A Return to Happiness

Polarity is an interesting animal. We think we know opposites–day and night, sun and moon, light and shadow–but then we’re faced with nuanced categories that defy perfect dualism–male and female, black and white, good and bad. Here there isn’t so much a binary system as much as a continuum, and it’s easy to get lost in the grey matter.

So lately I’ve been longing, lingering, languishing…and I’ve been fighting against it, feeling frothy and shameful, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. So I’ve been perusing TED Talks, because they’re awesome, and sometimes a little awesome makes you awesome, too.

And in a way, somewhere in this mess of chaos, a new story began.

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Mental Malfunctioning

The dog days of summer are upon me, but instead of howling at the moon, I’m lying curled up in my bed without the energy or motivation to get to all these things I want to do. I’m making steady yet slow progress, but I can’t seem to get into what’s most important.

I watched a brief video the other day by Josh Davis, talking about “When to Skip Something On Your To-Do List,” and his advice is simple: If your mental energy doesn’t match the task, then stop. Put that energy where it’ll be most effective and come back to the other tasks when you’re mentally prepared to efficiently work on them.

But, see, this is where my mind starts to malfunction.

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Rock Bottom

One year ago I was in the study room around the corner from my apartment working math problems at the white board after midnight. It was a month into the semester and I was three weeks behind. After talking with a graduate TA who put it simply–“If you’re not passionate about doing the homework, is this the right major for you?”–I turned my organization on its head and had spent the entire weekend getting myself caught up.

And I was almost there. I felt great.

I wiped the board free of my algebra, sprawled letters about groups and how they commute and associate, and I stacked my notebooks and my markers and went back to my room. But the night was nowhere near over.

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Expressions of Freedom

I like to think all things begin with chaos. It is order of the most profound nature. Order so precise, the slightest variation at the start can lead to endings worlds apart. I like to think, the further from this primordial chaos we become, the more distilled is the order around us. We begin to detect patterns. We begin to feel the rhythms of the world, the rise and fall of our breathing, the beating of our hearts. We gain the order upon which we can build our lives, upon which we can foster freedom for ourselves, moving forward toward the future.

Other times we get lost in that chaos. We lose ourselves.

This is not a story about that. Instead it’s a story about much more.

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The Downside of Duality

I was talking with a friend the other night and lately she’s been going through some hard times. I often find I’m not much help at giving practical help, so I offer only that which I’m able to offer (an obvious tautology that’s somehow necessary to include): So I do what sometimes I do best–I listen and console and support.

As I typed out my last text, taking special care to ensure every letter appeared in the proper place and only once (I’ve dropped my phone a few times; the keyboard’s become a bit fickle), it occurred to me when I typed “See, you’re looking on the bright side already!” that simply saying there is a bright side acknowledges and presupposes the existence of a side in shadow–and when I realized that, let’s just say the world split in two.

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Photons Magnificent

This time nine years ago, the world was a different place. I was a different man. I was hardly a man at all; I was still a boy, draped in juvenile dreams, believed of a world that didn’t exist, or instead existed beneath the tide of the world we lived in. Mythologies were ripening inside me, thousands of stories stirring, yearning to get out.

It was somehow pristine, yet thoroughly in the dark.

I remember it clearly. Oh so very clearly.

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More Than Mirrors

There’s few books on my “favorite books” list when you look at my profile on Facebook, at least for the number of entries present. Half of them are authors, for I tend to find individual books lacking in some way, small for the best of them, to be considered favorites, but an author presents a body of work, where the shortcomings of one are augmented by the facets of the others, so that all the areas I wish could be fulfilled are done so, and thus they have become a favorite in my eyes.

One of the five stand-alone novels (for the other four “books” are more appropriately book series, namely Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians) is Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carol (the other four books are The Thief of Always by Clive Barker, the Princess Bride by William Goldman, What is Mathematics? by Richard Courant, and Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, which wasn’t a phenomenal book, but I liked what it represented and what it idealized).

Before reading Through the Looking Glass, I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and I must admit, sadly, that I didn’t find the latter book nearly as much as the former, which is actually the latter, if you’ll kindly forgive my inversion of sentence structure, since it did me little good here.

My point in mentioning any of this is that, although Alice has gone through a mirror, that plane of which we’ve learned reflects flawlessly, she doesn’t at all reflect very much through it, does she?

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Add Four Candles

Recently I heard two people say two things about Chanukah, and both of them stayed with me.

The first was said by Bear Bergman when I heard him speak on Wednesday. He said (and I believe he was quoting one of his grandparents, who was talking about the shamash), that helpers aren’t happy if they’re not helping. The second thing was said by my sister, that Chanukah isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.

They were both nice thoughts, and thoughts worth considering more deeply. I’ve done them no justice here, and likewise, I probably won’t. Like any good math book, however, I’ll leave the proof up the reader.

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Heart and Sold

I believe.

A lie.

But philosophy’s abstract and some days you feel like hitting the ground hard. Today’s one of those days. I’m high in the sky but waiting to land, and although my mind’s awhirl with all sorts of things, I want to hold tightest to those I hold tightest to.

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