(*”Is that,” or can it be “like, ‘a thing’?”)
1. Arbitrariness rules—as in, decisions such as the one to make this list a 10-point list. I wonder how many things in nature, as well as our ways as humans—our thinking, behavior, etc., are arbitrary, despite seeming well-organized? Does this point even make sense to myself? Barely. (Later edit: it might be worth noting that a big part of the reason that quantum mechanics appeared with the bang that it did [no pun intended, re: “The Big Bang”] is related to the essence of this point. As in, most physicists thought that atoms’ behavior is predictable. Well, “not really,” they later discovered!)
2. New among some of the quotes I just heard/read and love:
i) “The past doesn’t define you; it prepares you.” –Leonard Sekyonda.
ii) “You don’t choose the time; the time chooses you.” –Ted Kennedy, per Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land.”
3. As kids in Uganda back in the day, we learned this one rhyme: “Rain, rain, go away; little children want to play!” Well, today as an adult, I think I am often in the mood to say: “Doubt, doubt, go and hide; ambitious adults want to thrive!” I know, I know; hide and thrive don’t quite match, but that’s the best I can do for now (as of 04-12-21, ~5 AM; might be edited later)
4. I wonder if one of the best pieces of advice one should give to oneself, is to be selective in the pieces of advice one heeds?
5. We often think we want to have the power of knowing the future, and/or of extrasensory perception in general. But if we carefully considered the pros and cons, would we really want that/those power(s)?
6. Is it possible to be too humble? In other words, can an overabundance of humility be detrimental to us?
7. Am I asking too many questions?
8. I don’t think so; in fact, I suspect we probably don’t ask enough questions!
9. Potentially “game-changing” realization I chanced upon recently: embrace your worst days, and strive to still cross items off of that “to-do” list; even just one item crossed off the list might be enough, considering your subpar mental state on that bad day. Implementing this tough task might be a **huge** part of our journey to success.
10. Have a great week, everyone. Lets go kick some backside this week; let’s go kill it! Whatever that “it” is supposed to be—a bad thing that deserves to be killed, I hope (ha-ha)! That aforementioned horrible doubt, perhaps?
Post 15; 04-18-21:
Thou Shalt Breathe, Or Die
And on and on, the “to-do” list goes on. As does time, as one moves from one work-week into another—or simply, one week; for time knows no purpose, apart from that to which we attach it. For me, that—or those—purpose(s) at the moment consist of mainly the intrapersonal-communication and cognitive-science book-manuscript—that awesome labor of love, as well as a new 90-day software-development and data-analytics challenge.
I don’t know if I’ll ever enjoy the kind of job-security that many of my family-members, friends, and colleagues seem to enjoy. If you’re a believer in G_d or fate, be my guest, and interpret such questions in a way that makes sense to you. Regardless of the presence or absence of such a coveted prize (job-security), all I can or should do—in addition to other necessary and healthy pursuits of course, is to try my best to ensure that I am somehow equipping myself for success as best I can. Hence the data-analytics challenge and the book-manuscript.
*** *** ***
Speaking of necessary and healthy pursuits, I so miss my swimming, which I of course cannot partake in without an institutional membership—as in, for the gym and pool benefits. But apart from the gods of weather, no one can stop me from taking a leisurely evening walk! Thus, I have been indulging in those of late, now that the weather is getting warmer.
In those walks, I enjoy nature, contemplate my life, breathe, and try to relax. I have to admit, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand the philosophy of mindfulness. Being in the moment, avoiding mind-wandering, both savoring and/or ignoring emotions; all these are hard and confusing. During my evening constitutionals for instance: should I try to push out the thoughts from my mind about my current travails and victories; my past, present, and future; and my intellectual ponderings (among other numerous thoughts)—thoughts that seem to flow through the mind so naturally and harmlessly as I simultaneously commune with nature?
Ah, who cares?! The truth is—if you can believe or understand it, I actually do understand that powerful and positive life-philosophy (mindfulness that is) just as much as I don’t understand it all the same! One basic interpretation I can confidently state: just do your best, or at least try to live up to those ideals.
I for one believe that that life-philosophy’s goal—among others (goals)—is to help alleviate the constant anxiety that afflicts us. It’s indeed a powerful tool with which we can try to fight back against the ugly underbelly of our awesome minds’ excesses.
*** *** ***
Which then begs the question: is it ironic that I have to add mindfulness-practice to my “to-do” list as well? Does my inclusion of it on that list somehow weaken its power? I don’t think so. And yet I know that I have to indeed constantly remind myself to be mindful. Yes, in one sense, I think of the “to-do” list as that “almighty TDL” indeed. But one small victory I’ve eked out lately, is that I do realize that that “almighty” designation should only be treated as the tongue-in-cheek expression it is—not a creation or reification of a meaningless power over me. An incompletely crossed-out “to-do” list won’t kill you; but a failure to breathe will. So breathe, dear reader (yes, YOU! 🙂 ); breathe. Your life depends on it.
Post 16; 04-27-21:
Of Seasons And Spirituality
I suppose themes about time, cycles, routines, etc., are a natural and inevitable one in such a journaling-challenge, which is anchored around the ends and beginnings of new weeks. And as I’ve already mentioned, it’s somewhat of a fool’s errand to try to **really** understand time, but we have to try.
One very useful metaphor I’ve come across repeatedly is in relation to the vagaries and general trajectories of our lives. “Life is a series of seasons.” They come and go, year in, year out. But the seasons of our lives are also unique, from our childhood through our late adulthood.
Inevitably, those seasons will cause our sentient selves to ponder life’s true meaning or purpose. The atheists think they don’t believe in G_d or any other higher power(s). “Life is simply composed of a random set of occurrences,” they might/usually assert.
Perhaps, indeed. I for one am not convinced in that regard. Like many millennials and gen-Zs, I am indeed “spiritual but not religious.” “After all is said and done,” science doesn’t happen in a vacuum. But the existence of timeless forces above/beyond science–if only as a result of our mindful ideations, doesn’t mean we should become zealots and dogmatists.
Another week has come and gone, a new season (summer) gingerly breezes in, and the world hums on.
Post 17; 05-06-21:
Is It Okay To Fail?
If “Yes,” How–And How Often, When, And Why?
Believe it or not (dear reader), despite the above title’s relation to one of the major themes of this post, I didn’t compose it for that purpose! But it’s “interesting”—for lack of a better word—how often such connections arise spontaneously. Neat, quirky, interesting, beautiful, and I guess “weird” connections—”here and there,” “all over the place (ha-ha).”
The theme (mentioned above) in question? Deadlines. And the connection in question? The journalistic-lead format’s five key questions, of which three are featured in our title above!
Apparently, for two weeks in a row, I’ve missed a self-imposed deadline, i.e., posting an entry to this page by around 11 PM on Monday of each new week. Do I feel bad about that? Yes, a little.
Only “a little,” as I have learned over time, to try to put things in the right/appropriate perspective. Thankfully, I didn’t mess up something related to a human or other—e.g., a pet’s—life; i.e./.e.g., surgery, flying a plane, etc. And part of the reason I feel bad is simply related to my ego.
I guess the substantive damage to my psyche emanates from the fact that this slight failure of discipline can lead—if not fixed over time—to bigger and bigger failures. You know, kind of like the ‘good ol’’ “slippery slope” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope)! 😦
And I guess—in this case at least, Freud’s framework works for me. The high-achiever in me wants to post well before the deadline each week, while the slacker doesn’t want to post at all—seriously though, who would want to miss out on this much fun (ha-ha)?! And right down the middle is the realistic referee, keeping me in check, helping me do my best and re-adjust constantly, aiming for improvement, etc.
Yes, it is ok to fail sometimes. I happen to be a student-pilot—for a private license, that is, and I can attest to the deliberate and methodical way in which one is trained gradually, leading up to a commercial-license. From what I’ve read/heard, healthcare-workers go through the same routine. How many mistakes do we usually make along the way? “A dime a dozen” of course. The goal isn’t to be perfect right from the beginning, and/or with each try.
Random off-key thought/question to close us out. I wonder if one can somehow relate the above sentence (“The goal isn’t to be perfect…”) to that kid’s statement in “The Matrix,” about the spoon? 🤔
Have a great end-of-week, and a great weekend to boot, everyone!
Post 18; 05-09-21:
Of Dreams, Time, Poetry, And Mothers:
Another (Rather “Lame”) List
This previous week started off in a—for lack of a better word—weird/strange way. I had a dream related to a childhood neighbor of mine, in which she unfortunately died. Soon after waking up, I sent her a (WhatsApp) text to check on her.
Why, she’s good, she replied. In fact, she had just had another baby girl—her 3rd-born child to date—the previous Sunday! Whew; that was a great relief. I guess the reason I had had the dream was the fact that before going to bed, I’d learned about the death of a friend of one of my close friends in New York. In fact, my childhood friend’s cause of death in the dream was similar to the one that claimed the life of my friend’s friend. Regardless, of course you have to appreciate the irony of a dream about death, yet in reality, the protagonist is bringing forth a new life—quite the very opposite of death!
Speaking of dreams, at some point within the past few weeks, it became crystal-clear to me that dreams (in our sleep) and general thoughts (in our wakefulness) have an “interesting” spectral relationship with intrapersonal-/self-communication, the topic of my upcoming book. I apologize for the coyness here, but I don’t want to risk copyright/book-contract issues. Actually, the more truthful reason is my own desire to “unveil” the book—including the cognition-communication spectrum to which I refer above—“at the right time”! 😊
“In other news,” as always, the concept or phenomenon of time is on my mind as I write this post. I really will try my hardest to learn more about it in the future, from a physics point of view. But I have a feeling that I will still never really wrap my head around it!
I mean, think about it; one second, you’re sitting there in your favorite chair. The next second, you might still be sitting, or you’ll have arisen from your seat. But either way, that time in seconds—or minutes, hours, etc.—during which you were sitting, is gone forever! Sure, past time lives on in our memories, and it exists in other mediums as well. We can write about it, or in this case with you and your favorite chair, a family-member or friend may have photographed or video-recorded you while sitting in it a few minutes—or a couple of days—ago. Regardless, it’s out of our reach, that past time.
Finally, allow me to share another lame attempt at poetry—I honestly don’t even know if one can really refer to it that way, which I blasted out earlier today, addressed to all the mums I could think of in my family and friends circle:
A mother is…
A great chef.
She gives selflessly,
And definitely cares.
Happy Mothers’ Day (2021)!
Post 19; 05-16-21:
Of Clichés And Inspirational Poems
The concept of “clichés” is one of the thoughts on my mind, at this fresh juncture of the new week. I was specifically thinking of an expression that I believe qualifies to be called a cliché: “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”
According to Google, the origin of the phrase is not clear. For instance, Wikiquote says: “Attributed to Charles Dederich by The Washington Post (December 10, 1978), p. C5. He was the founder of Synanon, a self-help community for drug abusers and alcoholics, based in California.” And a Quora contributor noted that the phrase is from a poem by an unknown author:
Today is the very first day of the rest of my life. This is the beginning of a new day. I have been given this day to use as I will. I can waste it … or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss; good and not evil; success and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.
I will try just for today, for you will never fail until you stop trying.
Wow. What an inspirational poem! I love it. Now, “why/how,” you might wonder, “did the quote end up in your thoughts?” And my response would be, “it is part of the lyrics of a song I was listening to,” and I had decided to listen to the song partly because it started randomly playing in my head, and partly because I was looking for inspiration.
Thank goodness, I found what I was looking for! 😊 The phrase is also apropos to this week for me, for another reason. Starting tomorrow, I start a gig with Vanguard as a client-relations contractor, and I am really excited about it.
So, I guess, here’s to new beginnings!
Post 20; 05-25-21:
Of Change, Chaos, And Crucible Moments
Starting over the past weekend through the next few months, I am experiencing an event that is ranked (by numerous relevant professionals) as the 2nd among life’s most stressful events. For various reasons, I am choosing to be oblique here—not annoyingly coy, at least not on purpose—about the details of said events. Still, given this current extremely tumultuous life-transition in which I am because of said event, I believe it might be worthwhile for myself and my readers, for me to reflect on my current state of my mind, especially in relation to the concept of crucible moments.
The concept of “crucible moments”—which I believe is credited to Warren Bennis as the idea-originator, can be explained using the definition below, courtesy of Will Krieger (link: https://medium.com/@willkrieger/your-crucible-moments-35994634a312):
A crucible moment is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity.
These are times when our character is tested. These are times of adversity where great strength is shown.
Those who go on to be great are those who take time to pause and reflect on these moments. These are the moments that make us the leader we’re going to be, the parent we’re going to be, the person we’re going to be.
Incidentally, the culmination of “stressful event X” unfolded alongside other considerable stresses in my life. But at some point over the past few months, I realized something that might be a key trick for my productivity, which (I believe) I have hinted at or mentioned before in another post. The realization (?): I believe our worst days might be our biggest opportunity to succeed in life.
How? If on your very worst day (e.g., because of family issues, or mild health issues, or conflict at work) you still manage to cross at least one item off that “to-do” list, IMHO, you’ve conquered the vagaries of life. I am also realizing the priceless value of consistency vis-à-vis routines, habits, and even rituals. And yes, many of us have numerous idiosyncratic behaviors, work-processes, etc., that we don’t realize are in fact rituals.
Ultimately, Heraclitus was right indeed (paraphrased): change is life’s only constant. I would also add—in an existentialist mood, that chaos is the other guaranteed constant of life. Somehow, you have to get to know yourself well, figure out your productivity modus operandi, and just do your best each day. And whenever you find yourself in a discombobulated situation—and you will surely, from time-to-time, stay calm; breathe; think; and again, stay calm. Then do your best to solve whichever problems might have arisen, or to otherwise get yourself back to your state of equilibrium.
“You got this!” 😊
Post 21; 06-02-21:
Easier Said Than Done
The other title I was debating on using for this post is something along the lines of “Practicing What We Preach.” When I wrote last week’s post, I fully intended—in other words, I had a good faith intention—to indeed do what I was saying in that post.
And to a limited extend, I did. But I guess the issue I want to grapple with in this post is, how well can one accomplish that goal—i.e., of chugging along, regardless of the messiness of life at any given time-point—in general? How easy or hard is it, and why and how do some of us manage to do it, while others struggle?
All of the above questions have been triggered by a worsening of aforementioned “stressful event X.” Interestingly, that worsening unfolded in an eerily similar fashion to the way another stressful event befell me, years ago.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any good answers for the questions I pose in the second paragraph farther above. I just know that it is sometimes/often excruciatingly painful and hard to acclimate to our lives’ situations. I also still believe in what I said last week. It is vital for us to “pick ourselves up” and “dust ourselves off” and “move on,” regardless of the impediments in our paths.
And regardless of all the great advice any expert can give you, only *you* can know how to do what is right for *you.*
Again, I submit: “You got this!” 😊
Post 22; 06-07-21:
Of Good News
It is intriguing how one person’s life can be at a very low point—meaning, the person is experiencing extreme hardship, while another person’s life is at an apex, the very opposite of person A’s condition. And thank goodness for that fact, and the fact that it often comes to pass. Otherwise, life would be such a depressing experience; can you imagine?!
For instance, as I continue enduring this ongoing disastrous period of my life, I just found out that a good friend of mine successfully defended her doctoral dissertation a few months ago. Hello, Dr.! 😊
I believe I am one of those folks who delights in others’ joys. And if that’s true, then I will really try to look out for as many similarly positive stories as that of my friend’s above. Just because life “sucks” for me, doesn’t mean it should “suck” for others!
Post 23; June 17, 2021:
Another Setback, And Yet Another Chance At Mindful Growth
This week might be a record, in the context of this year’s journaling challenge. Finally, today—Thursday, June 17—I get a chance to write this week’s entry. At first, I was thinking of calling that a failure—even planned to put it in the title. But the “new and improved” and wiser Seif came to his senses. Heck no, that is not a failure! It’s simply another chance at mindful growth.
As for the events/mindset of the week themselves/itself? I’d say I’m in an equanimous state, thank heavens. And I will strive to stay that way; to breathe, stay calm, and carry on.
Post 24; June 26, 2021:
Losing Track of Time, And of Ourselves
Paradoxically, I am really struggling with this journaling challenge, but I am also enjoying it immensely. And the biggest struggle in this context? Harnessing the discipline and “making the time”—regardless of the vagaries of life—to journal.
Exhibit A in this context: this week, again, I failed to write the journal-entry at the beginning of the week. In other words, for two weeks in a row, I have failed to write the entry “in a timely manner,” so to speak.
For me, such lapses coincide with, or cause, a loss of touch with my essence or “centeredness,” so to speak. But the beauty of life is, “it aint over till it’s over.” Here I am, catching up, resetting.
Post 25; June 27, 2021:
Finding Ourselves Again
Of Uber, Politics, Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research, and Life
By forcing oneself to face the hard fact or possibility of failure, one can regain his/her footing. Thus, here I am, writing next week’s entry early, technically on the 26th of June (but labelled the 27th). The feeling—of having a firm anchor in time—is a good one. An even better feeling (?): feeling that footing/anchor and belonging or one-ness with a community. Knowing that your struggles aren’t unique to you alone, and that your neighbors can also celebrate your victories—as they too have celebrated similar victories before.
Being the corny softy I am, I often—not always, but often enough—try to strike up a good conversation with Uber/Lyft drivers. And often, that attempt leads to awkward situations. One of those types of situations is marked by defensive rhetoric by the driver, meant to convince me that the he/she is driving for Uber/Lyft as a choice, not because of a lack of options. What the driver fails to realize (and I guess I can/should be more proactive in arguing the point?) is that by far, life isn’t a bed of roses for me either.
Moreover, the researcher in me often marvels in such moments at the structural dynamics that cause this gig-economy quandary for many of us. And in this regard, I was intrigued—but ultimately disappointed—by this (https://www.wired.com/story/gig-economy-uber-lyft-doordash-jeffrey-fang) story in Wired magazine.
Don’t tell me about the mistakes this young man has made in his life! Instead, use this qualitative-research opportunity to try to better connect with a quantitative mindset, to demonstrate how tech industry and other CEOs, politicians, and economic policy stewards are missing the mark vis-à-vis creating a fairer economy. Having gig-economy work-opportunities is okay, but is it okay to allow millions of restaurant-industry workers to earn less than the minimum wage, or to fail to make college—at least community college—affordable for the masses? I don’t have the answers, nor do I expect the journalist writing that story to (have the answers), but I expect her/him to demonstrate that they are at least trying to find them, as opposed to telling me about the past life-choice mistakes of a gig-economy human chess-pawn-piece!
Post 26; July 4, 2021:
Happy Birthday, America
Here is a rather radical experiment by yours truly: is it possible for me to write a pithy post—forgot the longwinded pontification, just a simple but substantive message? Why yes, I think it is!
Happy birthday, America. May we both (as in yes, myself, and you, America) keep growing, and may our wisdom keep growing in tandem!
Post 27; July 12, 2021:
As I continue writing my intrapersonal/self-communication book, I have to constantly review my strategy, in a bid to ensure that I finish the book on time, and to also ensure—perhaps most importantly—that the book makes sense. And sometime within the past couple of weeks, I realized that I might not have enough “raw data” to help me achieve the contract-mandated minimum, i.e., 85,000 words. I was alarmed; “how am I going to pull this off (?),” I wondered.
Then, serendipitously, I realized that I that I can document the growth and evolution of my intrapersonal/self-communication habits ever since my late teenage years, aided by the journals and blogs I’ve written over the years. It’s an amazing feeling, reading the entries one wrote while in high school. You can hear echoes of your current evolved self, but you’re also witnessing—from a temporal distance—the mental and general struggles of another person, in a sense.
Well, thank goodness for this medium of communication, writing. Let’s see where and how the book effort ends, and I guess I can also look forward to reading these words 20 or more years from now, G_d willing.
Post 28; July 18, 2021:
“Dear Journal,” Continued
Writing an autobiographical (/autoethnographical) book—and/or even the mere re-reading of one’s past journal-reflections—can make one somehow feel somewhat, that they live in multiple dimensions in this life. One part of me traverses time and space as the ordinary me—wake up each day, learn and/or work, reflect, go back to sleep, rinse-repeat. And the other part of me watches the latter-mentioned me doing all those things.
And from time to time, those two selves converge, resulting in the kinds of deep reflections I am producing in the book manuscript. One positive upshot of the above processes is this: with time, the puzzle pieces seem to oh-so-neatly (more or less) fall in place, and as long as one establishes a realistic paradigm, one can and often does achieve that thing we crave so much in our lives: happiness.
Here’s to a week of more living, more reflection, and more (realistic) happiness.
Post 29; July 25, 2021:
A Simple Resolution
Alas, a new week is here, and I feel rather unprepared to face it. And yet, I know that—similar to what the Fugees said—“ready or not, here [it] come[s], [I/we] can’t hide.”
So, how do you fight against something that seems invincible? In this context, time is that adversary. Well, perhaps the best strategy against this adversary is simple acceptance, a willingness to relinquish control (?). And “relinquish” is probably the wrong choice of terminology here. Did I ever, and/or will I ever, have the ability to “have my way” with time?
Regardless, this week, my action-plan is simple. Write down a quick recap of my work at the end of each work day, and do my meditative breathing before coming to or leaving my work desk. Thus day by day this week, I will either “
conquer” or “survive” or come to terms with that awesome adversary.
“So ordered.” 😊
Post 30; Aug 1, 2021:
A Lazy (?) List
1) The first and last days of the month of July 2021 taught me two priceless lessons about parenting and love, courtesy of a friend’s mother, and Ken Follet. (To be revisited in the future.)
2) I pray to G_d to grant me the gift of humility, no matter how successful I become.
3) Writing is hard. But it is also very liberating.
4) At 1:23 AM in the morning/night, with the sound of stillness in the background, methinks that Psalm (about stillness and G_d) might be right.
5) Ken Follet might be the author that not only helps me keep falling in love over and over with my love of writing; rather, he might also help me discover my penultimate writer’s voice!
6) In the meantime, let me just savor his “A Column of Fire.”
7) Je me demande si un jour a l’avenir, je vais etre vraiment eloquent en Francais! ☹
8) I seem to miss so much of the goings-on in the world—e.g., the stuff that many folks follow on “the social mediaS”. 😊 Ironic how the more one learns, the more s/he realizes how much s/he doesn’t know!
9) Lists are cool, one has to concede.
10) I hope I can implement my mindfulness-related resolution for this week—which I believe I failed to implement—this coming week!
Post 31; August 14:
Another Chance to Succeed
irony (I’m not quite sure this is the right word for the context): an author successfully—and oh-so-jubilantly (!)—completing a book’s introductory-chapter, but failing to write a simple journal entry. But as 50-Cent—and/or the originators of the expression—advise(s), you “[do it,] or die trying!”
Post 32; August 14:
On AI and Writer’s Block
Definitively completing the first draft of chapter one (of this book: https://www.igi-global.com/book/social-scientific-examination-intra-inter/264268) felt good indeed. But the question I’m now grappling with is, how in the world am I going to write that AI chapter? What the freak do I know about AI? Never mind that I actually earned a certificate of merit for an introductory AI course (from the University of Helsinki). I guess I have to think up something to write about the topic, indeed! One possible remedy: expanding the focus to digital technologies writ large, versus AI alone.
Post 33; August 25, 2021 (In Lieu of Week-Beginning’s Post):
“Are You Certain?”
No, I’m not. “About what (?),” you wonder? Well, just about everything! I am not certain…
Of whether or not I will awake tomorrow,
Of whether or not I have a true purpose on this G_d’s green earth,
Of whether or not this post makes sense, even to me.
Thus, I suppose all I can be certain of is that I am not, and/or will probably **never** be certain!
Post 34; September 14, 2021 (In Lieu of Timely Written Post):
Of Public Confessions And Perpetual Clean Slates
For better or worse, this journaling challenge has exposed me so barely to the world; as in, exposing me and my human abilities and failures, week in and week out. Once in primary school, I was punished—via corporal means, mind—by my school’s principal after he found me and a couple of other classmates outside the classroom’s door, where the teacher had stationed us for tardiness.
We tried to explain why we had shown up late in vain—“no excuses, no excuses” he retorted. In my case in the current context, my (flimsy?) excuse for my absence vis-à-vis timely postings to this blog, is partly related to hospitalization (in turn, partly due to stress-related illnesses). Does that pass muster (?), I wonder.
Regardless, it’s all I have in the way of an explanation. Growing up, we were amused in Uganda by members of a certain faith who would occasionally confess their sins publicly, before confidently asserting salvation through their deity’s most important messenger. In a way, my failure-reaction cycle on this blog (fail to post, post about failing to post and promise or quietly resolve to do better, rinse and repeat) reminds me of those folks. Do I succeed in perpetually recreating a tabula rasa for myself, to smoothen my future successful and subpar efforts?
*** *** ***
Post 35; September 14, 2021 (In Lieu of Timely Written Post):
Privacy Vs. Openness
I often hear the old couple in the apartment above my own loudly bickering. Moreover, their bedroom is directly over mine as well, and I often hear them reacting to activities in my apartment—my alarm clock going off, having a phone conversation at odd hours of the night (because of time-zone differences with relatives), playing music, etc.
Oh, how I wish the walls were much thicker, for us to cleanly abstain from each other’s lives! Alas, welcome to the world of apartment living.
On the other hand, there I go, week in week out, performing a public audit of my writing efforts! Where is my love for privacy in that regard! Well, I have discovered over time that in that context, privacy is poisonous, just as its absence can be poisonous for purposes of stress-free living in apartment buildings!
*** *** ***
Post 36; September 14, 2021 (In Lieu of Timely Written Post):
My First National-Newspaper Article; Passing An Exam; A Luta Continua
And so it came to pass that a couple of weeks ago, my first op-ed article was published in a national (Ugandan) newspaper, “The Observer,” (https://observer.ug/viewpoint/71047-in-defence-of-children-and-adults-of-kyeejo) and today—September 14, 2021, I did and passed my CAPM certification exam. In between those two events, I was hospitalized due to stress-related illnesses, and of course, I continuously deal with life’s vagaries day in, day out.
One of the subliminal-yet-significant points we can highlight from the above anecdote(s) is the fact that the outcomes we call “achievements” are often muddied by life’s other less glamorous outcomes. And yet all of it together—the “good” and “bad”—is the holistic or even wholesome package that is defined as life, for better or worse. One has to—even if in a resigned manner—embrace that complexity and messiness.
There I go, gloriously winning with those two achievements, and there I will go, failing spectacularly with other pursuits. A luta continua, victoria e certa. Just keep chugging along!
Post 37–I; September 21, 2021:
The Observer (A Ugandan National Weekly Newspaper) 09-19-21 Article* Outline
*(“When I grow up, I want to be…”)
To state the obvious, writing is hard. What’s even harder—or very complex, is the development of ideas (and that concept and action is of course a parent-concept/action of writing). For instance, here’s a question for myself: how did I come up with my latest op-ed column piece?
Answer: I knew the topic I wanted to write about—including the most important points about said topic (career-choice dynamics, especially in comparison between various generations), but I wasn’t sure how to develop it further. Resultant solution: the list below, in which I somewhat broke down my idea into various sub-ideas, then later, ordered them—i.e., via the numbers on the right—in a way that would flow naturally and/or make sense to a reader.
After it’s published at some point next week or two weeks from now, I will share the article itself. But for now, I decided to share the outline, as well as the story behind it. I hope other writers can benefit from the technique!
—The statement represents way more than a career-aspiration; ideals of good life in general—-1
—Myself: journalist, physician, journalist, writer, professor, writer, thinker————————2
—How/why do evolve to want to be, and to actually be, who we are?——————————-3
—Possible answers: nature/nurture, formative experiences, etc.————————————–4
—“Happiness”: destination versus a temporary state—————————————————9
—Our gen-Y/Z generation and the complexity we face, re: careers———————————-8
—Paying bills vs. happiness vis-à-vis vocation———————————————————5
—Wealth and retirement, etc.—“quality of life”——————————————————–6
—Other considerations missing?————————————————————————–7
—“What do **you** want to be…?”——————————————————————–10
Post 37–II; September 22, 2021:
The Observer Article In Question
Apparently, the editor chose to run my piece immediately, contrary to my supposition (I thought he’d be running it one or two weeks from the current one). So voila, ladies and gentlemen; presenting the final result of the above outline!
Note about mother and baby picture:
The Observer staff selected and appended it; the copyright belongs to UNICEF and the photographer, as noted in the lower right corner of the picture.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Written by Seif Sekalala , Ph.D.
Several years ago, LinkedIn promoted a campaign in which they encouraged users to share their childhood career ambitions. When you were 15, how did you complete the sentence “when I grow up, I want to be…”?
And so, I dutifully shared my own childhood ambition. I had wanted to be a TV journalist, earnestly inspired by Christian Amanpour. But alas, it wasn’t to be! I will return to the issue of what I eventually became. But first, allow me to dissect that statement—“when I grow up, I want to be…”—a little deeper.
I believe this statement represents more than a career wish. To me, it is indicative of an innocent conception of a holistically idealistic life.
Between my early childhood — from around six years — through my teenage years (around 16), I meandered through various career ambitions: TV news anchor, physician, chemical engineer (to specialize in making perfumes), and finally (coming rather full circle), journalism. In college, I first selected journalism as my major, then eventually graduated with a B.A. in English writing (before eventually earning a master’s and PhD. in communication).
But if you try to ask me why I wanted to do all the above things, I doubt that I would have an insightful answer. I suppose as a child, TV anchors (with Ugandan English anchor Francis Bbaale as the archetype) represented a neat and dignified persona. Later, I suppose being a physician represented the virtues of extreme intelligence and benevolence.
As for the perfume-making/chemical-engineering ambition? No clue; perhaps I was at the time obsessed with the sciences in high school, not out of sincere fascination or deep interest, but as a status symbol of intelligence. Again, no clue.
The above discussion might provoke a worthy question for us all: why did you want to be what you wanted to be as a child, and why do you want to be—or why do you enjoy being—what you want to be or are, today (as an adult)? Role models perhaps — your parents, or the likes of Francis Bbaale or Christian Amanpour for some of us? Or formative experiences that convinced us of the worthiness of the profession, say a physician or nurse that took good care of someone you loved or a teacher that impressed you so much?
Regardless, for me, the childhood ideal of a good or enjoyable or worthy profession has crashed messily with the cold harsh reality of the need to pay one’s bills. Apparently, we tend to seek both career-happiness and a holistically good quality of life—which comes in large part from our careers, side-by-side with financial success.
How should we then balance those demands? At this point in my (early) career and adulthood stage, I am not sure. But I have learned the hard way that we need to look at the big picture in order to realize that regardless of how challenging our careers seem to us in the moment, there are solutions out there.
For instance, whereas I didn’t thrive there and thus had to leave after a brief duration, I have several colleagues who make a decent living as professors in China. And whereas the gig-economy isn’t ideal (and is probably often exploitative and “not worth it”), one can take advantage of part-time jobs such as driving Uber.
What is also true, and rather unfair, is that our cohort’s generation(s)—i.e., the millennials and gen.-Zs—seem to have missed out on the myriad of easy career-pathways that previous generations enjoyed. I have come across an abundance of anecdotal and scholarly evidence over the years of the fact that the other generations (the Baby Boomers especially, and the members of generation X and others in between) seem to have had far better chances for success compared to our generations.
With nothing more than primary or high school qualifications, many of our parents were able to get well-paying blue-collar jobs e.g. as factory workers. And yet for our millennial generations, the dynamics are a lot more complex.
Apparently, there are plenty more opportunities for them — especially via roles related to the digital and knowledge industries. But these roles also require longer and more specialized education and training.
At the end of the day, I have to console myself with the conclusion that in relation to careers and life in general, happiness is a temporary state of mind, not a final destination.
Perhaps you are or will be happy in your chosen or assigned profession; perhaps you are not or won’t be. But you can be happy, regardless. Besides, one can argue that ultimately, we are all versions of Peter Pan: we will never truly grow up. Thus, we might as well keep our career-related and general idealism alive. What do you want to be, when you grow up?
The author is a communication and social-science researcher and mental-health advocate, based in the USA.
Post 38; September 26, 2021:
Article Outlines (& One Resultant Article) 09-25-21
1-A–Outline: “‘Basiima Ogenze’; Perhaps That’s Okay”
—Per Obama, millions of citizens of ordinary citizens toil in obscurity, day in and day out, looking for no “pat(s) on the back” or extreme wealth, just mere “kawogo”/“daily bread”——————————-3
—These ordinary hardworking citizens are ultimately the real “army” or pillars that actually grow the wealth/prosperity of nations and enlightenment of nations; after all, Europe came from far, viz the stages of development, as Ken Follet’s historical fiction trilogy shows——4
—In actuality, there are probably hundreds like him in towns all over Uganda; successful, but humble and fair———————————-2
—Let us all take a pledge to step up to that plate each and every day; to endure the grind, do the right thing by our God or spiritual beliefs in general, ourselves, and our families and countrymates——————5
“Basiima Ogenze,” Indeed; A Tribute to the Unsung Heroes
of Our World
The outpourings of mourning and grief were numerous and earnest. Indeed, the country had lost an awesome person; an entrepreneur, a self-made man, a kind man. As I read all these tributes, my first reflex was to reflect on the expression popularized by musician Jose Chameleone several years ago, “basiima ogenze” (people only appreciate your good actions after you’ve passed). But upon further reflection, I realized that on the contrary, the late BMK and numerous other Ugandans in various sectors (in business, as well as other fields such as academia, healthcare, politics, sports, etc.) are often justly given their due praise. And that is only fair.
But what is also true but rarely mentioned—or perhaps, not mentioned enough—is the fact that there are millions more men and women in towns and villages all across Uganda that have the same commendable traits. Perhaps not in the same breathtaking magnitude of the late BMK and a few other prominent personalities. Nevertheless, these men and women strive to do the right thing day in, day out; work hard, take care of their families, pay their taxes.
In fact, that story—of the unsung ordinary citizen—can be found in all countries around the world. For instance, in his latest memoir, former US President Barack Obama severally gave voice to their toils in the United States. One particularly moving tribute/eulogy was of his late grandmother, who sadly passed away one day before he was elected to the US presidency. Toot (short of “Tutu,” the Hawaiian term word meaning grandmother), as she was known affectionately by the family:
“…was one of those quiet heroes that we have all across America, … They’re not famous. Their names aren’t in the newspaper. But each and every day they work hard. They look after their families. They sacrifice for their children and their grandchildren. They aren’t seeking the limelight—all they try to do is just do the right thing.
And in [the massive crowd of his supporters that day], there are a lot of quiet heroes like that—mothers and fathers, grandparents, who have worked hard and sacrificed all their lives. And the satisfaction they get is seeing that their children and maybe their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren live a better life than they did…”
*** *** ***
From this perspective, perhaps social-scientists focus way too much on the macro-level structures and dynamics of society—such as “the invisible hand of the market,” and GDP and political-governance structures. Perhaps the “magic”—so to speak—of the positive transformation of nations lies in the day-to-day actions of ordinary men and women across time and space.
To be sure, of course, the actions of national (and other—i.e./e.g. traditional, religious, etc.) greatly influence the destinies of our nations/societies. But arguably, kings and bishops without citizens willing to engage in commerce in general—or to pay taxes, or give tithings in church, would be rendered powerless.
One good demonstration of the above argument lies in the historical-fiction-genre novels of Ken Follet. It bears emphasis that these novels are based on real historical events, and they paint vivid snapshots of life in England and Europe at large from the medieval through Elizabethan eras.
What Follet clearly demonstrates in these novels—again, based on factual historical record—is that ordinary citizens helped build Europe into the powerful continent that it is today. For yes, believe it or not, England and Europe were once as poor as the developing countries of “the global south” today. In fact, the global south is “leapfrogging,” foregoing various outdated technologies in the march toward socio-economic development.
Regardless, the men and women portrayed by Follet engaged in agriculture and commerce, paid their taxes to the state and their required tithings to the churches. And slowly-but-surely, these men and women gained enlightenment from one generation to the other through accidental or (necessity-)forced and deliberate discovery and innovation, as well as critical thinking—for instance, in regard to questioning received (theological and other) knowledge.
At this juncture, my rather simple thesis—i.e., that ordinary citizens around the world don’t get enough credit for their day-to-day toils—gets a little complicated. Perhaps “doing the right thing” sometimes necessarily involves thinking or doing things differently, which would anger political, religious, and other leaders?
But after all is said and done, that argument or rhetorical question might be moot. I believe if/when one strives to make a good faith effort to do the right thing the way the late BMK and billions of other citizens did/do, it is only natural that sooner or later, prosperity and justice will inevitably reign (e.g., as argued by Steven Pinker in his book, “Enlightenment Now”).
Bulaimu Muwanga Kibirige,
October 2, 1953 – September 10, 2021.
And in honor of all the unsung heroes—the ordinary men and women—in Uganda and across the globe who strive to simply be good citizens each and every day.
The writer is a communication and social-science researcher and mental-health advocate, based in the USA.
*** *** ***
2-A–Proposition to Managers: Quality Over Quantity
& Heart Over Mind
—My friend tried to take their own life; reason: unfair and inconsiderate treatment by manager(s)
—Rules are rules; but do managers use enough discretion?
—We’re all built different, but many of us can succeed if given the chance
—As a leader, can **YOU** step up to the plate?
—Quality over quantity, and heart over mind
A Respectful-But-Earnest Proposition to Current And Future Leaders
“TL;DR” Version: if/when given a leadership role in the future, will **YOU** be able to step up to the plate and meet the … challenge [discussed in the article]? And to reiterate, that challenge can be summed up using the motto: quality over quantity, and heart over mind.
**True story:** Once upon a time—but very recently, a friend of mine tried and almost succeeded in taking her own life, because of the pressures of her job, after experiencing first-hand the acute challenges faced by millions of American workers across the country while simply trying to do the right thing at work. And yet, these same unsung heroes simultaneously have to satisfy myriads of often arbitrary and unrealistic performance metrics imposed by managers, shareholders, and consumers. In other words, the horror stories we often read about Amazon warehouse workers having to pee in bottles because of strict rules regarding time-off of assembly lines, aren’t isolated. In fact, Amazon’s practices are simply archetypical though exaggerated, in comparison to several professional roles in our private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
My friend made this realization while working in a certain low-level capacity in a colossal, wildly successful, and well-reputed company, a corporation with shareholders’ assets of several *T*rillion dollars. I won’t disclose any more about the company for fear of retribution, but I can reveal that it is headquartered in the metro area of one of our country’s largest cities on the east coast.
Specifically, she made that unfortunate suicide attempt because of: 1)—unfair and inconsiderate treatment by customers, 2)—more unfair and inconsiderate treatment by manager(s), who could have used their discretion to interpret and implement rules in a less-harsher way, and 3)—the aforementioned often arbitrary and unrealistic performance metrics imposed by managers, shareholders, and consumers. These experiences exacerbated my friend’s pre-existing but previously well-managed mental illnesses; they pushed her to the edge, mentally.
**Dear supervisors and managers:** we get it; rules are rules, and we all have to “play by them”—so to speak, for the smooth operation of organizations and society at large. But can’t you honestly use your G_d-given brain/heart, to enforce them with common-sense discretion, and perhaps most importantly— **real** (not feigned-, or “lip-service”-) empathy?
Individuals in leadership roles need to understand something: we’re all built differently—i.e., mentally and otherwise, but if/when given the chance and the right tools, most of us can succeed professionally. And sure, I suppose ultimately, you too—i.e., supervisors/managers—are victims of the whims of your own leaders, shareholders and consumers, and other stakeholders. But I get the feeling that a well-organized groundswell of collective advocacy might succeed in educating all these stakeholders, helping us all to understand the ultimate consequences of our unfettered demands/desires in the economy/marketplace.
In the meantime, all I can ask of myself and everyone reading this article is the following question: if/when given a leadership role in the future, will YOU be able to step up to the plate and meet the above challenge? And to reiterate, that challenge can be summed up using the motto: quality over quantity, and heart over mind.
Post 39; October 1, 2021:
Op-Ed Article Ideas For Oct 2021
—Idea 1: Ideation of African histories and futures; partly based on:
- [Add Other Sources Here]
—Idea 2: Comparison of socio-economic and political progress in the East African community, and the potential role of the Diaspora. Partly based on:
—Idea 3 (Similar to 1 Further Above): The wealth and taken-for-grantedness of history. Relate to: Mutesa I of Buganda Bunyoro Others
—Idea 4: Of Diasporas as Sleeping or Active Foreign-Based Giants: E.g., cases of:
—Idea 5: Research-related, e.g. about the book:
- Communicating with yourself
Health-communication, e.g. listening skills among healthcare-workers; or
- Listening in general
Post 40; October 18, In Lieu of October 10’s Post, 2021:
October 10 Op-Ed Article Outline
— Black and other race and ethnic identities today, vs. in the past————————————2
— Current and future citizenship and patriotism———————————————————3
— Role(s) of diasporas in nation-building, while staying patriotic to new homes.——————1
— Concepts such as treason: what are they, really?—————————————————–4
— “Nkuba kyeeyo”s’ (NKs) money, re: private dev’t—————————————————5
— Gov’t mobilization of NKs; but NKs have to trust gov’t; better strategy: a gov’t & ppl mobilization of banks and other orgs, to harness NKs’ resources—not just money?————–5.5
— A comparative look at other countries—————————————————————-4.5
— Black/African-Americans’ role in Africa————————————————————2.5
— Related to 7: diasporas in USA and elsewhere, and their influence/aid on/to native c’tries–4.7
— Philanthropy vs. national/private-dev’t vs other—————————————————-6
Post 41; October 18, 2021:
My Unpublished Article And Life’s Never-Ending Peaks & Valleys;
Idea For Autobiography/Memoir-1
And so it came to pass that the world continued being unpredictable. And by “the world,” I mostly mean the people who inhabit it. Case in point: the newspaper that prints my op-ed column. As in, the same one with the editor who never replies my complaint-queries about his copy-editors’ butchering of my pieces (😠)—didn’t run my piece last week (i.e., the one whose outline I wrote in post 40 above). Ah, you gotta love it, indeed.
I suppose that incident is part of (my) life’s never-ending peaks and valleys indeed. But I wonder how deep this valley goes, the one I’m in now! ☹ Oh well, we’ll find out eventually, I guess.
And “in other news,” I think I have a rather good—or at the very least, decent—title for a memoir: “Of Patterns and Forgotten Generations: A Memoir (By Seif Sekalala).” 😊 The “patterns” reference would make sense to my readers immediately after reading the prologue. As for the forgotten generations reference? All I can/should say is, “I don’t want to give away too much!” 😉
Post 42; October 26, 2021:
A Beautiful And Sad Poem, In the Wee Hours of the Night
It’s 4 AM in the morning, raining outside, and my mood is similarly dour. To match that mood and weather—or perhaps, to try to fight it (and/or for some other reason[s]), I am hearing the refrain of that beautiful and sad Dylan Thomas poem, playing in my mind. You know, that beautiful and sad poem:
Do not go gentle into that good night…
Post 43; November 3, 2021:
Poetry: Recurring Topic/Theme
That last entry inevitably triggers thoughts about other poems, and about the topic of poetry in general. What it is, how to do it, why do it. This one nice lady was complaining on LinkedIn about young folks on social-media (Instagram, is it?) wrongly thinking that poetry is simply prose written in stanzas—I believe that was part of, and/or is near the heart of her complaint. But she was also praising the fact that social-media seems to be (re-)kindling young people’s interest in the art.
I for one am neutral about that debate. “All I know is that” certain poems seem to oh-so resonate deeply with Yours Truly. That beautiful and sad Dylan Thomas piece for instance, or the one from which Chinua Achebe derives the title of his magnum opus:
The Second Coming
By William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Post 44; November 9, 2021:
Creating/Reinforcing Our Own Social Realities
I sometimes wonder just how possible/easy it is for us to create or reinforce our own realities through our beliefs and words. And every so often, I am tempted to think that it is actually possible, and/or fairly easy. Fleeting moments for sure, but the possibility seems ever so real in those moments!
And so there I was yesterday, in a class session of this training I am engaged in at the moment, attempting to speak into existence a virtuous social reality. That I can not only survive, but rather, I can actually **thrive** as part of a community such as that of my classmates and myself in said training. And today, I noticed that I was actually trying to follow through vis-à-vis living up to that ideal.
Was/is it easy? No. As with many groups of learners, there are inevitably instances of uncourteous or even rude behavior, and I am often not “on the same page” with my activity-partners, etc. But one has to chug along, regardless; a luta continua, vitória é certa.
Post 45; November 15, 2021:
I believe I’ve written before on this page about the concept of ambivalence. And I find it really strange/“weird” how that concept—or **feeling**—can cause us an intense amount of discomfort!
Think about it, don’t you feel very uncomfortable, not being sure about how you feel? 😐 And I suppose the remedy to the problem is for us to either figure out the cause of said ambivalence, and/or our true feelings/emotions/thoughts at a given time, or just endure the ambivalence, secure in the knowledge that we’ll eventually “figure it [all] out.” Otherwise, we might (“literally”/“metaphorically”) drive ourselves crazy! 😐 / 😊
Post 46; November 23, 2021:
At Peace (Certainly NOT Sleepless!) In Seattle
And so it came to pass that Yours Truly visited Seattle-WA, to present his listening paper. It’s a beautiful city, marked by a strong character—its people, it’s landscapes (natural and man-made), and oh yes, its weather (lots of rain!). And it sure felt good catching up with some old friends, especially now that I have made my peace with the whole “lack of a permanent academia-job” thingamajigi! 😊 “A luta continua,” indeed!
Post 47; December 1, 2021:
Defiant and Hopeful
In post 42 above, I was somehow—for whatever reason—in the mood for that beautiful and sad poem. But this week, for whatever reason—again, I can’t quite explain it (!), I woke up sometime at the beginning of the week, feeling in the mood for that defiant and hopeful Maya Angelou poem! You know, that oh-so-beautiful and defiantly hopeful poem:
Post 48; December 6, 2021:
From My LinkedIn Page:
**”Almost Done” Doesn’t Count!**
During the 2nd week of January this year, I posted a self-challenge to my blog, committing to a weekly public-journal posting. As of writing this, there are around three posts left for that challenge. Simultaneously, I had just started recording the data I would use for a book that was due in late July. “Long story short,” the publisher kindly granted me two deadline extensions; as of writing this post, I have two chapters left, with the manuscript due on Dec 30.
In a year during which I have faced quite a few intense personal-hardships, I have consistently tried–and apparently, I might succeed in that effort–to just keep writing little-by-little, day-in, day-out. But “almost done” doesn’t count. I can see the proverbial “finish line” or “shore,” but I have to keep moving/rowing! “It aint over till it’s over;” so let’s go! We can do this! 🙂
LinkedIn Tags For Similar Content:
#writing; #goalsettingtips; #yearinreview
Post 49; December 14, 2021:
Of Losing Your Smartphone After Writing About How We’re Tethered to Our Smartphones, Yada-Yada! ☹
(Irony, Or Aptness? It’s both, I believe!)
Chapter eight of what I’ve lately been referring to as “this/that damn book” is about the dynamics of intrapersonal-/self-communication (SC) in relation to the design and usage of ICT systems, including AI. And one of my points towards the end of the chapter—which I swear, I didn’t make with a haughty/“holier-than-thou” attitude (!)—is that we seem to be tethered to these damn smartphones!
Well, funny how G_d or “the universe” likes to test us. Barely a day had passed after my writing that, when I accidentally left my phone in an Uber! 😐 Overall, I’ve coped well without it—I guess I had no choice. But you gotta love the irony and/or aptness of such an event, ever-so-practically testing one of my hypotheses/claims!
Post 50; December 22, 2021:
Of Victories And Still-Unclimbed Mountains
My mum once told me when I was very little (no older than six years old, surely) that one shouldn’t look at what one has accomplished and pat themselves on the back vainly. Rather, one should look at what one has yet to accomplish, and keep working hard. Of course as an adult, I can see the fault of the absolutism of that advice. No, we of course ought to celebrate our victories—both big and small—as we continue striving to conquer taller mountains.
In any case, “and so it came to pass” that at the beginning of this week—Monday, December 20, 2021, I achieved two big goals. One does indeed have the fancy façade of success, while the other—at least to anyone else who hasn’t struggled as much as I have with jobs for the past five years—might not seem as impressive.
On Monday (the same date listed above), I started a new job as a recovery facilitator at “The Consortium” here in Philly, assisting folks recovering from serious mental illness—and often, with substantive-abuse co-morbidities as well. This work is very, very rewarding for me, given my “slow-motion epiphany” over the past couple of years in regard to my own and other individuals’ mental health.
And one day earlier (on Sunday, Dec 19), I had officially completed the final draft of this book’s manuscript, sending it to my reviewers soon thereafter. I will also send it to the publisher sometime late this week. But as I note farther above, “a luta continua” indeed. I now have to put the “finishing touches” on the draft, and I have to survive my 90-day probation period on the new job! “Onward, and upward!”
Post 51; December 26, 2021:
Mission(s) Accomplished (Blogging and Other)
My writing of this blog-post feels momentous and a little bitter-sweet. When I realized that earlier today—especially the momentousness of the event, I tried to immediately think up a fitting/clever way to capture that mood.
Eventually, I realized that that is not a wise way of thinking—at least IMHO. I was ending up too focused on the “momentousness” of the event, as well as the “importance” of a clever/fitting title, and ignoring the substance of the event.
Honestly, I am indeed very proud of myself for having succeeded with this blogging self-challenge. And in general, this year has been the toughest year of my 36-year-old life, but if I live long enough to have the ability to look back on it several more years from now, it might prove to be one of, if not **the most** pivotal of turning point(s) in my life. The cliché is true, it turns out: what doesn’t kill you…
Happy new year, everyone. Let us keep thriving, or simply surviving, in the new year.
End of Journaling Challenge
(“Mission Accomplished” 🙂 ):
How? Through incremental progress, everyday! You don’t have to achieve it today; just keep trying.